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Welder question

Posted By:
Craig Cantwell
#1 Posted: 11/28/2010 13:12:25

I'm going to be in the market for an additional welder after the first of the year. I'm looking for recomendations for a MIG unit to suppliment my current TIG/Stick unit and OA rig. The MIG usage is going to be for fixtures and jigs, with material thickness up to 1/2".  Multi-pass for that thickness is fine, but I don't want to be in the position that I'm over-running the unit's duty cycle very often. Most welds will be with material thickness in the range of .125" to .375". Power source should be either 220 VAC or engine, and I don't want to spend a fortune, but I don't want a low quality unit either. I'm not tied to any particular brand, but long term support will be a factor.


Thanks for any input provided

David Darnell
#2 Posted: 11/29/2010 18:27:28

  Well, I ran a MIG welder every day for years, in a  "Gottahaveit" part of the job for welding typically very thin to 1/2 ". IMO there is only one brand- Miller. 

Never had a problem that couldn't be fixed almost immediately- consumables are easy to find, and rarely needed to get factory parts.


Nick Myers
#3 Posted: 11/30/2010 08:32:39 Modified: 11/30/2010 08:33:02

I run the tiny little Lincoln welder from Home Depot pretty much daily.  It isn't the biggest or best, but I love it and it is solid.  It handles small stuff very well, and I occasionally do 1/4" stuff (with multiple of passes).  I have never had any issues with duty cycle (full disclosure...I do mostly design work...therefore I weld a little, then go play, then go weld some more...duty cycle doesn't really concern me).

I have seen Miller's as well.  I think both manufacturers are acceptable.  Get the best one you can afford for the job you are doing, but don't fret it if you can't afford the biggest/best.  Definitely go name brand...they typically design the internal circuitry such that they will last.  You will absolutely hate the "cheaper brands".

That's just my $0.02.

Craig Cantwell
#4 Posted: 11/30/2010 10:07:28

Thanks guys for the input.

David: I am kinda partial to the Miller stuff. I bought an Econotig right after they came out. It feels good and works well even though my TIG skills are for garbage right now. I haven't used a Lincoln for over 30 years, so I can't compare them and Miller except by specs and price.


Nick:  I've looked that the little units, but for the type of work I'm going to be doing, they just won't hack it. Working the thicker material and having very low duty cycles at the needed power levels make it a lot of work and frustration. With my current and forseeable work schedule, I only get  two or three hours a week in the shop without the 4 year old, so I have to make the most of that time.

I had the same problem with my last air compressor and was continually waiting on it to catch up. I've ended up with a monster two stage on a 120 gallon tank with a 650 gallon secondary tank, so I will have to wait no more.

I buy for quality, with longevity in mind. If it isn't a quality tool, then it won't last and I would have to be replacing or repairing it more that a quality one. As least for me, a cheap initial cost doesn't translate into a cost effective item.

Tim Sommer
#5 Posted: 12/4/2010 00:19:28

Craig, I've had a Clarke 265 for several years now and I couldn't be happier.  I've used its Spot function on .06" tubing and multi-passed up to 3/4" with great success and never overheated the unit - it just keeps going. 

Here's one source: http://cgi.ebay.com/CLARKE-Power-Products-265T-WE6513A-MIG-Welder-NEW-/120647883571?pt=BI_Welders&hash=item1c172c9b33#ht_720wt_1141

A Ormsby
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#6 Posted: 12/10/2010 01:17:45

 Both Miller and Lincoln will give you the long term support you mention and both are quality machines. Both are single phase. The Miller 211 has a feature called “autoset”. It is really for an inexperienced welder that doesn’t know how to set the heat and wire speed or even what to look for in a puddle. With your tools and experience, the autoset feature is not that much of a value and there is no need to pay for it. In fact, you probably want independent control over amperage and wire speed.  

 The Lincoln 216 has the same range and quality of the Miller but is on sale till the end of the month. You get a coupon for either a $125 rebate, or a spool gun for aluminum. Both machines have the same duty cycle (30%) which is probably good enough for the use you described. Remember, duty cycle is at ambient temperatures. If it is cooler where you are, cycle time increases. The Lincoln 216 is the same machine as the Lincoln 225 but without the Digital readout for a few hundred $ less. I doubt you need the pretty digital read-out. Save your money . . . you know how to turn a wire feed dial.  I have used both Miller and Lincoln. They are both great machines. Both guns are professional quality. The Lincoln drive rollers can be reversed to handle any wire size. You don’t have to buy extra rollers for different wire diameters. If everything in your shop is blue then you know your choice :-)  But if you don’t have to be color-matched then the Lincoln is the better value at this time. You get a set of good quality leather gloves, a cotton jacket and the rebate coupon.


Craig Cantwell
#7 Posted: 12/10/2010 10:15:00

Thanks for the info on the Lincolns. I've got lots of fabrication experience, but not a lot of welding time. I'd consider my skillset as a slightly advanced muddauber rather than a welder. The duty cycle is something that I do need to watch. It's not too unusual to see ambient temps well over a hundred in the summer, and a considerable number of days near the upper end of the duty cycle ratings also.  Stepping up a level or two in power can help make that problem go away, though the initial cost is higher. I can make the tradeoff between $'s and productive time pretty easily.

Longevity and support weigh heavy in my decision process. I've been burned a couple of times by equipment becoming unsupportable way too quickly. I get very unhappy when I have to spend almost the original purchase cost to support something right after the warranty runs out.

As to costs, I'll shop around a bit just prior to buying, Unfortunately, some unexpected expenses just made a huge dent in the welder budget for now, so the purchase is going to be pushed back into early next year.

Steve Rice
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#8 Posted: 12/10/2010 13:21:46 Modified: 12/10/2010 13:22:44

I am running the Miller DVI



It claims that its good up to 3/8, but I have welded 1/2" with multi-passes. I normally am welding 1/8" and I can run it for hours in 100 degree temps and never had a problem. I run it on 230 volts. But it is nice to have the 110v option if I have to take it to a friends house to some quick welding. Anyways, I have been very happy with this unit, and it has the option of adding a spool gun as well. Hope this helps