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Options for thicker Aluminum welding? and Stainless?

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  • Options for thicker Aluminum welding? and Stainless?

    Well, I have to admit,
    I did say I had a 135 amp welder, but.... I never came clean it is a Red welder
    I have a Lincoln 3200 HD, (135 amp) welder, and basically it has done me right for the little jobs that I do. Which has been 99% Thin wall tubing (exhaust jobs).
    It has a TAP setting, instead of infinite, I guess this is good for me, being a beginner, but I'm sure once you begin to know what you are doing, then it might become a hinderance, and I (eventually) will probably be looking to upgrade. I'm still far from knowing what I'm doing, heh.

    Yes I know it's not a "blue" welder, but not everyone is perfect :-) I got this brand new off ebay for something like $275.00 (like a year ago).
    I've even welded 1/4" steel with this thing, but I know the penetration was not anywhere close to what a good structural weld should have.

    As time goes on, and the jobs get bigger, I'm wondering what would be the best next step. Although I'm fairly sure it will be a Blue welder.

    I now have a garage, with 220v to it, I'll have to wire in a seperate box, and check how much amperage I can support, I was thinking maybe I'll hook up a 200 amp box.
    As far as the jobs, they will still range from mild steel, to stainless, to aluminum. For making collector flanges, I don't think the welder I have can do this collector job I need to weld, basically a large thick stainless flange, to bolt to the collector, and I'd like to weld some tubing to it. Jobs like this, and header flanges, for custom made headers.
    As far as the aluminum I'm thinking of welding intake manifolds, and the occassional cylinder head repair (which is going to require alot more current I'm sure). I may have to weld on anything, maybe even cast parts.
    Based on what I'm reading, thick aluminum requires alot more current, I'm still unsure what requires AC vs DC.

    I would like something more powerfull, so I don't run into as many issues with thickness limitations on automotive/chassis stuff, or maybe to help to prevent the need to pre-heat metal (in some circumstantces), which I've read is needed to get a pool started on some metals.
    I'm still not sure if a pulse welder is something I can afford, or whether it would benefit making some prettier welds on thin stuff, and stainless.
    This is where some of the more experience guys who have actually used all these welders and different features might be able to help.

    As you can see for me, versatility is a big factor. My bigger problem is that for a DIY'er it will be hard to justify the machine I "think" I need.

    I will try to do some side jobs for people to offset some of the cost.
    I also want to try and see if there are any local welding schools here in MI, maybe some night classes.

    Once I actually learn what I'm doing, I would like to do stuff like chromemoly, for roll cages and things like that, however this might require Tig. I think I should get a good handle on Mig before I even think about Tig. Some other things are chassis structural items on race cars, like welding in frame connections, sub-frame stiffening, etc.

    Are there some welders that are made to just use an add-on to make them Tig - capable? I read about water coolers, and I get a bit overwhelmed, heh, but I'm sure one day I will need to learn, and want to.

    So I guess this is still a ways off, but I'm trying to start analyzing my situation now, and what options I have for a versatile welder in the future.

    Thanks for your insight, I'm sure I have, and will have even more items to research after reading some of your responses.

    Thanks in advance,

    Don

  • #2
    Teeps:
    The machine you have is similar to the machine I started with, a Weldpak100. These machines are capable, but do have definate limitatations. I stepped up to the Millermatic 210 with the spoolmate 3035. This setup will run you about $1800. The mm175 is one step better than the comperable model to yours, but by stepping two steps up you will gain the power to do Aluminum with quality, repeatable results. I have used the mm175 and it is a fine machine but the mm210 has much more power and duty cycle.

    I did a great deal of research to come up with this quality vs. cost analysis and the bang for the buck award went to the mm210 which I bought and it is fantastic. Two years ago and its still a great value.

    Hope the info helps,

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    • #3
      Teeps

      i have easily welded 3/8" flanges with my sp135+. and fitup wasn't the greatest.

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      • #4
        Thanks guys, Yeah I was looking at the 251, but ouch, a bit pricey....
        Definately looking bang for buck, sounds like the 210 might be my next machine....

        Some quick price query's....

        http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=45032

        Actually, now that I read this, a spool gun(??????) is also included in that price above (2700.00), if that is required, dunno.....
        Not sure how much a 30a spoolgun rungs..

        Found this link too... $1780.00 "Spool-ready"
        http://www.welders-direct.com/mercha...ct_Code=903868

        So I take it you can either mig or use a spool-gun, I'll have to read up on the difference.

        Who knows maybe I'll run into somebody with a used one, yeah right who'd want to get rid of one of these things, heh.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Teeps
          Thanks guys, Yeah I was looking at the 251, but ouch, a bit pricey....
          Definately looking bang for buck, sounds like the 210 might be my next machine....

          Some quick price query's....

          http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=45032

          Actually, now that I read this, a spool gun(??????) is also included in that price above (2700.00), if that is required, dunno.....
          Not sure how much a 30a spoolgun rungs..

          Found this link too... $1780.00 "Spool-ready"
          http://www.welders-direct.com/mercha...ct_Code=903868

          So I take it you can either mig or use a spool-gun, I'll have to read up on the difference.

          Who knows maybe I'll run into somebody with a used one, yeah right who'd want to get rid of one of these things, heh.

          The 15A Spool Gun runs close to $800 so I suspect the 30A is higher. The one that said spool ready is w/o spool gun. The MM210 and 251 are spool ready, meaning they do not need a module installed like the older models.

          Spool Gun and Mig gun are the same process, except with the spool gun you are only moving the wire inches rather than feet and this allows better feding.

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          • #6
            With the purchase of the welder it will be cheaper, but if purchased seperatly the double cylinder rack is not included and must be purchased seperately.

            When purchased as a package you get the rack,regulator,and spoolgun. The solonoids are factory installed in the machine either way. My reason for the preferance is when your learning take less time doing setup and changeover and more time onarc and you'll learn faster also if you change the setup and forget one setting you'll struggle to get back to where you were.

            Go to www.brwelder.com and look at the prices, print them out and talk to your local supplier. Show them and tell them you would rather buy locally and they could match or maybe come close. If they come close then it is a better deal, personal touch and personal service as well as contact with other welders.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by pjseaman
              Go to www.brwelder.com and look at the prices, print them out and talk to your local supplier.
              AWESOME prices!!! Especially for the package deal.
              Ok now where to go donate blood, hahaha.

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              • #8
                I shop and look at alot of sources before I purchase, br has great prices and Im glad to be able to share.

                Peace,

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                • #9
                  So the main difference between the mm210 and mm250 is 40 amps, and single pass max thickness of 3/8 instead of 1/2 ?
                  Is that conservative.

                  I see they also offer a push-pull module for the mm250 (for larger aluminum spools) so I assume this would be another significant difference settign the two apart.

                  I think I can live without that option and the extra 1/8 thickness limitation.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel you will like the mm210, I have done multi-pass on this machine for combined thickness of 1" welds. The mm251 is great if you plan to push the upper end alot then go bigger, but if 1/4" steel and aluminum is your norm the 210 will get it done.
                    I know I love mine, and recomend it highly!

                    Weld well,

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If those were the only differences I'm completely sold on the mm210.
                      Thanks alot for your insight.

                      Looks like if I plan to do any chrome moly I'll have to get a Tig to meet regulations, oh well, I'm many welds from that day anyhow.

                      In fact I may have to show some pic's of my tubing welds, so you guys can tear me apart and offer some critique
                      I can see it now "go take some classes" or "fire your instructor".

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