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Established Member
26 Sep 2016
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I’m finding it pretty daunting in selecting a first time mig welder. I’m sure many have had the same problem and no doubt many will.

This made me think of asking forum members who have their own to endorse this page with the details of theirs, why they bought it, how much was it to buy and how is it performing to perhaps help others in selecting one.

Which welder?

Why this model?


It’s performance?
R-Tech Mig 160 - brilliant entry level machine with good duty cycle, easy to set up and use, excellent back up and customer service. I now have their TIG and plasma cutter to. Recommendation enought?
I have a Clarke 205 which is good for 185A I believe. It welds smoothly and I paid £200 off ebay about 8 years ago and it was mint (they are around £500 new and if I had that money I probably would buy another make). Clarke are probably the best of the cheap welders out there. I had a SIP MIG before that and it was shocking. I thought it was my welding but there was an inherent design flaw in the way they powered the wire feed motor that led to issues. This was a long time ago though so they may have addressed that.

I used to MIG weld primarily for fixing cars. I rebuilt a VW camper and a few other older cars (mostly Triumphs). I don't poke about with cars much now so it does not get used much. Think about the gas you want to use. I have a big Argoshield bottle which welds nicer than CO2 (pub gas). The little bottles don't last long. Another consideration is whether you need to wheel it around. If you go for a small welder and a big bottle you may need to make a cart to easily move it and support the bottle.

I've also heard good things about R-Tec and essentially it is the support that is valuable. These are Chinese machines but I understand R-Tec provide a good warranty service. Other makes to consider are Parweld and Portamig (for cars these go sub 30A which is good for thin metal)

I also have a cheap 140A stick welder from Lidl that works great. Small and portable and welds nicely - much nicer than an old buzz box I used to have. Just buy decent rods. Good for metal over 3mm. I have used mine to fabricate small brackets and fix gates etc. I actually prefer this to getting out the Mig because its so portable.

For both I would recommend getting a cheap auto face mask. Makes seeing what you are doing much easier. I bought a cheapy which is solar powered and it works great.
I've got an Autostar 160. It seems to be identical to the Jasic equivalent but was a bit cheaper.

I bought it because we used the Jasic on a one day course I did and it worked!

I've found it to be good. I've welded 5mm angle with it to make bases for a table saw and band saw and it did a good job. I just need more practice!

I bought it through Weldingdirect.co.uk and they were very helpful in my experience. I had a couple of small issues with the order but they were sorted out very quickly.

I paid £410 for the welder and I believe that included the torch and gas regulator.

There are other costs of course: mask, gauntlets, wire, spare nozzles and shrouds and, of course, gas. I've got a hobby weld bottle.
Lincoln 180A mig.
Why- we needed one, its what BOC said was right for us. This was before you could really buy them online.
Cost - No idea, it's paid for itself time and time again though.
Performance - I learnt to weld with it to rebuild minis, the other day I welded a piece of I beam that was about 3/4" thick (no idea how good the weld was, but it looked awesome :mrgreen: Welding thick stuff is so satisfying) so I'd say its got a pretty good range.

You need to think it through backwards - what do you need to weld? That will determine the size machine you need. Off the top of my head, you'll need
Welder - check it's got a euro style umbilical plug, and it comes with the earth cable. £300 ish for a used R-tech
Gas - Hobbyweld is easiest if you dont use a lot, think its £100ish for the first bottle, including your deposit
Mask - Personally I'd go for a decent brand, even if it's second hand. Not trusting my sight to a £20 shonky chinesium hood. £80
Gloves - I like the gauntlet style TIG ones - normally white leather with a brown cuff. Thin enough you can still feel what you're doing. £12
Angle grinder - you've probably already got one, but having a couple is a nice luxury. I made a rack for them above the welding bench and have 4 set up with different discs - slitting blade, flap disc, grinding disc and wire wheel.
Where did you find your £12 angle grinder?
https://cpc.farnell.com/search?ost=dura ... e-grinders
was the cheapest I could find. I bought one a couple of months ago to go in a Lidl "chop saw", which was a brilliant buy for about £12. I use it foer a minute or two a month (atm) so didn't want to pay good money ( I already have a Bosch bought for £70 in a sale about 35 years ago that refuses to die. :D )
The downside of this particular model for this use is that as the swith has a safety mechanism it is well nigh impossible to operate it in the stand.
£12 was for the gloves Phil :wink:

Cheapest grinder I've got at work was a dewalt with the alloy gearbox, cost me £14 in an auction.
Phil Pascoe":352w2f2y said:
Where did you find your £12 angle grinder?

My blue Bosch ended up at roughly that price. I liberated it stealthily from the "electronics" skip at the municipal dump and shifted the cable and the plug. It has served me well for several years since that.

I only have a stick welder so I cannot give much advice concerning MIGs but I would not buy one with less than 200 ampere capacity. Small MIGs tend to be plainly frustrating to use and the resulting welds tend to become rather bad.

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