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  • Welder equipment suggestions

    My son just finished welding school and has learned four processes of welding, mig, tig, stick and pipe. I would like to get a mig welder for at home use so he could also teach my husband and other son how to do welds. Any recommendations on which Miller welder would be good for this application?

  • #2
    If mig is all you want, the Millermatic 211 is super and not likely to be outgrown for home use. There are other options if you want a multiprocess machine. Do not make the mistake that many do and buy a 115 volt input power machine. You outgrow them quickly and its hard to get your money back on resale when you realize the mistake. The 211 will run on either 115 or 230 input and is a "real" welder. You will also need an Argon bottle from your local supplier.

    My two cents worth. Others will have other opinions, obviously.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Aeronca41 View Post
      You will also need an Argon bottle from your local supplier.
      Argon mix or CO2 or Argon if welding aluminum.

      Also look into the Multimatic 215 for TIG, MIG and Stick...Bob
      Bob Wright

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      • #4
        I am just a hobby welder so take my advice with a grain(s) of salt. (And if you are home, have your chores done, and are in for the evening, maybe a little tequila.)

        IMHO, based only on reading here and other welding forums, you and your husband have different welding needs and goals likely than your son. You and your husband and your son could all benefit from buying and learning to master a 220v MIG machine. No doubt.

        But your son should pick the process (MIG, TIG, Stick) which will make him money welding the particular material (steel, stainless steel, aluminum) in the particular location where he wants to work. And buy the machine which will allow him to practice that process on that material. If he is thinking about a welding career, his choices should be purpose driven.

        I am really looking forward to seeing what the professionals advise you to do, but from my reading of various threads, being able to weld Stick with 6010 and other specialized rods will make you money.

        BTW, I bought a Miller Thunderbolt XL stick welder (when my 350p was acting up and I needed to do some deep penetration welds on a trailer frame) and I will tell you that stick is a very, very, very hard process to learn to do well and that is probably why if you can do it well you can make money with it.

        Again looking to hear what the pros have to say...
        Last edited by E350; 08-19-2016, 09:09 AM.

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        • #5
          Just specify what they are really good at, and start welding from there, takes lots of practice honestly. Fail at first few attempts, practice to get better. good luck !

          get consumables at cyberweld or weldingcity, saves a lot
          WeldingCity is a welding supplier to supply most popular welding materials, parts, consumables, tools and equipment to the North America customers at a wholesale price.

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          • #6
            A welder is a tool to do a task, so which tool is best depends on the task being done. Have a discussion with everyone who will use it what they want to do, and that will narrow down your options.


            Another good MIG unit is the Hobart Handler 190. Hobart is owned by the same parent company as Miller. They are very good quality, with excellent reviews, and few if any complaints. It could be a simple coin toss between Miller and Hobart based on availability and price. The Hobart 190 is 230 volt only, but it only draws 20 amps and can run off a 30 amp drier outlet.


            One of the most critical parts of a MIG welder is the wire-feed unit. If it is poor quality, the wire will feed erratically, making welding frustrating, or downright impossible. That is why there are so many 'cheap' MIG welders with "very little use" for sale, because they did not work properly. Even if money is tight, an extra $100 or $200 on a unit that will work well for 15 to 20 years is better than a cheap unit you lose money on selling used, and buying the more expensive one anyway. The Hobart 190 reviews say it has the best wire feed, but I have not used one personally.

            Depending on the type of welding you will be doing, check the availability of filler metals in spool sizes that will fit in the welder. Steel projects welded indoors are perfect for these small units. If you are doing outdoor welding with flux-core wire or hard-surfacing on farm implements, there might be a problem. I did not buy a small MIG because some specialty wires are not available in 8 inch spools for the smaller units. These small welders can do many things, but not everything. Depends on your application.


            If you are looking at one of the new multi-process welders, be prepared to do a fair amount of research. Focus on reliability, because some of these units have serious problems. The new ESAB has a touch-screen for controls, which is difficult to use with gloves on, and cannot possibly last 15 to 20 years without failure. The Lincoln has a LCD screen and multi-function knob, but a few users have snapped the knob off and it is a $200 repair. Not that a multi-process welder is bad, just really focus on quality, which will of course drive up the price. A new MIG and used Stick would be a good option. Possibly less expensive than a multi-process, and more reliable.


            If your son is planning on becoming a professional welder, being very proficient at Stick (SMAW) can be very useful. Stick is a tough process to master, and it requires lots of practice. Luckily stick welders are very simple machines so buying used is a good choice.

            Miller Thunderbolt / Hobart Stickmate (same machine), are very reliable and can be found used for around $100 to $250, depending on age, condition, AC or AC/DC, etc. Lincoln AC-225 and AC/DC-225 is cheaper, but the tapped design makes it less useful. Although if you are using the MIG as the main welding unit for projects, and the stick for practice to master the procedure, the cheaper Lincoln would be OK.

            The 115 volt transformer stick welders are JUNK, period. They are tough to start an arc on, especially for an inexperienced welder, and the small diameter electrodes wobble around like spaghetti. Good quality 115 / 230 volt inverters are expensive, and you would probably be better off buying the MIG as that is the main process used by most shops, and getting a used stick machine.


            I know you asked about Miller, and this is a Miller site, but you may also be considering Lincoln because they are common and available at very low prices. PLEASE NOTE: There is a difference in quality between Lincoln welders sold in Big Box & other discount stores and those at welding supply stores, even if they have the same name. That is why the hardware stores have a lower price.

            The used ads are filled with the cheaper 'discount store' units people thought they bought at a bargain, but find out they do not work well. If you are comparison shopping Lincoln, only look at the ones from Welding suppliers, not hardware stores. That will bring the Lincoln price very close to Miller and Hobart. That also makes shopping for a used Lincoln more difficult because you need to know exactly which version of that model it is. Not to say Lincoln is bad, just shop carefully and compare 'apples to apples.'

            Good Luck.
            Stefen.
            Last edited by Stefen7; 08-19-2016, 01:57 PM.

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            • #7
              Just another thought. If you are buying a used stick welder, many sellers have no clue what they are. There are plenty of ads just saying, “welder,” and a photo, like the 1953 Miller 61F stick welder I just picked up. Knowing what the units look like will help figure out what type of welder they are selling.

              Lincoln AC-225 has 2 versions since around the 1960’s: flat-top and rounded corners, and the newer angular corner version. Once you know what they look like, you can spot them in a tiny photo, covered in dirt, surrounded by junk, on a dark stormy night….

              Miller Thunderbolt had a few more changes. Go to the manual download section and download a PDF of all the Thunderbolt manuals. The line drawings on the front are quite accurate and will help spot the age of a unit by matching features in the seller’s photo.

              Manual Download:
              Miller Homepage. Support. Manuals and Parts. Have an older model or don't know your serial number?

              Stefen.

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              • #8
                I have an older Thunderbolt AC/DC and it has done wonderful for the last 30+ years. Great machine to learn on and used ones are cheap...Bob
                Bob Wright

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                • #9
                  This is the info on the Miller Thunderbolt XL stick welder which I bought used last year which was listed on craigslist for $225, which I bought for $200: Miller Thunderbolt XL Year Mfg: 2000/July LA210095 Style: LA27.

                  I agree with the professionals above, do your research first, look at a lot of craigslist ads to educate yourself. And buy a stick welder used.

                  I have a very expensive MIG welder which I bought used which I am very happy with (Millermatic 350p). But it is a computerized unit and has had problems. So, if you can't troubleshoot electrical issues and you buy used, you may find yourself buying a $1000-$1800 circuit board for your used MIG welder it even if it actually does not need it. So, unless you are willing to take the risk and can do troubleshooting and the related repairs yourself,I would suggest buying your MIG welder new.

                  I understand you didn't ask but let me also recommend the following (and I am hoping that the professional welders pipe in on the following recommendation as well):

                  Lincoln Electric Welding Helmet: Model # KH605 Internet # 100341118

                  with 2-1/2 in. x 4-1/4 in. Automatic Adjusting 10 Shade. Throw the autodarkening lens away.

                  But because it has thumb screws, it fits the Philips Safety fixed shade welding lenses really well.

                  I really like the Philips Safety Alumaweld lens in shade 10
                  and as an alternative I also really like the Philips Safety Gold lens in shade 10 with the magenta filter on top of it.

                  For protection, both lenses are covered inside and out by clear glass cover lenses. Personally, I couldn't see with an autodarkening lens, but with the Philips Safety fixed lenses, now all is good.

                  Once you buy from Philips Safety, they start sending you emails with 20% off coupons in advance of major holidays. I just cannot say enough about how much I like their lenses.
                  Last edited by E350; 08-19-2016, 01:03 PM.

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                  • #10
                    I like the Miller Classic helmet https://www.millerwelds.com/safety/h...s-black-251292 Cheap and works well. I used one for over 6 years everyday. I just sold 30 of them. And spare parts are easy to find...Bob
                    Bob Wright

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                    • #11
                      My company has eight pages of used Millers for sale. Maybe there's something legit there?
                      We buy & sell used manufacturing machinery, industrial equipment and surplus items. New inventory daily and we offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
                      Gina M. Tabasso
                      HGR Industrial Surplus
                      www.hgrinc.com

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HGR44117 View Post
                        My company has eight pages of used Millers for sale. Maybe there's something legit there?
                        That Econo Tig caught my eye. Hmmm only 60 miles away...Bob
                        Bob Wright

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                        • #13
                          I only deal in TIG and Stick, no matter what I have done so far on the job, MIG never really appealed to me and I have never used it. TIG is definetley used more than Stick with the stuff I do so recommending a Dynasty would be my 2 cents but If you also want to MIG, then a Multimatic might be the way to go, but if your son is taking it as a profession and everyone in the house is gonna weld, might be worth it to have all 3 styles available.

                          As far as helmets go, I have the Titanium 9400I which I love and cherish every day, mainly because of the flip up lens feature that lets you cut and grind without being shaded at all or just wearing goggles, that extra protection goes a long way when sparks are 3 feet high. I used the Elite and Classic and used other brands with passive lens but the Titanium beats them all so far in my opinion.
                          if there's a welder, there's a way

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                          • #14
                            MM212 would be the bees knees.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by aametalmaster View Post

                              That Econo Tig caught my eye. Hmmm only 60 miles away...Bob
                              Guys who live close come in here every day looking for new inventory. I love chatting with the regulars.
                              Gina M. Tabasso
                              HGR Industrial Surplus
                              www.hgrinc.com

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