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Harbor Freight Flux Welder

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HomebrewJeff

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If it has a cord on it and/or more than one moving part, don't buy it from harbor freight
I wouldn't say that for everything there. I've had good luck with their power tools. I've got an angle grinder that I've used at least 30-40 times, and it still works great. Biscuit jointer, orbital sander, etc. Not everything is great, but you can save some significant cash there, especially if you are only going to use something a few times.
 

beerthirty

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I used one for my stand. put a fan at the end of the box to help keep it cool(it has no internal fan) otherwise you will trip the built in thermal breaker every 5 minutes. Now the fan presents a problem because the wire feed is so short its hard to keep the breeze away from it. It will work and it will splatter. Buy a grinder too.
 

azredneck

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I agree with Highlandsbrew. I think they should change their name to Hardly Functional. I have had horrible luck with anything they sell if it moves. Save your money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

XXguy

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A core flux Mig is pretty easy to learn to weld with. It's as close as you can get to point & shoot welding & you can learn the basics.

That is a heck of a price, but for not much more - you can get a welder with a higher duty cycle & the ability to use Argon or C02 gas. You'll want both those things if you step up your welding & take on more projects.

I'd say balance the value of learning with this - vs. the price to buy the next step up.
 

vfinch

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Don't go for it. My Uncle grabbed the 220V version, and I tried to use it for doing some work on their race cars.... POS. Drive rollers are crap, wire liner is crap.... If you want a decent welder, then spend the extra money and grab one. I spent more time fixing it then welding with it (and crappy welds at that).
 
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If it has a cord on it and/or more than one moving part, don't buy it from harbor freight

I disagree. While you do need to look over what you get there, not everything is crap. I bought a tile saw from them a while back at 1/4th the price of a comparable MK diamond saw. I've tiled 4 houses with it and 3 kitchens and it's been a great tool. It cuts straight and consistent. I bought a smaller, entry level MK saw first and it was a POS for the same dollars.

I bought an 18V cordless drill from them after my DeWalt was stolen and while the drill is not a POS, it doesn't have anywhere near the battery life or the power that the 18V DeWalt has. It was only $24 where my DeWalt was $229.

The big warning you should pay attention to on that welder (regardless of who made it or where it came from) is the 10% duty cycle. That means that for every hour, you can only weld 6 minutes.... Get a welder that will work with gas and dont get anything with less than a 50-60% duty cycle. You could probably weld a stand with that, but like it was pointed out, it'll be slow go and much harder to get a consistent weld than if you spend a little more. There are a lot of things that can give you problems with a welder and turn a fun project into a real PITA. If you're fighting the feed the entire time like vfinch said, it'll be enough to turn you off to ever building another brewery. On the other hand, if you spend the extra $$ now on a fair welder, you'll be surprised at how much you end up using it.
 

Highlandsbrew

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I agree that if you are buying something just to use a few times the store is probably a good deal. The tools that I have bought from them I used every day for my job, and none of them lasted more than a few months. So I still ended up paying for name brand+ what I spent on the broken tools. Pay for the extra warranty they offer.
 

Cpt_Kirks

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I have had one of those for a few years. It will stick metal together, but the welds tend to be UGLY. With 115v, you don't get a lot of heat, so plan on overdoing the welds a bit.

Plan on a lot of clean up. One trick I use is to wrap the area around the weld spot with thick aluminum foil. The foil keeps a lot of the splatter from sticking and makes the clean up a lot easier.
 

BullF-16

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We use one of these at a range i shoot at. We have completely abused this welder for the past 2 years and i hasnt missed a beat. For under a hundred bucks, you cant beat it. Mig welding is very easy to learn. Just practice on scrap steel till you get the hang of it. also buy a cheapo angle grinder to put i nice finish on your welds.
 

pen25

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I agree with Highlandsbrew. I think they should change their name to Hardly Functional. I have had horrible luck with anything they sell if it moves. Save your money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have bought a ton of stuff from them. some powered some not. all work fine. their dril bits and blades are soft but thats understandable. but their 4" 4.5" and 7" grinders 1/2" drill sawzal bench grinder all work without a problem still. have used some of the items 50 times or more and others a little less. shoot i even used their coil gun for fencing. gave it to a friend who builds fences and he still uses it. many items are half if not quarter what you pay for name brand. and they work well.

friend of mine visits tile boards for professionals. and he listens to them bash the grinders and dewalt this and makita that how great they are and how hf sucks. until he talks about how he bought 10 grinders for the cost of one of their machines and he has 3 in use at one time with a spare sitting in the original box. and has used them for over 4 years. oh with serviceable parts at that. I have used their plasma and their wirefeed and both work ok. one just needs to practice with their welder. shoot i have had crappy welds come from a very expensive hobart and great welds come from a cheap hf welder. know what it is capable of. if you over weld meaning weld too thick of items you have to V the weld to get that penetration. used a 110 cambell hausfield cheap POS i bought from walmart to weld 1/2 tab on my samurai's lift. this was to get it down the road. took it to my friend who is a professional welder and he cut it off then said crap it was a good weld and he should have just left it alone. and as far as how this will turn out a weld? they may be booger welds and may need to be ground on but i am sure he wil get the penetration needed to glue two peices of metal together and it last a very long time. all for a 1/3 of the cost of a cheap lincoln from homedepot
 
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I agree that if you are buying something just to use a few times the store is probably a good deal. The tools that I have bought from them I used every day for my job, and none of them lasted more than a few months. So I still ended up paying for name brand+ what I spent on the broken tools. Pay for the extra warranty they offer.

Now that I won't argue with. If you are using it every day for a profession, you owe it to yourself and your client to have the very best equipment money can buy (but not the necessarily the most expensive)

I have a Makita router that was $$$$ and it's a piece of crap. It's a plunge router and it doesn't plunge square and for a 3/4 horse router it has no balls. For what I paid for the Makita I expected a way way more substantial piece of equipment. Now I have a Frued and it's an incredible machine.
 

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There must be some reason why people that are certified welders or welding for a living on parts that peoples lives depend on use quality welding machines. They spend from the low end of a good Mig machine $3,000 up to over $8,500 for a Tig machine. There is a limit on the low end of Mig machines and that Harbor Fright unit is below the low as you can go. Look at that duty cycle. You would be better off with 1/16" stick rod and two automotive batteries in series for a better piece of welding equipment. Even a little old Miller 175 amp or a old Vantage, better yet a Miller 212 that replaced their 210 machine with the option to run gas Migs w/solid wire vs fluxcore, better heat control (infinite vs different transformer tap offs). For the others i'll mention Lincoln and Hobart welders. If your starting off or planning on doing future welding projects you'll always end up welding thicker materials over time with the welder becoming underpowered. A big welder you can always lower the output but you can never increase the output of a underpowered low amperage and duty cycle welder. Skip the amperage ratings posted on welders, look at the amperage under the 60% duty cycle rating specs not the maximum amperage the welder can put out.
Buy the biggest and best you can vs stepping up buying many larger welders. This is cheaper in the long run as well purchasing the largest owner owned bottles vs those small lease bottles. These small bottles plus the lease is how these welding shops increase their profits. A good hood makes welding a little more comfortable, for me the large window Speedglas 9000X has been my best auto dark helmet. Next a portable band saw or a chop saw and a 4 1/2" grinder then go build something.
 

Figbash

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If it has a cord on it and/or more than one moving part, don't buy it from harbor freight
LOL.

I bought a hydraulic press from them because I needed it in a hurry and the price was right. I was extremely skeptical but it didn't have a cord and it did only have one moving part (I actually considered that). I would NEVER consider buying a welder there. No legitimate welder manufacturer I know of produces a welder with a 10% duty cycle and if (when) it breaks, where are you going to get parts? Buy a used Lincoln or Miller. It'll do a great job and last you a lifetime.

Tom
 

sirsloop

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i have this exact welder.....works great.used it for hours on end and hasnt tripped on me


If you plan on welding anything thicker than sheet metal, bed frames, etc... skip it. A welder is a piece of gear where you typically get what you pay for. Cheap 110V welders overheat quickly, make a ****ing mess, and generally are a pain in the ass.

LOL.

No legitimate welder manufacturer I know of produces a welder with a 10% duty cycle and if (when) it breaks, where are you going to get parts? Buy a used Lincoln or Miller. It'll do a great job and last you a lifetime.
x2


ps... get an auto-darkening helmet too. Being able to see what the hell you are welding is nice.
 

pen25

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miller offers a unit with 20% duty cycle for 800 bucks. thats a wopping 12 min run time.

hobart offers a wirefeed flux core for 400 same duty cycle.

lincoln has the weldpack on homedepot for 269 again same 20% duty cycle

campbell hausfield i think is also 20% for 269. so for someone that needs a welder to weld up a brew rig and dont want to spend 300 bucks this unit makes sense. now if you are planning on welding more then a rig or two and make money then by all means spend the money. whats funny is how noone is talking about the real issues with this unit. for one it just might have the wire always hot and the trigger only control wire on off. that needs to be checked. if it is just remember to take care and find how to mod the trigger. and one thing i have read is replace the wire as the wire it comes with suck. it works but its difficult to deal with. goto a weld shop and buy some good .030

as for parts? i have yet to find another manuf that gives you all the parts and blow up's for everything they sale and offer you parts. if i were the OP id buy it try it and if it works then use it and and learn. if it doesnt then return it for your money back. no harm no foul. does it make sense to drop 500 bucks on a welder that will be used one time? i know id rather use that 500 to buy the material and everything need for the brew rig like grinder chopsaw wheels and possibly even pump and allot of the hard lines.

bed frames are spring steel. i wouldnt weld it and sleep on it.
 

Mattbastard

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I have that welder as well. Yea, the duty cycle sucks, but what I do is just use it and to hell with the cycle. I only run beads about 2" at a time max, then reposition and go again. It's a messy bead, but it does what it's supposed to do.

I mean, what else would you expect for that price? Just get the angle grinder with it to clean up the welds and slag before paint.
 

aubrey

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I have it too, and can second it working well for what it is. I wouldn't go try building a racecar with it, but ive been using it for small stuff for 3 or 4 years now with good results.
 

leboeuf

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I own this also. It's really great for the diyer, cheap as hell and it will acomplish any steel brew sculpture you can think up. If you don't plan on running 12" long beads you should be fine.
 

Homercidal

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I'd say go for it. I own a Lincoln Handy MIG and like it, but I bought it for sheetmetal and expect to have to go slow on thicker stuff. I've already had to replace the heat range switches once.

For $100 expect to get messy welds, but honestly, are you going to want to weld stuff after this project? If yes, then get a better one. If not, then who could you get to do the welding for you for $100? Nobody. You can do it yourself the way YOU want it.

I have had good luck with the HF stuff I've bought, but I understand that I'm getting low quality tools and if I had to use them everyday for my work, I'd never buy them. But, I am restoring a 1969 Mustang and my father-in-law is restoring a 1967 Cougar, and everything we've bought from them has worked very well so far. Even the 60 Gallon air compressor.
 

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I bought this welder. It works fine for what it is. Just know what you are buying before you buy it. For a unit that you will use lightly on hobby stuff, it will work fine with some practice. I built my whole HERMS with it. Just make sure you have a grinder for cleaning up the splatter. Splatter is going to happen with all flux-core units that do not run gas too.

Also, I discovered that preheating the joint prior to welding improves the weld quality significantly. I hit my joints with my propane soldering torch for a couple seconds before welding and started getting pretty decent beads that were getting good penetration.

For a hundred bucks, expect a hundred bucks worth of machine. It will work, for a while. If it craps out after a year or two, oh well. It was a hundred bucks!
 

Clayton

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well if you are buying a welder for your brew hobby i would get something that has gas so you can weld stainless steel too,, you know you are going to want too. that and i would buy a 220volt unit, they just preform so much better and you can weld thicker stuff ,, with thoes mega cheep 110v units you cant really weld well anything but the thinest bar and tube stock
 

Couevas

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As I said above, it will work for what you want it to do (unless you want to weld SS). My rig is 1 inch tube at .095 wall thickness and I blew through it when I wasn't paying attention.
It can weld 1/8 no problem (up to a quarter if conditions are optimal).
How often does a home hobbyist weld thicker than 1/4? The most important thing is getting the wire feed speed right and how fast you lay the bead.

GO FOR IT. Unless you are willing to invest in something nicer.
 

BrewBeemer

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As I said above, it will work for what you want it to do (unless you want to weld SS).
It can weld 1/8 no problem (up to a quarter if conditions are optimal).
Full penitration on 1/4" and pass as as a structurally sound weld I must ask?
I've Tig welded for over 19 years SS included with a Miller Synchrowave 350, 3 to 385 amps output. Started with a old Navy Motor /Generator welder back in the late 60's. I have welded a lot of 3/8" to 1/2" thick aluminum plate and castings as well steel and stainless many times that other welders could not weld properly with their limited lower amp output. cash jobs I could handle that paid for my equipment within a couple years with side jobs doing hobby welding while welding for a contractor during the week. Aluminum eats amps hence these large machines besides the ability to go down to 3 amps on Tig with background amp control as well the use of the pulser.


[/QUOTE]
How often does a home hobbyist weld thicker than 1/4? The most important thing is getting the wire feed speed right and how fast you lay the bead.
[/QUOTE].


[/QUOTE] how fast you lay a bead [/QUOTE]

I would rather have complete penetration of the base material welding slow than a just laying down a fast bead, structrual strength is more importand than a beautyful looking cold bead any day. Now we must be talking Mig, you changed processes from Tig to Mig is my guess here?
Welding frames and structural items with a welding certification I have made many items over the years that a lower amp welder can not touch. I'm a "hobbyist" now with the same machines. I can weld up to 1/2" thick materials one pass with the Miller Millermatic 251 that's rated 250 amps output besides the 30A Spoolgun for remote aluminum boat repair welds I get on houseboat pontoon damage repair. Owning a underpowered welder your screwed, larger amp welders just lower the output.




[/QUOTE]
GO FOR IT. Unless you are willing to invest in something nicer.[/QUOTE]

I sure did afer going thru underpowered welders when I first starting to weld with my dad's plug heat range welder at age 14 until I realized you can not go cheap on any process be it Tig or Mig hence my final selections years later. I stopped at welders number 11 and 12 or 12 and 13 (? so many) to get what I wanted in welders. To get the public to buy welders these days they are making them with less controls and simple to use. A sad way to sell a product allowing less controls for the welder to fine tune the machine to the project at hand. The best part for me with the higher amperage units in both Tig and Mig the money came in a lot more plus these welders were paid for many times over and rather quickly. No way could this of happened with a lesser amp or cheap import welder. Go for 60% duty cycle specs when selecting a welder as well a major brand name. Buying a larger quality unit once is cheaper than a low amp foreign welder two or three times. Try to get replacement parts from a Made in China unit. "Got Rice?"
JMO's, i've been there and learned something the past 40 years welding.
 

polecreek

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I think I have to call B.S on this.:D
. I can weld up to 1/2" thick materials one pass with the Miller Millermatic 251 that's rated 250 amps output besides
 

brrman

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There's no reason for a hobbyist to own a $1000 welder unless they have the money to burn. You can weld up a brew stand with the unit in the original post.

No offense BrewBeemer, but you are not a hobbyist - you are a retired professional. You demand the best because during your time as a pro you aspired for the best. Most of use DIYers don't aspire for that. We just want a damned brew rig and wanna be able to tack stuff together around the house.
 

BrewBeemer

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I think I have to call B.S on this.:D
. I can weld up to 1/2" thick materials one pass with the Miller Millermatic 251 that's rated 250 amps output besides
Well polecreek, you must be a hell of a lot smarter than the Miller welder manufacture, hell you should have them sued for false advertising of their products with the specs that are posted for their 252 Millermatic.
Between the Millermatic 251 and the newer 252 is the handles and the exit of the torch cable angled downward vs the 251, identical internal parts, transformer and output specs. Just a face lift to promote sales of a new model.

Go to http://www.millerwelds.com/products/mig/millermatic_252/

Miller 252 specs state 30 to 300 amps, that 300 amps is down to a 27% duty cycle which is below the 40% to 60%or 100% that Miller, Hobart and Lincoln rate their welders as well the "standard" for welder output ratings. Those made in China will get high amp outputs down to 20% or 10% duty cycle. Miller 452 mild steel; 22 gauge to 1/2"max , aluminum; 14 gauge to 1/2" max, w/Spoolmatic 15A or 30A spool gun still with 28 volts output.
Look on this Miller forum and go to their "Product Literature (PDF)", look below this section and click on "English" for the welders Performance Data charts of the 252 welders output in amps, volts and duty cycle. Even pushed to 300 amps your at 26 volts output.

I have Tigged and Migged with both Miller welders up to 1/2" steel and aluminum with welds that have passed under certification inspection just to see if these welders would do what they advertise. Position of the weld will make a difference. Tig heat at these high amps will go thru your gloves rather quickly besides without power factor capacitors the input will reach 131 amps, with the capacitors in line 101 amps, rather hard even on a 200 amp service. The bad part with the capacitors in line the idle amps was 55 with the efficency positive cross-over only begining around 215 amps output.
Hats off to you ploecreek to be a person smarter than the Miller welding manufacture. I should tell Miller Tech that their engineers have a person smarter than them and their products. Maybe you should be employed by them and straighten them out on thir products.
Again hats off to as i'm honored to have run across a brewing member smarter than a manufacture than Miller. I must contact Miller and tell them they are all wet and know squat about their products. That I was fooled into purchasing welders to do 1/2" as they were rated at and they will not do what their advertised specs stated.
This is a reply to what Millers spes their equipement at not the start of a pissing war I just wanted to get facts out to you and others if needed with this reply. CJ............
 

springer

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I own a miller cricket flux welder I wouldn't be the least bit apprehensive in making a brew stand with it . The HF would also work and has proven it does by Beerthirty

Thanks guys. Its amazing what you can do with a $250 trailer, a $100 Harbor Freight wire feed, die grinder and 20 years worth of accumulated sh!t from the garage.
So lets just get on with building rigs.
 

BrewBeemer

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There's no reason for a hobbyist to own a $1000 welder unless they have the money to burn. You can weld up a brew stand with the unit in the original post.

No offense BrewBeemer, but you are not a hobbyist - you are a retired professional. You demand the best because during your time as a pro you aspired for the best. Most of use DIYers don't aspire for that. We just want a damned brew rig and wanna be able to tack stuff together around the house.
No other words need be added, you zeroed in on me with your above reply.
I must thank you for your kind reply. I was lucky with good timing in life. I used my past knowlege of working in a machine shop, licensed A&P mechanic for the airlines as well a union electrician hence a big time DIY person at home and shop this making myself more valuable in the electrial trade being a certified welder. I was working while many wiremen were out of work in the hall in the winter time. This over the years has made less wear and tear on the body in the construction trades. This kept me employed longer on jobs not alone foreman's pay vs journeyman's besides company side jobs on weekends or after work building brackets for large cable pulling rigs. The added cream topping was a company truck with gas card to haul materials to my home and shop. Less wear on my vehicles. This extra money besides placing my welders on a 3 year tax write off allowed these machines to pay for themselves within two years with the rest as a positive income. This allowed me at that time to purchase larger Tig and Mig machines I wanted that are rated as "Heavy Industrial". I had a chance in life to purchase them as now the price for replacement is out of my cash range. Mig alone with 30A/ Spoolgun before tax is $3779 by Miller, the Tig machine replacement I recall was around $7800 before adding bottles, lines, gauges and feed cords.
Yes way over the top but I had the chance to get big machines that is larger than many small operated "Welding Shops". I know a few as friends that would kill to have my machines especially the Tig that's fully loaded. Sad part the new Miller 350 Synchrowaves have fewer features, switches and controls than my 1991 Synchrowave, made to be comsumer friendly these days.
I got lucky and took the leap plus the best part got it past the "War Department" aka wife while raising a family.
Enough about me as now i'm disabled and need spinal surgery so all hobby work is dead stopped and forced early retirement.

My opinions what I have found because I hang around a couple muffler shops.

On the smaller machines be it Miller (first choice) lincoln or Hobart one must be careful as these homeowner welders have more feed roll control problems and use heat selector switching vs a infinite control dial and knobs. This is where manufactures including Miller have cut corners to keep the price down to compete with other manufactures.
This is where you should try different machines, hands on, at your local welding supply before purchasing. Cyberweld.com - Welding Supplies - Miller, Hobart & More is one place that will have the best prices on name brand welders. I believe I have posted their addess on a early reply above. My thinking if you can get a Millermatic 210, 212 is the same welder for Mig that is a great machine. The lower amp machines are not as flexible to use, the 175 works ok. Tig is a totally different world with sticker shock the first thing even with Miller's lower amp machines. Some are plug and go without the ability to control the arc as much vs a loaded beast like the 350 Synchrowave I have. It weighs 986 pounds bare before adding the wet torch cooler, stick cables and all the ouick disconnect fittings that stub out under the machine.
The best one is those replies that welding is easy, true if it's Mig but will it pas a cerification test? Tig, if you tell me tat is easy I will be impressed as I have spent many years wit Tig and still learning. Practice, practice , practice but under the proper training as bad habits are hard to unlearn.

Done rambling, weld on.....CJ......
 

BrewBeemer

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I own a miller cricket flux welder I wouldn't be the least bit apprehensive in making a brew stand with it . The HF would also work and has proven it does by Beerthirty



So lets just get on with building rigs.

springer, you got it boss, back to building rigs as you replied.

You just have to make sure not only a pretty bead but good penetration
for a stuctually sound stand. Working with hot rolled steel vs cold rolled that is clean the slag on hot rolled must be removed before you begin to weld not burning thru the slag finish. I would bet 90% of stands are out of hot rolled due to the price increase of cold rolled steel.
Don't be afraid to crank up the heat, I would safely say 75% of first time or new welder owners run too cold. There is a big difference between sticking metal together and fusing metal together. Start out with a tight fit up no big gaps filling them up with weld.
Nuff said.
 

Trenchant

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I just actually attended a welding clinic put on by our university racing team. A recommended technique for judging the appearance of a weld was whether it was concave, convex or flat. Of course it does depend on how much more metal you add in while welding. They said the welds should either be flat or slightly curved in with wetting on both pieces of metal.
 

springer

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springer, you got it boss, back to building rigs as you replied.

You just have to make sure not only a pretty bead but good penetration
for a stuctually sound stand. Working with hot rooled steel the slag must be removed before you begin to weld not burning thru the slag finish.
Don't be afraid to crank up the heat, I would safely say 75% of first time or new welder owners run too cold. There is a big difference with sticking metal together and fusing metal together. Start out with a tight fit not big gaps and filling in with weld.
Nuff said.
I do have some experience with Mig welders. Worked in my uncles body shop full time for 10 years then part time for 15 more. We had a large 3 phase Miller argon mig and a plasma cutter besides cars we did heavy truck and motor home repairs. I agree turning the heat up and the wire speed is a must on these smaller units. always start with clean metal and clean the welds with a wire wheel as you go
 

kirscp

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I have the lincoln 320HD, it's nice, but if I were to do it again, I'd get a 220v version. Not a Harbor Freight one either. My 110v will weld almost anything that I want and you can add Argon gas.

The reason I'd go with 220v, I've wanted to weld some aluminum, as my 110 wasn't large enough to weld it. Of course the 110 is nice, as a lot of places don't have 220v plugs.

Another bad thing, once you get a welder, everyone wants you to come over and weld stuff.
 
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