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mig/fcaw welders?

  1. #1
    "aaah!" Matt K's Avatar
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    mig/fcaw welders?

    Hey, I know this isn't completely bike related, but I'm looking into picking up a small arc welding setup, something like maybe a lincoln weldpak 100 or the like (this one is FCAW, but can be converted to mig/gmaw with a kit). Any of you guys have experience with these things? I've done a lot of oxy-acetylen welding, but I don't really want to use a torch in the basement workshop, too much fire hazard. Plus an arc welder is much more portable, and a bit more versitile. I hear that learning to put down a passable weld with a small arc rig is pretty simple, so that part I'm not too worried about.

    Any of you keep welding gear in the house? Run into any problems? Any general advice?

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  2. #2
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?


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    RandyO
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  3. #3
    Lifer
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    Ive got the weldpack in my basement along with some other arc and mig machines. The weldpack works well, probably better than the other arc machines i have. Stick selection is critical though to get good welds. I mostly use mig now but if ive got a dirty, rough job i use the arc welder. Things like frames and such.its more adaptable to different situations if you can get the correct sticks. It takes a bit of work to get a good bead with an arc, especially if you are always switching materials. It takes more of a feel vs mig or tig. All the slag that is produced can hide flaws if your not paying attention.

    What are you planning on welding?

    Fyi i would rather use a torch in the basement than an arc machine. The sparks can really fly.

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  4. #4
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post

    What are you planning on welding?

    Fyi i would rather use a torch in the basement than an arc machine. The sparks can really fly.
    small repair/fabrication

    first I got to learn to weld, no classes locally, so watching youtube videos & trial & error, no real experience, I've done oxy/acetylene brazing & coat hanger stuff years ago

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  5. #5
    Lifer
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    One thing I will advise is that arc is terrible for thin stuff if you plan on doing any sheet metal or thin gauge stuff. Mig for that. I would say a lawn mower deck is about as thin as you can practically arc weld without serious warping or blowing through the metal. You can go thinner but it gets harder and harder to do.

    Arc welding is fairly easy to pick up but it's tough to master.

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  6. #6
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    the welder I linked to does stick, flux core & mig, also a spool gun for aluminum

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  7. #7
    High maintenance priss
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    If small repair & fab: you might want to jump to the Prime Weld's 225 TIG if you can swing it. Slower process, but cleaner, very versatile, and more similar to OA than MIG. I think the PW TIG machine is the best TIG value under $1k.

    [edit] Implied is that I have no direct experience with PW's MIG. The biggest thing that would put me off is the duty cycle. That one is 30% at 180 and no mention of duty cycle at other amperages / no duty cycle chart. Expect a so-so gun, loud always-on fans, etc... This will be true of most machines at this price point.

    PW supposedly has really good customer service and a decent warranty. Speaking of: there is a distribution center in CT and they have open box items (new returns) for a significant discount. I believe they have the TIG 225 for $600. If you want a link I can dig it up.

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    Last edited by keeena; 01-19-22 at 05:31 PM.

  8. #8
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    Quote Originally Posted by keeena View Post
    If small repair & fab: you might want to jump to the Prime Weld's 225 TIG if you can swing it. Slower process, but cleaner, very versatile, and more similar to OA than MIG. I think the PW TIG machine is the best TIG value under $1k.

    [edit] Implied is that I have no direct experience with PW's MIG. The biggest thing that would put me off is the duty cycle. That one is 30% at 180 and no mention of duty cycle at other amperages / no duty cycle chart. Expect a so-so gun, loud always-on fans, etc... This will be true of most machines at this price point.

    PW supposedly has really good customer service and a decent warranty. Speaking of: there is a distribution center in CT and they have open box items (new returns) for a significant discount. I believe they have the TIG 225 for $600. If you want a link I can dig it up.
    due to my electric metering (I don't have typical residential service) my meter measures demand as well as kw. First 5kw demand, no surcharge, over 5kw it adds up quick. I have never been over 5, but close. I suspect that it will probably be cheaper for me to run a welder off my generator, even if I have to buy a bigger generator. The one I have is 4600w/peak6250, so thats 20+amps steady on 220v

    the TIG is not out of my budget, I'm not sure I understand the difference between TIG. and MIG, I've done ok in the past with OA, brazing and quick coat hanger shit, other than that, I made some bubble gum with an old Lincoln stick welder, one afternoon 50 years ago

    I just want to be able to do hobby stuff, and what I learnt 50 years ago, makes me dangerous now. I have to start the learning to weld process as a beginner, the little bit of research I have done, has led me to the PW setups for beginners and experienced hobbyists

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  9. #9
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    Quote Originally Posted by keeena View Post
    PW supposedly has really good customer service and a decent warranty. Speaking of: there is a distribution center in CT and they have open box items (new returns) for a significant discount. I believe they have the TIG 225 for $600. If you want a link I can dig it up.
    I'd be interested in a link as well.

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  10. #10
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    so, help me out, what is best to learn on ? I'm thinking I want to get a MIG/stick, and later a TIG, if I did that, would I ever use MIG or stick again

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  11. #11
    High maintenance priss
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    TL;DR: If it wasn't for the basement thing and you twisted my arm: I'd say you'd probably want Mig; generally less investment, not as steep a learning curve, and a bit more forgiving.

    You can learn on either, there is no 'best'. The most important thing is seat time with someone who knows the process to get you on the right track. It is possible to learn a lot if you are dedicated to spending many hours reading, watching good youtube channels, subscribing to remote-based classes (PAW, TFS are a couple that come to mind), etc... Nothing compares to having someone experienced assist in the beginning. I favor Tig because it forces fundamentals. Mig is point and shoot, which is easier to make crappy welds w/o knowing it.

    I don't think one process replaces the other. I prefer Tig for most things given the size & variety of stuff I do. Mig has its place when dealing with thicker/dirtier/less optimal work or speed is a factor. If you're doing this inside - you can quickly smoke out your basement/garage with Mig. I wouldn't want to do any sort of Mig in a residential basement; garage with ventilation at a minimum. You can Tig in a residential garage with little ventilation without an issue.

    For the discounted Primeweld stuff: I don't see any current ads for their location in CT, but here's an ad for a warehouse in NJ (link). You could also try emailing PW about their return locations / availability. I also noticed this PW Tig on CL in NH (link, $600 OBO). No attachments though. In some cases this is good because you can get better attachments if desired. A CK17 torch (same as PW includes, $150...though I'd consider a hotter torch), better ground lead/clamp/dinse connector (~$125), and SSC pedal (same as incl. with PW, $160)...you're at the price of new. So I'd say fair price is no more than $400-425.

    PS - There are multi-process machines (Stick, Mig, & Tig), but will mean giving up features at the bottom end of the price range. So I personally would only consider higher-end MP machines ($$$); not a direction I'd suggest for starters unless you're a balls to the wall tool junkie.

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    Last edited by keeena; 02-15-22 at 10:28 AM.

  12. #12
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: mig/fcaw welders?

    My welding will either be outdoors, or in my shop, (not an 8ft ceiling residential garage, rather 30x30 barn, 10w x 12t overhead door, 21ft headroom inside) and built, as my sawyer called it, "ventilated" wood

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