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best value in a shop welder???

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  • best value in a shop welder???

    I run a small custom hot rod building shop
    Im looking for advise on the best value in a welder that must have the following features

    220 volt, power plus wire feed
    must weld 1/16" to 3/8" thick aluminum and 14 ga-3/8" thick steel, it will be used mostly on steel (chrome moly)roll cages and exhaust systems (building headers ETC.) but must be able to make good clean welds on thin aluminum for building EFI intakes, it must have at least a 50% duty cycle, parts must be easy to get and it must be very dependable
    while I sure don,t want to waste money on a big fancy rig I sure would rather spend more than the minimum if it does increase the features, and ease of operation or dependability of the equipment
    any and all info /opinions are welcome/advice on accessories necessary would be helpful
    if your corvette can,t smoke the tires from a 60mph rolling start your engine needs work!

  • #2
    I'm sure the experts will chime in at some point.

    My thoughts, after reading the post, is that it sounds like a job for 2 different machines. A good MIG w/spoolgun for the thicker stuff. And then a TIG machine to handle the more delicate work like the intakes, exhaust and roll cages.

    Or a monster TIG machine to do it all.



    • #3
      I'd be inclined to say that a Miller Shopmaster, a hf unit for tig, and a Miller 30A and WF-24, or XR-A controller should fulfill all your needs in an manageable price!

      The single phase 230Vac Shopmaster is capable of running your AC Tig work although you'll need an HF unit to stabilize your Aluminum welding.

      The Spoolgun is great for the heavier aluminum, and steel and as an added bonus you can run 30 feet away from your welder in those hard to reach areas

      Down the road you may want to look at picking up a wire feeder like a 22A, as the wire is cheaper in the bigger spools, however if you have an XR-A, you'd be using the bigger spools anyways.

      Ahhhh, choices, choices...


      • #4
        guys I need your help here, lets assume I know zip about welders (altho Ive used many for years Im no expert, in fact Im much happier using a torch on most stuff)so talk to me, please compare these electric welders below and don,t limit it to only those two if theres better choices (REFER TO FIRST POST)

        Family owned and operated regional distributor of industrial, medical, specialty, food grade and bulk gases, as well as safety supplies, welding equipment, equipment rental & repair and associated services.

        keep in mind that I want to do what the first post lists, and at time the welder will get fairly heavy use! (am I looking at the wrong welders)(should I stick to oxy-acetolene for most stuff)
        if your corvette can,t smoke the tires from a 60mph rolling start your engine needs work!


        • #5
          Hey Grump,

          In the class of welders you just listed, you missed what I feel is the best in class...

          The 251 Millermatic...which I own one...excellent machine. Many auto enthusiasts could easily get by with the MM210 though since it will do up to 3/8" plate. I simply bought the larger machine as the cost wasn't that much more and I wanted the largest, best machine in the 250 amp Mig class (MM251 is rated to 300 amps).

          I will tell you though that if you intend to weld 4130 chromoly in cages and aluminum for intakes, etc...that you need a good Tig as well. Mig is not legal in NHRA for chromoly cages/bars.

          I also own a Lincoln Squarewave 175 Pro which is a nice small race shop welder. If I had it to do over again, I'd likely buy the Miller 180SD (new style), or the Maxstar/Dynasty series if money wasn't a limiting factor (inverter machine).

          if you plan to do any aluminum head welding & repair, you need a large Tig with a water cooler and matching torch.
          Last edited by 10secBu; 08-24-2003, 09:59 PM.


          • #6

            anyone else?
            if your corvette can,t smoke the tires from a 60mph rolling start your engine needs work!


            • #7
              I should add that the Lincoln Squarewave 175 Pro is an excellent machine. I've had no problems and would recommend it to anyone...still a major player against the Miller 180SD...machine works much better than the operator in my shop .


              • #8
                grumpyvette, I couldn't agree more with what 10secBu wrote, all of it! I have nothing more to add.

                vapor genie vaporizer
                Last edited by jason; 01-20-2011, 02:11 PM.


                • #9
                  Are you limited to single phase power? If so than the 250class mig welders will do most of what you want with the extra aluminum welding accessories. You will probably have the most probs with the thinner aluminum less than 1/8.

                  You may want to consider investing in a book or two from here

                  If more people understood how to wield the mig process than organizations such as the NHRA would have no legitimate reason to ban mig welds.

                  For what its worth I would get either the Shopmaster or Powermig300( if I could afford them), have the Powermig255
                  Last edited by Planet X; 08-24-2003, 11:34 PM.


                  • #10
                    Welder selection

                    I went thru this awhile back as many people on this board do. I think you must look at the service history of the company that you plan to buy their products. If thats the case, then Hobart & Miller are the best to get(if you read this board), as even the Lincoln people will have to admit. (I have a Lincoln stick welder). I looked at the Miller XMT 304 and it had almost everything you'd need but no AC tig, and you end up buying all things separate(which may be good in some respects, but bad in deciding what to buy ie. wire feeders,torchs,hf units etc.) .I ended up with a 251 mig unit with a push pull gun and a Dynasty 200dx tig unit. These combinations have everything but pulse on the mig unit. I think those units can do anything you need to do. Hope that helps, David


                    • #11
                      Play to your strengths maximize your gas welding ability w/stuff from here this will cover your thin aluminum stuff no Tig needed.
                      Use the Mig to give you TIME to do those finesses projects (like headers)-if you can't get a project out the door you won't be in business for long.

                      Add the Millermatic 251 to the other 3, 250 class welders you have already found and compare cost/availability options in your area. Any of those machines combined w/information contained in Ed Craigs books will be able to accomplish the tasks you stipulated.

                      You want it simple and dependable well CV transformer Migs are the ticket.


                      • #12
                        GRUMPYVETTE.......... Well had a couple of plastic cars once myself.....Well I at one time spent 7 years working for General Motors....... Another story another time,.........

                        Welding the Roll cages should be done with tig.......... Yours or someone elses life may depend on that weld...............Be safe look at a Tig machine also.........Maybe a multi-process machine....

                        Have you made up your mind yet on the 250's as to which one to get............ If not then head on out to your local Welding Distributor's and have them set those baby's up........... You know Take those girls for a twirl..............Then you can decide........After all it is your hard earned cash you spending............. compare then you will know for sure............... ..............Enjoy the decision makeing process, many and I mean many have been in the same boat as you.............. Can't decide.......... I say weld with them and you decide........................Rock.............
                        [email protected]


                        • #13
                          I have used the Lincoln Powermig 255 extensivly, and the MM 251. About a week ago I ran a Lincoln Powermig 300 for a few hours, it is the class of the field. Easiest machine I have ever used, been welding for 35 years.

                          Good luck


                          • #14
                            grumpyvette, I've been looking and pricing new Migs, Sounds like a Miller 210 might be a good welder for you. Does what you need all in one. About $1800.00 at a local dealer. Anything over .250 thick I stick weld. Esspecailly frames!

                            Last edited by PA-Welder; 09-08-2003, 10:04 PM.