It is time to replace my 30 year old stick welder. Sorry to say. Going for a wire welder. Only want to spend 3-5 hundred. 120v or 240v? Just for general use between body metal to 3/16th - 1/4 mild steel.
If you can afford to spend $1K, get a Miller 211. You'll be glad you did.
BY wire welder I assume you mean MIG as opposed to TIG ? You can get fluxed wire for MIG but very expensive to run compared to plain wire, but for that you need shielding gas (and associated bottle costs).
CO2 is cheaper gas to use but not really suited to welds on panel work. An argon mix is the best.
Yes TT, a MIG. Gas or no gas. I just don't know my way around anything but the old Lincoln stick.
Mike. Can that type welder get into tight areas that I may not have room for two hands? One for the electrode and one for the wire?
I bought a Miller wire feed with the mixed gas and I like it very much. It ran a little less than $800.
Tyronne, fluxed MIG wire welding is a poor quality compromise for avoiding the costs of shielding gas and bottle rental. I would recommend paying the extra for a quality outfit, that may even last the 30 years your stick welder has. The quality of your work will also be better with the correct gas mix.
With all my tool purchases, I always try to go the extra step. My 150 amp Australian built MIG does really well, but when I replace it, I will go to a 200 amp unit. I keep finding things to do which require the extra capacity.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
The website Zoro has a 30 percent off one day sale every now and then. I bought a Miller 211 during one of those sales. After 30 percent discount, 200 cash rebate, and selling the free spool gun that was also part of the rebate I was into it for under $500.
The 211 is really nice and a dual voltage machine which means it can run on 110 or 220. This is nice because it has the power if a 220 machine when hooked to 220, but it can run at reduced power in 110 and be completely portable.
I heard rumors they are coming out with an inverter version and the 211s are dropping in price. The new ones may be better, but it is really hard to beat a 211.
I have to back up Mikes recommendation of the Miller 211. With how you describe your limited welding experience, the Miller "Auto Set" feature is incredible. You just wind up the knob and the machine does the rest. Don't know much about those red welders but I've never been disappointed by a Miller.
Also, no matter what you buy you are going to want the option to run shielding gas. Flux core has its place in the world and that is in less than ideal conditions like wind, paint, rust, and coatings. It does splatter a lot and you do go through a lot more wire.
A properly adjusted MIG welder running Co2/Argon mix makes a beautiful weld. Whatever you choose will be a good choice over your old tombstone Lincoln for what you want to do with it.
Tyrone, you might want to check the offerings from Eastwood, and Northern Tool. Both have units at reasonable pricing. Also I'll second the recommendations for the gas shield.
This will sound crazy but I would go oxy / acetylene. If you're not proficient with it, take a night class at your local college. I learned years ago when I went through A&P School. Once you learn heat control, you can pic up anything and learn it in 5 minutes. Learning to use a TIG was like changing sizes on a bicycle. I would rather use the gas torch than the mig on sheet metal but that may just be me. 26 gauge isn't a problem. Your mileage may vary.
I Have a SP100 amp Lincoln and it does most of what I need to do. If I had to do it again how I would buy a SP175 or 200. Expect to pay about $500-700 realistically, plus you may need a gas kit on top of that if it does not come with one. It is worth getting the continuously variable speed and voltage bit you can save money with step voltage. You can still weld most anything, it's just harder when you weld really thin material.
You are better off waiting then buying a cheap one.... I found that out the hard way. If you buy a good 175-200amp unit now you probably will never have to replace it in your lifetime If you buy a low end one from Harbor Freight you really are throwing money away... The money I wasted on that may as well gave been tossed on the BBQ. Your best bet is Lincoln and Miller; you will be happy with either. If you need to cut some $ Hobart is ok.
Flux is OK if you need to be portable and don't really care what it looks like. It may also be the way to get you into a better welder, then come Christmas get your gas kit and bottle You can get better penetration and weld heavier material and you're more portable with flux, but you will not get the quality of welds that you will with gas. You can buy a gas bottle at Harbor Freight with a good date on it and exchange it at any welding supply, or check Craigslist.
Tyrone; the wire is in a single handle and only takes one hand to operate. You can get into pretty tight spots.
Jack; which Miller did you get? If that price is with the gas kit it sounds like a good fit for Tyrone if he doesn't want to go with the 211
I use a little 120v Lincoln with gas. I love it. Used to run a Hobart 250. Also a good
machine, but I so rarely used its high potential that I downsized to the little Lincoln.
I have both and use both or specific purposes.
The Mig is a no idea how to weld properly style of welder, if you practice a little, you will nail it soon enough.
On the other hand a stick welder is more hands on, again you cant Mig a block with a big crack in it back to life, but a good nickel rod and a stick will have that block ready again for use in no time at all.
TIG, is a pricey option, but if you can TIG, the world becomes a much smaller place for the DIY.
I have 3 wire feeds. All Millers. Love them. I have a 110 vole Seeley mig I don't use that I will sell. Send me a pm.
Stay with the Miller or the Lincoln, you will not be disappointed. If you "cheap out" you will be sorry. My Lincoln Wirematic 250 is now 22 years old & have no major problems with it. It is used in my restoration & customizing shop, so it gets way more use than someone using it at home once in a while.
Depends on how much restoration work or how much you want to fabricate in your shop.
I have an old 220v Lincoln stick I bought at TSC over 30 years ago and a oxy-acetelyne rig and its all I need.
If I was in to more body work I would buy a wire feed (mig).
On a related note, does anyone have a good resource that lists the welding technique with the correct applications? I'm thinking some kind of matrix or table? I get the feeling that there is some overlap between welding techniques with varying degrees of applicability.
"It is time to replace my 30 year old stick welder. Sorry to say. Going for a wire welder."
If your stick welder is still working, don't replace it w/a MIG, keep it. You'll use it once in a while and be glad you kept it.
Dan, is this what you had in mind?
Thank you all. A lot to consider.
If I aint mistaken Lincoln bought out the Century company that the machines were sold at Lowes and such.I think they cheapened down the Lincolns after that.
I bought a Lincoln 170T second hand and it was a good machine.
I bought a lincoln 180 with no detents on the volt and wire speed settings.,cant remember the prefix,and it is junk. Have trouble with it all the time. seems the duty cycle is short,already replaced the gun and it had only had 3 rolls of wire sent thru it.
The gas I use is called Unimix from National welders-airgas,.I think it is argon and something else. Works fine and is cheaper than straight argon. Co2 works to but never used it.
If you are buying a small mig, and the stick machine still works,keep it and or fix it. You will still need it for thicker applications.
I have my Big Red Lincoln 225 for frame work, I have a little HF gasless wire feed that was given to me it is good for repairing cracks in panels and light work it does take some practice before you get decent at laying down a bead but like I said "LIGHT WORK" I also have a HF Inverter TIG that I use for medium duty repairs and repairs in aluminium. So how do you get by with one welder?
Whatever you get see if the dealer has a demo model you can try (that cuts out HF but some welding supply company's do offer this to sell their machines)
I have both stick and Mig welders made by Miller. Have used them for many years with out any problems. The stick machine no longer gets much use....only when welding thicker than 1/4" steel (Greater Penetration). The Mig machine uses Co 2 or Argon combination and is great for doing body work. Still use my oxy/acetylene for silver soldering/braze.....use them all!