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Best Machine For Student To Practice SMAW

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  • Best Machine For Student To Practice SMAW

    Goal is AWS certification in 1" Vertical but this kid needs to get more stick time to become proficient so we decided to research machines.

    Being a Miller fan I am looking at these two ....

    Thunderbolt AC/DC
    Maxstar 150S

    I realize neither is best suited for 1" material, but we are talking about a machine useable for practicing, and multi pass welding as well.

    Personally I like the Maxstar for its small footprint and weight .... but I cannot let my desires influence this 'project'.

  • #2
    Here is my take. I assume you are young,, but in todays world would be going for the Maxstar for a couple of reasons. One, it works great on 120, very portable and light, wish they had these when I was a kid. 2, same power as a tbolt when running on 230, probably not as robust and handle abuse quite as well but I think its got its own thermal but considering the cost of welding lead and primary cord/wire. A bit more up front cost but the secondary cost is so much lower, makes it a wash right out of the box. Mine has almost retired my gas drive units.

    3rd, I would add 25 ft of number 4, even as small as 6 just to allow some movement with the stinger on larger projects without having to move machine and 3 cords, working on trailers, small building construction where there is a lot of jumping around. One great feature is that the thing is its own remote, went in to home a while back to fix a couple wood stoves, real pain in the rear stuff, super to have the machine right there to tune.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Thanks for the input ....

      Me, I am old ... been on this earth well over half a century, and yeah I can enjoy the portability.

      The primary purpose for *this* machine over the next 4 months is to allow the student, who is 17, to get at least an hour or more per day 'stick time' to help him maintain some level of proficiency.

      After all he's no in school all that long and gets maybe 90 minutes in the weld shop per day and not all of that time is spent welding.

      After his schooling the machine would revert back to my ownership.

      Not that I really need another machine, I already have full O/A setup as well as my old and trustworthy MM210.

      But the Maxstar would make a nice companion for the MM210 during those times it sits all alone in the shop!


      • #4
        I'm a beginner too. One basic class in local community college but I'm burning rods and wire like a maniac (some good some bad but I'm getting there).

        I've got a Miller 211 for MIG and a Stickmate® LX 235 AC / 160 DC which is a Thunderbolt with Hobart written on it. :-)

        The Stickmate so far has been a great little machine. I probably push the duty cycle and it just keeps buzzing along. The Maxstar has ~10% more duty cycle.

        Maxstar ~$800
        Stickmate ~$500
        Miller 211 MVP
        Hobart StickMate LX 235
        Lincoln AC 225
        CutMaster 42


        • #5
          The AC/DC you have is a very good machine and burning 1/8 I bet a guy would have to deliberately try maybe with a couple taking turns to work it hard enough to burn up. I have a similar red one have burned a whole handful of 1/8 lo-hi at a time in summer weather, did it multiple times, a couple times I had concern let it sit for 20 mins but works as good 30 yrs later as when was new.

          The advantage of the max is portable, if a guy has a 210 this is a poster case for a max for away from shop. Did a handrail the other day with mine, no noise, no gas from 120V, its really revolutionary in its own right.

          My red one has taps and considering my incoming they are just about perfect, no reason to change. But a Stickmate as well as a Tbolt have fine as does the max. Its been a long time since I use a little tbolt but can assume it works as good as my little linc, as a welder I really give the edge to the tranny, everyone raves about the max but I am probably pretty well qualified to test a machine the tranny is a better welder, slightly, almimperceptibleable but its starts and restarts are a pinch better or hit a speck of slag on occasion etc. The Max is a little fussier, really minor and a guy gets used to it with a little discipline, howewouldn'tldnt trade portable for the difference.


          • #6
            If I was looking to and end game and was holding the machine when the smoke cleared it would be the max,,, ans again the post above related the purchace price,,, I think the gap quickly narrows considering the cost of copper for cord/cables.


            • #7
              If you want to spend more money, go to the 150 STL. That is the tig/ stick model. OR, MORE MONEY, go for the 200 syncro.


              • #8
                Well we are aiming a little higher.

                Sold an old O/A setup for $200 more than I paid for it used some five years ago.

                If I can find a buyer for the MM210 ( that has almost never been used ) then I will go for a much better unit.

                Let the kid use the SMAW capability to get through school and have more for when it reverts back to me.

                A Stick/TIG combo sounds like where I am heading.

                May not be Miller, as a friend has shown me his outfit from another brand and I liked it.


                • #9
                  It may have some application but I am in general fab and maintenance, personally keep the 210 and get stick inverter. TIG sounds nice, kind of warm and fuzzy but I don't need it, never never got to tig anything. They don't do alum anyway, its just more junk and the wire feeder does it all so much faster and cheaper, tig is an absolute last resort. I like stick for portable. If I was a specialist where it demanded it then it would be another issue,,,, if you are not using the 210 you got you will tig even less, the wire feed is the go to workhorse of small shop, I have a ton of stuff, full time farmer and am a career welder, I only marginally need anything other than a 200 feeder, its really rare and most of the time even then could skate buy.


                  • #10
                    Ac/Dc tombstones are readily available on CL for about $125. Can't beat them form stick welding and dirt cheap! Actually they are cheaper than dirt. I just had a truckload delivered today, 20 tons was $225!


                    • #11
                      If money was an issue that is exactly what I would be doing if they were available. If I was in an areal like Scott V is where they are plentiful would even sit till I found one that came with a gob of lead.


                      • #12
                        If your wanting a smaw machine for educational purposes that will burn any rod out there, I'd look into a Dial Arc 250 tranny machine. It's cheaper than an inverter with the same amperage capacity, more hardy and a great machine for learning. It will also scratct start dc tig.
                        Lincoln Idealarc 250
                        Miller Bobcat 250
                        Thermal Arc Hefty 2 feeder
                        Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52
                        Torchmate CNC table


                        • #13
                          Well I picked up a Hobart Stickmate AC/DC for $175 for the kid.

                          He's happy and burning rod like there is no tomorrow.

                          I'm reassessing my own needs.... the MM210 is still here but overkill to my use.

                          I've had someone come along and make a fantastic offer on it, so I am considering it.

                          Will probably go to a more portable unit, because the MM210 was just too big for me to put to use all the time, and moving the work to where the MM210 is located at times just can't be done at times.

                          The MM210 is the last welder I bought so I need to brush up on any new things out there.


                          • #14
                            You did good, that is an ideal machine and runs from common 50A service. Its the right machine for you.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sberry View Post
                              You did good, that is an ideal machine and runs from common 50A service. Its the right machine for you.
                              My son likes it .... he's the welding student and is in a Tech High School to obtain AWS certification.

                              I'll probably replace the MM210 with a MM211 .... it's more that sufficient for my use and somewhat updated.

                              Aluminum welding will be it's primary use, as that is what I used the MM210 for when I was building projects in the past.

                              Still want to learn TIG ... but that may come next year.