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Old 05-01-2014, 11:34 AM   #1
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Minimum size welder for repairs?

I have some rusty outriggers at my wheel wells and perhaps late this season I might pull some banana wrap to look for other rusty sections of the frame.

I've done a little AC stick welding decades ago with good results but I needed someone to tell me what size rod to use and what amperage setting. Therefore I plan to take an evening welding class first, and purchase a small welder for making my repairs.

I've seen some inexpensive welders at Harbor Freight, but need to know the size in amps that would be the minimum for getting the job done. MIG, AC stick, any one better for this than the other?

I will most likely need to install a dedicated outlet in my garage to power the welder since I only have 15 amps out there now. Main breaker size is 200 amps. Installing an outlet will be easy enough for me, but you can see I have some limitations in the power available for running a welder.
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Old 05-01-2014, 01:13 PM   #2
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I have a small MIG welder. I think it draws 15a on a 120v line but would need to check to be sure. I run it on a 20a circuit. Works nicely and would be sufficient for frame work. I think it's rated for up to 0.250" steel. I doubt that anything on an AS frame is that thick. I am not a welder. Just an amateur like you that like doing things for himself.
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Old 05-01-2014, 01:20 PM   #3
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I bought a fairly cheap flux-core wire welder from Northern Tool. They are on sale right now:

Northern Industrial Welders Flux Core 125 115V Flux Cored Welder ó 125 Amp Output | Wirefeed Welders| Northern Tool + Equipment

This welder is rated to 3/16", which is certainly adequate for anything short of replacing main frame rails.

This machine is much easier to use than a stick welder and works on a 110 outlet, 20A. Taught myself to use it with minimal frustration.

good luck!
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Old 05-01-2014, 01:22 PM   #4
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Get you a 100A mig welder with Argon or C25 gas purge. A stick welder will just burn holes in the thin metal of an Airstream frame. Anyone can weld with a MIG welder.

Perry
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:01 PM   #5
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I used my Lincoln 140 Mig welder to replace 2 outriggers and the rear crossmember on my trailer, 120v, no need for a new plug, did the trick and then some.
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:22 PM   #6
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I used my Lincoln 140 Mig welder to replace 2 outriggers and the rear crossmember on my trailer, 120v, no need for a new plug, did the trick and then some.
That's the best 120v mig welder out there now.
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Old 05-01-2014, 03:07 PM   #7
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Minimum size welder for repairs?

If it were me I would just bite the bullet and buy a nice little Miller 180 or 200 amp Mig.

Installing a 240 volt plug is really no harder than installing a 120 volt plug. Welders run at lower voltage (at the tip) than house current so a 200 amp welder can work fine on a 50 amp plug. ( or less )

I had one of those 120 volt Lincoln welders, it is a good little machine, but the 240 Miller is just a lot more flexible and smoother. The 120 volt welders just seem to run out of steam when trying to lay down some real heat on marginally thick metal, even when lapping two 1/8" plates.

They are not real expensive when you find one on sale.
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:56 PM   #8
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The only time I had problems is when I started using .030 wire instead of .024 wire. The .030 wire was too much and did not have any advantages. 1 lb of wire will go a long way even with the .024 stuff. My welder uses 15A or 20A to get a little more juice out of it. You can always make more than one pass on thick stuff. Using gas purge gets you a lot cleaner weld. The only time I would use flux core is when there is lots of wind which blows away your purge gas.

Perry
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Old 05-01-2014, 10:25 PM   #9
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I never use flux core, I despise deslaging welds.

In a pinch, a 120 v welder will work with an airstream, I am probably just a little spoiled with my Millermattic...
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Old 05-02-2014, 05:47 AM   #10
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If it were me I would just bite the bullet and buy a nice little Miller 180 or 200 amp Mig.

Installing a 240 volt plug is really no harder than installing a 120 volt plug. Welders run at lower voltage (at the tip) than house current so a 200 amp welder can work fine on a 50 amp plug. ( or less )

I had one of those 120 volt Lincoln welders, it is a good little machine, but the 240 Miller is just a lot more flexible and smoother. The 120 volt welders just seem to run out of steam when trying to lay down some real heat on marginally thick metal, even when lapping two 1/8" plates.

They are not real expensive when you find one on sale.
One reason the small ones "run out of steam" is because of the duty cycle, most people shop price first. Duty cycle is how long you can weld before having to stop and wait for the machine to cool down. Typically the small welders only have a 5%-20% duty cycle rating. That means you can only weld for 2 minutes out of 10. Pulling a long bead ain't gonna happen. I am fortunate that I have access to a full welding shop, as well as some guys that can weld the crack of dawn shut. I can weld but it isn't pretty.

Aaron
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Old 05-02-2014, 06:13 AM   #11
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I have to go along with J. Morgan and wahoonc. I was in this situation a couple of years ago. I was looking at Hobart 190 (Millers consumer brand) and I picked up the Hobart Handler 210 MVP. This is a 110/230 MIG welder, it has a swappable plug. In my shop I use it on 230, but about every 6-weeks I can take it somewhere and weld a bumper on this or fix a buddies trailer on that. Welding with 230 is ALOT easier than welding with 110.

It retails for about $1300, but I've gotten that back in beer and BBQ from buddies over the past couple of years.

Taking a welding course at local tech school is a great idea - good luck.
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:44 AM   #12
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I have an old 250 amp AC "buzz box" stick welder that I have owned for many years.

Then maybe ten years ago I bought an inexpensive Mig (wire feed) welder. It worked nt too badly with flux cored wire, but when I bought a gas bottle and tried using it with solid wire, it would not do a decent job at all. I wanted to use solid wire because it makes a much neater weld than you can make with flux core.

After keeping it a couple of years, I sold it on kijiji - with suitable warnings to the purchaser that I had had no luck with it with solid wire but it was ok with flux core.

I then bought a Lincoln 110v - 140 amp mig welder that I have had ever since. It is excellent and only cost maybe $100 - $200 more than the cheapie.

My advice would be to spend the $ and buy a decent one (Lincoln, Miller, etc.)and it will serve you well for years

Since I have had the MIG, the old 250 amp AC welder just sits there, I probably should get rid of it. I would only ever use it if I needed to weld heavy structural steel or similar, the 140 amp MIG is a very handy unit and I would thing would be up to the challenge of any welding you would need to do on an AS.

They also make a 180 Amp version but I'm pretty sure it needs 240volts. I like the convenience of 110. I could even use the mig with my Honda 2000 watt gennie as a portable unit if needed.

It is surprising how often I find uses for the mig around the house even though may days of restoring hobby cars are pretty much behind me! Rather satisfying to be able to fix things with it or make gadgets! As mentioned, IMHO it is also worth buying one that has the ability to use solid wire & gas as well as flux core - mush neater welds.

The only advantages to flux core is that you don't need a gas bottle (CO2/Argon) & regulator. Also flux core is better to use outdoors in windy conditions as the gas does not get blown away (you can put upwind shields though).

Flux core welding creates quite a bit of weld spatter and also leaves slag to remove. Not so when you use solid wire.


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Old 05-02-2014, 09:05 AM   #13
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What I don't like about the newer MIG welders is that they don't have much adjustment for wire feed rate. Mine has a knob and many of them including Hobarts have 3 or 4 adjustments for wire feed rate. Some have less adjustment than that. This might be one reason a lot of the smaller welders don't work well. People are using .030 wire with the lowest feed rate which is still too high. When I weld thin stuff I use low power and a slow feed rate. I think the purge gas helps a lot. You can get a hotter weld depending on which gas you use. I use C25 which is 75% Argon and 25% CO2. There are some blends with some O2 in them that is supposed to produce a hotter weld. I think my welder is 90A on 15A and 100A on 20A setting and I have plenty of power to weld stuff up to 1/4". Mine is a Craftsman made by Century and I have had it probably 15 yrs and it has been a good one. I think it is a little more heavy duty than most of the small welders.

Perry
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Old 05-02-2014, 08:27 PM   #14
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I can handle a welder with just a few power settings, but I want a rheostat on the wire speed period. Just a little difference on the wire speed can make a big difference.

Reading another comment from above reminded me that my Millermatic 180 will work on 120 volts, but I have always used it plugged into 240.

Hobart is a great brand also , there is not a lot of difference between it and its Miller cousins.
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