Calling all welders, Looking for a machine!

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

  1. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Practice, practice, practice.......
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  2. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'll throw in my two cents, why just because I own the thing. I'm not ever going to weld a big offset smoker or a trailer smoker, but I do like tinkering around welding up yard art and charcoal baskets and UDS smokers. I bought mine a couple winters ago. Was on sale for $79 at the time. It has done everything I want it to do. One big requirement for me was that it didn't have to be 220. My house only has a 100 amp panel and putting in the 25 amp breaker was the max I could go.

    That said I'd love to have a better welder. My dad was a journeyman electrician and a master welder (rigger). If he hadn't been cremated he'd probably be rolling over in his grave! Anyways I had no interest in metal work back then so when he passed away mom gave me the option of keeping all the welding equipment or selling. I kept all the wood working equipment and sold the the welders. So here I am with the el cheapo welder, which probably a good thing, I'd probably had burnt the house down by now with the other stuff!

    For small little things or for learning this guy will work just fine. Especially if your panel is small like mine. Next house is gonna have a 400amp dedicated shop panel like my last shop had!
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What kind of wrench do you use to screw in that lag screw Craig, lol!
  5. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I must assume that any real welder worth his weight in smoked Salmon would recognize what that lag bolt is for.........
  6. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No? Then how are you suppose to clean the nozzle of your welder tip from all that flux junk?[/IMG

    [GALLERY="media, 421793"][/GALLERY]
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  8. You all make this sound so easy!! [​IMG]lol.

    cmayna you make it look easy!!! How long have you been welding?

    Another question, What if I like Dirtsailor2003 don't have the ability to run a 220 circuit to my shed?
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  9. An auto helmet will be a big help in learning. Mig welding really is pretty easy. Stick takes a little more practice. I have found tig to be a real challenge because I rarely do it and it takes precise coordination between both hands and one foot. But man. tig is pretty when it comes together.
  10. osiris

    osiris Fire Starter

    Millermatics are what I'd get. I'm from Wisconsin so I might be biased lol but Miller is what I prefer. I've welded with Lincoln and they're pretty good as well I'd stick with those two brands they seem to be the most well known and most reliable. :)
  11. chevy power

    chevy power Newbie

    I just joined the forum, I am a professional welder. I do a lot of side work and when upgrading to a new welder i bought a thermal arc. I own a 110 lincoln mig, a miller plasma, and my thermal arc 220 mig. If you are set on buying new, look into thermal arc. I always tell people to try and find a used one locally. I picked up my lincoln 110 (i use it for thin stuff) for 225$ with a small tank. There is a lot of information online to help you teach your self. Stay away from harbor freight welders, there are a lot of decent chinese made welders that will serve the average home owner quite well. Everlast and eastwood welders are names that come to mind.
    Good luck
  12. clearprop

    clearprop Fire Starter

    Millermatic 211 with a large tank of C25 and you'll be set for a VERY long time. It's dual voltage 120v AND 240v in the same machine. It will run off your 240v 30amp clothes dryer outlet with a harbor freight 10gauge extension cord wired up with 240v plug ends all day long... (I had to do that back when I rented if I wanted more power/juice than what the 120v outlet would spit out) ... if you ever want to do aluminum, throw a spoolmate spoolgun on with a tank of Argon and your off to the races.... around the $1k mark, but well worth it. You can spend half of that on a Hobart Handler (also owned by miller), but the features won't be as quite as nice, you'll be limited to 120v OR 240v (there is a dual voltage HH/Hobart Handler, but it's only a couple hundred less than the MM211 so it's a no brainer to upgrade to the Miller MM211)... add on for an aluminum spoolgun to the hobart is limited to nil depending on the model..... (it's worth the extra $500 to have it all in one machine on the MM211)........ AHP Alpha Tig 200dx is a great little AC/DC tig for about $700 and is the ONLY Chinese welder I rolled the dice on, but it wouldn't be easy to weld with right off the bat..... (It would be good to learn STICK welding first so you know the basic principles when you get a MIG and start pulling the trigger. Anyone can make a nice looking weld with a mig, but that doesn't mean it's a good weld).... Youtube instructionals should get you up and running if you don't know a welder to show you.

    That being said, cheapest way I would go is a Hobart Handler MIG with FLUX CORE wire.... then get a C25 tank (about $220ish) later on if you weld enough.  I used a Flux Core HF welder only once, and yes, it stuck some sheet steel together when I didn't have ANYTHING else available to get me back on the road.... but I would NEVER spend a dime on one.

    Welding isn't cheap.... but it pays for itself BIG TIME.
  13. ironmanjking

    ironmanjking Newbie

    Man, there is not a lot of love here for Harbor Freight welders.

    I've been a member on here for about 3 hours, and that's all I keep seeing when someone asks about which welder to buy.

    Well, I bought one on August 29th... a Chicago Electric 170 amp MIG/Fluxcore welder. It does exactly what they say it will do, and that's all I can ask of it. I built a trailer and a smoker with it last month. I welded everything from 11ga, up to 3/8" thick. Honestly, it did not perform bad unless I nearly doubled the duty cycle. After a week, I broke the brass part that the tip screws into, but it was my fault. I took it back, and they swapped the whole thing out.

    I'm going to take some pictures of some welds and post them for you guys.

    Better yet, to entertain you, I will take some test coupons home and do a vertical test for you. I have a CWI here at work, and he'll bend it for me. I'll photograph the whole thing.

    Let me say clearly, I am not absolutely in love with the $179 welder from Harbor Freight. I imagine that, once it's out of warranty, I'll break it again, and then toss it. But, it was $179, and it has served it's purpose thus far.

    My next option after this was a Lincoln Cracker Box, I think 225... Dad has one that is 34 years old, and it still works. I may do that yet.
  14. clearprop

    clearprop Fire Starter

    Ironman said it best. It's a throw away welder. As long as you can pull $175 worth of welds out of it, consider you won. Granted you still have to buy the much more exspensive Flux core wire.

    My millermatic is a throw away welder as well... once outside of warranty, if the board fries it's cheaper/makes more sense to just buy another one....

    Those Lincoln tombstone welders are soldiers! A dairy farmer I helped got one for a wedding gift and never really learned to use it. It sat next to an OPEN machineshed door for 25 years!!! Rained on, snowed on, humidity, you name it. When he asked me to fix something with it for him I thought "yeah right"... the thing fired right up and laid down awesome welds!!! Your mileage may vary, but I will always be impressed with them..... you can find them on CL pretty darn cheap too.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
    ironmanjking likes this.
  15. So after reading all the great info that everyone has given I think that I am leaning toward the Hobart Handler 140. Seems like a solid machine and even new, the price point seems right. I am going to try to find a used one in the mean time but not having much luck.... so we will see

    But can someone explain to me duty cycle?
  16. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here ya go.   Got these from Mr. Google.


    Duty cycle is a welding equipment specification which defines the number of minutes, within a 10 minute period, during which a given welder can safely produce a particular welding current.

    For example, a 150 amp. welder with a 30% duty cycle must be "rested" for at least 7 minutes after 3 minutes of continuous welding.


    Mark the welder’s technical description of ‘Duty Cycle’.

    Almost all welding machinery for all welding process has a ‘usability rating’ called the ‘duty cycle’.

    The ‘usability quality’ of a welding machine is reflected by the value of the ‘duty cycle’.

    The duty cycle really details just how long the machine can operate within a TEN minute welding time without overheating or becoming damaged!

    The whole 100% means the machine’s entire welding power output capacity.

    The whole 100% is directly expressed as a time period of 10 minutes.

    The value of the duty cycle ‘rating’ is normally expressed as a percentage of anywhere from 0% to 100%.

    The duty cycle value is then expressed as a percentage (part of) the 100%.

    If your welding machine says ‘duty cycle =40% @ xyz amps’ this means that out of a welding ‘on-time’ of only ten minutes, your welder can only safely weld continuously for 4 minutes in every ten minutes , & if you exceed this 4 minutes, you will risk overheating or damaging your welder!

    The ‘on-time’ that I refer to above is the actual welding time where a welding arc is being produced.

    The duty cycle is not relative to where your welder is only plugged in & switched on, but not being used.


    I'm sure others might be able to put the definition into an easier and more digestible manner.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  17. cmayna your description was actually very helpful in explaining duty cycle. I had watched some videos but I wasn't grasping it. I get It now! Thanks
  18. rotor head

    rotor head Fire Starter

    You drive a Lincoln You drink a Miller but you weld with a HTP
    You can get a nice machine online for 1500.00 and that's the top of the line model will weld 1\2" single pass. Its the htp2400 built my smoker and a monster bumper all 1/4" for a Chevy 2500HD. Never gave me a problem.
  19. Well I finally picked up my machine! after all the advice and opinions. tons of thought and borrowing a crappy welder from a friend I finally settled on this beauty!!

    Picked her up today and I think I got a great deal. Northern Tool has them for 499 and that is where I was going to purchase from. I went into my local Tractor supply and this one was the last one they had and it was the display model they had it priced at 519 which wasn't bad considering the nearest NT is an hour drive so the $20 was worth it, they gave me 10% off right away because it was a display which I was great with because that put it under the 499 i was going to pay. Then (in case you don't know) Tractor supply will take competitors coupons and I just happen to have a Harbor Freight 20% off coupon. total was $374 before tax. $414 out the door!! I am happy with that!! Now I cant wait to start using it!!! Thanks for all the help and suggestions!
  20. joshua brede

    joshua brede Smoke Blower

    Your gonna be so much happier with that machine than a cheap one there isn't even words to describe it.

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