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Want to start welding - need tips to get started

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Old 10-02-2016, 10:31 PM   #1
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Default Want to start welding - need tips to get started

Hey guys I'm getting to a point with my car where I'm going to have to fabricate some exhaust pipes with bends so that I can get a useable setup with stock manifolds, catalytic converters, and stainless bends to route to my kooks true duals so I can pass emissions. I know it'll be cheaper to just take it to a shop BUT welding is a skill I want to pick up and I'm planning on taking classes bit that's later down the line. What I'd like are some tips on the type of welder I should be looking at and maybe even specific ones to buy that are capable of my exhaust project and more (I've got some custom ideas that'll require me to weld). Through researching I've been leaning towards the Everlast power at 160sth. I know many will say to skip the Chinese crap but from everything I've read it's a great welder that compares to Miller and other higher welders. It looks like I can get one for $400 which is about what I'd like to keep my budget on a welder at. This particular one is a stick and tig welder and from what I gather those are preferred for stainless (over mig).

Later projects I have in mind could necessitate an ability to weld aluminum so the tig might come in handy then but that's a ways down the road. Any tips on what I should be looking at that won't break the bank but also will be something that'll serve me well?
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:21 AM   #2
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I have a Chinese TIG I paid $800 for and love it. It does have its draw-backs, but certainly not $4000 worth. It does AC/DC, 110/220, etc. Biggest drawback being the torch is huge and heavy. I can fix that with a new torch anytime I want.

For exhaust, look into getting a decent gas MIG. That flux core stuff is awful. As soon as you learn to weld decent, you'll be looking to upgrade it for a gas one.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:26 AM   #3
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When I wanted to start welding, I was amazed at how expensive a really nice tig welder was, and how large. I drove to a local shop just to look at one, ask the owner about it and watch someone use it. While I was there I offered to help clean up the area, put away/organize the tools, clean the bench and floors etc... and then the owner offered me to use the welder for practice ;D

I got to use it for the next couple of years, anytime I wanted. I learned to weld aluminum and made a ton of intercooler plumbing for random cars a 'practice' and of course my own cars.


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More pics if you click one. It turns out, I was a natural with Aluminum (the owner bought a band-saw and 'put me to work' after he saw how quickly I picked it up), but stainless 321 and similar I was an utter complete fail with. I needed more practice, just as I started to get into the stainless more a couple years later the owner had to sell the welder and give up the bay to cut costs. IMO it might be beneficial to start the same way I did- find someone with a welder who will let you watch and possibly practice on it. At least for a real TIG welder. Also read the manual, it explains how the phasing works (electron flow to/from workpiece) and how to properly prepare the tungsten (it must be ground vertically along the grinding wheel). Also the footpedal is an "optional piece" however I do not know that I could possibly weld without one, it seemed instrumental to the technique. Very important is the cleanliness of parts before welding, the manuals will state to use a wire brush, only brushing the same direction, never brush dissimilar metals with the same brush, and clean the oxidized layer from the aluminum and wash with acetone before welding. Once everyone figures out where theres a guy with a welder who likes to practice, they will also bring all kinds of things to weld, so you might wind up making some money in the process of learning.

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Old 10-04-2016, 02:55 PM   #4
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I bought an AHP AlphaTig 200x about 6 months ago because I was kinda in the same boat as you. Granted, I had done a lot of MIG welding in the past, but honestly, MIG welding is very easy, it is pretty much point and shoot and you can do a fine enough job. The time for me came when I need to start doing some Aluminum welding. So that is when I bought the AHP machine. So far, I am VERY happy with it. Lets be realistic, I am not a professional welder that that is selling fabricated aluminum pieces to the aerospace industry. We are just messing around in our garage and welding some cold-side pipes together. The AHP is more than capable of that. Look up some video reviews of the machine, they are almost always positive. I think the AHP is around $700 right now, and it can work with 110V outlets.
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Old 10-05-2016, 04:25 PM   #5
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If you're just looking to get started and are planning on doing mostly exhaust for now I'd get a MIG for now. It will do exhaust faster and easier, and if you get good with it your work will look as good as someone kindof OK with a TIG. You could get something quite usable for about half of what you'd be in for a similar condition TIG.

As far as the Everlast machines they appear to be quite nice... nice enough that I've considered ditching my great big Miller Syncrowave for one.
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Old 10-05-2016, 07:38 PM   #6
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I'll toss in my thoughts as well: I first purchased a 110V Hobart MIG welder and used it in its most basic form (using flux core wire with no gas) for about a week. Then I discovered how nice it is to weld with shielding gas and I never went back! Yes, there are times - if you're stuck under a car in a breezy driveway for example - when flux core might be the ticket, but the extra work to dress and clean up a flux core weld makes the shielding gas route so much nicer. I eventually outgrew that welder - sold it and bought another Hobart 110/220 MIG unit. I really dig that thing!

Guys with whom I've spoken on the subject usually warn against buying a welder - no matter what the brand - that claims to "do it all." In most cases, sacrifices are made somewhere in the build to deliver a unit that is easy to use, doesn't take up half the garage and weighs less than the car you're working on. I followed that advice and purchased a Lincoln Precision TIG 225 a few years ago just for TIG work. Problem with it; it's heavy, with old technology and it lacks some of the fine adjustments many others offer. Newer TIG machines use inverter technology now. They're not transformer based, so they weigh about a forth as much as their predecessors. And they perform quite well.

Personally, I'd avoid the Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, etc. machines. A good welder is one you can keep in your shop for the next 30 years and never have to replace. The more you use it, the more comfortable it gets, and the better welder you become. Outsourced machines are usually reverse-engineered from the original, US-made components. The parts might be similar, but they won't be quality-controlled, and the same could be said for the labor. Cheap ain't always better.

Good luck in your quest for welding zen.
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Old 10-05-2016, 08:42 PM   #7
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Thanks guys.

I was looking at affordable migs thanks to some of your tips and prior to checking back on this thread just now, I was researching Hobart 500559 Handler Wire Welder. The reviews on it seem pretty darn good. Its advertised to handle the metals that I'd potentially be working with, even states aluminum although everything I've read usually ends with using a Tig for that metal. In any case its nice to know that someone here is also using a Hobart unit with success (I'm guessing its similar to the 500559 unit).

I'll look into AHP AlphaTig now but 700 is a little higher than I wanted to spend on a welder at the moment. I'll more than likely need a welder that operates on 110/115 as my garage just has standard outlets. I'm not opposed to getting a bigger line installed but again, just beginning on learning I'd rather hold off on that type of expense until I know its going to be a skill that I'll use frequently enough to warrant the cost.

Do you guys have any good reading material for a beginner Mig welder? One of the reviews on the Hobart unit stated a good starting guide is Jerry Uttrachi's: Advanced Automotive Welding (pro series). I'll give that a look to see if I can find a PDF of it but any material you guys might already have to help a beginner out would be of great help.
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:07 AM   #8
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With MIG welding, there is a few basic tips and tricks, or do's and dont's that you will need to know. But honestly, the easiest (and cheapest) way to learn in my opinion, is subscribe to a youtube channel. I think a really good one out there is ChuckE2009. He is a funny guy, but gives great info. Others are weld.com and weldingtipsandtricks. Have fun!
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Old 10-08-2016, 10:28 AM   #9
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I was in the same boat as you about a year ago on my turbo Nova build. I found a Lincoln Pro Mig 140 on craigslist with a full tank setup for $400.00. Got started there. I practiced a bit and was able to build my own hotside. Its not beautiful by any stretch, but I did it, lol.



Welding tips and tricks on youtube is good for machine setup and advice...
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Old 10-09-2016, 09:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeysFlier View Post
I

Personally, I'd avoid the Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, etc. machines. A good welder is one you can keep in your shop for the next 30 years and never have to replace. The more you use it, the more comfortable it gets, and the better welder you become. Outsourced machines are usually reverse-engineered from the original, US-made components. The parts might be similar, but they won't be quality-controlled, and the same could be said for the labor. Cheap ain't always better.

hate to break it to ya, but many machines from the US brands in the red and blue boxes are assembled overseas (and many assembled here in north america too) but the components? almost none of it is made here.
spend some time on welding web, it was really eye opening for me.

ended up with a ahp 200x. it's great and i'd recommend it to anyone.
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Old 10-14-2016, 08:21 AM   #11
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I found a Lincoln WeldPac 100 on CL years ago for $100. It's a 110V unit plugs right into the wall with no special circuit needed. It can be converted to MIG but I don't weld enough to justify the conversion.

I have it setup with flux core right now and it does the job for exhaust systems etc. Good to have something to tack in place then bring to a welder for the heavy work if the material is thick.

I would be hesitant to weld anything that see high stress with it as well where the function of the part requires the weld to "be part of the material".

Tacked a harness bar together for my Camaro:



Exhaust I made for the old GTO:



If you are looking for a machine that is a "buy it once and be done with it", my kind of machine is not it LOL. Ideally I would get a 220V unit that has some *****.
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:14 AM   #12
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I have been welding for several years, I would recommend a Miller 211. A new machine will run you about 1200, BUT it will run on 110 or 220l, has the ability to do thin metal very well, and thicker stuff flawlessly. It has a nice feature for quick stuff its called "auto set" and it does very well. set wire size, material thickness and go to town. Of course it has the ability to manually set, which I mostly use.
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:44 AM   #13
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I have a Hobart Handler 140 right now. It's a 110V mig that will also do flux core. Take it from me, you want shielding gas. I'll never use flux core if I can avoid it. The machine is awesome to learn on, I picked one up having no experience and now I can do all kinds of stuff with it and it looks good. Black Friday is coming up, Tractor Supply usually has them for a steal, it's where I got mine. You can't do aluminum though, the 140 won't accept a spool gun.
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Old 12-13-2016, 04:56 PM   #14
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+1 on the ahp alpha tig 200dx, I have the same machine and it has ac/dc, pulse, frequency, foot pedal and even though it is a Chinese machine they have a repair facility in California and the owner/ machine designer is the same guy that built the everlast 160sth. There is 200+ good reviews on amazon.
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:43 PM   #15
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I picked up this cheap lincoln from these guys.
https://weldingsupplyusa.com/product.php?product_id=306

Cheapest I could find it, comes with two kinds of wire and basic instructions. Found a 75/25 tank of CL for $80 and am slowly learning. One thing I learned is that no matter how many pictures you see of people in short sleeves unless you want a sunburn you should spend the 15 seconds it takes to put long sleeves on. YMMV or course.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:53 AM   #16
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Ymmv ????????
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:04 AM   #17
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No digital readout, will blow holes in just about any work, utilizes some clothes washer and dish washer parts!

Take a class so you don't learn bad habits, so you blow up less tungsten, burn your fingers less sharpening electrodes, Less scratching and sparking, fewer goobley globber welds.

Welding flat is pretty easy, but you need to learn technique and machine setup to weld in positions.

I'm a flat welder, I tack stuff together and then pull it out/off and rotate it flat for finish welding. This is not always practical.

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Old 12-18-2016, 12:05 PM   #18
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Have a local community college that has welding classes? Look into that. I've taken some, was worth the money. They should have good machines and plenty of material to practice with. Better off not learning bad habits early on.
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Old 12-19-2016, 07:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Ymmv ????????

your mileage may vary
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:20 PM   #20
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Welding tips and tricks you tube channel
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