PDA

View Full Version : Welding Quandary



BigBoy1
11-20-2007, 04:31 PM
Iím in a welding quandary as Iím debating on the type of welder to buy. Iím looking at either a MIG or TIG type welder but I would like to hear opinions from the group. My requirements are to weld both steel and aluminum, with the thickness being ĹĒ or less. At this point in time, Iím leaning towards the TIG machine for the following reasons: Changing the weld wire must be done to change between steel and aluminum welding. To do so, the MIG machine has to be opened up and the steel spool of weld wire replaced with a spool of wire for aluminum welding. To change welding materials on the TIG machine, different weld rods are chosen. With a TIG machine, stick welding can be done in addition with some machines while it is not possible with a MIG machine. Some TIG machine have the feature where the tip is placed where the weld is to be made and when the handle is lifted, the arc starts. This prevents the ďwandering all over the partĒ with the strike of the arc when brought in close contact.

Would appreciate any thoughts or ideas.

Bill

Dick Plasencia
11-20-2007, 05:03 PM
I'm not denying TIG has its place but industrial welding is done with MIG. Car bodies are manufactured using MIG. One inch thick steel plates on a ship's hull are MIGed. Car fenders are repaired using MIG. I weld a lot of aluminum using MIG and it works out fine for me. Switching wire spools is a simple job that takes perhaps under 5 minutes. So that's not an issue for me. I routinely weld steel and aluminum (not together of course). What I like is the speed. Zap and you are done. As for putting the bead where you want the secret is in the helmet. Get an autodarkening one and you can write your name with precision.
The size pieces you say you will be welding can be done with a 180 to 200 amp MIG machine. You can do heavier welding if you do more than one pass. That also works fine. BTW, wire with flux sucks unless you need to do it outdoors where shielding gas could get blown away. If you want neat looking welds use C25 for steel and Argon on aluminum. If you preheat the aluminum with a propane torch you'll get really nice looking welds.
That's it. All you would ever want to know about MIG.

gn3dr
11-20-2007, 05:03 PM
For aluminium use Tig is really the best option - gives the nicest welds. However the lift arc you describe is no good for aluminium. You need to get an AC/DC unit that has high frequency start (most will these days anyway). Nothing beats Tig also for very fine detailed work. Get a more modern inverter machine with squarewave and adjustable balance.

Joel
11-20-2007, 05:15 PM
There is an enormous difference in speed between these 2 types of machines. How much bead will you be laying?
I would have a rather difficult time with an either/or between tig and mig - they are so different.

speedsport
11-20-2007, 05:26 PM
don't forget that if you are gonna be welding aluminum with a mig you will need a spoolgun, soft aluminum wire don't push so good.

lazlo
11-20-2007, 05:38 PM
Consider that, in the same class/power of machine, the TIG unit will cost about twice as much as the corresponding MIG.

Also, like SpeedSport mentioned, you really need a spool gun or a push-pull setup to feed aluminum MIG wire. You can get aluminum to feed for short periods without a spool gun (Teflon liner and keeping the gun lead straight helps), but eventually it'll bird-nest without a spool gun, so it's not really suitable for a production shop.

Also note that only the mid-to-high-end MIG units have a spool gun interface. The hobby 175/180 units aren't setup for a spoolgun (although Lincoln added a cheesy spoolgun option to their new 180 Plus MIG welder).

Finally, consider that although the TIG will make a much nicer bead, and is a lot more flexible on the materials it can weld, TIG is much slower than MIG...

Carld
11-20-2007, 05:56 PM
I'm not a pro welder but having tried both mig and tig welding with alum. I prefer the tig. I have a Miller Econo tig/stick welder. I suggest if you buy the tig/stick welder get one with a foot control. Mig welding on steel is good but I still like stick welding. I also like oxy welding.

I suggest you go to welding suppliers and see if you can try the machines to see which one you need. Go to all the suppliers in your area and try different brands. Remember that you will have to use what ever you buy for a long time.

aboard_epsilon
11-20-2007, 06:02 PM
changing the spool of wire is nothing

its changing the liner thats the big problem ..

most pro MIGs have steel liner ...
aluminium would rub on this ...
or the steel before would contaminate weld .

buy an acdc tig with high frequency ..

other options are foot control .

and ramp settings

i would go the whole hog .

don't buy Chinese or Italian machine if you can help it .

all the best.mark

wierdscience
11-20-2007, 06:03 PM
Mig for speed,TIG for precison.One other factor with MIG is gas,steel you need 75/25 mixed gas and aluminum you need straight argon.Tig you use argon for both.

1/2 material will require a substaintial TIG machine to get any duty cycle out of it.

We have a Miller 190,210?? MIG at work that has the seprate plug in and gas port for a spool gun.The gun that fits it costs an extra $650 IIRC which brings the total to $3500 give or take if memory serves.

One thing is for sure,around the shop since we got it the stick machine seldom ever gets used and months pass between uses for the TIG.Most times I TIG or stick something just to stay proficent.

chrisfournier
11-20-2007, 07:26 PM
Very different processes as everyone points out. I started out with an oxy acetelyne outfit to learn the puddle control thing. With perseverance, you can do just about anything with a good gas set up but it takes practice. Yes I've done aluminum and stainless with gas.

I recently bought a Miller Dynasty 200 DX. This is an inverter, stick/TIG machine. Pricey but it's the last one I'll buy.

As a hobbiest I don't need to run a lot of bead; it's more important to me that I run a high quality bead - so the TIG was a shoe in for me. It's my intention to make tube frames for racing motorcycles and TIG gives me the time to get it right - without the cold starts inherent to MIG.

The long and short of it is that I have the time to go slow so TIG is no problem for me.

Welding up to half inch material would require a pretty big unit! Likely 350 plus amps. Pre-heating will help but this is still very heavy duty...

PhilR
11-20-2007, 08:32 PM
What projects do you have in mind for it?
Can't beat a mig for speed. It's not too fussy on the cleanliness on steel compared to tig or O/A.
I made a cart for my new tig. Since it was a new machine and I wanted to play around with it. I tacked and welded the frame with the tig. I now have a greater appreciation for the mig to be able to hold your part in position and zap it.
I like both machines, both have their place. I sure like the looks of a good tig weld.

torker
11-20-2007, 08:49 PM
Nope..you don't need a big machine to weld 1/2" steel. I've welded a ton of heavy wall pipe with 200 to 250 amp machines. Preheat the root pass and your set. Structural stuff...the same thing.
I sold my 200 amp mig machine five years ago (or so) to help pay for my Lincoln 275 Squarewave tig/stick machine. I really missed that mig. I even had a Lincoln 135 mickeywire machine to do the lighter stuff....it just wasn't the same.
A few months ago I bought another mig... a Lincoln 255. Like weird says...the tig rarely gets touched anymore. I run a steady diet of .045 dual shield through the 255 and I love it. Crank it up to 30 volts and 475 ipm wire feed and let' er roll. A mig set up like this is 3 times faster than stick and prolly twenty times faster than tig. Add 1/16" dual shied and you are 4 times faster than even the best stick weldor with 1/4" rod. This is fact...we did a little demo at a pulpmill once. The old boys didn't want mig on the property. They liked the ol' "burn a stick and have a break" They told management it was just a fad etc. They looked pretty silly after we where through with them.
When I go out on a job I don't care what they throw at me...stick, tig, mig, whatever...it's all in a days work. I thought a tig/stick would do me in my home shop. I was disappointed.
Up here argon is very expensive, tig electrodes are expensive as well. Tig is overall one of the most expensive welding processes.
Then I found myself tigging a lot of common things that where far better suited to mig. A waste of time and money.
Then the stick welding in my smallish shop...get after it as hard as you can go...within minutes the smoke is so thick you can't see the other side of the shop...this while a 6" exhaust fan is running full out right over the bench. The fan worked fine for the mig I had before.
Then there's the flux that you can't get out of hard to reach places. Oh ya...you'll get it out eventually but this all adds a lot of time to a project.
Don't get me wrong...my passion is tig welding. After all this time I still love stick welding. I actually hate mig welding (lotta time on production floors) but if I was stuck with one machine again...I'd prefer a pulse mig with a push pull for alu and a couple pallets of wire (including SS) for everything else.
Just my 2 cents (Cnd)
Russ

torker
11-20-2007, 09:00 PM
Oh ya...and if any of you ladies wants to argue about welding 1/2" steel...I'd just wander out to the shop and whip one up for you. 3/32 Thoriated tungsten @ (prolly) 165 amps. No need for a big gun :D
Russ

BadDog
11-20-2007, 09:18 PM
Dang Russ, that's almost word for word my take on the whole thing.

I would love to have a largish TIG with freq box, timers, and other goodies, but I wouldn't want it for the only process. I've run stick (SMAW), wire (GMAW), TIG (GTAW), and O/A (?? welding brazing and soldering) in various quantities since my grandfarther (career boilermaker for TVA since the beginning) taught me on an old Lincoln tombstone when I was something like 13. I now have a 225 Miller AC buzz box under 1/4" of dust (I really should sell it, but you never know, may want to run some CI or stainless someday), and a well and frequently used MM175 with 75/25 and running 0.035 solid. I've run countless 11lb rolls through that machine and I think it really hits the sweet spot for "home shop" use. I wish I had a MM210 or bigger, and they have some nice features (most importantly, better arc start and stabilization plus ability to enter spray transfer), but mostly over kill for typical a home shop. Next step down from a 175 (that you accurately call "MickeyWire") is just too small and you're dinking around way too much unless you're just doing sheet work, and even then... no thanks...

Oh, and I have O/A with a Victor Journeyman (cutting mostly, but alsoe welding tips) and Mini (my preferred welder) available too, but rarely fire it up for anything other than heating.

LastOldDog
11-20-2007, 10:11 PM
Very different processes as everyone points out. I started out with an oxy acetelyne outfit to learn the puddle control thing. With perseverance, you can do just about anything with a good gas set up but it takes practice. Yes I've done aluminum and stainless with gas.

I recently bought a Miller Dynasty 200 DX. This is an inverter, stick/TIG machine. Pricey but it's the last one I'll buy.

As a hobbiest I don't need to run a lot of bead; it's more important to me that I run a high quality bead - so the TIG was a shoe in for me. It's my intention to make tube frames for racing motorcycles and TIG gives me the time to get it right - without the cold starts inherent to MIG.

The long and short of it is that I have the time to go slow so TIG is no problem for me.

Welding up to half inch material would require a pretty big unit! Likely 350 plus amps. Pre-heating will help but this is still very heavy duty...

Chris, I am excited each time I see someone interested in welding. My experience started in the late 50's (following Korea) as a 'Heli-Arc' welder, then in the 60's, space age rocket/missile industry for an aerospace contractor, and later as a DOD, subcontractor. So I am spoiled, TIG rules for x-ray quality, and if your customer wants welds looking as though they were produced with Photoshop, ahhhh TIG. However, sometimes a backyard ornamental iron thingie just needs to be stuck together. Re-weld a spring hanger on your boat trailer? MIG has it's place, my Son ran the robot welding division for a big firm, a natural for MIG.

You've offered several interesting comments. 'Puddle Control' with the TIG foot control is unparalleled, and no crater cracking either. Also one can attach temporary 'run -off' tabs with TIG.

With TIG, and some practice, one can do top notch shop grade work on steel, chrome-moly, some aluminum alloys, and a few stainless alloys. Magnesium and titanium require additional training.

Unless one's work is in tool & die, a mold shop, critical part environment (aeronautics, auto sports), making fixtures or anything that could result in a part failure injury, I would definitely start with MIG, and learn the principles. Only after a LOT of practice on CLEAN material and much destructive testing, will one feel safe with welding

My current Miller is a 350DX Syncrowave, some similarities to yours, slightly higher duty cycle, AND very stable at low amp operation (2-5 amps).

In shop work, rarely will one to do 1/2" material in one pass, usually stringers and maybe a wash for the final. OTOH, I usually use the TIG for a root pass, then fill in with the MIG gun for non-critical welds. My MIG is a 250, also with the digi front panel.

Other features: Two sizes water cooled torches and lines, solenoid filler wire end nipper, on board water cooler, 3/4 finger kid gloves, super light weight carbon fibre auto darkening hood, leather sleeves for the lines, dedicated 6" grinder for electrodes, 50' extension power cable for welding outside (must weigh 150 lb, about two week's worth of my Social Security check), welding table (lotsa overhead and peripheral lighting) w/electrical and air outlets, exhaust hood, foot control variable speed positioner, shop fridge for adult beverages.

No substitute for sitting down to a clean table with clean machined parts clamped in a proper fixture, draft free-smoke free-customer free zone, back-purge on, comfortable, and already 'warmed up'. Perhaps some mellow tunes in the background. I'm retired, these things are my toys.

Thanx for the nostalgia rant opportunity, sorry to the rest of youse guys.

Lloyd

Your Old Dog
11-20-2007, 10:13 PM
I got the venerable (Gulp!) Miller MickeyWire 135 Mig. I'd give my eyeteeth for the 220 volt version. Every now and then the one Ihave works fine but then I have those days where the arc just don't seem stable. I've heard it's because it's a 110 version.

I've got O/A and a Linconl AC/DC stick but the MIG gets most of the action.

LastOldDog
11-21-2007, 02:58 AM
I got the venerable (Gulp!) Miller MickeyWire 135 Mig. I'd give my eyeteeth for the 220 volt version. Every now and then the one Ihave works fine but then I have those days where the arc just don't seem stable. I've heard it's because it's a 110 version.

I've got O/A and a Linconl AC/DC stick but the MIG gets most of the action.

YOG, guess what? You HAVE a machine, and, you can perform most of your welding needs quickly and with a feeling of confidence and expectation of reliability. Think of all the folks still doing without.

Sure, it is easy to fall into that wishful feeling; "Gee if I only had that 'Whizbang 1000' with the auto everything, gosh, I could really build some nice projects." Well, we all are deprived of some material assets in some way but we seem to plug along and prevail.

In your case, you HAVE this 110v machine, count your blessings, my man, you are much better off than many. Find work-arounds, and enjoy your hobby. You really are a lucky man to have these tools and equipment in your shop. Good on ya ! ! ! Bless you my son.

Lloyd

gregl
11-21-2007, 06:20 AM
To add to the many good comments above, you might want to look at this forum:

http://www.hobartwelders.com/weldtalk/

Although it's run by Hobart, all brands are discussed, and there are several sub-forums.

One issue not discussed above is what you are making with these materials. For example, if it's a boiler for a live steam locomotive, most folks use tig or stick and run the other way when they hear of one stuck together with MIG. Same thing for trailer frames. Many say it's easy to get a good-looking yet poorly penetrated weld with MIG.

The fact that you're asking the question suggests that you're not a seasoned welder. Each process has it's place depending on many circumstances. A good investment would be a night class at a community college. I did this and from what I learned, I saved myself several thousand bucks on equipment that I still lust for but don't need for what I do.

Your Old Dog
11-21-2007, 06:40 AM
YOG, guess what? You HAVE a machine, and, you can perform most of your welding needs quickly and with a feeling of confidence and expectation of reliability. Think of all the folks still doing without.

Sure, it is easy to fall into that wishful feeling; "Gee if I only had that 'Whizbang 1000' with the auto everything, gosh, I could really build some nice projects." Well, we all are deprived of some material assets in some way but we seem to plug along and prevail.

In your case, you HAVE this 110v machine, count your blessings, my man, you are much better off than many. Find work-arounds, and enjoy your hobby. You really are a lucky man to have these tools and equipment in your shop. Good on ya ! ! ! Bless you my son.

Lloyd

I can't disagree with you Lloyd !! I know I'm pretty lucky. The Gulp was meant to play off a few other post where that particular setup was mentioned as Mickeywire. But, in light of the thread and the OP's intention for making it, I wanted him to know that if I were doing it over again I'd have gone to atleast the next larger unit. I could no doubt own a TIG unit if I really wanted one but suspect it might be a little over my head to learn to operate it.

I'm grateful for the toys I have. To me they represent potential to be constructive. I'm having fun :D

Your Old Dog
11-21-2007, 06:44 AM
Many say it's easy to get a good-looking yet poorly penetrated weld with MIG.

I've had that experiance myself. Decent looking welds that failed. For that reason I've taken Cofer's advice and think about the safety aspects of what I'm welding with my MIG. If I have to do a trailer it will be with stick welder.

BigBoy1
11-21-2007, 07:53 AM
From all of the commets made, that it is not such a simple decision and I can see that I need to to much more homework before I make any purchases. I'm just a hobby shop so the welding would be for my own projects. Speed and quanity production are not an issue.

I'll visit the websires listed and maybe I pay a visit or two to local welding shops and see what they have and how they like their equipment. The local community college is offering a welding course and I am going to enroll to get more background in the welding area.

Appreciate all of the inputs. Thanks.

Bill

torker
11-21-2007, 08:16 AM
YOD...Guess that was aimed at me. "Mickey wire" is an old slang used by weldors to describe smallish hard wire. If I was to have my 255 setup for this in my shop it would be termed the "Mickey" machine. That's all there is to that.
Your 135...don't count it out. I also have one of those but in a Lincoln.
My favourite example of what they can do... I got a call to climb up to the top of a tower (about 85 feet high) in a cement plant and weld an actuator arm on an air cylinder. This thing had a habit of breaking off a couple times a year. It was a Sunday morning and there was no place to rent a portable welder.
I made them a deal...if one of their gorillas would pack the gas bottle up there I'd pack the little Lincoln and weld their arm.
It was a mess. It'd been welded by someone who didn't know how to use 6010...many times.
About an hour of grinding and fitting...plug the 135 into the outlet...lots of preheat with a small propane torch....running wide open with .030 S-6 soon had the 1/2" thick by 8" wide arm welded back on. Was running horizontal stringers. I think about 10 passes per side on the double V joint.
The arm has never failed in 3 years now. It gets slammed about 100 times a day as it snaps shut the gate for the cement feed hopper.
About a month ago I had to take that same machine deep inside one of our biggest hotels to weld some heavy hinges on a large metal security door I built...same thing...nice clean welding zone and lots of preheat.
Just remember that...clean and preheat.
The only difference is, my big machine doesn't really care about clean (why i run dual shield) and it doesn't care about preheat. I usually run it so hot that the tacks preheat the metal enough.
I've worked in the environment that LOD speaks of...tig welding stainless. Everything sqeaky clean, work all day and never get dirty, using a state of the art tig machine (thing cost over $12,000 with all the bling), the envy of all the other weldors who couldn't pass the tests. Fun at first but after the novelty wore off it was the most boring job I've ever had. 12 hour shifts doing precision tig on large SS pipe...every inch walked in with cups and Xrayed. Very hard on the wrist.
Russ

torker
11-21-2007, 08:19 AM
From all of the commets made, that it is not such a simple decision and I can see that I need to to much more homework before I make any purchases. I'm just a hobby shop so the welding would be for my own projects. Speed and quanity production are not an issue.

I'll visit the websires listed and maybe I pay a visit or two to local welding shops and see what they have and how they like their equipment. The local community college is offering a welding course and I am going to enroll to get more background in the welding area.

Appreciate all of the inputs. Thanks.

Bill
Bill, now you're on the right track. Take the course and see if they'll let you try as many processes as possible. Bear in mind that you will not be using homeshop type equipment there but at least you'll have a better idea what you will like in the end.
Russ

interiorpainter
11-21-2007, 11:49 AM
Cebora makes a machine that is called Tristar. Yes it is Italian made.
It is a mig welder on which you can add a tig hose as an option.
As far as i know it is DC for tig but they specify you can mig alu.
I am shure you have read the warnings about this.
Have not seen it yet. The American brands must have something like that.
My Cebora DC tig works fine for almost 10 years but my Cebora mig came dead in a box. Swithed imediately for another another.

macona
11-21-2007, 12:19 PM
First machine should probably be a Mig machine. You will find that more projects are done in steel than in aluminum. And the speed in which you complete a project is so much faster. Tig is nice but not really necessary.

Tig is more ascetically pleasing, especially in aluminum but a well done mig weld can be just as nice. The newer Mig machine like the Millermatic 350P can make welds that look like tig welds but at mig speeds. Its all in the pulsing.

Options for machines vary. I would avoid the small Lincolns. I really hate working on these things. Horribly designed. And now they are all being made in Mexico. A lot of Lincolns stuff is now being made overseas. Easy way to tell is by the serial number. U for US, I for Italy, H for Holland, M for Mexico, etc. The cheap spoolgun is total garbage.

Miller would be the best machine to get. Of you want a small machine and dont really need to lug it around one of the 240v Millermatic 180 machine would do you good. Miller just came out with a $200 spool gun that will attach to the front. Millers are very well designed. Good strong drive system, well layed out internally. Easy to work on. All of the Miller machines are still made here. Some accessories like the cheap spoolmate guns are made in china.

Hobarts are to Miller what Dodge is to Chrysler. A cheaper line of the same item. Hobarts have a weaker drive system and all are tapped transformers versus infinite control on all of the Millermatics. Once exception being the Millermatic 210 and Hobart Ironman 210. They are identical.

Esab makes the Migmaster 250. Very good machine. Used to be made by Ltec. If you can find one used you can probably get a good deal.

retusaf99
11-21-2007, 12:29 PM
BigBoy,

I was in the same boat as you 18 months ago. I signed up for classes at Clark Community College, in Vancouver WA. (I'm specifically mentioning them because they do a great job of meeting the community's needs.) The welding classes fill up fast, and thanks to a multi-million dollar endowment specifically for the tech arts, the equipment is top notch. Everything from Synchrowave and Lincoln PrecisionTigs 350s, O/A, industrial migs down to Lincoln 135s. Plus the industrial shears, bandsaws, grinding room....Candyland for sure!

I took an "introduction to welding class" (or something like that) 3 times. Best money I ever spent. Very low key, good emphasis on safety, and once you get the instructor's confidence, you can do just about anything and see what works for you. I learned stick, mig, and a bit of tig.

Tig is really, really cool, but I opted for a Lincoln 180c mig for my first home shop rig. Always something that can be welded out of steel. Tig will come down the road when budget (and the wife) allows, but it won't replace the mig.

Again, I was a complete rookie, I've just always wanted to be able to weld. Heck, I've glued wood for 5 decades. Now I can glue metal.

Good luck and have fun.

Doug

AlleyCat
11-21-2007, 01:18 PM
Macona- I've been looking at the Hobart Ironman 210 at the local farm supply store. It looks like a substantial machine but what about the drive mechanism? The Hobart drive looked like plastic to me. Is the Miller drive metal? The local price on the Hobart Ironman 210 is $1259.00 which doesn't seem too bad. A local guy wanted $1300 for a like new but used MM210. Which way should I go?
Your comments would be much appreciated. TIA.

macona
11-21-2007, 02:42 PM
You know, I have not seen the wire drive in the larger hobarts. We dont stock them and really dont sell them (I repair welders and plasma cutter). You can buy the new Millermatic 212 for around $1400 so $1300 for a used old model does not seem like a good deal.

BadDog
11-21-2007, 04:00 PM
I also prefer the Millers, all my machines are Miller. But I also don't know about the larger drive systems in the Hobart line. The main thing is the drive roller assembly, which is also the liner/sheath anchor. The smaller Hobarts (again, don't know about the larger) use plastic for that assembly and they do tend to break if treated roughly. The most common cause of breakage is trying to pull the machine closer using the gun lead. If you treat it decent, the plastic is generally good enough for home shop, and that's what Hobart is targeted as, "consumer grade". The same thing in a Miller is intended for "industrial use" and meant to stand up to half trained gorillas with "it aint my machine" mentality.

But the main reason I'm posting again is I didn't see one important point that I think bears mentioning. Check your local consumable sources. Make sure you've got multiple options at a reasonable price. YOU MUST HAVE READY ACCESS TO CONSUMABLES THAT ARE KEPT IN STOCK. In some places, that might mean Lincoln over Miller. And there are others, like ESAB who make a fine industrial grade line of machines, but you often take it in the shorts on consumables that are rarely stocked locally. Something to think about...

Also, I would suggest not even thinking about the "Weldpack" and similar bottom feeder units sold in HD and Lowes. Get a real "MIG", you'll appreciate the gas, believe me...

Bill Pace
11-21-2007, 04:50 PM
Boy oh Boy!! This thread is why this forum ROCKS!!

Where in the world could you get this kind on info from these several guys that KNOW what its about----this stuff aint in no books!

Its for sure that a copy of this is going in a file that I'll be able to refer back to for some time.........

wierdscience
11-21-2007, 07:13 PM
Ment to add also,the mig handles 80% of what comes in the door with the same wire/gas.We run .035 and 75/25,reason being I can weld 1/2" sections without lossing capacity and still trun it down and stitch sheetmetal.Verstility is it's best feature because I never know what the next job will be after some practice the settings for wirefeed and voltage can be set in seconds.The spoolgun makes things even easier,no "settingup" for aluminum,hook up the gas(quick connects)set the votage and wire speed and weld,2 minutes tops.

wmgeorge
11-21-2007, 07:25 PM
I've had that experiance myself. Decent looking welds that failed. For that reason I've taken Cofer's advice and think about the safety aspects of what I'm welding with my MIG. If I have to do a trailer it will be with stick welder.

I will amen this. For a quick weld job on new metal, MIG.

For critical (trailers and hitches) or used, rusted, painted metal, even cleaned a stick welder with 6010/6011 for the root - amps turned up please for penetration and 7018 for the cap. I also have a small TIG for the stainless work and real light sheet metal job I may have once or twice a year. BG in Iowa

JRouche
11-21-2007, 10:03 PM
Already abunch of great info from the guys.. I started out with a MIG, itís a Lincoln weld-pak 155 220vac and I use gas. Seems a lot of folks wouldnt recommend them. I like mine, it has never left me stranded for the ten years I have owned it. Money was a big factor for me. I almost couldnt afford it and certainly couldnt afford a Miller.

I have welded up everything from a 50 ton press to my entire car frame with it. The 220vac does help. I used a buddies 110 hobart and it was under powered for just a burn and go, no preheat.

Its also small and garage space was a concern. I can have it on the bottom of a cart with my plasma ontop..

After some college welding classes learning some gas, stick and TIG processes I wanted a TIG machine. So I bought a biggish Hobart Tigwave 250. I also love that machine. Never a problem and plenty of power..

All that being said... I still use the MIG more than the TIG.. Most of my welding is utilitarian. Meaning its away from the table and in place. The TIG is too big to be rolling around my small garage and the MIG is not. Also, if Im under the car welding something itís a whole lot easier (for me) to just squeeze the go button than trying to hit the foot peddle with my knee LOL ..

I like them all. Gas, stick (ok, not really), MIG, TIG and the plasma. Plasma is fun, eats through everything!! Haa.

So my recommendation, MIG. Then do some G jobs and pay for the TIG and others.. JRouche

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v366/Jrouche/plasmaweld.jpg

macona
11-22-2007, 01:57 AM
After all the lincolns I have worked on and having delt with that companies customer service I wouldnt recommend a lincoln to my enemy. Terribly designed machine. For example a Invertec 350 vs a Miller XMT-304. Basically the same machine in form factor and capability. Lincoln has 15 circuit boards in there. Wires everyplace, boards scattered through the machine. You have to flip a manual switch and move jumper wires to change voltage ranges. IGBTs are part of a circuit board and not replaceable. ($2000 board) Fan blows dust through the entire machine.

On the other hand the XMT has three circuit boards, automatically switches between voltage ranges. IGBTs are generic and can be bought cheap elsewhere. All the heat generating components are mounted to two heat sinks fin to fin forming a sealed tunnel down the length of the machine effectively sealing the electronics from the environment. A fan at one end only comes on when needed.

I will recommend Miller though and the American made Esabs. Hypertherm when it comes to plasma cutters.

One advantage of Lincoln though is they use tweco standard connections and consumables which are available everywhere.

Tweco does make conversion kits for almost all brands of mig guns that allow you to use tweco standard consumables. Though at this point its hard for me to recommend anything Tweco, or for that matter their parent company Thermadyne. Parts are always slow to arrive or are back ordered.

All of the old larger Hobart machines became Thermal Arc a subsidiary of Thermadyne. If you have a Hobart over about 10 years old make sure you keep the manual safe as they probably dont have them any more.

I dont have a horse in this race, this is just coming from what I have learned since becoming a welder-fixer. My personal machines are a XMT-304 with Optima Pulser, Spool Gun, S54-E feeder, Smith Gas mixer, and a miller roughneck gun. I also have a Thermal Arc 300GTSW. Great machine when they are not blowing up. And then theres the Plasma. Thermal Dynamics Stak Pak. Or should I say Smoke Stak Pak. Keep blowing the output diodes in one of the modules.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h228/macona/DSC03185.jpg

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h228/macona/DSC03186.jpg

torker
11-22-2007, 08:20 AM
macona, I really appreciate your insight. I have to say though...I have mostly Lincoln equipment in my shop. I've always been a Lincoln man. Some of the very best machines I've ever used have been Red(or gray or black).
Right now I have a 275 Squarewave, a 255 Powermig (with Bernard gun of course), a SP135 mig, a Lincoln Pro Cut 25 and the newest addition, a Hypertherm 600 plasma.
I can't remember how long I've owned most of it...maybe 6 years. In that time of abuse (small shop with plenty of grinding dust) the only problem I've had was a solenoid rusted shut in the PC25 plasma...cuz I don't have a good water seperator. I've used the absolute crap out of that little machine. Cut up a lot of old relic vehicles to haul to the dump, cut a lot of plate with it that maxed it out on a continual basis. The consumables last forever and are very cheap.
I'm sorry to hear that Lincoln is outsourcing now. That will not be a good thing I reckon.
The Hypertherm...I'm not terribly impressed with it so far. It requires a ton of air, the consumables are not all that cheap and don't last like the Lincoln. The torch has a horrid trigger setup on it that requires you to squeeze like crazy...very hard on the hands after awhile. It does cut though. It'll severe 7/8" mild steel...pretty decent for a small machine.
The big fab shop I work at from time to time has about 30 Millers of all types. Some I like, some I hate. There's always something broke down. The same as the local college...they have about 40 Millers. Some are crap, some are good. The Dynasty 200's they have are always broke down. You couldn't give me one of them.
Any place I've worked, the XMT-304's have been excellent. The same setup you have...an XMT-304 with Optima pulser is by far the nicest I've ever used on aluminum. Set it up for spray transfer, get the controller whistlin...just like heavan!
I like almost any old Ltec I've owned or used. Pricey to fix but real workhorses.
You couldn't give me an Esab plasma cutter. I've used a few...very hard on consumables which cost a fortune.
Esab welders...I wouldn't buy one after I've seen a few with some time on them. One was a tig that was a real pita...right from new. He eventually traded it for a Lincoln.
I guess welders are like whiskey...we all have different tastes.
Russ

Jim Caudill
11-22-2007, 12:51 PM
I had both in my shop for several years. A very nice Lincoln square wave 255 with Magnum water-cooler and the Lincoln Sp-255 Mig welder. Both these units have the digital readouts and microprocessor controls. I used to do a lot of Tig on a steel product I manufactured. When I needed to do small production runs using Aluminum castings, I bought a spool gun for the Mig welder. Both guns can be hooked up at the same time (2 different gas bottles on the back) and a toggle switch used to select which gun. Space and money became premium commodities, so I felt I needed to sell one of the welders. I chose to sell the Tig and keep the Mig.

So, from someone who had very nice specimens of both, I chose to keep the Mig. My Mig has all sorts of "bells & whistles" including (4) programmable pre-select parameters, spot and stich welding, and a number of other handy features that rarely get used.

macona
11-22-2007, 09:56 PM
torker, something is wrong with your trigger. It should be rather easy to press one you flip the safety.

The dynastys are going down? I have never had a Dynasty in my shop for anything other than customer error. They have been rock solid.

The XMT has been great. I built a model barge for a friend out of .080 aluminum. Used .035 4043 in the spool gun in pulse mode and no deformation of the back side. Nice little 3/16" wide corner fillets.


http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h228/macona/DSC02869.jpg