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Kevinmcintosh

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Hi I am thinking about buying a welder for my diy what is a decent machine to buy .I see Clarke r doing a 90 amp on machine mart for 150 quid any good info app
 

clogs

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u don't say what ur welding...
if it's car or light weight steel it'll need to be a MIG welder but will cost about 200-300 for something 1/2 decent....and DONT buy gasless....

if it 2mm or thicker, like gates etc better of with an Arc welder or MMA (the new name)....

both take a bit of learning but Mig is def trickier...for that u really need somebody to show u how.....remember there is the amperage and the wire speed to set up....easy when u know how.....if u want a MIG best get something like a 160amp min as this will do the heavy steel as well....200-300 but def not the best at that price.....mine was about 500 around 20 years ago and still going strong.....

for arc or MMA welder there are 3 basic type's
1, the modern Inverter type full of electronic's....double ur cost for one...they cant get wet and I dont trust electronics, hense I use a simple buzz box...

2, a Buzz box, basically an transformer, good up to about 160amp....depending on model/make the welding time alters as it has a heat cut out....most are now fan assisted.....on say 100-110 amps u may get 6-8 mins of solid welding before the thermal cut out takes over...when it cools down u can weld again... can take 10 mins to cool down.....
both the above are lightweight and easy to move around....and most will work off a decent generator....
I use a 160amp buzz box with a genny around the farm, when away from the workshop.....
there are basically 2 types of buzz box...the modern ones have Ally coils and the better ones have copper windings, easy to feel the dif by weight.....

3, oil filled welder often called an OXFORD but there are many other makes.....these are very heavy, the smaller one's will run off a 13 amp plug....JUST..
bigger ones need 16/30amp or three phase supply....mine are a 225amp Oxford and a 480amp monster....both on three phase....

U will have heard of TIG.....to get anything worth having u need to start at around 600pounds....
I'd love one but at my time of life I'd never get my money's worth out of it......
and if MIG is tricky these take the biscuit.....

MIG or MMA can easily be learnt the basics in an 8 hour lesson.....but good welder take a lifetime to learn the job....
hope this helps.....
 

clogs

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forgot to say,
dont get anything smaller than a 120amp buzz box.....also, some of the cheapo units may quote 120 amp but the truth is prob only 85-90 in the real world.....
remember the higher the amps the longer the run time....
it's not often I need the full 160amps on mine.....
with 120 amps after some practice and with European/quality rods u can use 3.2mm rods.....
as an add on, the further u are away from the power supply (extension leads etc) the amps will be lower.....hence needing more amps....
have fun.....
 

Jelly

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A lot depends what you want to weld, and where.

Thin Sheet Metal (0.1mm - 2mm)
  1. TIG (Titanium Inert Gas) aka: GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is generally held as the gold standard, it's comparatively expensive, generally only usable in a workshop and has the biggest learning curve. Gas Bottles, Electrodes and Filler wire are needed as consumables.
  2. Gas Welding aka: Oxy-Fuel or Oxy-Acetylene, delivers the same results as TIG, and has a similar learning curve. However, you also get cutting (up to 8" with a regular setup, 24" with a dedicated torch), brazing and hot-bending options for no additional cost. Unlike TIG it can generally be used anywhere, but you have to be much more mindful of the overspill of heat from the flame. Consumables are Gas Bottles and Filler Rod, Insurers can be uncomfortable with storage of Acetylene.
  3. MIG (Metal Inert Gas) aka: GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) generally a bit finicky with thin metal but very usable with care, definitely less of a learning curve than TIG/Gas, gas the same limitation as TIG of needing a sheltered environment. Consumables are Gas, tips, and reels of wire (which are both the electrode and the filler)

Thin Plate and Sections (3-6mm)
  1. Arc aka: MMA (Mixed Metal Arc), simplest to learn, simplest equipment, difficult to use for more complex geometries of weld without a lot of practice. Only consumable is the rods.
  2. Flux Core aka: Gasless MIG, like regular MIG but with a shielding flux directly in the wire meaning gas isn't needed and it's usable outside. There's effectively a minimum power this can be used at, making welding thin to thick of metal harder than it needs to be, but that can be overcome with practice.
  3. All of the Thin Sheet Metal options, but using larger consumables and higher power settings, also taking multiple passes with TIG.

Thick Plate and Sections (6mm up):

As above, but taking multiple passes to build up the weld.

  1. MIG is hands down the fastest, if you have a reasonably powerful machine, which can take higher diameter wires. Because there's no cleanup between passes.
  2. Arc & Flux Core are tied because the only limit on how much weld you can lay in a single bead is your machine's amperage, but there is a cleanup requirement between passes.
  3. TIG starts to get crazy expensive for electrodes and torches capable of delivering the power required to use a decent sized filler, but are often used to do the root (first pass) of complex welds before filling in with mig/arc.
  4. Gas is almost never used for welding these days, but is still the defacto standard for beveling, cutting and gouging. Sometimes used to do the root of complex welds in locations where TIG wouldn't be appropriate. There's also a limit to how much gas you can take off a tank in any one period which throttles the maximum feasible weld bead size.


There's then the types of electric welder to consider:

Inverter:
Pretty much the standard for a quality welder these days, most models will do either MIG/Flux Core or Arc as standard, with many of the Arc machines having an option to add TIG by adding additional parts, quite a few models capable of Arc, MIG/Flux Core and TIG on the market too.

Air Cooled Transfomer (aka: Buzz Box):
Generally only available as Arc welders, although some old TIG ones exist. Inexpensive and simple but seriously compromised in terms of duty cycle (think ten minutes per hour welding on a summer day, maybe fifteen in the winter). Much harder to strike an arc with than the inverter type, for this reason the few TIG machines around are fiendishly difficult to use, and not worth the efforts IMO.

Oil Cooled Transfomer:
Arc only, shares the advantages and disadvantages of the Buzz Box, but has a *much* better duty cycle, and are even more reliable, at the cost of being *far* heavier.



I have Gas Welding and the biggest Buzz-Box arc welder I can run off a 13A plug and between the two can do about anything I would want just fine, on the occasions I need to.

If I was welding more frequently, I would 100% scrap the buzz box and get an inverter welder which could do both MIG/Flux Core and Arc; my friend who has several modern ESAB machines has fully convinced me on that account.

If you have the cash I would get a inverter machine, and seriously consider MIG over Arc for the extra flexibility.

If cost is your major concern, and it's for occasional use a Buzz Box is well suited (I'd honestly buy second hand, as they're cheap and plentiful). If you see a cheap single phase oil filed arc unit, second hamd jump on it S they're great!
 

Jelly

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TUNGSTEN inert gas.
[Embarrassed Face]

Yes!

My bad, don't know how I muddled the acronym for TIG, but still got GTAW. As "Gas Tungsten..."

Although I'd be very curious to see a Titanium electrode being used, from a substantial distance!
 

Sandyn

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I got a welder a couple of years ago, but probably went against all the really good advice above. I got a Draper. Gas/gasless MIG welder, but just 100A with a relatively poor duty cycle. I would agree with all the stuff above, there are limitations with a cheap welder.

I use gasless all the time, because I was using the forge one day and a red hot bit of metal fell on the welder line. By the time I managed to pick it up, it melted the gas tube, but everything else was OK, so stuck with gassless. I have found one wire type which works very well with my welder. At first, It was a complete pig of a job to get the weld good, sputter everywhere, but gradually I got used to working with the welder and now I can weld 'OK' with it. I weld up to 5mm steel, but probably only 30mm wide. I scroll 16mm diameter steel for ornaments/plant pot stands, it welds that no problem. I make heavy duty plant hangers. I don't work on structural stuff, so the quality of weld is not critical. The welder has never cut out due to overload. If I get some sputter, I use the sharpened edge of a multifunction tool it's very good for removing sputter. I use a flap wheel to tidy up any rough welds.
If you are into serious welding of big stuff, it wouldn't do the job. Would I get one again. no. I would listen to the type of advice above and look for a good used welder. There are lots of them out there, but it's what I have just now and I can make it work for me, it's OK for what I do just now.
 

kenledger

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A lot depends what you want to weld, and where.

Thin Sheet Metal (0.1mm - 2mm)
  1. TIG (Titanium Inert Gas) aka: GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is generally held as the gold standard, it's comparatively expensive, generally only usable in a workshop and has the biggest learning curve. Gas Bottles, Electrodes and Filler wire are needed as consumables.
  2. Gas Welding aka: Oxy-Fuel or Oxy-Acetylene, delivers the same results as TIG, and has a similar learning curve. However, you also get cutting (up to 8" with a regular setup, 24" with a dedicated torch), brazing and hot-bending options for no additional cost. Unlike TIG it can generally be used anywhere, but you have to be much more mindful of the overspill of heat from the flame. Consumables are Gas Bottles and Filler Rod, Insurers can be uncomfortable with storage of Acetylene.
  3. MIG (Metal Inert Gas) aka: GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) generally a bit finicky with thin metal but very usable with care, definitely less of a learning curve than TIG/Gas, gas the same limitation as TIG of needing a sheltered environment. Consumables are Gas, tips, and reels of wire (which are both the electrode and the filler)

Thin Plate and Sections (3-6mm)
  1. Arc aka: MMA (Mixed Metal Arc), simplest to learn, simplest equipment, difficult to use for more complex geometries of weld without a lot of practice. Only consumable is the rods.
  2. Flux Core aka: Gasless MIG, like regular MIG but with a shielding flux directly in the wire meaning gas isn't needed and it's usable outside. There's effectively a minimum power this can be used at, making welding thin to thick of metal harder than it needs to be, but that can be overcome with practice.
  3. All of the Thin Sheet Metal options, but using larger consumables and higher power settings, also taking multiple passes with TIG.

Thick Plate and Sections (6mm up):

As above, but taking multiple passes to build up the weld.

  1. MIG is hands down the fastest, if you have a reasonably powerful machine, which can take higher diameter wires. Because there's no cleanup between passes.
  2. Arc & Flux Core are tied because the only limit on how much weld you can lay in a single bead is your machine's amperage, but there is a cleanup requirement between passes.
  3. TIG starts to get crazy expensive for electrodes and torches capable of delivering the power required to use a decent sized filler, but are often used to do the root (first pass) of complex welds before filling in with mig/arc.
  4. Gas is almost never used for welding these days, but is still the defacto standard for beveling, cutting and gouging. Sometimes used to do the root of complex welds in locations where TIG wouldn't be appropriate. There's also a limit to how much gas you can take off a tank in any one period which throttles the maximum feasible weld bead size.


There's then the types of electric welder to consider:

Inverter:
Pretty much the standard for a quality welder these days, most models will do either MIG/Flux Core or Arc as standard, with many of the Arc machines having an option to add TIG by adding additional parts, quite a few models capable of Arc, MIG/Flux Core and TIG on the market too.

Air Cooled Transfomer (aka: Buzz Box):
Generally only available as Arc welders, although some old TIG ones exist. Inexpensive and simple but seriously compromised in terms of duty cycle (think ten minutes per hour welding on a summer day, maybe fifteen in the winter). Much harder to strike an arc with than the inverter type, for this reason the few TIG machines around are fiendishly difficult to use, and not worth the efforts IMO.

Oil Cooled Transfomer:
Arc only, shares the advantages and disadvantages of the Buzz Box, but has a *much* better duty cycle, and are even more reliable, at the cost of being *far* heavier.



I have Gas Welding and the biggest Buzz-Box arc welder I can run off a 13A plug and between the two can do about anything I would want just fine, on the occasions I need to.

If I was welding more frequently, I would 100% scrap the buzz box and get an inverter welder which could do both MIG/Flux Core and Arc; my friend who has several modern ESAB machines has fully convinced me on that account.

If you have the cash I would get a inverter machine, and seriously consider MIG over Arc for the extra flexibility.

If cost is your major concern, and it's for occasional use a Buzz Box is well suited (I'd honestly buy second hand, as they're cheap and plentiful). If you see a cheap single phase oil filed arc unit, second hamd jump on it S they're great!

The Oxford oil filled are virtually bomb proof, but very heavy. We used 4 gauge rods all day long on 1 inch to 2 inch plate for years.
 

Spectric

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Hi all

Cheap MIGs especially in untrained hands tend to only produce pigeon dung and rats droppings and the gasless ones make things even worse. The rolls royce of welding has to be the TIG welder, will be selling one in the near future, 300 amps, water cooled torch and pulse for welding ali you just need a two phase 400 volt supply.
 

TFrench

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I've just got an ac/dc tig. I can mig well enough to lay down a pretty neat weld that ain't coming apart any time soon. The tig is a whole new ball game. Back to the pigeon splatters... When you do get it right though it's a great feeling. Having a pulse setting feels like cheating!
 

Sandyn

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Here are my pretty rubbish results with my gasless MIG, but for the kind of thing I do, I'm not sure it's worth getting anything else at the moment. Next year, I'm planning making a new gate and will be using 25mm square for parts of the frame of the gate. I extended the last gate using the same size metal, and an old stick welder I got from my dad. It worked really well and the gate has survived for 20+ years and survived being caught on the wheel stud of a lorry. The gate survived undamaged, but the stone wall holding it was demolished.

What would anyone recommend for doing more substantial metal. The MIG I have won't cope with anything that large.

weld 1.jpg



weld 2.jpg
 

TFrench

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If you can stick weld already then I'd just look for a big old oil cooled stick welder. They cost peanuts and there's no bottle rentals or anything. Plus you can use it outside if you're doing gate repairs.
 

Sandyn

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If you can stick weld already then I'd just look for a big old oil cooled stick welder. They cost peanuts and there's no bottle rentals or anything. Plus you can use it outside if you're doing gate repairs.
Thanks.
I was just looking on Facebook, There are a couple of Oxfords on there, but not peanuts. Are there other brands I should look out for as well? I like old British products. Part of the reason I stopped using the old stick welder was it kept blowing fuses, but I just put a 16A supply in, so that cures that problem. I'll keep looking and wait for one at the right price.
 

Jelly

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Cheap MIGs especially in untrained hands tend to only produce pigeon dung and rats droppings and the gasless ones make things even worse.
I don't disagree necessarily (nor do my rudimentary MIG skills)... But that is something that can be overcome with practice, book/video learning and patience by someone who is even mildly mechanically minded.

I suspect the challenge is that most people buy a welder, because they need something welded, don't think they have the time to spend hours learning settings and running practice beads, which is in fact a neccessary evil (especially with lower end equipment which actually takes more skill to use), and come away feeling like they're not capable of welding well (or at all).

Perhaps we need a sticky about welding, the first line of which is "Buy your first welder well in advance of the deadline for any welding project, and then practice, lots."
 

Dave Moore

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I got a welder a couple of years ago, but probably went against all the really good advice above. I got a Draper. Gas/gasless MIG welder, but just 100A with a relatively poor duty cycle. I would agree with all the stuff above, there are limitations with a cheap welder.

I use gasless all the time, because I was using the forge one day and a red hot bit of metal fell on the welder line. By the time I managed to pick it up, it melted the gas tube, but everything else was OK, so stuck with gassless. I have found one wire type which works very well with my welder. At first, It was a complete pig of a job to get the weld good, sputter everywhere, but gradually I got used to working with the welder and now I can weld 'OK' with it. I weld up to 5mm steel, but probably only 30mm wide. I scroll 16mm diameter steel for ornaments/plant pot stands, it welds that no problem. I make heavy duty plant hangers. I don't work on structural stuff, so the quality of weld is not critical. The welder has never cut out due to overload. If I get some sputter, I use the sharpened edge of a multifunction tool it's very good for removing sputter. I use a flap wheel to tidy up any rough welds.
If you are into serious welding of big stuff, it wouldn't do the job. Would I get one again. no. I would listen to the type of advice above and look for a good used welder. There are lots of them out there, but it's what I have just now and I can make it work for me, it's OK for what I do just now.
Nobody should be doing any structural work unless they have CE 1090 accreditation as it’s written in law now. Should have design calculations completed. This covers lintels for building work as well as structural supports.
 

Sandyn

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Nobody should be doing any structural work unless they have CE 1090 accreditation as it’s written in law now. Should have design calculations completed. This covers lintels for building work as well as structural supports.
lol, I don't mean buildings or doing it for a profession, that would be a real disaster. I suppose what I mean is a structure which supports a load for my own use at my own property, I just do a self certification and CE mark those myself. lol
 

Spectric

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Hi

I would say from experience that practice without knowledge cannot lead to a decent welder or weld. You would find that if someone actually showed you the process hands on and explains the basics you would make better progress. They would be sharing not only their knowledge but experience and that is invaluable. Look at evening classes as thats how I started with gas and stick welding before moving onto TIG. In them days gas welding was essential as it was the only way to keep rusty Fords & Leyland vehicles on the road, most needed welding for the MOT on a regular basis.
 
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