Calling all welders, Looking for a machine!

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by tnhollerbach, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. So I am not a welder, I don't even know how to weld, but I want to learn. It seems I could save time and money on my build if I could just weld myself. I just want to know if anyone has any experience with the Chicago Electric welders from harbour freight. Is it a decent welder to start and learn on or am i wasting time and money by considering one? I am thinking the 170amp mig/flux. any input is appreciated. thanks!
  2. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Personally, I'd suggest you save up and get a miller or Lincoln mig setup.

    The flux core is nice to have for small repairs and such, but the duty cycle and weld clean up will drive you CRAZY on a build.

    Also, the flux core systems from HF and TS will make you very angry due to its inability to work like it should.  Most come out of the box needing to be tightened up, readjusted and such.  They are also really under powered compared to what's advertised.  Also, flux wire spools from HF and TS that aren't Lincoln or Miller tend to be VERY loosely spooled and will create a nightmare inside of your welder.

    Craigslist and other ads will have used MIG systems listed on them regularly.  A lincoln 140 amp is a great starter unit.  Granted it costs around 600 bucks, but you can get wire easily, parts are simple, tips can be bought at most all home improvement stores, and the duty cycle is listed at 20%, but will do closer to 40% before it needs a rest.

    I recommend anyone that's interested learning to weld to do so, but learn using a good machine.  Learning on a machine that gives a pro fits will only discourage you.
  3. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Agree with Crank Buzzard 100%.     I had to get one to do a lot of sheet metal replacement on two vintage Ford Mustangs and decided a 220v Lincoln Mig welder was best for me.  Never looked back.   I really don't like much of the stuff that comes out of Harbor Freight.  Too much junk.
  4. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    I had, key word, a Chicago mig, just all but pulled my hair out using it! Burn for five minutes, wait twenty, burn for five, wait another twenty! I just couldn't even use it!
    I now have a Miller millermatic 135xp and couldn't be happier! I wish it was a bit bigger, I'd like to do 1/4" in a single pass, but since it was gifted to me, the price was right!
    Please, please, please!!! Spend more money, save your pennies, look at used, whatever you need to do, but get a better welder! I can't stress enough how frustrating those cheaper machines are! I've yet to hit the duty cycle on my Miller, no matter what setting I use!
  5. weev

    weev Meat Mopper

    I have a small Lincoln 120 volt mig unit that I have had for years they work great think I paid around 500 for it but then I started doing some bigger projects so I needed a little bit bigger so I got the Hobart (made by miller)iron man 220volt and have used the crap out of it I have made my own outside wood boiler and propane tank smoker. I paid just over a 1000 with a coupon at tractor supply but I haven't had a bit of trouble with either
    Learning to weld isn't to hard just take your time and practice a lot also there are all kinds of books to help you along the way
  6. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have a hobart 110v mig. Will run flux core or gas. Love it.
  7. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    The Hobarts are now made in the Miller factories, very good machines for the money.
  8. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    The Harbor Frieght welders have a poor duty cycle.
    If you are planning on welding 1/4" metal you would be better off getting a welder that runs off of 220. As mentioned you can't go wrong with Miller, Lincoln or Hobart.
  9. iridelow

    iridelow Fire Starter

    When I first started with fabricating in general I stumbled upon a new Miller 180 (smaller 220v) mig welder off craigslist. Got it for a steal and Im still using this machine today. I would stay away from the 110 machines. I haven't found anything that this machine cant do for my personal needs. As far as the welding goes find some scrap and start playing around.
  10. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Once you settle down with your new welder, you can then get really strange and start posting pics of yourself with gun in hand. [​IMG]

  11. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Did that come with your slicer?
  12. Alright!!! you have all convinced me!!! I will stay away from the harbor freight stuff!!! Although some of the other tools seem decent for smaller things. I don't plan on really welding anything thick. My thought is I will be using it to weld straps, hinges, handles, dampers, etc... I am a little skiddish of the learning curve though. I just don't want it to look like garbage. hahaha.

    Thanks for all the insight, I guess I will start saving the pennies!
  13. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A man carrying a violin case was walking down the street in NYC and asked a fellow for directions, he asked; "how do I get to Carnegie Hall"?  The other fellow looked at the man and his violin case and said; "Practice, practice , practice"!

    How do you learn to weld?  Practice, practice, practice...

    Go to the scrap yard and get all sorts of shapes, sizes, and thicknesses of metal.  Weld on them, hit the welded joints with a hammer, break your welds, cut them open with a cut off saw or a bandsaw.  Look them over and see what you need to do differently.

    In time, you'll amaze yourself at what you've learned to do.
  14. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL... and when ya finally grasp it all, you get a welder's helper to do all that nasty stuff.
  15. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    Or a machinist! One shop I worked at I had to prep the plates and cut them open for the welding certification tests.
  16. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes to the above.  I have boxes of scrap steel pieces which I practice welding on.   Depending of the thickness of the material will help determine the wire speed, amount of wire feed and gauge of wire.  I use .023"  for almost all my welding.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  17. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    On what machine do you use that size wire? I ask because I've been thinking of going smaller than the .030, I've been using on my 110v machine. Thanks in advance.
  18. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Oops, I didn't mean to say oxy and ace. Been using my welding torch too much lately.

    My miggy uses regular CO2 shielding gas but yes on .023 wire gauge which is a tad smaller than what the factory recommends which is .025. Sorry for the confusion. I have a Lincoln Pro-Mig 175 which is ran on 220v.
  19. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    I knew what you meant! I just wanted to know why? I'm thinking going smaller in hopes of better penetration, but am finding little to back that up?
  20. Guys I have a Hobart Handler 190, I use .035 wire and C25 gas and run it on 220v. I've had it over four years with no problem's, very happy with it and has welded anything I've needed to up to 3/8 plate. I have changed the gas to C10 and have welded 1/2 plate. The best thing about Hobart is it's made by Miller.Have built three smokers with it and still on the original liner!

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