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Another First (MIG) Welder question

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  • Another First (MIG) Welder question

    Hey all, just some questions from a Road Racer who is branching out into chassis building.


    1) I race small bore Formula Cars, Formula Vees to be precise. The chassis are ladder frame using .080 to .125 wall mild steel tubing. I have been running a chassis built by a pretty well known Marquee and want to eith modify my frame or build a new one to save weight. My chassis builder recommended Miller as that is what he uses.

    2) I will be working in my home shop, which is a detached garage with a separate panel from the house. There is a dryer hook up for 220 power but bringing another line in for a welder would be a pain so I am limited to 115v

    3) My father taught me to gas weld when I was 12 and I have had additional training through the EAA to weld Chromoly with gas. Considering the thickness of the tubing I want to work with, however, and I have seen/heard that running an electric welder gives less chance to overheat the material and less chance for distortion I chose to buy an Electric welder.

    4) I have also done some TIG welding and would, in fact , have probably preferred to buy a welder of that type but if I did I wouldn't be able to race anything I built!

    To this end I ordered a Millermatic 135. Now I am wondering if this is appropriate for the work I plan to do or if I am doomed to be "underpowered" on this?

    What sort of learning curve can I expect when it comes to MIG welding with my experience? Ihave some racing buddies who have offered to help me learn, and have said I shouldn't have any trouble, is this a fair estimate?

    Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated!
    Marty Cameron
    Mysterian #59
    "Racing I s life, everything else is just waiting!"

  • #2
    Good questions. First, I don't see how you are truly limited to only 115 volts. Personally, I use a dryer outlet for each of the 230-volt Miller machines in my garage, since I only use one at a time anyway. I only made an extension cord, using appropriate cable, that adapts the dryer plug to an industrial outlet, parts from Home Depot. Will you be drying clothes at the same time? Probably not. I wound up installing a gas dryer anyway
    That said, you are not underpowered with your MM135. I have welded crane rigging with one. BUT, where it may hurt is in the duty cycle of 20% at full output. This affected me greatly on that job because I was at maximum output and doing multiple passes on long welds. But, this applies very little unless you are welding at near full output and have lots of welding in a short period of time, which can happen if you set up a large jig for your parts. 20% duty means 8 minutes of doing something else after welding for two minutes, for every 10 minutes. Usually, this happens anyway. Duty increases greatly when not welding at full output; cooler environments help also.
    I have since graduated to big Millers and have more capabilities that are frequently used in my applications. But you may also still prefer the MM135 if you plan to have portability to places where 115-volts is the only thing available.


    • #3

      Thanks for the reply.

      I don't expect I will be doing anything as heavy duty as you describe so, assuming that the "duty cycle" increases at lower setting (remember, I am new to MIG welding)for lighter gauge material, I should be OK. The largest material on a Formula Vee chassis is the main rails, which are 2" X 4" X(.080-.125) I might run into problems if I ran a bead all the way around the perimeter of one of those, which would be rarely, but otherwise I should be doing ok (based on what you have said). Please feel free to correct me if I am getting something fudamentally wrong here.

      I have considered taking the welder to the track as well so the portability is a big plus.
      Marty Cameron
      Mysterian #59
      "Racing I s life, everything else is just waiting!"


      • #4
        With what you describe, the MM135 is the perfect choice from Miller's line. I was actually quite surprised to see how much smaller the comparative units are from Lincoln. I wonder how they compare in weight, etc. But I'm a solid Miller man myself, no need to change the colors in my shop! I think you'll be very pleased with your MM135. I doubt you will ever experience a duty cycle problem, even going around the perimeter of the material you describe. Get a good 12-guage extension cord for portable use.


        • #5
          on the subject of learning curve,I am new to mig welding myself just tried it a few days ago(testing out welders,trying to find the perfect one,choose a model that has 200 amps ,I plan on doing buggies,trailer hitches ect. and it is very very easy! and all i have done before is sodered!
          have fun with your welder, racing . I plan to get into racing in the near future myself ,my only suggestion is that if you can get a 230 volt instead of getting a 115 machine then i would do it, but if you plan on going to the track the 115 volt is very nice.
          zach k


          • #6
            I would like to second MAC's response in saying you have plenty of power there if you have a dryer outlet! You dryer will pull more amps than the welder in most cases.

            The MM175 would also be a great choice. It too is small and portable for at track use and runs on 230v.



            • #7
              umm i dont do any racing but im looking into it. this i think is a stupid question and is sorta off topic. what do you mean if you tig weld you would not be able to race what you build?


              • #8
                My guess is that he was lamenting that he is out of practice in GTAW (TIG) welding, and is thereby predicting that if he races in something that he welding using that process, it would fall apart. :-)