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dual mig welder

Old 01-12-2010, 10:29 PM
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dual mig welder

i just ordered one from harbor freight (if any of you are familiar with that chain) for $152 and i'm gonna teach myself with what knowledge i have so far and having some friends who do weld. new it sells for $250! this one's a factory reconditioned unit, can do both mig and flux core wire and comes with a 2lbs. spool of flux wire. i can live with that while i'm a beginner and work my way up to bigger and better in the future. i'll probably only use it as a flux core for now until i get into fabricating stuff that needs a little more strength. does anyone have any pointers for a beginner? it'll be nice to fab up some of my own stuff for once!
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Old 01-13-2010, 05:47 AM
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Get a good welding hood with the ability to easily swap glass. Also make sure you have extra glass of the proper tint on hand. Many times I've accidentally broken/cracked the glass and didn't have any extra to replace it.

Start with glass that isn't too dark just so you can get a feel for it, then switch to the dark stuff. It's not good for your eyes to use the lighter tints out there all the time.

Get yourself a good set of comfortable welding gloves and a welding jacket. There's a lot of heat involved and a metal burn hurts.




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Old 01-13-2010, 06:05 AM
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I started like you with an cheap welder. I got mine from Northerntool (MIG 135) instead of harborfreight. I haven't used much stuff from harborfrieght as I have a tendancy to brake my tools. Being an entry level welder it should be fine especial you can use both flux & solid core wire with gas.

Like Kris said get a good helmut. I have a Miller Elite autodarkening helmut. Its very nice, especially since I bought it used. The nice thing is that I can adjust the tint as needed depending on what I am welding (how much amps I'm welding with). I would recommend something more like this since it is more adjustable. If you were stick welding, I would recommend a fixed lens like Kris describes.

As for finding information out about how to weld, I went the cheap way... MillerWelds.com do a search on that website on "MIG welding". They have alot of tips on how to weld. The biggest thing is practice. If you can find alot of scrape metal around use that, just make sure that it is cleaned up prior to welding. Since I have alot of scrape metal that I use, I've found that flux core works better even after all the rust has been ground off.

best of all have fun. It takes time to have perfect looking welds. I'm still working on that, but I'm just a hobbiest. As long as it holds with good penetration its good enough for me. I always grind down the welds anyways to smooth things over & paint them to look good.
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Old 01-13-2010, 07:04 AM
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I like the $50 auto-dark helmet Harbor Freight sells. For guys like me who hardly ever weld, being able to see what's going on before you pull the trigger is a must. It keeps you from welding stuff you weren't planning on welding.

A machine like that is going to have a very short duty cycle. Take your time and prep one joint at a time to spread the welding out, otherwise you will be waiting for the machine to cool off.

Clean shiny metal and a well fitted joint help a lot with making good welds. Make sure you turn the current up enough, if the weld looks like a booger on the surface of the metal then you haven't used enough current. Moving too fast is another common problem. You ought to be able to see a puddle of melted metal around where the arc is. Thin stuff makes it hard to balance your speed vs. burning a hole, so practice a bunch before you try something important.
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Old 01-13-2010, 07:35 AM
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Clean material and Practice Practice Practice
Getting the machine set for the material you are welding helps alot.
Ohh did I forget to say Practice!!
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:38 AM
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don't buy the harbor frieght helmets. i have one and my nephew was using it and ended up flash buring himself pretty good. Spend the money on a miller or the like. you can't put a price on your eyeballs!
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:51 AM
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I have a cheap, HF welder. The duty cycle on it is very short. If I'm doing anything that's not quick and simple, I have to take the lid off and put a fan blowing on it. Also, most HF welders won't consistently feed wire. It's very annoying. It helps if you get your wire at a bigger welding supply store that moves alot of wire. Also, only put small spools on it. The drive just won't handle the bigger spools. Get some tip dip and some brushes to keep your tip clean. That will help a whole lot.
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:56 AM
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wow!! thanks for all the tips and encouragement so far fellas!!

Originally Posted by cbrahs View Post
don't buy the harbor frieght helmets. i have one and my nephew was using it and ended up flash buring himself pretty good. Spend the money on a miller or the like. you can't put a price on your eyeballs!
so the auto-darkening helmet HF sells won't be good enough? that might be something to consider since i wear contacts....

Originally Posted by 1-2-3 View Post
I have a cheap, HF welder. The duty cycle on it is very short. If I'm doing anything that's not quick and simple, I have to take the lid off and put a fan blowing on it. Also, most HF welders won't consistently feed wire. It's very annoying. It helps if you get your wire at a bigger welding supply store that moves alot of wire. Also, only put small spools on it. The drive just won't handle the bigger spools. Get some tip dip and some brushes to keep your tip clean. That will help a whole lot.
what do you mean by won't consistently feed wire? does the wire get hung up somewhere in the feed mechanism? this says it takes 2lbs spools. i don't plan on doing a lot of big projects, but to be able to make brackets and whatnot and fix something that a flux core could hold together would be nice. and like i stated, i'm a beginner, so i'll eventually work my way up to bigger and better if/when i start working on bigger projects. the duty cycle is understandable. where can the tip dip be found and by brushes, do you mean just some wire brushes to clean the "boogers" off the tip?
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:27 PM
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I have a kit from northerntool (which I can't find on their website anymore), but the gel for the tip is called "anti-splatter compound". I have the gel from Hobart, seems to work well.

What has also helped with splatter is quality wire. Now that I have changed from the flux core wire that came with the welder to hobart 0.030" flux core for welding steel is sugnificantly better (less splatter). I didn't realize how much better the welds looked & penetration that I was able to get with the hobart wire.
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:39 PM
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another good option is the ability to run gas. 80/20 argon/co2 mix and not run a flux core wire. nice clean welds, little to no splatter.

you can get tip dip from home depot or lowes (made by lincoln). Also there are wool pads that wrap around the wire (between the spool and the feed input) that you put a lube oil on, helps feed thru the hose and helps prevent gauling at the tip. make sure you DO NOT step on the hose as there is a steel guide inside and a teflon insert for the wire to run. you step on it and it crushes the interior wall and will not allow the wire to travel smoothly.


I run a miller 135 (110volt 135 amp) mig with gas. Also a lincoln 255 square wave tig.

my lil miller has done wonders and has always performed.
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Old 01-13-2010, 01:42 PM
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what do you mean by won't consistently feed wire?

The little drive unit that pushes the wire up thru the handle won't consistently push the wire. It stops on you all the time and you have to mess with it. You'll find out when you start using it. Another reason to leave the lid open while using it.
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbo486 View Post


so the auto-darkening helmet HF sells won't be good enough? that might be something to consider since i wear contacts....
I have not had trouble with mine. However, most of my welding "projects" involve less than 10 minutes of actual welding time.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by cbrahs View Post
don't buy the harbor frieght helmets. i have one and my nephew was using it and ended up flash buring himself pretty good. Spend the money on a miller or the like. you can't put a price on your eyeballs!
I agree with this 100%. I have read a lot of reviews and reports about all the various helmets and the cheap ones just don't change fast enough. YOU may not notice a split second difference, but your eyes will. It's not a gamble anyone should take. I can't afford a decent one so I don't have one at all. And won't until I can.

Originally Posted by 1-2-3 View Post
The little drive unit that pushes the wire up thru the handle won't consistently push the wire. It stops on you all the time and you have to mess with it.
That's been my experience as well. The aggravation factor justifies the spending of more money for something that actually works. It never puts me in a good frame of mind when I have a 5 minute project and I end up spending 20 minutes messing with a machine to accomplish it!
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:01 PM
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i read about the HF helmet a little more yesterday...

Superior auto-darkening lens for arc, MIG or TIG welding.

- Darkens from shade #4 to #9-#13 in 1/20,000 of a second
- Solar Powered

?
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by wannadiesel View Post
I have not had trouble with mine. However, most of my welding "projects" involve less than 10 minutes of actual welding time.
you wear contacts too, dave? if so, no trouble welding while wearing them?
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