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Restoring old Airco BusyBee 225 amp, 220v AC stick welder (Miller equivalent M225P)

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  • Restoring old Airco BusyBee 225 amp, 220v AC stick welder (Miller equivalent M225P)

    I recently acquired an old Airco stick welder, manufactured, I think, sometime in the late 1960's or early 70's, with the thought of restoring it for use. The welder ID is as follows:

    Airco BusyBee Transformer Welder, 225 Ampere A.C. MSM
    • Model 2-25ADT-2P-A
    • Stock no. 1353-01451
    • Made by Miller
    • Manual:MEMCO Miller Welders Model M-180, M-180P, M-225, M-225P Operating and Maintenance Manual Form no. MO-114-8J-C2

    the welder clearly had sat for a few years in a somewhat damp location, and I fortunately decided to remove the cover to verify the condition inside, which revealed a cracked power cord and a mouse nest, and a somewhat rusty chassis. The transformer looks good and the core slides easily, but the case of the large capacitor used for power correction was very rusty. I decided that the condition of the capacitor was suspect enough that I would clean it up to make sure I would see any leaks rather than leave it alone, knowing that when I touched it with a wire brush I might find myself with some leaks.

    Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened: the rust had weakened the case at the bottom and I now have a couple of pinhole leaks. I probably lost only a drop or two of oil so far.

    Initially, I thought I would just buy a replacement Miller capacitor. The Miller part number was listed as 31614, and when I did a search, I found it was replaced by Miller part number 059417. The description is as follows:
    Capacitor, Ppr Oil 30. Uf 460 Vac Part# MI059417. The price of the replacement was well over $200! The welder isn't worth putting that kind of money into it. So...either I plug the leaks and hope the existing capacitor is serviceable, or try to find a cheaper alternative.

    Here are my questions:
    1. Is it practical to just clean up the case of the capacitor and seal the pinholes with JB-weld? I believe I lost just a very small amount of oil, perhaps a couple of drops at most. Is it safe to patch the case and put it back in?

    2. Is there a less expesnive alternate capacitor I could find that would do the job? I have done searches and have come across some HVAC dual core capacitors with the same UF and voltage rating, and they are less than $10. Will one of those work? If not, what should i be looking for?

    3. Should I just salvage the cables and cord, and find another welder? I don't mind fixing this machine if it will perform safely and I don't have to spend over a $100 in parts; there doesn't seem to be much to the machine itself.

    On the other hand, I don't want to be foolish and invest in a welder that is outdated. It is only an AC model, but with copper windings, and it weighs about 150 pounds.

    Finally, I should add that the only welding I have done in my life dates back thirty years ago with a torch; this will be a new experience for me teaching myself to weld, and then hopefully finding a class somewhere.

    Thoughts? Advice? I am attaching a couple of pictures for reference, before I took it apart. Thanks.


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  • #2
    Welcome to the forum.
    Lincoln A/C 225
    Everlast PA200


    • #3
      Thanks for the welcome!

      I have enjoyed and benefitted from the various forums available in special interest areas like these. I moved to a rural property in VA about 4 years ago, and soon learned how little I knew about things I needed to know about! Accordingly, I have participated in forums on tractor repair (have a 1970's Satoh (Mistubishi) which, as it turns out, needs a welding repair), chainsaws (have now re-built a few Stihl chainsaws for fun), automobile repair (electrical, fuel injection, transmission), woodworking equipment (re-built a 1962 Shopsmith - what a great machine!), etc.... The world has truly become a smaller place, and along with the technical knowledge shared and gained, I have enjoyed the connection with others from around the world.

      With regard to this welder, I have always wanted to learn to weld, and I enjoy fixing things, so this project seems to kill two birds with one stone, IF it makes sense to spend the money on it. If it were an AC/DC unit, or a MIG wedler, I think I would be more willing to invest, since I understand both are easier to learn, but on the other hand, there are VERY few parts to this machine: a transformer, a switch, a fan, and a capacitor. It is very satisfying to see something that was discarded come back to life and once again have value.

      Now if I can just solve my capacitor problem within my budget!



      • #4
        If you've found a cap with the same voltage and UF rating I'd think you should be ok, although I have no idea what a dual core cap is.
        If it is only for power factor correction, why can't you just run without it? Max amperage draw will increase but idle draw will be lower.
        Someone with way more knowledge on the subject than myself should be along shortly to help you out.


        • #5
          Robert, don't let the absence of DC scare you off. AC will do a lot of welding.


          • #6
            Originally posted by welderboyjk View Post
            If you've found a cap with the same voltage and UF rating I'd think you should be ok, although I have no idea what a dual core cap is.
            If it is only for power factor correction, why can't yimpact.of power factor correction on the output,u just run without it? Max amperage draw will increase but idle draw will be lower.
            Someone with way more knowledge on the subject than myself should be along shortly to help you out.
            I can find a 30 mfd 440 VAC at Grainger for.about $20 or so. I am assuming the 460 VAC of the original was to allow for 230 v input, and I will be using 220v, so hopefully it should be fine. I don't understand the impact of a power factor correction capactor on output, of any, though I have now been told by a few people that it wont hurt anything to just disconnect the leads to the capacitor, tape them off, and I will be fine.

            the dual core caps used in HVAC installations are basically two capacitors combined into one, one a starter capacitor, and the other a run capacitor. The one from Grainger is just a run cap, oil filled.


            • #7
              welderboyjk is spot on regarding using or not using the power factor correction (PFC) capacitor. As he stated, using the PFC cap increases idle (on but not welding) amperage draw but reduce amperage draw while welding from that without the PFC cap.

              If you need or elect to use it, a motor run capacitor of the proper rating will get the job done.
              MM200 w/spot controller and Spoolmatic 1
              Syncrowave 180 SD
              Bobcat 225G Plus LPG/NG w/14-pin*
              *Homemade Suitcase Wire Feeder
              *WC-1S & Spoolmatic 1
              PakMaster 100XL
              Marquette "Star Jet" 21-110


              • #8
                Progress photos on welder restoration - a peak inside

                I thought that some might be interested in seeing the insides of this monster. The manual says it weighs about 150 lbs, but it is a VERY dense 150 lbs, as I have found out dissassembling it. I have decided to break it down to remove all the rust, paint it, and reassemble it. Here is an update:
                • In spite of the rust, it came apart pretty easily, with only a few machine screws on the bottom requiring "special" attention. There really isn't much to this machine:
                  1. a transformer with moveable core, operated by a crank on the front.
                  2. a stainless steel band,half-painted, hooked to the moveable core on one end and a spring on the other, that indicates what current is being provided based on the core position
                  3. a mounting board with ground, low and high voltage jack receptacles
                  4. a switch
                  5. the power factor correction capacitor
                  6. a fan
                  7. the power cord

                • I am going to use electrolysis to remove the rust from the sheet metal cabinet pieces (3 of them) and the steel casters. If you have never used this technique for rust removal on old equipment, it is VERY easy, and VERY effective, and worth reading about on the internet. You basically make a bath consisting of washing soda and water, immerse the part, surround it by something to serve as electrode(s0) (I use re-bar), and hook up a battery charger with the negative attached to the electrodes and the positive connected to the steel object requiring the rust removal. Let it sit for a day or so, and the rust is turned into powder and comes off very easily.

                One of the other benefits of the technique is that it also will loosen and remove most of the old paint if you leave it in for a while. In this case, I am going to re-paint it a different color since I am not so fond of the original Airco "safety orange". I plan on using Rustoleum Hammered paint, which covers alot of defects and wears great.
                • The transformer assembly is welded to two pieces of steel bar, welded to two steel channels that provide the frame for the cabinet. The channels have a fair amount of rust on them, along with the expanded metal that is tack welded to them for ventilation, so I am going to partially immerse the transformer base, keeping clear of the windings, in an electrolysis bath to clean them up.

                • One half of the stainless steel indicator band used to be painted red, but the paint had almost completely flaked off. I will clean and repaint the band to restore its function as a current marker.

                • I understand I don't really need the capacitor, but found one at Grainger that should work for $20 so I have decided to replace it.

                • I will salvage the power cord. The conductor insulation looks great, but the outside rubber sheath shows some cracking, and the sheath is open where it went into the machine. I purchased some 3/4" heat shrink tubing and I am going to put two layers over everything to keep everything safe. Someone cut the ground blade of the original 50 amp plug so it would slip into the new style 220V receptacles, so I am going to replace that as well.

                • The welding leads are in pretty good shape. I will clean them with a bleach solution to get some of the grime and mildew off of them, but there are no signs of cracking and they seem very flexible.

                Here are some pics of it partially dissassembled:

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