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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-21-2003, 04:20 PM
KenTheJeepGuy
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Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

Anyone know anything about these welders?
I just bought one as it was about the highest ranked, full-featuredest, highest quality 110volt welder around.

Well i would like to be able to weld on aluminum and stainless, but according to miller, i need to buy a $300 spool gun just to use these metals.
Every other brand of welder simply sells a convesion kit that includes different feed reels, a different liner and a new tip. and poof for $50 or less you can weld any metal you want.
has anyone used the miller? and do you know if you really NEED the spool gun.
that seems a little extreme.
cant i just do it like all the other brands do it?
if i would have known it would have cost me $300 extra to do ss or alum, i would have bought a different brand. this was already the most expencive unit in its class.

(and anyone who can answer that question... you probaly would knwo this too.. can you weld stainless to mild steel? or could you use SS wire to weld on mild steel, or use plain mig wire to weld stainless. I am pretty sure i know the answe to can you mix steel and aluminum, so i wont ask )
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-21-2003, 05:14 PM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

When you weld aluminum with a mig you need a spool gun on any machine. Aluminum wire will not easily push threw the cord. It will just end up bird nesting all the time. Stainless on the other hand will work if you have a short cord. Yes you can weld stainless and steel. I do it all the time.

One thing that i have learned with aluminum is there are so many different kinds of aluminum you should buy all the different grades of aluminum wire that way when one doesnt work you can try another until you find which one does work with the aluminum you are welding.

As to the miller 135. Its a great welder. I have a few hours on a friends and almost bought one for myself, but i really wanted a 220 machine and still havent coughed up the money for one yet. It also doesnt help that i have two good friends that both have great 220 machines and i can use theirs anytime i want.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-21-2003, 05:36 PM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

I have many hours on this machine, I own a hobart 135 handler, which is similar, but i wish I woulda gotten the miller cauz infinite temp adjustability, mine has 4 settings... The miller I have used at my old shop class, an amazing little welder, only thing we did with it was steel, was used all day long, We had a aluminum spool, I never tried it tho, cauz we had a miller synchrowave tig [img]images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] thats my baby, but as far as my teachers told me , welding aluminum with the spool, on mig welder is a real pain in the butt, Works, but doesnt come out too amazing. Go to local welding shop and see what they can do for you, they might even have something hooked up you can try.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 06-21-2003, 05:58 PM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
can you weld stainless to mild steel? or could you use SS wire to weld on mild steel, or use plain mig wire to weld stainless.

[/ QUOTE ]

You can weld Stainless Steel to Mild Steel but you need to use Stainless Steel wire. You can weld Mild Steel to Mild Steel with Stainless Steel wire also. Plain mig wire to weld stainless don't hold for $hit. [img]images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 06-21-2003, 08:25 PM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

You're not going to weld much alum. with 135 amps. I've welded alot of stainless with mild wire with no ill effects. You don't need a spool gun to weld alum., it's just better. The shorter the cable the better.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 06-21-2003, 10:42 PM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

does aluminum actually take MORE juice to weld?
if anything i thought it would be too powerful, with as low of a melting point as aluminum has, and as conductive as it is, i figured it would weld fine with low current.

So you think i can get away using aluminum wire with the standard wire feed system? Stainless wire should also work in the standard feed system no?
i would like a spool gun, but not for $300. that is half the cost of the welder itself.
post #7 of (permalink) Old 06-22-2003, 01:55 AM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

I own a Miller Pulsar. It is an all-in one unit (abeit 220V) meaning it is set up to pulse or control the weld puddle while TIG welding with the spool.

With a regular modified mig welder you cannot control the weld puddle, just the amps.

Since I do a HUGE amount of art fabrication I have learned the hard way that if you want TIG welding to look nice and be strong, buy a traditional pedal mounted TIG welder. They can be had on ebay for cheap.

If I had to do it over, I would buy two separate machines.

Not that the Pulsar doesn't do a great job, but it is meant for industrial repetative welding like trailers and stainless structures. It just doesn't look pretty.

Don't forget you have to buy three different gasses. Tri-Mix for stainless, Argon for Aluminum and Silver Shield for regular mig/steel welding. It can get costly. Skip flux core wire.

BTW for the cost, the 135 is the best in the business.
post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-22-2003, 07:35 AM
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Re: Miller millermatic 135 mig welder questions

Welding aluminum with your machine is tricky, but if you know the tricks it works fine.

1. Use only 4" spools of wire.

2. Adjust the liner as close as possible to the drive wheel. The liner should actually touch the drive wheel lightly.

3. Use as little drag on the wire spool as you can get away with. Set it so that when you release the trigger you get about a third to a half turn of the reel before it stops.

4. Switch the drive roller to the smooth groove. Never use the toothed groove with aluminum.

5. Use as little pressure on the drive roller as you can. To set it, back the pressure knob off until the wire won't feed. Then turn it down until it just starts to feed. Then tighten it down a tiny bit more.

6. Use a tip one size larger than the wire. If you're using .023 wire, use an .030 tip, an .035 tip with .030 wire, etc.

7. Keep the liner as straight as you can. Move the welder if necessary so that the wire doesn't have to make any U-turns.

8. Cut the ball end off the wire every time you stop. The wedge point left by the cutter will start the arc easier than the ball that's left when you stop welding.

When everything is right in your settings the machine will feed wire consistently, but if you run the tip into a block of wood and pull the trigger, the wire won't birdnest inside the machine.

All of these are necessary with any push-feed MIG system using aluminum wire. The Miller is no better or worse than any other machine in that regard. It's just the nature of the beast.

There are two common aluminum alloys used for MIG; 4043 and 5356. 5356 is a much harder, stiffer wire, and more forgiving of the settings, but 4043 usually gives better welds, so be meticulous in your setup and practice until you can use it.

As for heat, aluminum does have a lower melting point than steel, but is MUCH more conductive of heat. For that reason you need more heat than for similar thickness of steel. That is really a limiting factor for the 110 Volt welders in aluminum.

You can't get around the problem by making multiple passes as you can with steel. If you're underpowered in aluminum the bead will just sit on top of the base metal. You can make as many passes as you want, but you won't do much other than weld one bead to another.

But there is a workaround - preheat. I've welded 3/8" aluminum pipe with my Miller 135 by preheating it with a torch to 400*. Then the aluminum puddles nicely and bonds perfectly. Without preheat the limit is probably 3/16". Go to your welding supplier and get a 400* temp stick. It's like a very hard Crayon. It won't leave much of a mark until the metal gets to 400*.

MIG welding aluminum is tricky. It takes a different technique from steel, and you have to move faster or else it will melt through. Again, it's just the nature of the beast. Practice.

Also, consider looking for a different welding supplier. Yours either doesn't know their business, or they are putting sales ahead of integrity and the customer's best interests. Either way, it's not a good sign.

When I first tried aluminum with my Miller, nothing worked. I went back to the dealer and he took me to their demo room and went through the whole procedure. In half an hour I was welding like a pro.

Edit:

My welding supplier suggested using a different liner for aluminum because aluminum is very sensitive to contamination, and the wire can pick up traces of the previous wires run through the liner.

On the other hand, an old timer told me that that was one of those mainly theoretical deals; significant in really critical work, but not everyday welding.

You don't need anything else to weld stainless, except for wire and a bottle of tri-mix. The setup is the same, and the technique almost the same, as for mild steel.

I don't know why anyone would use a spool gun for stainless. A spool gun is a natural for aluminum, where pushing the soft wire through a liner is a problem. I've never had a problem pushing stainless. Again, I think that your supplier is putting sales ahead of your interests.
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