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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am about to get me a welder. I have about $700 in the budget for it. I don't forsee welding anything bigger than 1/4 inch since this will be used mainly for fab work (bumpers, sheetmetal, brackets, rollcages eventually). I am about to go out and get the millermatic challenger 172 and am wondering if any of y'all have any experience with it. Would I do better to save up a few more months and get the millermatic 185 or will this work well enough. The last thing I want to do is get one that will not do what I need it to do. That's why I'm not getting the $300 craftsman. Thanks

Bakes
83 Scrambler
http://www5.ewebcity.com/4x4trails
 

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/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif I awakened my head welder moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gifas soon as I saw your post, and posed the question to him, Even though he was sort of groggy because he got back real late last night from welding up a broken hiway trailer, he had this to say..... "When making the purchase of a welder, keep in mind that under 'home shop' conditions, it's practically impossible to wear one out. That means that this welder will be around for a couple of generations at the very least. Even though you don't plan to weld very heavy stuff AT THIS TIME, you can never know which one of the kids will get into who-knows-WHAT....and need more poop from the welder to weld up 'whatever' it is he needs. That plus the fact that the $300 over twenty-five years is barely a pizza per year.......not much money for that 'little extra'." Hmmmm.....sounds like some real good moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gifadvice to me! This moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gifreally knows welding, too....everything he owns has holes burned in it/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gifHis final comment was that a dust cover....used religiously.....will assure that the welder makes it to the next generation/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif

CJDave
Quadra-Trac modified by the crack moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif transfer case team.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dave,

Good advice, I currently have covers for all my stationary and roll around equipment, wipe everything down after using and all my stuff still looks brand new.

Bird

 

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/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif Dirt kills welders faster than using them does/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gif

CJDave
Quadra-Trac modified by the crack moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif transfer case team.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So your saying that I should forgo the millermatic 172, put a crowbar in my wallet and pry out some extra cash, and get the millermatic 185. I don't mind spending money on stuff that works, I just don't want to spend money on extra stuff I'll probably never need. The 185 welds 3/8" on one pass and has a 60% duty cycle at 130amps (I think) while the 172 welds 1/4" on one pass and has a 30% duty cycle at 130amp. Will that make that much of a difference? Will I be wanting more (if I get the 172) in 5-6 years after I get decent at this stuff? I'm just looking for personal opinion based on experience. Thanks.

Bakes
83 Scrambler
http://www5.ewebcity.com/4x4trails
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have to disagree with Dave get the 172. I have the 172 and it will weld more than a 1/4" on a single pass. A couple of my friends also bought the 172 and they haven't needed more. They built a 30 degree ramp (1/4" square tubing) in a few hours with it and appearently worked fine. I've done a lot of 3/16" welding to my frame and have yet to have a problem. I would say for garge use and not 12 hours a day for 5 days a week for 52 weeks the 172 would be fine. Actually I've pushed a pound of wire through the machine in a day without the 172 thinking about it. I would say don't spend the extra money because you will probably never need the bigger machine.

Tim Springer
1980 CJ7
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/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif As a welder guy and shop guy, I think I'm going to stick to my original advice on this one. I've never had a welder that I thought was too big. I have struggled to weld with some that were a scooch too small, and have sat around waiting while they cooled off(not enough duty cycle). You just NEVER KNOW what you might end up needing to do. For instance, you could not make a receiver insert for your hitch....the material is too think to get good, secure penetration. JUST YESTERDAY I was doing the on-board air installation, and discovered that the PS Bracket was missing the 5/8" locating pin. We cut one out of a bolt, and it needed to be welded into the hole on the bracket....from ONE SIDE only....and the weld had to be flush. So here I am with a 5/8" thick bolt segment, and the 3/16" flat stock that the PS bracket is made from. If I don't really cook the weld into the bolt segment, then the weld won't lay down good and it will stick out too far against the PS pump tank even with placing the segment down deep in the hole, so I have to get the heat really going on the 5/8" bolt and then circle out to hook up the plate. So what do I do? You guessed it/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gifTURN UP THE HEAT. A perfect weld.....but it took a well above "normal" setting on my Millermatic 35 to do it. When you need it, there is no substitute for cubic inches/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gif

CJDave
Quadra-Trac modified by the crack moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif transfer case team.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I can only think of one time when I would have wanted more power from my 172 and that is when cutting with it. Yes you can cut with a MIG welder. No it isn't pretty. Yes you do waste some wire. There have been times when I would have loved to have a stick welder though. When working in confined corners that a MIG gun can't get into or working with a big gap (1/4") between two pieces of metal I think a stick would have made easier work. That is why my next welder is going to be stick (miller thunderbolt XL 300 AC or 300 AC/DC) or multipurpose. Like the Miller XMT 304 CC that does SMAW, GTAW, CAC-A, GTAW-P, and FCAW or the Miller Phoenix 456 CC/CV that does the same as the XMT but also does GMAW and GMAW-P. The other thing that I liked about the 172 is it is "portable". At 79 pounds I can carry it out back and plug in to an outlet I put in or carry up front to the garage andplug it in there and work without worring about pushing a cart around. I expect you to take Dave's advice (since it usually is right) but I evaluated my needs (usually weld 1/8 or 3/16" and barlely every 1/4") of a MIG welder and decided that I would never need the little extra power that the 185 has for the price difference.

Tim Springer
1980 CJ7
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/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif Is that a 110V machine, Tim? Are you using gas or flux? 76 pounds isn't much. Ditto on the stick electrode. Right now I am without a stick machine, since everything I had at the shop was three-phase Motor-Generator DC stick or big portables....hardly Jeep project grade machines, and impossible to use without three-phase power. I have been thinking that what might make sense is to buy a real good welder-generator.....like a Miller Bluestar....and that way I'll have it for our future Iowa farm as a welder and as a standby generator. Run it on propane. Yeah, there are times that I worry about not having a stick around for that ONE weld that cannot be made by wire. Stick A/C I'm not too crazy about....A/C D/C would be the way to go. And I wouldn't be afraid to buy one used....just look inside and see how much dirt is in there, that'll tell ya./wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gifSpeaking of cutting, Tim.....get this....we got a bunch of stuff from the gas company at auction,...lots of good welder lead and elecrode holders, connections, etc....and in the stuff we got was an AIR ARC setup. It was just like a giant electrode holder with an air supply too. You used a non-consumable(reltively) carbon rod, and what you did was dig the rod into the weld that you wanted to scarf out and turn on the air which blew the deposit right out. It is a HUGE shower of sparks, and we had to use a "WYE" and put both of our D.C. machines on it at once, but it would really get in there and remove material. We used it for reclaiming flanges. Anyone want a good used air arc/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gif? You pay$50 and shipping and it's yours, including the wye and the twist-on connectors.DO NOT USE THIS AT HOME./wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif

CJDave
Quadra-Trac modified by the crack moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif transfer case team.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The 172 is a 220 volt and I think the specs say it is about 79 pounds. All I know is I can lift it and carry it around. Right now I have it set up as flux because of the welding that I have been doing recently. I've been doing frame plating recently with 3/16" plating and I personally prefer the flux when dealing with thicker and dirtier old material. I had a guy that has been welding for over 50 years told me to give it a try with flux and I like it. A welder generator would be great to have. I figure when I decide to get a big stick or a multipurpose machine I will almost have to get a generator to power them since the welder are 3 phase. I will not buy a used welder unless it is real good shape because I remeber what my Grandfather's stick welder looks like. I will not even try to use it b/c of how old it is and the shape it is in. As for cutting that air arc sounds incredable. It sounds like cutting with a stick welder except it has air to blast out the material. How clean of a cut could you get with it? If I have any cutting to do then I go to a friends work and barrow their stick or oxy-acetylene torch (which I will be buying one this summer). On the topic of cutting what do you think of plasma cutters? I think they are slick, but I also think that they are too expensive. To my best knowledge I can do the exact same thing with a torch for a lot less money. Is that right?

Tim Springer
1980 CJ7
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/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif I did some design work for some guys last summer on a cattle hoof-trimming machine, and they have a plasma cutter at their shop. They are really slick.....really the berries. They will cut a variety of non-ferrous materials whereas a torch will not. I could not justify it for just Jeep work, but they ARE nice. You know, that air arc is suprisingly accurate....you can just put that rod right in the old weld kerf and it looks like it was ground out of there. Messy when you do it....good when you're done. You know, Tim....you be surprised at how good some older A/C transformer type welders will work once you get the cobwebs out. I'm referring to the original "Buzzbox" type of welder....AC only in most instances...AC/DC on the better ones./wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif

CJDave
Quadra-Trac modified by the crack moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif transfer case team.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Air Arcing....what fun, I have used 1/16" carbon rods to arc out 5/8" bolts to using 1/2" carbon rods on a 1500 amp Miller to arc out 7" thick cracks in slag pots. This tool goes along with the saying "Sometimes you have to destroy it before you can save it", very useful tool and sometimes better than a torch but not very useful for home. Any cutting done on a jeep or other similar metals of the same thickness is better performed with a grinder, torch or if you are so lucky to have one, a plasma cutter. Plasma cutters also need a good supply of air for the cutting process, just like air arcs, but the cuts are clean, crisp and won't warp the metal because the concentration of heat used in the cutting process is less than that used with a torch or air arcing. For general overall use you can't go wrong with a torch, if you have the money and space then a plasma cutter is a great addition to any shop, right after you buy a good mig machine.

 

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/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif Can't you just see somebody using an air arc to remove some welds on the hitch of his CJ in the driveway of a nice suburban home.....with a 600 Lincoln portable grunting away next to the curb.....and his neighbors all gathering up their kids to take them inside.../wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gif Like I said...you can be the proud owner of this "slightly used" air arc for peanuts./wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif

CJDave
Quadra-Trac modified by the crack moonguy/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif transfer case team.
 

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No time on the 172, but the 185 is a Cadillac. I have put 3 spools (the LARGE ones) through it in about 3 years, rebuilding 4 jeep bodies. Now I'm onto the frame mods and body mounts, which are a little larger metal. It's nice to be able to weld larger or smaller at a whim. I also built a couple of revolving cranes that fit into a Class III receiver hitch (using Warn winches), that would not have been possible with a smaller welder. I have thought about this long and hard, my conclusion is to get the best welder you can, even if you have to wait a little. It'll serve you well and you'll thank yourself in the long run. Once you have a welder, you'll want to do all sorts of projects, it'd be a shame to have the welder be the limiting factor. From the sounds of it, I'd have to vote for the 185.

JEEPN
'81 CJ-8 Scrambled!
GM151/SM465/NP205 twinstick/7"Lift/33"TSL's/IHC D44's 4.10's Lock'd
 
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