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  • mig+plasma buyer question

    as some of you may know.
    i will be going to school to learn to weld.
    and i will be able to purchase equipment soon.
    i am leaning towards a mig that is powerful enough to for instance build frames.
    i also want a plasma cutter.
    in my city there are tons of pawnshops with welding equipment.
    and i have seen plasma/mig combination boxes.
    but i am wary of buying something that is like a cheap swiss army knife
    supposedly does everything
    but doesnt do anything well.
    do you guys have any input for me?
    the reason i am thinking pawnshops is theres a lot of miller/hobart/lincoln etc.
    for thousands less than new.
    thank you for your time.
    ANGRY SMART AND SOBER

  • #2
    I like my Miller251 and I have a small hypertherm plasma. You can't go wrong with a Miller or Lincoln welder and i hear that Miller builds Hobart now too. I know esab is well known for plasma cutters but ive mainly used hypertherm and had no problems. When choosing a plasma cutter consider the cost of consumables

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    • #3
      Originally posted by billy zz View Post
      as some of you may know.
      i will be going to school to learn to weld.
      and i will be able to purchase equipment soon.
      i am leaning towards a mig that is powerful enough to for instance build frames.
      i also want a plasma cutter.
      in my city there are tons of pawnshops with welding equipment.
      and i have seen plasma/mig combination boxes.
      but i am wary of buying something that is like a cheap swiss army knife
      supposedly does everything
      but doesnt do anything well.
      do you guys have any input for me?
      the reason i am thinking pawnshops is theres a lot of miller/hobart/lincoln etc.
      for thousands less than new.
      thank you for your time.
      From me the answer all depends on if you already have a oxy/acet set-up. If 'yes' [and you already own grinders, weld bench, drill motors, vice, and assorted tools] then it is OK, unless you have an unlimited budget, to get a plasma.

      As for a MIG: You say you are going to school to learn to weld. Certainly by the time you get well into the course you will be a pretty good hand with an arc welder.

      If you already have a240V. arc welder then my belief is that you should step up for a GOOD MIG on gas and BUY the bottle. With the MIG [unless you are willing to spend a lot of extra loot to be able to weld stainless and cast iron and hard face and etc. & etc.] as you know is really only good for mild steel. The arc welder of course can do all those things and a lot more and a lot cheaper per lb. of weld deposit.

      #1 is a torch. #2 is a arc welder. #3 is a GOOD MIG. #4 is possibly a plasma but a better idea could be a TIG or find a medium sized lathe. According to what you feel is most useful to you when that time comes.

      The down side to having only a torch and a cracker box arc welder? No bragging rights...but with the least amount of money you can start building cars!

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree with oldsalt if you're looking at cost you definitly want to follow his order of torch then arc.
        I Tig welded on the job before I ever tried oxyfuel welding. WHen I took a welding class later, The instructor knew right away that I had Tig experience when i showed him my first oxyfuel weld.
        You'll be able to do more for less money while building a solid foundation of welding skill if you start out with torch

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by matrod View Post
          I agree with oldsalt if you're looking at cost you definitly want to follow his order of torch then arc.
          I Tig welded on the job before I ever tried oxyfuel welding. WHen I took a welding class later, The instructor knew right away that I had Tig experience when i showed him my first oxyfuel weld.
          You'll be able to do more for less money while building a solid foundation of welding skill if you start out with torch
          If you get a ac/dc welder, you can tig weld mild steel with this by buying tig torch and argon bottle. You will have to scratch start the tig and preset the amps because of no foot pedal, but this is the way pipefitters do it.

          Comment


          • #6
            I learned a long time ago, when it comes to brand names.......

            It is far far better to buy the top of the line "cheap" stuff, than it is to buy the bottom line "expensive" stuff.

            Prime Example:
            I only had 500 bucks at the time, and the Cornwall (tool truck) stopped by with a sale on a little Miller mig welder. Not their top of the line, but it's a Miller right? So I bought it.
            Doing only Body Pannel Welding (nothing heavy), pluged directly to the wall (no extension) it blew the board in less than a week of light duty use!
            After fighting with the tool truck to get it Warrantied (which they only send you the parts and you have to diagnose, install, and fix it all yourself), 2 boards and 3 on/off switches later, I said "F"it keep the SOB, and bought a Vulcan from HF for 200 bucks more, that does 5x as much.
            Been using that Vulcan for a little over a year now, welding everything from 3/8's to 22 guage (and lighter) sheetmetal.

            I was a die-hard Miller Lincoln user until that day, and I use that Vulcan for everything, if it breaks, I'm only out 7-800 bucks.
            My 30yr old big Miller collects dust.

            About 5 years ago I ran out of tips for the Plasma (Hypertherm) on a Sunday. Had to go to HF to pick up a couple cheap tarps anyway, and they had a CE one there that was on sale because it was an open box. Had the extra money and said what the hell, if it doesn't work I'll bring it back within the 30 days, and give it a try (was curious anyway). Not only does it work (not as good, but not bad), but I brought it home so I could have one here, and one at the shop as well where I've been using it at least once a week here. Again, it's not "as" good, but it does ok, esp for what I paid for it it.

            Best advise I have in this.....
            If you only want to spend 1,000 on a Welder or Plasma Cutter.
            Buy the Harbour Freight top shelf stuff. It will put money in your pocket for your project with what you save, and it will do more.
            If you can go all the way, go all the way with Miller, Lincoln, etc etc etc and don't sell yourself short in it with their bottom shelf "cheaper" stuff with a "Name" on it. They protect their "name" with their Top Shelf stuff, and it really is, really really good stuff.

            *(also, while I was at HF buying that Vulcan, I looked at thier CE couple 100 dollar Mig. It looked just like that Miller only it was Black instead of Blue. Same knobs, same switches, even the torch felt the same, only the price was way different. Either a hell of China Knock-Off job, or a hell of a repaint at the Miller factory)*

            On that used stuff, really check it out (esp on wire feeds).
            Freind of mine bought a Snap On Multi Welder with the spool gun for 500 bucks at a pawn shop here, it looked nearly new.
            Got it to his shop and it would only weld for about 10 mins and it would cut the wire.
            That wire feeder was more than what he paid for the whole dang thing.
            He bought it, and got it going, and it's a good welder..... but that "good deal" ended up costing a lot more when it was done.
            I think the guy at the pawn shop plugged it in, the lights came on and it made noise, so it was good as new.
            Last edited by BareRose; 04-12-2018, 02:33 PM.

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            • #7
              I guess I have a different perspective then most here.

              A torch is nice if you intend to bend a lot of stuff, or plan on cutting a lot of stuff for scrap or will be cutting thick stuff. Gas welding works, but puts a lot of heat into light gauge metal. I think the cylinders of gas on my torch have been there for 3-4 years. I just don't use it much anymore.

              An arch welder falls into the same category as the torch. Once the mig was here, the arch welder has pretty much been stored in the back room. Its your money, but I would buy what I intend to use. Arch welders don't work worth a damn on sheet metal.

              Buy a good name brand mig or tig welder, if you can't afford a new unit, check a welding supply house for a reconditioned or traded in unit (they check them out before they sell them). Buy your welding consumables from a welding supply house as well, they will probably give you better prices then some big box store. Buy the cheap welders if you don't do much welding, and it won't bother you to throw them away when they quit working.

              When you buy a Plasma Cutter, understand the the cutting size stated is usually the max it will cut, and it will be very slow cutting the max thickness. As a rule of thumb, you want a cutter rated at 2x the metal thickness you expect to cut. If you intend to cut 1/8" steel, you need a cutter rated at 1/4". Buy a cutter big enough to do the job, or don't waste your money on a plasma cutter. The cost of the consumables is also an important consideration in buying a unit. My 1st plasma cutter was a Century brand, it was rated at 1/4" and usually cut 1/8" material. I used it 5 days a week for over 10 years before the cutting whip went bad. I replaced it with a Hypertherm that is rated at 5/8". it cuts 1/4" material at 17" a minute. The cutting tips cost $25 /pair and I replace them about every hour and a half of use. Thicker metal uses up the tips faster then thin metal.

              Hand tools are important. A Sawzall, a drill motor and good bits, and Grinders, both 4 1/2" electric, and air with 3" grinding discs along with 3" cut off wheels set up on a die grinder always gets used. A die grinder with a rottery file is also helpful. Clamps and several sizes and styles of vice grips are highly recommended. Safety glasses, hearing protection and welding gloves are a must. Gene

              Comment


              • #8
                Oh and get a good quality welding helmet... my first one was a cheap one and I didn't realise how bad it was untill I got a good auto dark Miller one... you gotta be able to see your weld puddle to make a good looking bead.
                As for the TIG.... I just got a miller syncrowave 210.... it's really nice to have... but good mig, in the 200 amp range will do EVERYTHING you need. The only thing the TIG was really essential for for my build was making odd hyd fittings to make my hydroboost work.
                My build thread:
                https://www.killbillet.com/forum/20s...at-is-it/page7

                Comment


                • #9
                  Don't get a stick welder..... you need lots of experience with real world welding before you should be welding a frame with a stick... a mig is a much easier way to produce a quality weld in all directions vertical and upside down for example. Cutting torch for heating and bending thick stuff.
                  I have a Miller 625 extreme plasma I'm very happy with. Works really nice for slicing up sheet steel for floor boards and the like.
                  My build thread:
                  https://www.killbillet.com/forum/20s...at-is-it/page7

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As far as plasma cutters go I bought the Colossal Tech Cut50F on ebay about 6 month ago $300 consumables are cheap and easy to get.
                    I'm just a home/hobby guy and it works great for me. I couldn't afford to own a plasma cutter had it been anymore expensive.
                    I consider a torch a must have for working on vehicles though and if I had to pick one or the other it'd be the torch.

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