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Post Info TOPIC: Best Mig Welder for the money?


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Best Mig Welder for the money?


Well I haven't had the need to own a mig welder since back in the 1990's. Back then I purchased a custom exhaust shop that came with a Miller Mig welder. I am not sure of the exact model number anymore, but it was a real heavy duty unit with the purpose of being used all day every day to fab up custom exhaust and repair existing structures.

I am seriously leaning towards Miller because of my past experences, however now days there are also some other very cost effective alternatives. I did at one time not long ago purchase a flux core mig welder from my local parts store because they had it on sale for $60 (With wire, helmet, brush and everything needed), but that unit proved to be too weak for my needs, and I sold it two months later for $120. I never considered that little box to be a "Real" welder given the fact you could only weld paper thin metal safely. Even then there was a lot of spatter and messy welds.

Now my ole' man purchased one of them nicer Lincoln flux core welders, and while it has much better penitration (able to weld 14 gauge exhaust pipe), it is still messy as hell and underpowered on some thick flange applications. For this reason flux core and 110V welders are OUT OF THE QUESTION.

I myself demand a clean, "Row of dimes" style weld. So having Argon and 220 is a must in my eyes. I have 220 out in the garage now, as my air compressor uses it. Ill just get the same plug style receptical and switch them out as needed.

The fact that I do not plan on using this all day, every day like back when bought a custom exhaust shop, I figure there may be some money savings in buying an inexpensive unit that powers up on 220 and has the gun, regulator and bottle for the Argon.

Any ideas?

There is also the option of me just driving open headered up to a friend of mines who owns a Midas, but I know he would tax me when it came time to repair the torsion bar area of another job we have waiting. That job will require several hours in fabrication and also take several more to put it back together just to be able to tow. This being the case I am looking at having to purchase a welder.

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FAR BEYOND DRIVEN

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You will be happy with any one of the big 3 - Hobart, Miller, Lincoln.

Hobart is now owned by miller and is a great machine, but it is like a Chevy, and the Miller is like the Cadillac. Many of the parts between Hobart and Miller are the same now, but Miller is the fancy rig.

Lincoln is a competator of Miller, and they build a great machine, but their customer service sucks. Miller is known for their good customer service, and you can find a service facility for a Miller anywhere.

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Went down to my local BOC gas company today to get a refrill on my propane tank and inquired about a welder. Since I got my torches there and refill my tanks as well I figured that would be the best bet.

They gave me a catalog and showed me some models. They had all 4 in stock that were within my needs, but I am somewhat hung on what way to go.

1st on the line-up the Miller 180- a good sized unit using 8 lb spools, Only 220V input, welds up to 5/16 inch. Argon regulator included along with feed gun ect. $750 ish without the cart or bottle. Also can be converted to weld Aluminum.

2nd on the linu up the Miller 211 which is the same size as the 180 but it can use 220V and also 110V with a switchable power lead. Also has a little more power in 220V mode and welds up to 3/8 with a min. of 24 ga, which is a nice feature when welding smaller steel. It also kicks some 30 more AMPS than the 180 model. Also can be converted to weld Aluminum. $950 ish less the cart and bottle.

3rd up is one a little smaller than I had in my old shop. One of them big units. The millermatic 212 or 252. Anywhere from 3/8 to 1/2 inch steel, 60% duty cycle. Regulators, unit is so big it needs no cart and is on wheels. The welder for welding all day everyday. $1400 ish and up if you need the 252 for the 1/2 inch steel.

Still been looking for used units online, but after getting this catalog I am better aware of the specs. What I dont quite understand it this thing about the duty cycle. Whats up with that? I hear it's imporatant.

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Duty cycle refers to the amount of On vs Off time. A welder will heat up and go into thermal protection mode and shut off for a while with prolonged use. A 60% Duty cycle means that you can actually weld 6 out of 10 minutes.

Snap On actually makes some 100% Duty cycle welders, but honestly I'd rather have a 60% Miller.

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Good info on the duty cycle. I notice in the catalog that several higher end Millers are also rated at 100% duty cycle also, and from the photos I seen of some used Snap-On models (Older ones), they appear to be re-badged Millers, however I can't say this for sure, but the ones I seen look identical.

I got my Harbor Freight catalog in the mail to find a special on a 220V Mig welder with everything less the regulator and bottle for $179.99 plus I have an additional 20% off coupon!! I know.. I know.. It's prolly made in China, but I am considering going in there to see the actual spec's such as AMPS, Duty Cycle and then also the thickness and min. thickness ratings. I am sure it's a POS, but damn I have some old regulators and a small bottle.. Might be worth buying to try out, as I could prolly sell it off for a profit if it wasn't up to snuff.

I don't know. Getting close to black Friday, I got several things that need welding, and people arent spending. I wonder how much of a Miller is made in China?



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FAR BEYOND DRIVEN

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I have always seen "Made in USA" stickers on Millers

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I ended up fixing my exhaust at Midas. My buddy who is the manager there picked up a SWEET 1986 Camaro IROC Z with only GASP 5000 MILES! Picked it up for a song too!

Anyway I couldnt help but mention that first. To see one in time capsule quality like that brought back memories.

So I put my car up on the lift, cut and bend some new pipes, however when it was time to weld I noticed they had gotten a new welder. It was a Miller 180! I was really happy to see that because I wondered if that unit would have enough power and I was VERY impressed with the unit. Very nice welds, good penitration and that ole' Miller quality gets me every time.

I am thinking going the Miller 180 route. But something tells me to buy that inexpensive unit while it's still on sale and give it a try now that I have the trigger time on the Miller 180. If anything I know I could sell it after my other big job it done. If anything it would allow me to make a few bucks on this old bottle and regulators that I have now. The whole set up put thoughter and running might even turn me enough for a little more than half down on the Miller!


-- Edited by SELLC on Saturday 13th of November 2010 07:17:16 PM

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MAN!

I had the opportunity to buy a Lincoln welder from a neighbor last week. They wanted $375 which I thought was a bit pricey for a 110 welder. While it was a good name brand, and it included argon, wire, gloves, mask and cart it was still a 110 unit.

All the 110 welders I have used did not make a good weld. Lots more spatter and not enough penetration. You could turn up the juice but it would just make it worse.

I turned down the deal.. I feel like I need to hold off for the 220 welder otherwise I will just be once kicking myself.



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Howdy, this has been an excellent informative article! I definitely appreciate all of your wisdom. Thanks alot .


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I have Hobart Handler 140. It's a nice welder machine.

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SELLC wrote:

MAN!

I had the opportunity to buy a Lincoln welder from a neighbor last week. They wanted $375 which I thought was a bit pricey for a 110 welder. While it was a good name brand, and it included argon, wire, gloves, mask and cart it was still a 110 unit.

All the 110 welders I have used did not make a good weld. Lots more spatter and not enough penetration. You could turn up the juice but it would just make it worse.

I turned down the deal.. I feel like I need to hold off for the 220 welder otherwise I will just be once kicking myself.


 I own a Lincoln SP110 and dont know welding, but have a friend that is far more experienced and also has the same welder.  He loves it.  I got a setup like the one you described above but also with a cart of magnets, clamps, tips etc, all for $475.  It also came with an extra cart of scrap metal stuff and railroad track for hammering, and all kinds of hammers too.  Oh.  Gloves and a vest and 3 masks, etc.  



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Prices for these welders have gone up tremendously! The kit I was talking about in here for $1000 is now $1500 as I recently checked with my local welding supply while in there for refills on our gas...

That's $500 since the time I have written this article! Still some better deals online if you order that way but not as good as when I originally wrote this thread. Amazing how time flies!



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Well it's been nearly eight years since I made this thread and I finally got myself a welder!

Went with the Miller 211 since it was the best value and offered me 110 or 220, along with the ability to weld aluminum if the need arises later down the road. 

Got a nice leather sleeve jacket, gloves, Miller mask with auto dim and some extra tips. 

It just got to the point I was needing a welder too often and figured it was time to make the investment. Say's it's all USA made so I feel a little better paying a little more for the brand. I feel Miller has the best welders anyway.



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OOOOHHH That's a nice rig !!!

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Sold, serviced and used Millers of all kinds. Love them, had a cool HF machine but I can't tig for a crap. Power is right on with the duty cycle and Very important if you want a good mig. I used to like the Millermatic 200. Could even spray with it, wicker sunburn though. Had a Hobart too, a 140 and an excellent machine. Even had a stitch for body work. Got a hobart now actually.

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Thanks guys, all told I'm $1750 in... thats everything you see there plus the jacket, masks and gloves. Own the tank and it's full too and I'm told the tank is good for 3 hours of welding. I could have gotten the bigger one but I just don't plan on using it a whole lot plus it's more expensive to fill the tanks. Figure at least $100 every time I have to turn it on for a job and it will pay itself off after around 17 repairs. Hopefully it last a good long time! Two year warranty and $50 mail in rebate I have to do once I finish up this thread.

I still could have gotten the Miller 190 mig (they no longer sell the 180 mig) and I guess the 190 is also getting to the point they are no longer making them anymore. It was $1199.00 for just the 211 welder and I could have gotten the 190 series for $899.99... Figured for $300 I could weld up to 3/8 rather than the 5/16 of the 190... Plus I have the option to run it on 110 or 220 in addition to also having the option to get the aluminum welding add on for $300 later down the road. I also threw down on a cart and the gear since burns always suck. I didn't want to get the auto dim helmet but now days they don't even sell them old school ones (at least where I bought mine). $80 bucks for the helmet (Miller), and $75 for the cart. $200 for the bottle and $50 for the leather gloves and jacket. 

Sitting here $1,750 lighter thinking to myself, did I do the right thing? I think I did, I just hope to get over 15 years out of it but who knows. I'll be sure to report back, hopefully more than 8 years from now! LOL



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Got to use my welder for the first time today! I had to use it in 110 mode because all my 220 outlets are the safety twist lock rather than the standard washer/drier plug that came with the welder. But I'm glad it worked out that way because I did want to at least try it in 110 mode to see how it worked.

And boy did it work! It worked better in 110 mode than the Miller 190 with 220! It was insane how easy it was to weld with this unit and the auto regulation with the wire speed and heat was awesome! It's almost like it knows when the metal is getting too hot and it backs itself down or something! It's hard to explain but it worked in a way that no other welder has in my experience, perhaps because it's new. I got the welding job done so quickly I was bummed out I didn't have to weld some more stuff.

I am going to get the new 220 receptacle though, as the duty cycle on 110 is not near as good as in 220 per what the manual says. Although, to be honest the 110 is more than adequate for at least quick exhaust repairs so it would seem the extra spent on the 211 with the dual voltages has already come in handy!

Based on everything thus far I'd highly recommend the 211 Miller and you can bet I'll keep everyone posted thru the years.



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IN THE RUNNING

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Awesome. Love Millers. I can only imagine the technology in them is getting better. BTW, price you paid is no more than a millermatic 200 back 20 years ago! Crap, I remember "dialarc" tigs going for $4K back then. I love the gas drives too but limited, if I remember right they were constant current, mig constant voltage. Wanna stick, gas drive great, wanna mig, they aren't. Sure sold a mess of them though, to persons knew what they needed of course.

I do like to weld, pretty much sucked all my life though cept for Mig, that's pretty easy. I have the hobart mig now and a larger plasmarc, good enough.

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Been along time since I worked for Miller. The 211, 211 amps? Used to designate them that way.

Ever sprayed MIG? I did it with millermatic 200's. .040, 70 series, give or take a few thou. Crank amps and feed all the way up. Hit the trigger and start dropping the feed quickly till you spray a cone of liquid wire. So awesome you will soil yourself. No way to explain how cool until you try it. Application, I dunno but sure there is some. (I just countered, demo, sold, repaired) Lay a 1/4" to 5/16 wide spray, not super penetration but plenty. Pretty awesome. Cover all your skin or you will get the worst sunburn of your life! I mean man, spraying the coolest thing I ever did with any welder period.

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Never sprayed MIG although the 211 can MIG by way of spool gun. I am told the reason they use a spool gun is because the wire is so soft they can't push it down a long cable like the do with MIG wire.

I'm still very happy with the 211 and it has saved my biscuits on jobs larger than what I paid for it, so in that respect I will continue to be happy and pour on praise providing it holds up and lasts like the quality price I paid.

 

 



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IN THE RUNNING

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Yes a spool gun is good, think they used to run the aluminum thru them pretty successfully

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Spraying is very easy, forget penetration but does have it's apps. Big wire, 045 70 series is good. Turn up amperage all the way, wire feed too, hit the trigger, then turn down feed until you have a cone about 1/4" wide, 1/2 long and spray away! Be sure to cover every part of exposed flesh or BAD BURN

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