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  #1  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 08:50
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Cottontail Cottontail is offline
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Starter Welder

I am thinking about getting a welder so that I can start to learn the basics and to do some simple projects for the Jeep.

I am looking at a couple in the $100 - $150 range.

The first is a Flux Core 125 Amp Welder by Job Smart from Tractor Supply.
The other is a Flux Core 120 Amp Welder by Chicago Electric from Harbor Freight.

Does anyone have any insight on what is good to start with? As mentioned, probably just going to use it for small projects and just as a learning tool.
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  #2  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 09:18
Kyle96 Kyle96 is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Check out the eastwood 135 mig/flux core welder. I have it and it does pretty well especially on 1/8"-1/4" thick material, not so great on the thin stuff, but for the price overall i am very pleased.
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  #3  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 09:45
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dan1977p dan1977p is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Flux core is hard to use for thin sheet metal so if you need to do body work, look at something with gas/flux core combo. Ignore the rest if you don't care about thin stuff.

My Lincoln ProMig 140 has been a very good welder from 10ga to 3/8 so far and I can spot weld down to 18ga all with flux core. Gas would have made my rust fixes way easier since it would have burned much cooler.
Bit more expensive than you want though at $300 from a pawn shop.
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  #4  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 11:13
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ehall ehall is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Get the one with the most buttons and dials, and put it on a good overbuilt wiring drop
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  #5  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 15:10
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Cottontail Cottontail is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

I'm looking into this one. It seems to be the dual purpose that dann1977p is talking about. The Century Brand is now owned by Lincoln.

It helps that it is local to me also.
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  #6  
Old January 11th, 2017, 11:27
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freerider15 freerider15 is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

To be honest, spend a little more (ok, would be more than double that), and you'll be far happier.

For not too much more money, you could have a reputable welder with both flux and gas capability, instead of being limited to flux, which is really not ideal to me for much under 11 gauge material (~.120").

That way, once you do get a better hang of it, all you need is to get a gas bottle, and you'll be good for 80% of what you want to do.

For ~$450 you could get a Hobart 140, and that will be everything you need for a long time to come.

I was able to nab my Hobart 180 years ago for $400 or so shipped. It is a 220V unit, but that thing has been fantastic to me. I've only replaced a few items over the years, that are to be expected.
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  #7  
Old February 28th, 2017, 12:11
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montanaman montanaman is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

I bought a Harbor Freight welder and I regret it now. I wish I had spent my money on a higher-quality used welder, instead of a new HF unit.

If you do decide to go with a HF welder, you should at least upgrade the flux-core wire you use. I replaced mine with a spool of Lincoln wire, and it made a huge difference. I would say that the machine was almost unusable before that.

Even after that, there are still problems with my machine. The biggest problem is that the wire feed mechanism tends to slip and/or feed with irregular speed, making it hard to maintain a constant, moving puddle.

There are some old threads on the net about rebuilding and improving the HF welders, but by the time you spend the money on the improvements, you are in the range of a good welder anyway.

I would recommend watching eBay and CraigsList for a decent, used-but-not-abused, name-brand machine, like Lincoln, Hobart, Miller.

I also agree with the advice to get a machine that can accept a gas hookup, so you'll be able to run it as a MIG instead of just flux-core.

Just my 2 cents. Best of luck.
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  #8  
Old February 28th, 2017, 12:48
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dan1977p dan1977p is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Quote:
Originally Posted by montanaman View Post
I bought a Harbor Freight welder and I regret it now. I wish I had spent my money on a higher-quality used welder, instead of a new HF unit.

If you do decide to go with a HF welder, you should at least upgrade the flux-core wire you use. I replaced mine with a spool of Lincoln wire, and it made a huge difference. I would say that the machine was almost unusable before that.

Even after that, there are still problems with my machine. The biggest problem is that the wire feed mechanism tends to slip and/or feed with irregular speed, making it hard to maintain a constant, moving puddle.

There are some old threads on the net about rebuilding and improving the HF welders, but by the time you spend the money on the improvements, you are in the range of a good welder anyway.

I would recommend watching eBay and CraigsList for a decent, used-but-not-abused, name-brand machine, like Lincoln, Hobart, Miller.

I also agree with the advice to get a machine that can accept a gas hookup, so you'll be able to run it as a MIG instead of just flux-core.

Just my 2 cents. Best of luck.
Are you sure your tension on the wire is high enough and the tension on the spool is low enough? I agree that the HF spools suck donkey balls. I bought one in a pinch and threw it away half used after the project because the wire was wound so badly on the spool that it constantly got stuck between another strand and the plastic requiring a lot of cussing and brute force to unbind it.
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  #9  
Old February 28th, 2017, 12:59
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montanaman montanaman is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Thanks for the response, Dan. I've played with the tension on the little wire drive wheels and the spool. I got this about 10 years ago, and it was a known issue with the HF welders at that time.

I've found that holding the gun/wire feed line as straight as possible seems to help a little.

But now that you mention it, I'm tempted to go out and play with it again to see if I can improve it.
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  #10  
Old March 3rd, 2017, 23:18
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Greenz Greenz is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Bought the Miller 211 a little over a year ago. Started out on 110v with flux core wire for a few odds and end jobs. Once I started building my bumpers I moved up to argon/CO2 on 110V but the duty cycle just wasn't there for more than a inch and a half weld. Wired up to 240v and now I can run all day long up to 3/8" thick. What I'm saying is spend the money on a quality machine that will grow with you. Also a tool in this price range is a perfect sized machine for the home hobbyist. For a few more bucks I can add a spool gun and be welding aluminum or stainless, with the correct gas of course. I've run much better machines in the 480v range and I'm telling you, this Miller kicks butt.

I know a guy that runs the HF and is doing just fine making metal artwork from car parts. He is currently looking to upgrade though.

You do get what you pay for with welders. Once you have one in the shop you will find more things to do with it. Outgrowing it's capabilities should be considered. Having a source nearby for consumables and repair should also be considered. I buy the HF 0.030" solid core wire with 20% off coupon, works great.

Not much of anything I would use flux core and 110V on my Jeep. Although I built my center console armrest bracket out parts from of an old minivan seat with it. Worked fine for that. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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  #11  
Old May 25th, 2017, 13:21
xj_bill xj_bill is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Starter Welder

Quote:
Originally Posted by freerider15 View Post
To be honest, spend a little more (ok, would be more than double that), and you'll be far happier.

For not too much more money, you could have a reputable welder with both flux and gas capability, instead of being limited to flux, which is really not ideal to me for much under 11 gauge material (~.120").

That way, once you do get a better hang of it, all you need is to get a gas bottle, and you'll be good for 80% of what you want to do.

For ~$450 you could get a Hobart 140, and that will be everything you need for a long time to come.

I was able to nab my Hobart 180 years ago for $400 or so shipped. It is a 220V unit, but that thing has been fantastic to me. I've only replaced a few items over the years, that are to be expected.

I think I have the same Hobart as this guy...bought it on sale at Tractor Supply Co. a while back.

I used it with flux core to rebuild control arms, then later used it with gas to weld in a new left rear quarter panel section and seam my rear qp's when I installed fender flares. For a guy with very little prior welding experience and education, it was forgiving enough to get the job done.
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  #12  
Old June 28th, 2017, 22:11
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w_howey w_howey is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

I have the older HF unit. Mine has the gas option. It is what it is. It does fine on 1/8th to 1/4" material. HF wire is the biggest problem... its terrible shitty stuff. Even crappy wire from Oreillys or Tractor supply is better. My Tractor Supply also carries Hobart wire which is much better stuff. I replaced my wire feed rollers with ones from Lincoln(IIRC) and the feeding issue went away for the most part. Like 90% of the other HF stuff, its a straight knock off of other big name brands made with cheaper chinese parts. Most of the name companies now offer a chinese built cheapy welder that are very similar. The biggest thing to remember is that it has a 20% duty cycle and even on high power with the wire feed turned up, you are going to struggle to keep a good puddle and enough heat to weld thicker material.
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  #13  
Old July 12th, 2017, 19:30
CarolinaCrawler CarolinaCrawler is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenz View Post
Bought the Miller 211 a little over a year ago. Started out on 110v with flux core wire for a few odds and end jobs. Once I started building my bumpers I moved up to argon/CO2 on 110V but the duty cycle just wasn't there for more than a inch and a half weld. Wired up to 240v and now I can run all day long up to 3/8" thick. What I'm saying is spend the money on a quality machine that will grow with you. Also a tool in this price range is a perfect sized machine for the home hobbyist. For a few more bucks I can add a spool gun and be welding aluminum or stainless, with the correct gas of course. I've run much better machines in the 480v range and I'm telling you, this Miller kicks butt.

I know a guy that runs the HF and is doing just fine making metal artwork from car parts. He is currently looking to upgrade though.

You do get what you pay for with welders. Once you have one in the shop you will find more things to do with it. Outgrowing it's capabilities should be considered. Having a source nearby for consumables and repair should also be considered. I buy the HF 0.030" solid core wire with 20% off coupon, works great.

Not much of anything I would use flux core and 110V on my Jeep. Although I built my center console armrest bracket out parts from of an old minivan seat with it. Worked fine for that. Good luck with whatever you decide.
X2 on this. If you save a little more it will be exponentially better.

Right now Esab has a deal going on the mig only rebel. It is a fantastic machine, especially for beginning welders. It features smig which reads end line voltage and adjust while you weld. It will make you look like a seasoned pro. It fixes the main problem newbys have - stick out length. It also helps experienced welders when your forced to have a longer stick out such as tubing notches.

https://www.bakersgas.com/ESA0558102...IaAjxoEALw_wcB
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  #14  
Old December 7th, 2017, 13:47
Ericlobster Ericlobster is offline
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Re: Starter Welder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle96 View Post
Check out the eastwood 135 mig/flux core welder. I have it and it does pretty well especially on 1/8"-1/4" thick material, not so great on the thin stuff, but for the price overall i am very pleased.
Yeah the flux core is a great choice. I like to use it when the cuts I'm making are somewhat extra geometrical.
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