Re: Welding opinions wanted
Don't be Mr. Incrementalism here Juice.
At the very least you want a 175 machine. The Hobart 175 is a popular choice for good reason.
The 110V machines just don't have what it takes; most are good up to 3/16" but struggle with 1/4". You can spend more time prepping to make a smaller machine weld 1/4" or even bigger but I'm not that patient.
I started with a Hobart 135 but soon outgrew it. You will find VERY FEW people who fab stuff for trucks running 110V machines. If they've got a 110, they want a 220. If they have a 220, chances are good they started with a 110. Save yourself some cash, buy the better machine now.
I just got a Hobart 210 and love it.
If you want a Hobart 175 plan on $625ish, look for one with a free cart included (no cart is a beeyotch IMO), or plan to build a cart as your first project. Once you step up to 210 and beyond they're on their own wheels. 80cu bottle filled from Cyberweld ran me around $150ish delivered.
Plan on another $100 for gloves, helmet (auto dark is nicer but not required) and wire.
Don't get caught up in pissing matches of Miller/Hobart vs Lincoln, they're all good machines. It's Chevy vs Ford and neither side is right or wrong. Do avoid off-brand machines.
Of course this is all ass-uming you want MIG.
And don't overanalyze "how often will I need to weld more than 3/16....." Trust me, buy the bigger machine.
Again, once up in the 210 range they're ready to accept spool guns for welding Al. Maybe not a priority for you now, but a NICE option to have available to you (cost of the spool gun notwithstanding)