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Welder Thoughts?

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I ended up buggering up the center boom on my 55 gal Fimco sprayer. I tried to order another, but the one they sent was the wrong size. I pulled off the old boom to see if I could somehow make the one they sent work. Not so much. While I had it apart, I decided to try to bend it back so it was straight again. I was able to get it pretty straight, but of course, the metal is badly cracked and it certainly won't hold. I'm sure I could have some angle iron welded on to repair the two spots where it was bent back into position.

I could just take it to someone but I don't need it repaired until spring so there is no hurry. I've always wanted to have a welder for the farm and learn to weld. There are always things that need fixed. I have very little experience with welding. I spent the holidays a year or so ago at my brother-in-law's place. He has a Miller 211 or 215 (can't recall). My nephew gave me a crash course in mig-welding but he is not highly experienced. I was able to mig-weld well enough to get by. I've never tried any other welding process but I would not mind learning.

I understand stick welding is the tried and true for farming because it is mobile, can handle thick metal, and can handle less than pristine metal conditions. I understand flux-core wire handles dirty metal as well. I can't think of anything I'd need to weld in the field that I could not bring back to the barn. This opens me up to 120v and/or 240v options. I'm sure there are a lot of equivalent brands, but I'm familiar with Miller, know it is good quality, and I was happy with the limited amount of time I used it. I don't currently see a "need" to tig weld, and I certainly don't have any skills in that area, but as I retire and have more time, you never know. I've been looking at the Miller 215, 235, and 220. They are running about $1,600, $2,400, and $3,100 respectively. The first two are tig capable but don't come with the tig kit at those prices. The 220 includes the tig accessories. The 235 is 240v only with a significantly higher duty cycle and they others are dual voltage. The selling point of the 220 is that it can do AC Tig (aluminum). All of these machines have some kind of pro-set feature that would help a beginner like me.

I did some poking around and found that Miller regularly has early calendar year rebates. They have none going on now but I'm in no rush. The 235 is new so I think the current price is still carrying a premium. I'm guessing it will drop to about $2,100 in time.

So my feeling right now is that Mig, Flux-core, and Stick capability are a must and tig is a nice to have. I'm leaning toward the 215 right now. For occasional farm use and hobby project here and there, I don't think I really need the higher duty cycle of the 235. I like the fact that it is physically smaller and can use 120v if I do need to go mobile. I also like the lower cost. I don't think I'm willing to pay the high premium for AC tig without knowing if I'll rally use it and I certainly don't think I need it.

I'm looking for input:
- Does my general reasoning hold for my intended use?
- I'm not interested in Harbor Freight quality but I'm open to other high quality brands like Miller.
- Any suggestions for other welders to compare to these?
- Any tips on learning?

Thanks,

Jack
 

Catscratch

5 year old buck +
Miller is as good as you'll ever need. For the price you will need to want a welder, a couple of grand buys a lot of repairs. I have a Lincoln wire feed 110 running flux, and a Miller Bobcat generator/stick on a trailer. The portable is great when you need it, the 110 wire is great when you need it. A Miller 2?? gives you the best of both worlds (except the generator) with the ability to weld .375 (if I remember right) and smaller. I really like wire...

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yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Miller is as good as you'll ever need. For the price you will need to want a welder, a couple of grand buys a lot of repairs. I have a Lincoln wire feed 110 running flux, and a Miller Bobcat generator/stick on a trailer. The portable is great when you need it, the 110 wire is great when you need it. A Miller 2?? gives you the best of both worlds (except the generator) with the ability to weld .375 (if I remember right) and smaller. I really like wire...

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Thanks for the feed back!
 

buckdeer1

5 year old buck +
Wire is alot easier flux with bottles is top line and can weld about what ever you need,tig you might want some classes from what I hear
 

crowskee

5 year old buck +
A Lincoln ac-225 stick welder would weld anything you would ever need welded. If you are planning on welding thin stuff or sheet metal like auto body panels then I would consider a mig welder. If not a nice stick welder and some 7018 rods can weld almost anything.
 

rocksnstumps

5 year old buck +
^^^^ Above great advice for likely the majority of any welding ever needed on 3/16" stock or thicker. The 7018 rod comment spot on, my first choice also. Decent penetration like 6011 rod but also puddles nice and gives smoother looking welds like 6013. Little more expensive rod but well worth it. I am not a real welder by any means but have taken a few classes at local tech school. Advantage is local tech is in Appleton, WI where Miller welders are made! Let's just say they have nice stuff.

Biggest thing with stick is keeping a fresh pack of rods that are not a few years old and they pick up moisture and weld like crap.

I have a Miller 210 but actually fire up the old 50+ yr old Miller Thunderbolt most on the rusty junk I work on and can reach into tighter spots with the tip of a good long rod.

For 1/8" stuff and under the mig is nice tho.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
A Lincoln ac-225 stick welder would weld anything you would ever need welded. If you are planning on welding thin stuff or sheet metal like auto body panels then I would consider a mig welder. If not a nice stick welder and some 7018 rods can weld almost anything.

There is no doubt the stick welder could do the job for farm stuff....The question becomes, whether I could develop the skills necessary with a stick welder given the fact that my farm welding would likely be infrequent. My thinking was that I was able to pick up wire welding enough to get by in a weekend but without someone to teach me, it would take much more time and practice. A multi-process would let me have some functionality soon with wire, giving me time to learn with sticks. The other reason is that some things, like the boom on the welder are thinner that 3/16".

Or do you guys think I could pick up stick welding pretty quickly? Don't get me wrong, my skills with wire are marginal at best. I would not weld anything yet that could cause bodily harm if the weld failed.

Thanks,

Jack
 

bjseiler

5 year old buck +
I’ve taken a few classes. One That was one on one with a teacher and one art welding class. It has been several years and I don’t own a welder yet so I don’t have anything much to add on your decision other than I’d look around and see if there are any classes near you. The one class we did most of the work just with a torch but then got to use mig and tig.
 

rocksnstumps

5 year old buck +
I am not up to speed on what model does what these days but have heard good things about some sort of auto mode which can adjust wire feed and voltage for you. Makes a novice welder crank out some decent looking welds even with little experience.

My latest boss in former life was a journeyman mechanic and knew a thing or two about welding. His son started taking a class and within a day or two was showing the old man some great looking welding examples that the machine helps compensate for lack of technique.

Maybe a good reason to blow more dough on a unit which could be done with a cheaper one but need the experience to get nice results. Or just buy a cheap welder and and a really good grinder!
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I am not up to speed on what model does what these days but have heard good things about some sort of auto mode which can adjust wire feed and voltage for you. Makes a novice welder crank out some decent looking welds even with little experience.

My latest boss in former life was a journeyman mechanic and knew a thing or two about welding. His son started taking a class and within a day or two was showing the old man some great looking welding examples that the machine helps compensate for lack of technique.

Maybe a good reason to blow more dough on a unit which could be done with a cheaper one but need the experience to get nice results. Or just buy a cheap welder and and a really good grinder!

Yes, as a novice, that was one of the things I liked about the Miller. You could specify your metal thickness and wire and it would set the speed and amperage as a starting point. You could adjust from there. I'm sure I could look those things up on-line, but being an infrequent welder, it gives me a lot of confidence. It doesn't help my technique but at least I know the machine settings are reasonable and I can focus on the technique.

There does not seem to be a premium for this kind of "pro-set" feature. Once you get to multi-process welders, it seems to be on most models. I'm sure it is cheap to implement. One of the things I liked about the Miller I used was that it was pretty much idiot proof for setup. It would tell you if the wrong cable was plugged in for the process you were using. Again, nice for the occasional welder like me that will forget stuff from one use to the next.

Thanks,

Jack
 

Gravel Road

5 year old buck +
I have an ancient Miller mig that my dad bought new in about 1984. It still works great. If I had to replace it I would probably go down to a smaller 110 volt mig unit since I do have an old Lincoln stick welder. The 110 volt ones work pretty darn good for general usage. I've seen guys welding some suprizingly big industrial water lines with a little Lincoln flux core welder.I'm too cheap to spend $2K on a welder, especially with my skills-lol
This morning I pulled out an old bed frame and made a little 6 foot ladder to make getting into the tree stand easier. Couldn't imagine being without a welder! Good luck and enjoy your purchase!
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I've been poking around on the internet. It seems like Miller offers rebates right after the calendar year begins each year. Does that seem right?
 

ACCMan

5 year old buck +
Jack I'll give you my two cents. I cut my teeth on a Lincoln 225 stick welder as every shop had that stick welder. A stick welder is great if you use it frequently, if not, have a good grinder, brush, and chipping hammer by your side. When not stick welding frequently even striking an arc can be a challenge, especially when standing on your head or in some contorted position. When I was in the workforce I used stick welders and MIG welders. The ease of a MIG striking an arc and not having to change rods sold me om MIG.

I have two MIGs, a Miller 130 set up with flux core wire, and a Hobart 190 with solid wire and sheilding gas. The 190 will weld 5/16 + and is capable of doing much better than my capabilities. With sheilding gas you can leave your brush and chipping hammer in the tool box. Once you learn to weld with it you can put the grinder away also.

The MIG's have a quirk, and that is the ground lead must be about 2' +/- to where you are welding. Most come with a cheap, weak ground clamp that you need to replace. If you have a poor ground on a MIG you will catch hell with splattering and jerky wire movement. When you have it right there is nothing better than the squeal of a MIG when welding. I think the learning curve on MIG is shorter than stick welding.

With MIG you need an excellent auto darkening helmet, cheap just wont work because the arc of .035 wire is so much smaller than an 1/8" stick. I resisted spending the money to go to gas, then kicked myself for not doing it sooner. The difference in welding flux cored wire, or solid with gas is night and day difference. Solid with gas is easier, maybe faster, but certainly saves on cleanup time, because there is no slag or beads to grind before painting.

OK, thats my two cents, and I dont claim to be a professional welder, however I have stayed in a Holiday Inn.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Jack I'll give you my two cents. I cut my teeth on a Lincoln 225 stick welder as every shop had that stick welder. A stick welder is great if you use it frequently, if not, have a good grinder, brush, and chipping hammer by your side. When not stick welding frequently even striking an arc can be a challenge, especially when standing on your head or in some contorted position. When I was in the workforce I used stick welders and MIG welders. The ease of a MIG striking an arc and not having to change rods sold me om MIG.

I have two MIGs, a Miller 130 set up with flux core wire, and a Hobart 190 with solid wire and sheilding gas. The 190 will weld 5/16 + and is capable of doing much better than my capabilities. With sheilding gas you can leave your brush and chipping hammer in the tool box. Once you learn to weld with it you can put the grinder away also.

The MIG's have a quirk, and that is the ground lead must be about 2' +/- to where you are welding. Most come with a cheap, weak ground clamp that you need to replace. If you have a poor ground on a MIG you will catch hell with splattering and jerky wire movement. When you have it right there is nothing better than the squeal of a MIG when welding. I think the learning curve on MIG is shorter than stick welding.

With MIG you need an excellent auto darkening helmet, cheap just wont work because the arc of .035 wire is so much smaller than an 1/8" stick. I resisted spending the money to go to gas, then kicked myself for not doing it sooner. The difference in welding flux cored wire, or solid with gas is night and day difference. Solid with gas is easier, maybe faster, but certainly saves on cleanup time, because there is no slag or beads to grind before painting.

OK, thats my two cents, and I dont claim to be a professional welder, however I have stayed in a Holiday Inn.
Great input! Thanks!
 

silver pigeon

Yearling... With promise
I would recommend the Miller 211. We have a couple at work. It would be great for someone just starting out. With a little practice you'll be making beautiful welds. We use shielding gas with ours.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I would recommend the Miller 211. We have a couple at work. It would be great for someone just starting out. With a little practice you'll be making beautiful welds. We use shielding gas with ours.

I looked at the 211. If all I ever want to do is MIG, I think that would be a good choice. The price is close to the 215 but the 215 offers stick and tig. I'm not sure I'll ever develop the skills or need to TIG weld. It is a nice option to have but I think my chances of using it are slim. Stick, on the other hand is a skill I would like to learn. I think it has some advantages with thicker dirtier material on the farm over MIG.

My thinking is that any skills I learn MIG welding would translate to Flux Core. I realize the techniques are somewhat different, but I would be using the same physical equipment as MIG, just no gas and a different spool in the machine. Since Flux Core is the same as stick welding it is just that the stick is in wire form coming through a gun, things I would learn from Flux Core welding like where to be in the pool and such, I would hope would translate to stick welding.

I realize that the 215 doesn't do AC and doesn't have the duty cycle of the 211, but I don't see those a big shortfalls in my situation, do you?

Thanks,

jack
 

Catscratch

5 year old buck +
Will you be in the shop, or outdoors? Gas is soooo much better if you are indoors than flux.

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yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Will you be in the shop, or outdoors? Gas is soooo much better if you are indoors than flux.

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I think most of my welding would be done in the barn where I could use gas. I think I would refine my skills at MIG first and use that indoors where I could. To learn flux, I would probably wheel the welder out on to one of the aprons. Same for stick welding. So, I have an indoor/outdoor option.

Thanks,

Jack
 
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