Have the 'stick' and 'flux core', but its getting to be about time to improve upon it. Even with having a weld-shop just down the road, its a pain to load things up, the wait, and then the expense. Which is best/most economical for occasional use in a small 'hobby' shop like mine? (26'X24', insulated & heated, and yes, I should have built it bigger.)
An acetylene / oxygen torch that also can be used for all the rusted stuck parts that needs to be persuaded with some heat?
I've got a Mig that I rarely use - but a Tig would be nice for some pro body repairs that I wish I could learn to do..
Have the a/o torches. And a friend has a plasma cutter, but haven't yet felt a need for the expense. Just trying to exercise responsible fiscal balance.... Miller Electric Mfg. is about 30 miles away, acquaintances working there hopefully able to acquire legal 'employee discount price'.
When I first learned body work I was told to braze the new patch in place but was a long time ago. Then everyone went to Mig welding and it took me a long time to follow but have learned to do it well on sheet metal. Never tried Tig but am told it is better but more expensive? Now I use the Mig and just sort of spot weld the patch and keep spot welding until I have a solid weld around the panel. If you try to run a bead it will warp so let it cool between spot welds.
If you get a TIG here are some requirements
1. A foot operated control. Allows instantaneous adjustment of the "heat"
2. Having if function in both AC and DC modes. AC for welding aluminum (requires the use of straight argon gas and a different composition of tungsten tip). DC for everything else (requires a blend gas and another type of tungsten).
Above all else it needs PRACTICE!!!
I job out all my tig work to top skilled specialist
I own a mig. I have a "spool gun" for aluminum work and own a small tank of argon. For everything else I use the built in mechanism and a gas blend called "Blue Shield 8"
A oxy acetylene torch is the single most useable welding/shop tool. I have gas welded lots of sheet metal.
Consider taking some night/weekend classes and a community college. Again PRACTICE and PRACTICE!!
Virtually all body shops now use some fancy type of glue and make lap joints to install body patch panels. Just used it to install some half door skins to a 67 F100 project. Worked out nice.
I vote MIG - it's like the hot glue gun of Model T parts. Especially if messing with speedster stuff where you're doing lots of fabrication. Super easy to use and effective across lots of different parts.
If I need something TIG'ed then I probably want to take to a pro anyway.
I'm like Bob, I still use my a/o torches but most welding is Mig with CO2. I also have a Miller stick welder but seldom use it except for welding something over 1/4" thick.
I had a Tig machine and also used one at work. Sold the Tig as I hardly used it. You need a steady hand doing Tig. It's both more expensive and takes much more practice before you are able accomplish good looking welds. In my HMO...using Tig for body work on steel is just not worth it. I found using Tig on body panels caused more warping compared to Mig.
With more Aluminum now being used in cars/trucks.....using a Mig with a spool gun or Tig is a must. You need Argon gas for welding Steel or Aluminum with a Tig. Argon is much more expensive compared to CO2.
A friend of mine had a welding shop and I got to play a fair bit with his Tig. I am totally sold on Tig, given an auto darkening helmet it is so simple and clean. I purchased a harbor freight Tig, got a larger tank and while I am doing small stuff it works beautiful. Being able to weld stainless, bronze and brass (with skill) is something I love. I don't have AC so I can't do aluminum.
Today's MIG welders will make anyone an expert with minimal practice. TIG welders are excellent and the next step up, but require a higher skill level, in my opinion. Not to say it's impossible to learn and be good at however.
Best advice: Buy a good auto-darkening helmet!!! I got an "entry level" Miller helmet and love it!
Why not a multi-purpose like the Lincoln Power MIG 210. This is fairly new to them I have a Power Mig 180 that I like a bunch. This is a newer model I would have bought this one if it was out. I am sure you give up something for being able to do MIG/TIG and stick. But for the most part I don't know if that matters to a hobiest
My advice is to buy a used Miller 252 Mig machine. It's fairly big, but are usually about a grand on craigslist. It takes a tank of argon/co2 mixed gas. Spoolguns are very awkward to work with. This machine holds the spool inside. The other tool you need to accompany the welder is a Milwaukee Porta-band.
I used gas welding when I first started out in the body shop business, and brass or steel rod was used on everything except frames , and for frames the Lincoln 225 amp arc welder was king. About 1978 the MIG welder came into vogue. The insurance companies were getting the hell sued out of them due to poorly-welded full and half body clips breaking in half. They started requiring any shop doing business for them to be MIG welded. Even a crappy MIG weld will actually hold up pretty well. Since I retired I've used a MIG with flux filled wire on all my projects, which works well, but cleanup takes extra time.
A Miller- matic 211 / 212 / 252 series are hard to beat for MIG use.
If you go to TIG, there are some nice choices too. A TIG can do ALOT of different types of welding, but it is quite the investment for most people. If I was considering either one, I would spring the extra for a TIG and have a welder for life.
I own a couple of older 110v MIG welders and a really nice but now 12 year old Lincoln TIG (that I have not used in 10 years due to no 240v in my garage). A TIG will weld just about any material you can imagine and do a way nicer job (if you practice), but as far as speed, it is double the time to do the same job as a MIG. But MIGS tend to be one trick ponies.
There are up and downsides to every type of welder out there, finding what is right for you is the key. If you know what you are looking for, buying used is defiantly something I would look into. I was at the right time and place when I bought a 3 month old TIG from my welding supply company. They guy who bought it built trailers for a living. He bought it for aluminum trailers, but as I mentioned, the process is slower and that cost him time. He traded it back in for a MIG set up for aluminum only. I bought the virtually new welder for a little less than half price, but I still spent almost $1200 out the door on it with some accessories and a bottle of gas, and ready to weld.
I like the tig. I worked in a sheet metal shop for about 5 years and that's all we used most of the time. You can get a 110 volt inverter tig machine that's about as big as a lunch box. We took those out on jobsites. We had a small argon bottle we filled from the larger shop bottles. Be sure and get one with a high frequency setting. You can put it to high frequency, turn it up to 150 and hit the button for half a second and instantly tack two pieces together. You can stick weld with it too. I'd use a collett for 3/32 tungsten and stick a 3/32 rod in it and use it. Probably not supposed to do it that way but it works.
"Abey... If the man wants a green suit, turn on the green light!"
My mind is swimming, but it sounds like the MIG would be the most economical(?) route for a hobbyist to consider. Always have been leery about 'Used' equipment, but perhaps the C/L inventory should be checked. Appreciative of all the input!
The most economical for a hobbyist would be an Oxy/Acetylene torch. It will weld, braze, cut, heat anything. And the technique for welding with a torch is the same basic movement as welding with a TIG welder. So you can practice your welding with the torch and eventually move up to a TIG if you want to get serious about sheet metal fabrication.
Has any one tried the cobra torch that Dal McGill was demonstrating at Hershey looks like you can weld or cut just about any thing with low cost.
I think an oxyacetylene torch and a mig welder. I believe a mig of the correct amperage will give better penetration than a tig. With a mig you can weld instantly and not have to heat up the world as you do with oxyacetylene. If you are welding aluminum you can not beat a tig.
TIGs have there special welding points. My brother is a fantastic TIG welder, and
I take certain things to him that my MIG won't do such a nice job on, or won't do at
all. The wire feed is nigh-on impossible to use for fab jobs on really small parts, where
the TIG doesn't push parts out of alignment. It just zaps them as they are laid out.
I keep a Lincoln 140 in the shop and it will handle anything I throw it at up to 1/4".
I used to have a Hobart 250. Great machine, but I RARELY ever pushed it with stuff
over 1/4", and the mobility of the MUCH smaller Lincoln, combined with its 120v power,
makes it so much more versatile for me. I use it for EVERYTHING, from welding body
panels to frame work to fabbing up heavy stuff.
For me, the lighter MIG is the most useful welder within my scope of interests.