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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-20-2005, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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welder info wanted

I want to learn to weld, and I'ld like to be able to build my own bumpers, roll cage and stuff like that. I know there's a difference in type of welding, and I could take a college course (about 40 miles away), but for the inexperienced and ignorant (uneducated), what route should I take.
Do I buy a Miller/Hobart welder?
Do I need one that uses gasses?
Do I grab an old battery and some rods and scrap metal?

What's the best general use way to go?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-20-2005, 04:31 PM
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Re: welder info wanted

From what little I know a mig with gas would be the easiest to learn on..But with no experence I'd trust things that I expect to save my life, like roll bars, to experenced fabricators. JMHO
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-20-2005, 07:14 PM
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Re: welder info wanted

For a novice welder, my standard advice is to buy a good machine from a welding supply store where they will spend some time with you showing how to set up and use your new machine. Leave the off-brand machines from big box stores to the guys who already have considerable experience.

MIG is probably your best compromise of versatility and price. You can do a lot with one of the 120-volt machines like the Miller 135. In steel you can weld very thick steel by making multiple passes. It's slow, but effective.

TIG will weld anything MIG will, and a LOT more, but a good TIG machine is mighty pricey. TIG is very good at the little odd jobs, because you have control over the amount of heat, the placement of heat, and the amount and placement of filler. Because of that, you can weld darn near anything.

For cheap and handy, don't count out oxy-acetalyene. You can do very good welds in steel, cut steel easily, and also heat, bend and forge thngs. Once you can gas weld you have a very sound foundation for learning the other techniques.

For cheap and good welds, a plain old stick welder is hard to beat. Medium to thick steel is it's home court, and you can weld cast iron and stainless, although with limitations. You can often pick up a used Lincoln 225 AC/DC for a hundred bucks. And I don't think they ever go bad.

Confused yet?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-20-2005, 07:27 PM
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Re: welder info wanted

get a lincoln dc cracker box, fifty lbs of rod, and burn. that the only way to learn, just do it.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2005, 10:04 AM
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Re: welder info wanted

I think a Lincoln, Miller or Hobart mig in the 135 range would take you a long way in building stuff.
Like said in an earlier post, I would stay away from cage work for a while until you did a few other large projects and got comfortable with the unit.

Any of these migs will be the easiest machine to learn on.
I have oxy/acet and arc welders and access to a 100 Lincoln mig. I use my arc for anything heavy 1/4 inch wall and larger but the mig is so nice to use for everything else.
I will be picking up a 175 mig in the future and will probably retire the arc welder at that time.
Good luck and enjoy what ever machine you get.
One more thing is to buy a good aut darkening helmet at the same time and learn how to adjust it correctly.
I just got one and I can't believe how I have been able to work without it all this time.
You could find a decent one on ebay for about half the regular shop price.
My 2 cents
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2005, 11:20 AM
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Re: welder info wanted

For fabricating bumpers and roll cages you would be better served by a 220v 175 amp or more mig, or an AC/DC stick welder (230ac/180dc). Tig is great and versitile, but more costly, more time consuming to learn and perform. All welding requires good prep of the metal and joint, but tig is even more exacting.

As for roll cages, that isn't a job that should be tackled until you have a lot of experience.

I think the most useful machine to buy would be a 210 amp mig welder from miller, hobart or lincoln. Fast learning curve, fairly versitile, and it will have the penetration you need for fabricating bumpers and roll cages.

Buy a decent size machine right from the start and you won't regret it. They hold their value well too. The performance of these machines is somewhat proportionate to price, so don't cheap out and get a difficult to use machine. Definately don't buy one from Cambell Hausefeld or Harbour freight.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2005, 01:29 PM
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Re: welder info wanted

The little 110 volt welders barely draw more current than your wife's blow dryer. Would you trust a roll cage welded by a hair dryer?

Get a good one, do it right once, you'll be using it the rest of your life.

Price you forget, poor quality or performance you never forget.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2005, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: welder info wanted

Thanks for the info, anything special to look for in a used unit? I might try looking at the local buy and sell or green pages. Just don't want to end up with someone elses junk.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-22-2005, 07:48 AM
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Re: welder info wanted

About a year ago I was in the same situation you are in. I wanted a welder, but had no clue about them.
I did some some reading, and some searching (this board helped me out greatly)
I finally decided on a Millermatic 175, and I got it so it is all set up for welding with Gas. The reason I got a miller was because there is a local Miller dealer that I like a lot. There is a local Lincon dealer also, but they are not open on Sat, and I hate that.
I feel like I made the right choice. I love my welder and after having it for a year I love it even more. For sure get a 175 amp... Don't mess with the 135 if you want to weld anything thicker than sheet metal.
And fore sure, get a nice welding helmet, it will make all the difference for learning the basics of welding.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-22-2005, 08:59 AM
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Re: welder info wanted

I bought a Miller 175 about 3 years ago and couldn't be happier. I just bought a victor torch tuesday. Can't wait to start cutting!!
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