please suggest cheap welder

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taotao110d

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Hello everyone, I have never tried welding, so I don't know enough to pick a cheap welder to learn on, so please help me figure out which welder I need.

I want a cheap one since I am just learning, but I don't know if I need a tig, mig, stick etc etc, nor do I have any idea the amperage I should be looking for.

All I will be using it for is go kart (mine is a Carter Bros 1215 live axle single seat yard kart if it matters) frame repair.

I have seen some (from places such as harbor freight, which I feel will be plenty good enough for me and what I want to do) for less than $100, but not sure if I need mig or tig or whatever, or amperage I should be looking for...

So pleeaase suggest a cheap (preferably less than $100 :) ) little welder for a welding noob that will work well for go kart related stuff. I don't need a badass machine as I am learning and can upgrade when my skills upgrade, and for the same reasons, I also want a cheap one.

Thanks everyone!
 

anickode

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Throw down the extra coin and get a MIG that will do shielding gas and run on 240v

You won't find one under $100, but if you are patient and wait for a good deal on a used one, you can save a bunch an have a machine that won't be buried in the corner of your shed in 6 months when you've realized just how limiting it is.

My first welder, many years ago, was a 110v flux core from Harbor freight. It was utter garbage. And the money it takes to upgrade it to something useable is about what you'd spend on a harbor freight MIG 170, and you'll STILL only have a machine that can barely burn 1/8" together well.

---------- Post added at 11:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:21 PM ----------

Other option is find a used stick welder with DC output. You can probably score one for under $100 bucks, like a Lincoln Tombstone DC or Miller Thunderbolt DC. Yes, stick is harder to learn, but the right rod will give you exponentially better results than any gasless flux core, particularly the cheap ones that aren't even DC output, and you won't be limited by thickness either
 

mckutzy

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Honestly a tombstone welder is a good start, difficult yes... But if you want to dabble in tig later, get a tig rig and gas you'll be set...
But gotta learn basics first before you think on that route...
 

Randy H

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You can get a good 110 volt wire machine. I've got a Millermatic 135 I've had for nearly 15 years. Still a very smooth running machine. Very well suited for kart frame action.

If at all possible take a class someplace. Learn to practice perfect.

If you settle on a cheap flux core machine, make sure to buy a really good grinder. 🤣
 

Kartorbust

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You can get a good 110 volt wire machine. I've got a Millermatic 135 I've had for nearly 15 years. Still a very smooth running machine. Very well suited for kart frame action.

If at all possible take a class someplace. Learn to practice perfect.

If you settle on a cheap flux core machine, make sure to buy a really good grinder. 🤣
Do your best, grind the rest. A grinder and paint, make you the welder you ain't.

Hobart is a great hobby grade welder (it's Miller's economy line) and very popular. No idea on the Harbor Freight brand Vulcan. Just remember majority of the stuff made does ship from China, long as it meets certain requirements it can say Made in USA or Assembled in America. Another brand that is good is Everlast. Older products from them have had questionable reliability, but they have seen to be getting better.

Spend a few hours on Craig's list, Facebook market place, even eBay and look for Miller or Lincoln welders that are used (just not abused).
 

Randy H

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There is another option. Oxy-Acetylene welding. When I got serious about welding, back in the 80's the first class i took was learning to weld, braze,braze weld and cut with oxy-acetylene.

Not cheap for new good quality equipment, but you can sometimes come across good used stuff.

The thing with grinders, they should be used before welding. Joint preperation, scale/ rust removal.

If my weld was that ugly I I'd put Bondo over it before grinding it away Lol.

Back in the day, Hobart was the Cadillac of machines. Not that Miller was junk.
 

itsid

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Uhm hang on..
I was under the impression that ALL wire feed welders can be converted for shielding gas..
(IIRC my el cheapo italian thingamabob even has a gas tube in the gun already)
no regulator no internal cutoff valve of course..
but there is nothing more to it, right?
A regulator and a gun with a gas tube (a valve if you want to go fancy), or do I miss something?

'sid
 

anickode

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Uhm hang on..
I was under the impression that ALL wire feed welders can be converted for shielding gas..
(IIRC my el cheapo italian thingamabob even has a gas tube in the gun already)
no regulator no internal cutoff valve of course..
but there is nothing more to it, right?
A regulator and a gun with a gas tube (a valve if you want to go fancy), or do I miss something?

'sid

The only sub-$100 wire feed I know of is the harbor freight 90a flux core. There is NO provision to run gas without replacing the entire torch and adding the gas plumbing.

Plus it doesn't even have a rectifier, so the output is AC which makes for absolute dismal performance. ALL wire feed processes should be run DC.
 

mckutzy

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Learning to O/A weld at current carbide prices is expensive, pretty much cost prohibitive ... Albeit learning to cut and use the torch is an invaluable skill...
However if you can gas weld... You know the basics for tig welding....
 

anickode

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Learning to O/A weld at current carbide prices is expensive, pretty much cost prohibitive ... Albeit learning to cut and use the torch is an invaluable skill...
However if you can gas weld... You know the basics for tig welding....

I agree, though it does set the groundwork for the basic fundamentals for ALL welding processes, like puddle control and heat buildup. Everything happens much slower with O/A welding, so you can really see what's going on.

I personally do most of my cutting with propane because of acetylene prices, however I do keep a small 60cf (WQ) size cylinder of acetylene around for the occasion where acetylene is just the way to go, such as welding cast iron with nickel filler.
 

Nosandwich

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Hmmmmn....funny. I never knew a dang thing about welding before I bought a HF wire feeder.

Bunches of folks here have found them adequate for their needs. DID I MISS SOMETHING???

What's next? Billet flywheel or banned?
 

Texan

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I think HF is going away with this one, my coupon email from them say "While Supplies Last". Lowest price I think it has ever been. Mine has served me well, is convenient 110V, lightweight and under your $100 budget. Like Nosesandwich said, this one is a great starting point.

welder.PNG
 

mindymogul

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A: He said he wanted a cheap welder to learn on, not a budget breaker pro setup.
B: MOST vocational schools/HS shop classes use a 90-120a MIG Welder, (which can adapt to Argon) Usually Lincoln Electric or Miller. They never start straight off at 220 due to control. (Burning right through material for example). They do have 220s but usually you need at least 20hrs on a 110 to even touch one.
C: A Chicago Electric or equivalent el cheapo 110v 90a MIG welder is a perfect starter tool. I bought one and taught my kids to weld with one and I use one on a regular basis. No the welds aren't pretty without gas but that's what Die grinders are for.

Wise person once said. "Bare minimum you need is a cheap welder, mask, gloves, brush, grinder, and motivation. You'll go very far very quickly."
 

anickode

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Hmmmmn....funny. I never knew a dang thing about welding before I bought a HF wire feeder.

Bunches of folks here have found them adequate for their needs. DID I MISS SOMETHING???

What's next? Billet flywheel or banned?

It's not that at all. We are simply recommending saving the money towards a machine that is SIGNIFICANTLY better that you will want to continue using for years, vs wanting to upgrade almost immediately.

This is more akin to buying $3 harbor freight hand truck wheels for the front of your go kart because they're the cheapest thing out there. Will they roll? Yes, and that's enough for some people, I guess.
 

Nosandwich

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It's not that at all. We are simply recommending saving the money towards a machine that is SIGNIFICANTLY better that you will want to continue using for years, vs wanting to upgrade almost immediately.

This is more akin to buying $3 harbor freight hand truck wheels for the front of your go kart because they're the cheapest thing out there. Will they roll? Yes, and that's enough for some people, I guess.

Ummm. ...no, I'm perfectly happy with my welder... but, we'll see how many aren't...:popcorn:
 

zogthegreat

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Although it's been recommended to avoid 110v welders, I'm in a situation that I don't usually have access to 224v. I just picked up a 110v Eastwood 135a mig welder that can do gas up to 1/8", and flux core up to 1/4". I paid $220.00 USD including shipping for it.

https://www.eastwood.com/mig-welder-110vac-135a-output.html

If your on a budget and you don't see yourself going with a real, (220v), welder, I really recommend it. I was using a 90a flux core only, which is an AC at the tip welder. The difference is huge. I'm getting much better welds with less splatter and better penetration.

I personally do most of my cutting with propane

How do you cut with propane? Do you think it would be possible to use a "green" bottle or a BBQ tank to do this? Space is an issue for me, as well as crossing multiple state lines as well as international borders. The regulations on carrying gas bottles can get tricky, so propane is a good option for me.
 

itsid

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The only sub-$100 wire feed I know of is the harbor freight 90a flux core. There is NO provision to run gas without replacing the entire torch and adding the gas plumbing.

Plus it doesn't even have a rectifier, so the output is AC which makes for absolute dismal performance. ALL wire feed processes should be run DC.

*Sigh* that doesn't answer my question, not even between the lines...
110V is not a thing around here, neither is Horror Fraud;
And while I heard that the same italian company that made my welder sold rebranded stuff (indeed as chicago electric) in the US... I wasn't able to verify that at all.

but nevermind...
when I run out of fluxcore I'll figure it out eventually ;)

'sid

in case you wonder it's a tigmig TM130
(I can only find a redesign tm130 with 130Amps.. but it looks similar and costs the same) and yes, my torch has a gas tube!
 
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