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Old 09-16-2011, 09:32 AM   #1
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Neophyte looking for a welder

I am a beginning welder and know just a bit of MIG welding. I'd like to be able to weld on machinery out at the farm, were we currently don't have any power running, so naturally I started comparing engine driven welders. I like the Miller Bobcat 250 EFI (I figure EFI will be much better with infrequent use), but to do MIG welding with it, it looks like I have to get a suitcase welder that cost the same as decent 240volt welder. I understand there are times I wont be able use gas shielded welding in the field, so maybe stick wouldn't be a bad thing to learn. On the other end of the spectrum, one of my project already lined up will be with some pretty thin walled stuff. It is really looking like I should get the bobcat down the road and something like Millermatic 180 (or larger) now. The downside is; I doubt our current crappy generator would run a welder. It is under-powered (never could quite start the air compressor) and not kicking out the correct frequency (cordless tool battery chargers wont work hooked up to it either). It is only good for drills, saws and vacuums.


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Old 09-18-2011, 11:32 AM   #2
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Ayuh,... as yer finding, I really doubt yer gonna find just 1 welder that'll do all the things ya wanta do...

Mig can't be done outdoors, unless ya switch to flux cored wire...
Stick weldin' will do most of what ya want, except the very thin metals..
'n, yes, it takes a 'ell of a generator to power a 180 amp welder...


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Old 09-18-2011, 12:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bondo View Post
Mig can't be done outdoors, unless ya switch to flux cored wire...
At which point it isn't MIG

MIG = Metal Inert Gas = GMAW = Gas Metal Arc Welding

Flux core wire welding = FCAW = Flux Core Arc Welding
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:03 PM   #4
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You can MIG weld outside if the wind is calm, or fairly calm & you can shelter the weld from the wind.

If you're looking to weld the real thin guage, I'd even consider a Miller 140, which is only 110V, but can realistically weld 1/4"+.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:16 PM   #5
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A 110v machine is not an option. I need to be able to do some thicker material. Another ASAP project is a grill guard for the little Kubota that has had its front-end demolished because Dad thinks its the end of the world to drag a saw-log in the dirt. For some reason he can't compare the dollar value of the damage he has inflicted dangling logs from the bucket to the cost of sharpening the saw blades a bit more often. Oh well, its his money. I honestly have no clue how he has avoided destroying the radiator this long.

I am aware of gas-less FCAW, but I've found it tends to lay down a very thin bead compared to other methods. Examples of stick welding I've seen showed a much more generous bead. Thin beads plus the need to chip slag makes it a bigger PIA, and is just asking for voids IMO. So yes, its an option, but I have never been real impressed with it. Maybe that's just my lack of experience with welding.

As for the power consumption; yup, it would take one heck of a generator to run a decent welder. Doing the math; 50 amps x 240 volts = 12k watts; so a 12kw peak generator (like the Bobcat EFI) shouldn't hold back a 250 class machine too bad. A 180 wouldn't be held back at all.

I'll probably pick up a MM252 now (I'd like to be able to do spray-arc and it should keep me from ever needing to upgrade), and get a Bobcat of other generator fairly quick down the road.

Its just a bit annoying they advertise these types of machines as being able to MIG, TIG and stick when all they really are is a generator unless you start spending more money. Oh well, such is life.

Last edited by forresth; 09-18-2011 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:58 PM   #6
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The miller bobcat is a great machine, we have a 5-6 year old bobcat, I think it is a 225.

The bobcat will do AC/DC and about anything else with the right accessories. The ability to take the welder to the job has huge advantages sometimes and having a very powerful portable generator available does too.

Don't know what your welding experience is, if you haven't used a DC arc welder you should give it a try. Some electric arc welders can weld AC or DC but the biggest majority weld only AC because they are quite a bit cheaper.

I find a DC welder is much easier to use, strikes an arc much easier and the arc seems more stable with less spatter and makes good looking welds easier. It also does a better job with vertical welds and will weld thinner material with more success. If you are welding something that has become magnetized you will have to switch to AC but not something we need to do often.

We use ours installing and servicing grain handling equipment, grain dryers and bins. Sometimes this requires welding on some fairly thin material. It is no MIG welder so stick welding thin sheet metal is probably not realistic but can work pretty well for 1/8" or slightly less if you are careful. We have used it a few times to power our Millermatic 210, but mig welding outside is a bit of a pain so that doesn't happen often. It also will power our Hypertherm 45 plasma cutter which is pretty handy.


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