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Starting out...

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  • Starting out...

    Ok, So I am in my 60's and retired. I welded in high school all those years ago. My friend and welder of decades died a few years ago, he was a great guy. He was the "fix it" welder for a 75 year old welding shop here in San Francisco. Every POS that came through the door he had to figure out how to fix. He used to say the heavy steel guys in back were one trick ponies!

    I learned so much from him over the years about preparation and set up. I now need to get my technique down.

    My new welder across the bay (nothing Industrial left here in San Francisco) has a large shop with several welders working for him. One of his welders is getting divorced and heading to an Island...

    My welder emailed me, as he knows I was thinking of buying a welder. His guy, that is downsizing, has a 2017 Miller 211 with a large (owned) bottle and the bottle cart. I just purchased it for $850.

    It needs a new 120V plug but other than that is in good condition. My place here in SF has only 110V my place out of town has new 220V I put in. Four of them in fact.

    My question is: What parts or accessories on the welder should I consider changing out, if any, before I start to practice, practice and then practice some more?

    Thanks all, James
    Last edited by SFjames; 10-24-2021, 01:44 PM.

  • #2
    There's really nothing you should have to replace to get started. I don't like the work clamp they tend to put on factory machines, so I tend to just replace that from the start with the heavy all-brass one they sell at Harbor Freight for around $15...identical to the name brands now and a fraction of the cost.

    I'd probably pull the torch, take off the contact tip and diffuser and blast some compressed air down the liner, then reassemble. Other than that, I'd say to get extra contact tips, a couple of diffusers and a nozzle or two and get welding! Some folks like nozzle gel, which might come in handy if you're padding beads a lot and getting buildup in the nozzle frequently.


    • #3
      Your bio actually helps. If you are fixing sheet metal the unit will run from 120v, small 023 wire. If you want to fabricate a little structural the machine runs 030 well and it really gives it some poop.


      • #4
        Most places that have 120 have 240. You dont need a monster circuit to run them . Many new dhop setups are wired bacwards. Heavy welding circuit and undersized air circuit.


        • #5
          They make a newer style 6-50-r i see. Its a cheap steel thing. Seems less ronust than some other models but wouldnt bothrr me on new 30A machines and looks like the clamp might be better for smaller wires


          • #6
            Hi all and thanks for the information. I got a cart to put the unit on and a replacement 110V plug as the one on the machine had an issue. I need to get some pliers for the wire and a hood.

            Can someone recommend a good hood for someone like me? Thanks, James


            • #7
              Get the best hood you can afford. The optics make a difference. Any name brand hood should be of good quality and give you long service life.


              • #8
                Depending on what you want to spend here are my recommendations
                ~$100 Striker Pro
                ~$300 Miller Digital Elite Amazon
                ~$300 Lincoln 3350 Amazon
                ~$360 Optrel e684 IOC Welding

                There are others, I would say the Stricker would be a very good hood for your needs

                Both Miller and Lincoln have less $$ hoods that are good, I have owned the 3350 and currently have the Digital Elite and the e684

                The Lincoln and Miller accept standard magnifiers (cheater lens) the Optrel you have to buy theirs, I don't know about the Striker but a phone call to USAWeld and you'd know.

                A good quality hood will last, and remember your eyes are very important to protect and paying for a quality hood is not wasted money

                BTW IOC Weld offers a 15% discount on your 1st purchase if you sign up for their email newsletter, besides the Striker the other hoods can be purchased at many online stores and maybe even local depending on where you live.

                The miller and Lincoln offer the same hoods with graphics for slightly more, the price I gave is for standard black, but you can't see the designs while you're welding, just a FYI

                West coast of Florida


                • #9
                  Whatever you get make sure it has replaceable batteries. Some of the lower cost ones don’t. On my Miller hood, it does not like off the shelf batteries either. There is a bit of a thickness difference between the Panasonic battery Miller sells and the standard replacement from wherever. I also have an optrel and I really like it. Very comfortable and light weight.