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First welder, new or used?

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  • First welder, new or used?

    Let me say right up front that I am a complete newbie, but I am eager to learn. I am enrolled next semester in a basic welding class at the local community college, and I am looking to buy a MIG welder. I am a home hobbyist planning to weld steel up to ¼”. My budget is $1000 give or take.

    I have been told by a number of people that I will need 200 amps or better, and that it is a huge mistake to buy too small or too light duty, so I have been looking for a quality used welder.

    I found a nice clean L-TEC MM250, and I would appreciate any feedback on this welder. It’s about 7-8 years old and supposedly cost $2500 new. It looks pretty much identical to an ESAB Migmaster, so I am assuming it is the same unit sold under the L-TEC label. It comes with a cart, two tanks, and a regulator. The owner wants $1000 but may come down.

    Is this the right welder for me? Is the price fair (assuming it is in good condition)? Is there a better choice in my price range? Should I be thinking new rather than used? Should I find a shop to check it out before I buy?

    Thanks in advance for any advice I might get.

  • #2

    This is just my opinion, but if your budget can stretch to around $1100 I would buy a new 200 amp or 210 amp machine. These machines will give you the amperage that you need to make a quality weld on 1/4" material. Most of them have more than enough duty cycle at the high end of there amperage range for home hobbiest welding of 1/4" material. One important thing too is that they all come with a warranty . If you buy a used machine from a private owner and it breaks in the first week, who is paying to have it fixed? You are of course. Just something to think about.

    If your interested, later this evening I ll be posting some pictures of some welds that I produced with my Millermatic 210. They are the results of an experiment that I was performing to see if it is capable of producing what is know as "Spray transfer". Spray transfer is the mode of metal transfer that will produce your soundest welds on 1/4" material when using a solid wire.

    If you have any questions on the new machine just ask someone is sure to give you some info.
    Last edited by Dan; 12-14-2002, 10:53 PM.
    MigMaster 250- Smooth arc with a good touch of softness to it. Good weld puddle wetout. Light spatter producer.
    Ironman 230 - Soft arc with a touch of agressiveness to it. Very good weld puddle wet out. Light spatter producer.

    PM 180C

    HH 125 EZ - impressive little fluxcore only unit


    • #3
      I just sold my esab migmaster for $1100.00 it was mint condition.Just like it came off the showroom floor.The thing flat out blows anything from miller or lincoln away in that votage range.It spray arcs on the middle setting.It would weld with .023 with a 15 foot gun.It welds as low as my miller 130xp with a super nice arc.The thing is just flat powerfull.Try to find something like it.

      While it was at the welding store,a guy that worked there(Airgas in portland)wanted to trade his esab 300svi inverter for mine.The reason.The migmaster is easier to set up to weld then his.The esab 300 cost about 2500.00 dollars new,and my 250 was 1500.00.I went ahead and traded,and sold his for 1100.00.He was real happy to get mine.His was also called the migmaster 300.

      The only reason I sold the migmaster is I bought a Mk products MK2000A pulse mig inverter,and hooked it up to a lincoln LN9 GMA wire feeder,with a bernard gun.I also had a esab m28 control,st23 spoolgun that I hung on to for Alumunum pulse mig.
      I used the spoolgun with the migmaster.

      I have nothing against Miller or lincoln,in fact I just bought a great welding 305G Ranger.That all my feeders work with.

      The migmaster is the only welding machine in that class that has copper windings.The lincolns are getting close as far as arc quality with miller pulling up the rear.Thats only my .02 cents


      • #4
        you might want to wait until after the first several classes "next semester". Learn something to try with a prospective used machine and some questions to ask.
        Consider a used/refurb from a dealer who would warranty it ... some compromise between new $$ and the unknown used rig.


        • #5
          used MIG

          Price seems reasonable, based on what I see in Houston area. I agree witth Bob on buying used from a dealer for warranty, etc., except that most used machines in Houston dealer's showrooms are almost as expensive as new. If this machine is like new, I would not be afraid of it.


          • #6
            I am a home hobbiest and like to fabricate, work on cars, offroad trucks, etc. For years I had a old AC buzz box that I hacked things together with. Then had the offroad project and went with a Lincoln 200 mig after much investigation. Cost $1100 out the door locally (plus 200$ for the tank/gas and 120$ for the speedglas autodarkening helmet). If I had to do it over I might have held out for a comparable Miller when they have the free spoolgun sale. I don't think you can go wrong with a good 200A+- from either Miller, Lincoln, or Hobart. I'd agree to wait till you get some experience in class though. It might influence you and might be able to get a special class deal from one of the manufacturers if the instructor/school has any 'connections' or manufacturer support.