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Posted: 10/16/2004 7:30:18 AM EST
I'm trying to decide on a CHEAP welding machine, to weld in some sheet metal and floor pans on the old mustang, and I could use some advice on what kind of welder to buy.

It's important to note that we are NOT talking about exterior body work, but interior stuff. I need to weld a new driver's sided floorpan in, and I need to weld in some generic sheet metal to patch some holes in the passenger's side floor pan, trunk and wheel wells. I also want to reinforce one of the frame rails where it has been eaten away. So it's all going to be "invisible" in that it's not external, so the welds don't have to be perfectly smooth or beautiful.

Because of that, I don't want to spend tons of money on some fancy-schmancy MIG gas-welder, but am trying to decide between a relatively cheap flux-core welder - for a bout $350 - and a really cheap arc (electrode) welder - for about $150. (both run off regular 110V household current, which is very helpful)

Now I do have a little bit of welding experience, in that I was trained to do different types of welding and soldering, but it was MANY years ago (when I was a teenager), and I have never touched any welding equipment since - so I only have a very vague recollection.

In general, I see the wire-fed flux core welder as probably being a little easier to use, but also more expensive. One concern I have about the electrode arc welder is that I remember that if you were not careful, an arc welder coudl easily melt a hole in the metal you were trying to work on, screwing up the job. Is that a possible risk when welding something really think like a floor pan or sheet metal on a car? Or is that not too much of a concern for a low-powered arc welder running off 110V (the one I'm looking at is a 130Amp welder using 1/16 or 5/64 electrodes.



If all the experts are off to Gunstock, I'll btt this after the weekend - but if someone has any expertise I'd appreciate the advice, because I'm itching to get to work.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 7:37:19 AM EST

Really, gas-Mig is better than flux core on sheet metal. Why not just rent one?
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 7:41:59 AM EST

Originally Posted By Waldo:
Really, gas-Mig is better than flux core on sheet metal. Why not just rent one?




Renting IS the other option I'm considering - so is gas-Mig better for welding regular sheet metal as well? I though it was better on things like aluminum and other metals, but didn't realize there was a benefit beyond the uniformity of the welds and the lack of slag.

I really know very little, so I appreciate any advice - thanks. (I'll put you down for a vote of "if you're going to do it, do it right")
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 8:01:08 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 8:03:41 AM EST
Having built a few cars and done some extensive welding with various equipment, the best and cheapest is Daytona Mig Pocket Mig. I had one, used it for sheet metal work, and sold it for doggone near what I paid for it. It is delivered to your door, with a full gas bottle and wire and you will be welding 5 minutes later. Nice welder for sheet metal and limited use on 3/8" to 1/4" metals. Other than that, if you want to spend more, look no further than Miller. I do not recommend buying any of the Lincoln/Home Depot stuff or any lesser unit. If you go too cheap, you will end up with a hot tip, a tip that is unsafe and will eventually lead to a flash injury.

If you are going to be welding heavy stuff exclusively, such as doing structural or frame stuff, get no less than the Miller 210. The Miller portables are extremely nice units and are found in many body shops.

Flux core wire is out of the question for sheet metal work. I had to use one once, not a good thing.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 8:09:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By wildearp:
Having built a few cars and done some extensive welding with various equipment, the best and cheapest is Daytona Mig Pocket Mig. I had one, used it for sheet metal work, and sold it for doggone near what I paid for it. It is delivered to your door, with a full gas bottle and wire and you will be welding 5 minutes later. Nice welder for sheet metal and limited use on 3/8" to 1/4" metals. Other than that, if you want to spend more, look no further than Miller. I do not recommend buying any of the Lincoln/Home Depot stuff or any lesser unit. If you go too cheap, you will end up with a hot tip, a tip that is unsafe and will eventually lead to a flash injury.

If you are going to be welding heavy stuff exclusively, such as doing structural or frame stuff, get no less than the Miller 210. The Miller portables are extremely nice units and are found in many body shops.

Flux core wire is out of the question for sheet metal work. I had to use one once, not a good thing.



Interesting.... cost?
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 8:12:03 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/16/2004 8:17:44 AM EST by DK-Prof]
Thanks Waldo - one of those (the Clark 130 amp arc) was one of the ones I was looking at. If they are listing it (on an automotive site), then it might actually be workable.

I also read up a little more on the different advatages/disadvatages here: www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledge/articles/content/powershop.asp so now I'm a little smarter
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 8:13:27 AM EST

Originally Posted By wildearp:
Having built a few cars and done some extensive welding with various equipment, the best and cheapest is Daytona Mig Pocket Mig. I had one, used it for sheet metal work, and sold it for doggone near what I paid for it. It is delivered to your door, with a full gas bottle and wire and you will be welding 5 minutes later. Nice welder for sheet metal and limited use on 3/8" to 1/4" metals. Other than that, if you want to spend more, look no further than Miller. I do not recommend buying any of the Lincoln/Home Depot stuff or any lesser unit. If you go too cheap, you will end up with a hot tip, a tip that is unsafe and will eventually lead to a flash injury.

If you are going to be welding heavy stuff exclusively, such as doing structural or frame stuff, get no less than the Miller 210. The Miller portables are extremely nice units and are found in many body shops.

Flux core wire is out of the question for sheet metal work. I had to use one once, not a good thing.



What I find amazing is that you are not the first to say that. A guy at a welding house told me that EVEN THOUGH they may sa "Lincoln" on them. the quality is NOT the same as the ones you buy at a professional welding supply house. The tips are not interchangable and the quality itself is inferior. I was looking into buying one myself. I think when its time I will spend the 600.00 and get it.

Always learn, with TOOLS, GUNS and MUSICAL EQUIPMENT. Buy the BEST and forget the REST.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 8:17:14 AM EST

Originally Posted By wildearp:
Having built a few cars and done some extensive welding with various equipment, the best and cheapest is Daytona Mig Pocket Mig. I had one, used it for sheet metal work, and sold it for doggone near what I paid for it. It is delivered to your door, with a full gas bottle and wire and you will be welding 5 minutes later. Nice welder for sheet metal and limited use on 3/8" to 1/4" metals. Other than that, if you want to spend more, look no further than Miller. I do not recommend buying any of the Lincoln/Home Depot stuff or any lesser unit. If you go too cheap, you will end up with a hot tip, a tip that is unsafe and will eventually lead to a flash injury.

If you are going to be welding heavy stuff exclusively, such as doing structural or frame stuff, get no less than the Miller 210. The Miller portables are extremely nice units and are found in many body shops.

Flux core wire is out of the question for sheet metal work. I had to use one once, not a good thing.




Thanks for the info - something like a Miller 210 is WAAAAY more than I want to spend, so I guess you're sorta giving me the advice that if I'm not going to do it properly, it's not a good idea to try to do it on the cheap.


Keep in mind, though - that this is all welding that wouldn't be visible so it doesn't have to be pretty or anything - it just has to be solid and hold together. I'm looking for the "good enough for government work" approach, NOT necessarily doing it the ideal or optimal way. Ultimately, this car is not being "restored" to perfect condition, but just being fixed up enough so it works okay and doesn't have big gaping holes in the bottom.

Would using a small electrode arc welder - like a 130amp w. 1/16 or 5/64 sticks simply not work well for sheet metal either?
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:07:17 AM EST
DK , 110v gasless mig is about as worthless as tits on a bull.
220v Arc will get the job done but your going to end up heavy grinding twice as much as you will be welding (see sloppy).

If your going to do ANY type of welding precess that requires a power source the absolute minimum you will need to do it right is 220v. 110v systems just dont have the amprage or the versilitity for anything beyond light hobby welding.

If you dont have a 220v or better power source or are not willing/able to have one put into your garage save your self ALOT of headaches and rent a portable system like a Miller bobcat or legend.
The flux in the flux core wire among other things ATTEMPTS to take the place of a sheilding gas in gasless systems and does a very poor job of it at best. In my experience flux core is really no more user friendly than solid or metal core wire. YMMV

If your not ready to commit about a grand to a welder than i really think renting is the only other sound approach .
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:16:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By DrFrige:
Originally Posted By wildearp:


What I find amazing is that you are not the first to say that. A guy at a welding house told me that EVEN THOUGH they may sa "Lincoln" on them. the quality is NOT the same as the ones you buy at a professional welding supply house. The tips are not interchangable and the quality itself is inferior. I was looking into buying one myself. I think when its time I will spend the 600.00 and get it.

.



absolutely positively farking true they dont call miller "true blue" for nothing.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:21:24 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/16/2004 10:24:24 AM EST by Pangea]
For body work, this is all you will need. Don't even think about doing any frame work with it though. Too lite for that. The tip will be "hot" as long as tha machine is on. The trigger only controls the wirefeed. Probably be great for your needs though. Fluxcore will spatter more than MIG but it wont take but a few minutes to cleanup with a sander pad on your 4 1/2" grinder. Good luck.


www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=6098

The Fluxcore will be harder to "bump" the trigger on thinstuff but it can be done. If your going to do much of this work, I recomend a small Miller that runs on 220vac. When your done with it you can resell it for decent money.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:33:18 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/16/2004 10:34:22 AM EST by DK-Prof]
Sorry if I'm still being slow and stupid - and THANK YOU to everyone that's spending the time to give me advice!!



I'm still trying to figure out whether an arc welder (electrode/stick) would even work at all.

IF I'm willing to live with sloppy-looking welds and having to spend more time hammering off slag, would it be possible to use something like a 85-130 Amp arc welder that runs off 110V household current.

I get the impression from luger355 that the answer is "NO" - since it simply won't be powerful enough if it's not 220V-powered at least - but is that still true if all we're talking about is welding in some thin sheet metal and floor pans? After all, this is pretty thin metal, and the welds are not going to be subjected to really large stress or anything.


I COMPLETELY understand that 220/230V systems are better, and than MIG w. gas is better than flux-core, and I understand the resaoning behind that (I think), but I'm just trying to understand if ya'll are saying that it would be a BAD IDEA or IMPOSSIBLE to try to do it with a small (110v/130amp) arc welder, or jsut that it would be BETTER to do it with a 220v/230V system or even renting an even more expensive system.


Again, sorry if I'm being slow - it's not that I'm obstinate, it's that I want to make sure I understand what my options realisitically are. (As I mentioned before, this car project is meeting very low standards - and NOT a perfect restoration or anything like that. For instance, there's going to be a lot of bondo in it too, because I simply cannot afford to have new exterior body panels put on).
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:37:43 AM EST
Arc welding take some acquired skill just to strike an arc. The little FCAW welders and MIG welders will have you laying beads in -0- time. Forget the stick machine. Its time has passed for what you are wanting to do.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:37:45 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/16/2004 11:18:08 AM EST by luger355]

Originally Posted By Pangea:
For body work, this is all you will need. Don't even think about doing any frame work with it though. Too lite for that. The tip will be "hot" as long as tha machine is on. The trigger only controls the wirefeed. Probably be great for your needs though. Fluxcore will spatter more than MIG but it wont take but a few minutes to cleanup with a sander pad on your 4 1/2" grinder. Good luck.


www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=6098

ohh man a "hot" tip thats some potential bad ju-ju waiting to happen there. Be very careful

The Fluxcore will be harder to "bump" the trigger on thinstuff but it can be done. If your going to do much of this work, I recomend a small Miller that runs on 220vac. When your done with it you can resell it for decent money.



i agree completely +1

Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:39:34 AM EST

Originally Posted By Pangea:
Arc welding take some acquired skill just to strike an arc. The little FCAW welders and MIG welders will have you laying beads in -0- time. Forget the stick machine. Its time has passed for what you are wanting to do.




Thanks
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 10:49:30 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/16/2004 10:51:30 AM EST by luger355]

Originally Posted By DK-Prof:

Originally Posted By Pangea:
Arc welding take some acquired skill just to strike an arc. The little FCAW welders and MIG welders will have you laying beads in -0- time. Forget the stick machine. Its time has passed for what you are wanting to do.




Thanks



thats not saying that you can't though. Just that as pangea said you gots to have skillz

The biggest reason i poo poo the 110v setups is because guys end up burning them up very very quicky. Those machines are designed for art students and jewlery designers. NOT auto body.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 11:00:32 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/16/2004 11:04:00 AM EST by luger355]
oh just so you guys can druel a bit this is what im getting from santa this year. For my auto body fun welding project needs





Features:

Squarewave output with AC balance control features adjustable penetration and cleaning action while increasing arc stability on various aluminum alloys, and helps eliminate tungsten spitting and arc rectification.

Fan-On-Demand™ cooling system only operates when needed.

Adjustable Postflow 5 - 18 sec.

Dual digital meters allow for quick and easy viewing of actual and preset values of amperage and voltage.

Last procedure recall automatically recalls the last procedure set-up when switching polarity.

Single-range vernier control allows finer TIG output adjustment with remote foot or fingertip amperage control, providing crater fill capabilities required on aluminum and magnesium.

Line voltage compensation keeps output of the power source constant regardless of fluctuations in the utility power (±10%) for 230 volts.

Process switch automatically sets machine for TIG or Stick, eliminating guess work.

Thermal overload protection circuit senses when machine is too hot, and automatically turns output off, protecting the machine.
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 11:03:28 AM EST
Prof,

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT buy any cheap import welders (i.e., Harbor Freight). They are pure junk and you will be cussing HF, the manufacturer, and everyone/everything else before you're through. We used to have one that I "inherited" at a job; crap pure and simple. As has been mentioned earlier in this thread, if you indeed need a welder the only answer is to rent/buy a good one.

NMSight
Link Posted: 10/16/2004 11:13:51 AM EST
I bought a Campbell/Hausfeld 105 MIG welder w/ tank from the Summit Racing catalog for around $350 and have welded floorpans and several exterior body panels in my 1966 Mustang with great results - with a little practice, mind you....as I was a welding noob. Don't use flux core, it's messy and it's useless. CO2/Argon is the way to go.

Practice on some scraps 'till you can get a decent bead going, then have at it. If you know someone who welds professionally or at least has some experience - seek them out.

Have fun.
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