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Old 02-22-2013, 08:23 PM
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Default Noob need help finding a cheap welder.

Hey I'm new to welding and was looking to build a go kart. Not the mini ones that are low to the ground but ones with suspension and can go offroad with a roll cage etc. I need a cheap welder to build this. I will probably just need it to build this so a cheap one is important. Can anyone recommend me one that can get the job done? Perferably for under $300.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:34 PM
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harber frieght has a wire (mig welder) for around a $119.00 thats a 120 volt too.Just plug in welded.Works fine welding pipe and light flat medal.

Vance
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:37 PM
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Thanks. Will look for it online.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:40 PM
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Fluxcore wire, which most cheap welders use, SUCKS to weld with. It spatters all over, doesn't maintain a good bead, and smokes a lot. After borrowing a fluxcore welder, I shelled out $400 for a Hobart 145 welder and got a harbor freight tank for Argon/CO2 gas to shield regular copper .035 wire.
Welds sooooo much better it's not even funny. If you plan on welding something up that you plan on jumping and taking through mud and ruts, I'd get something that will make good solid welds that won't come apart and skewer you after you crash... If there's one area I wouldn't skimp on for a project, it'd be the welder -- it can do so much than just 1 project. If you already know how to weld, I'd see if you can borrow or lease one. If you don't know how to weld already, I'd practice quite a bit before you start and read up on good technique and problem areas. It's easy to get a weld that looks good but is weak/contaminated. Good luck with your project, and if you do get the HF welder, try to get one with as many AMPS as you can and highest duty cycle possible...
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Hamilton View Post
Fluxcore wire, which most cheap welders use, SUCKS to weld with. It spatters all over, doesn't maintain a good bead, and smokes a lot. After borrowing a fluxcore welder, I shelled out $400 for a Hobart 145 welder and got a harbor freight tank for Argon/CO2 gas to shield regular copper .035 wire.
Welds sooooo much better it's not even funny. If you plan on welding something up that you plan on jumping and taking through mud and ruts, I'd get something that will make good solid welds that won't come apart and skewer you after you crash... If there's one area I wouldn't skimp on for a project, it'd be the welder -- it can do so much than just 1 project. If you already know how to weld, I'd see if you can borrow or lease one. If you don't know how to weld already, I'd practice quite a bit before you start and read up on good technique and problem areas. It's easy to get a weld that looks good but is weak/contaminated. Good luck with your project, and if you do get the HF welder, try to get one with as many AMPS as you can and highest duty cycle possible...
where did you get a hobart 145 for $400. i got a hobart 140 for $500 at tsc

this welder replaced my HF 90 amp flux and its 10000x better
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:57 AM
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FCAW does produce a lot of spatter. Clean up is required between tacking and burning in, and some spatter just doesn't want to come off. Overall finish will not be as good as GMAW.

That said, I have been welding with FCAW for years- and I've not had a structure fail yet. Even being towed at highway speeds with a load on it.

Quality, brand name welding machines keep high resale values. If you buy one and decide later that you're not going to use it again (I just cannot imagine NOT having one) you can sell it and get back most of your investment.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:05 AM
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These are probably your best choices for new welders:
Lincoln Electric FCAW, I do not believe this machine is intended to be switched to GMAW
Lincoln Electric FCAW, with GMAW conversion parts
Hobart Handler FCAW, parts to switch to GMAW are available
Hobart Handler FCAW, GMAW conversion kit included

I don't know if it matters to you, but I believe that the Lincolns are made in Poland, and the Hobarts are made in the USA.

The first welder listed was the machine I started out on. I really liked it, and I kind of wish I had not sold it. It was made to fit a 10lb spool, and it was very light and portable for a wire-feed welder. With some tricks I was able to carefully weld a very small amount of 1/4" steel, but this machine was really at home on 16ga to 1/8" steel. If you want to do a lot of welding at once, or more than a very small amount of material above 1/8" you need to find a machine with a higher output and a greater duty cycle.

I completely agree that FCAW (flux-core) leaves several times as much splatter as GMAW (MIG), but I do not believe it is a bad choice for a project like yours. With practice, you can lay down beads that are strong and look great after a bit of wire brushing. Someone just starting to weld can save a bit of money by getting FCAW, be a little less strict about surface prep, and still do many projects just fine.

If you decide that you want to do more welding, you can either convert your machine to GMAW (if your machine has this option), or you can get a new machine all together. Of course with all of that said, if you are fine with spending the extra money, you probably wont regret getting a GMAW in the first place. If you are interested in GMAW, be sure to take into account how much a gas bottle will cost you, they can be expensive. If a used welder comes with a gas bottle, make sure your local supply company will fill it. Also be sure that the welder you get will plug into an outlet near where you will be welding, otherwise you should expect to pay an electrician to install a new plug.

If you are interested, looking for a name brand welder (Lincoln, Miller, Hobart, and Esab are popular in the U.S.) in the used market can get you a great, powerful, reliable, welder for a fraction of that machine's cost when it was new. Even if you are buying new, name brand is the way to go. Better quality, parts and repair services available, and a much higher resale value make the extra initial cost worth it.

Also, just as a heads-up, most of the GMAW welders will say that they can weld aluminum, which is partially true. In a more realistic sense, you wont be doing much aluminum GMAW welding without a spool gun and a 230V machine.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toystory_4wd View Post
FCAW does produce a lot of spatter. Clean up is required between tacking and burning in
That depends. I managed to find gasless wire that doesn't require clean-up.

Take note of this bit in the description:

Quote:
This product does not require a shielding gas and can be used in limited multi-pass welding operations
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:55 AM
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That seems a little too good to be true. Where does it state that it leaves a (relatively) clean weld? As you quoted, it does state that it "can be used in limited multi-pass welding operations," but I do not believe that sentence is trying to tell you it leaves any less splatter than your average FCAW wire does. Any standard FCAW wire is up for "limited multi-pass welding operations" as long as you clean the weld before each pass. I'm not trying to be rude, I just don't think that the sentence you quoted is implying what you think it is. If you can find some proof that this wire doesn't require clean-up I would be interested in trying some!
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:06 AM
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You guys ever hear of anti-splatter?
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:23 AM
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Yes I have. It works well for keeping splatter from building up on a GMAW gun's nozzle, and I bet it could keep splatter from sticking to the base metal that is about an inch or two plus from the weld. That said, it can't deal with the real problem that FCAW creates: all of the slag that forms on top of and right next to the weld.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r97 View Post
That seems a little too good to be true. Where does it state that it leaves a (relatively) clean weld? As you quoted, it does state that it "can be used in limited multi-pass welding operations," but I do not believe that sentence is trying to tell you it leaves any less splatter than your average FCAW wire does. Any standard FCAW wire is up for "limited multi-pass welding operations" as long as you clean the weld before each pass. I'm not trying to be rude, I just don't think that the sentence you quoted is implying what you think it is. If you can find some proof that this wire doesn't require clean-up I would be interested in trying some!
I didn't say, nor did I imply that it never needs to be cleaned, what it means is that all the cleanup can be left until the end; it's basically a time saver.

I've used the standard E71T-GS wire & found that, yes, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly between tacking & welding otherwise, it just won't weld but, with the E71T-11 I can weld straight over a tack, into a tack, out of a tack without any problem at all.

It still spatters a lot & leaves the brown slag behind but, unlike the E71T-GS, you can weld straight through the slag.

FYI for the OP: Eve GMAW creates spatter, just nowhere near as much
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:02 PM
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For what it's worth-

I use Lincoln Innershield wire, and I am able to brun through tacks without intermediate cleaning with good results. However- I don't consider it to be proper technique. Depending on the project, I usually do end up cleaning it between tacking and burning-in.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:56 PM
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i think the grease would catch fire and smoke like crazy but maybe just a thin film would help

^i wouldnt be going to that airgas anymore
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:36 AM
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LOL- no doubt...

Regarding the grease trick, I dunno. Every part of my being says, "Noooooo!" Why?

I spend six years welding in the field- commercial restaurant applications. The range hood exhaust systems (according to fire code) are all constructed of 16ga steel sheet, fully welded (no bolts, screws, etc). I did new installations as well as repairing/replacing old components that weren't to spec, etc. Old exhaust systems were nasty. Grease everywhere. And as soon as there was grease in proximity to a weld join, the heat would thin the grease (go figure) and it would wick into the join- making my life quite miserable.

Granted, this grease was cooking oils and fats, but ultimately- grease is grease. I don't want grease anywhere near my welds...
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Old 02-24-2013, 07:19 AM
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The only thing I can figure, is that it was far enough away from the joint, or maybe separated by a step or something to keep the grease at bay. Generally, when I have to protect a specific area from spatter, I use a mechanical method. Like tape for example. To protect threads, I will put tubing or nuts over the threaded portion.
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:09 PM
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I was not meaning the anti-splatter that you dip your gun in. I use a liquid anti-splatter on the material I am welding, and I can remove the bebe's with little effort. I do not buy that high dollar stuff. I had an welding engineer tell me that is nothing but soap and water, therefore I mix Dawn dish soap and water. Works just fine. Try it I think you will like it. Grease forget it. If you have your heat and speed right, you can remove the slag very easy with a chip hammer. I sand blast my welds before painting.
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zbuck View Post
I was not meaning the anti-splatter that you dip your gun in. I use a liquid anti-splatter on the material I am welding, and I can remove the bebe's with little effort. I do not buy that high dollar stuff. I had an welding engineer tell me that is nothing but soap and water, therefore I mix Dawn dish soap and water. Works just fine. Try it I think you will like it. Grease forget it. If you have your heat and speed right, you can remove the slag very easy with a chip hammer. I sand blast my welds before painting.
My brother and I own and operate a small metal fab shop and we use the anti spatter spray on some stuff. The best I have used is in an aerosol can. It is not soap and water. It has some sort of oil in it and smells sort of like fish. Maybe fish oil? LOL Regardless of whether you use the oily stuff or the soapy stuff, you've got to get it off before you paint. If any of you DIY'ers are getting a tremendous amount of spatter, make sure your metal is clean. MIG welders don't typically like dirty or greasy metal.

We have 5 welders in our shop. Two 250 amp MIG welders, a Lincoln and a Hobart. We also have a Miller 302 300 amp 3 phase. My brother bought the Lincoln and I bought the Hobart Ironman 250. The Hobart is the better welder. We have a Lincoln AC/DC that we run a TIG setup on. We also have a little Lincoln 120 volt MIG unit. I hate it.

For you guys looking for a welder to use at home, if you plan on welding anything over 1/8" thick stock, I'd go with a 220 volt MIG welder. Those little 110 volt units are made for very thin metal and have a very low duty cycle. If you're just making a go kart frame they will be fine though.

A 220 volt welder is absolutely the way to go if you weld much at all. You don't have to get a 250 amp like we run, but they are nice and you can still weld really thin metal with them. We make quite a bit of wrought iron fence and most of it is 16 gauge metal. The 250 amp units have no problems welding that thin stuff. It's about the same thickness as EMT conduit.

If you plan on welding 1" thick plate, go with the 300 amp 3 phase.
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