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Which Welder

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I’m planning on building 1 or 2 RF smokers for a small catering business.  I have a 100lb propane tank that I’m planning on using to make one out of but think it is a little small but could be used along with my BGE to get a few side jobs to build up some capitol.  I am also searching for a 250 gallon for a trailer build.  Since funds are tight, I’m looking for a cheap welder that will work for the short term.


I have been looking at a 170 amp 220 volt welder at harbor freight for $179 but I know a lot of people advise against them.  I recently found a Lincoln pro core 125 welder on CL for $250.  The seller says it is in good shape.  Harbor Freight is going to have a 90 amp wire feed for $89.   I’ve never welded or built a smoker so I have a lot of learning to do for each . From reading a lot of posts I’m assuming I would have to weld at least ¼ “.  Would one of these welders work for me until I can build up some money to buy a better one?

post #2 of 20
The duty cycle on the harbor freight welders are pretty bad. In my opinion not a good choice.
Your better off with a Miller or a Lincoln 220 machine for welding 1/4" .
Not saying it couldn't be done with a 110 machine. But if you have no welding experience it would be asking a little much of 110 machine.
post #3 of 20
Have been in the pipe fabrication business for longer than I'm going to admit to. I personally think that a Miller is hard to beat. A good wire feed machine is much more user friendly than a stick welder. Check it out.
post #4 of 20
I have the HF welder and I wouldn't want to use it to weld a smoker together. It's fine for really small things but that's it. I really didn't have a choice. I didn't have enough room in my box to add another 220 breaker so I had to have a 110 machine.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

Does anyone have experience with Eastwood welders?

post #6 of 20

I love my Lincoln Pro 175   220v.   It has restored 2 vintage Mustangs and a chebbie truck.   Would never consider anything else.

post #7 of 20
I bought a Hobart 135 fifteen years ago, i used stick welders till then, it welds like a champ. the Miller welders wear too rich for my blood(but a true Cadillac in my opinion) and when I was looking at the Lincoln welders there were too many refurbished ones for sale. As hardcookin said watch the duty cycle. Check reviews and watch videos
post #8 of 20

Buy a good grinder. You'll be using it a lot.

post #9 of 20

One of my favorite tools is my trusty Milwaukee right angle grinder that has an assortment of different grit circular pads and brushes.   Very handy.  Also don't skimp on a good pair of welding lens to protect your eyes.  I use .025 wire on all different gauge metal from auto chassis gauge to body gauge.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by AK1 View Post

Buy a good grinder. You'll be using it a lot.



Over the weekend I bought a Porter Cable 4-1/2-in 7-Amp grinder from Lowes. Is that good enough to get me started?

post #11 of 20
I have a Hobart handler 140. it's a great machine. I've ised it to build all kinds of stuff and I am very happy with it
post #12 of 20
Im going to chime in here and recomend lincoln 180 duel current for the home owner. Being portable and able to plug into any 110 outlet is very nice, and when used on 220 it really can lay down some wire for the bigger jobs. Being a pro mig, it burns a heck of a lot better on 110 than those box store welders. And on 220 with 75/25 and .030 solid wire, its hard to beat as a fab welder. For some reason the lincolns always dial in better for me than the millers.
post #13 of 20
Originally Posted by reccitron View Post



Over the weekend I bought a Porter Cable 4-1/2-in 7-Amp grinder from Lowes. Is that good enough to get me started?

Yes, that will work.

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

I've decided to not go the cheap HF route.  Now leaning towards the Hobart 210 MVP or possibly the handler 190.

post #15 of 20

Agree with RibWizzard always liked the Lincoln products -- but bear in mind choice of welder manufacturer is almost a religious experience, kinda like Ford vs. Chevy.

post #16 of 20
Being able to get tips and some parts on the weekend at most box stores is another plus
post #17 of 20

I've been in the steel fabrication business for years at every level. I recently bought that HF 170 amp fluxcore welder to build a smoker and trailer, and I can tell you that, despite it's 20% duty cycle, it will handle anything you are doing at home. I built the trailer out of Tube Steel 3x2x1/4", and I feel 100% confident with it. I used gasless .035 fluxcore wire made by Lincoln. That thing welds like a top.


After the 1st week, I broke the gun, and just took the whole thing back for a replacement. The gun broke because I was tapping it against the steel to knock some spatter off, and the brass piece that the tip screws into snapped off. my fault.


I made an extension cord out of 10-3 wire, and plugged it into my Stove receptacle, much to my wife's chagrin.


Bottom line... It's legit! I love Lincoln, Hobart, and Miller, but honestly, the suitcase welders are not the same thing as the ones we use in the shop & field. We spend thousands of dollars on those bad boys.

The HF one is fine for small stuff at home, IMO.


post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

I ordered the Hobart 210 MVP and think I got an awesome deal.  $822 after shipping.

post #19 of 20
Very nice!!!!
post #20 of 20

Well, I can almost assure you that you will not have a problem with it for quite some time. Hobart's are an industry staple.

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