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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Looking to get a good, general purpose mig welder. I believe I have settled on a Lincoln SP-135. It is a 110v and comes with the regulator for $450. Thoughts on this welder? Will it be able to handle sheet metal as well as car frame work?

Thanks
 

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Code Goober
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The big thing that you want to check out is duty cycle. Those lower output welders do just fine for the type of welding that you want to do (sheet metal), but may have as low as a 20% duty cycle. Low duty cycles make for frustrating projects. As an interesting side note, I was able to pick up an L-Tec (now ESAB) Migmaster 250 on ebay for $500. There are deals to be had out there.
 

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Code Goober
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Duty cycle = % of time the unit can be "on" or welding. A 20% duty cycle means that you will only be able to weld with it 2 out of every 10 minutes (+/-). Most of the welders (all actually - I think) will have an automatic shut off, kind of like a breaker. One second you've got a nice bead going, the next second the welder shuts off. If you have any amount of welding to do, that can get annoying.
 

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If you are doing light stuff...body pannels and the like it is not much of an issue. You are not welding for any length of time. As to not warp the pannel. I put new floors and rockers in with my 135 and had no problems, had everything tacked up the weekend before and did all the finish welding and grinding in one day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Lincoln SP-135 does have a 20% duty cycle... I thought that 20% was about the best you could find short of laying down >$1,000 for a pro model.
 

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Code Goober
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Sorry, I really didn't mean to open a can of worms. The 130 amp welder with the low duty cycle will be able to just about anything that you're likely to need. This is especially true when welding sheet metal, as cherokee said, you wouldn't want to warp your material. However, when you start dealing with thicker gauge metal, in order to get a good weld, you need to transfer more heat. That's going to mean more time on each weld. If you have a low duty cycle welder, you're going to be spending a lot of time waiting for the welder to cool. But that's the only problem. If you don't mind waiting a little, you'll be OK. On the other hand, you can spend about $200 more for one of the 175 amp welders (Tractor supply sells the Hobart Handler 175 in the $600 range), you'll be getting a better duty cycle (I think it was something like 40-60% @ 130 amps). Or, as I said before, keep checking ebay. The guy I bought my welder from didn't want to be hasseled with shipping, so he said he wouldn't ship it. I was able to pick up a welder that normally costs $1600 (new that is), for $500. Something else you might want to keep in mind - if you are only going to be doing a few repairs on the thicker metal, and you don't mind practicing a bit, go get yourself a stick welder. Here's one on ebay (225 amp for buy it now of $225)
Stick Welder
The stick welder is a little messier, and takes a little practice to use - and is most defeinately NOT for thin gauge metal - but do a good job on thick welds. That way you would have a welder for the fine work, and one for the big stuff.
 

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Here's my two cents worth.

First, get a "Gas-Type" MIG. Dual function is OK, but body work DEMANDS a gas welder for reasonable quality welds. The thicker flux-core wire welds structural steel (such as angle iron and thicker plate) quite well (up to 1/4 inch with multiple passes) but SUCKS on body panels.

Second, get a name brand. Parts are hard to find for Italian (or where-ever) welders that are more than a couple of years old.

Third, if you can afford it, get a MIG with infinite heat control (versus only three or four steps) and ESPECIALLY one that allows the heat to be adjusted on the fly. Most won't take the shock of having the heat adjusted while welding, but it is MUCH easier to get good welds if you can adjust it while laying a bead.

HTH
 

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duty cycle

I've never actually seen a 110V welder with a duty cycle more than @40%. It's the nature of the beast, as in order to get 75 amps at the welding tip from a 15 amp wall socket you need to run everything a little closer to the limits to make it work.

Now when your welder plugs into a 220V, 50A socket, it can deliver 75 amps at tip wit a lot more room to go. Most of the 220v units are in the 70-100% duty cycle range. Also, most home owners don't get the 220V units, so the market is more towards the professional, which means there is a better build quality and the units last much longer, and they have more of the features you'll actually use and less of the gimmicky stuff. They'll also be much easier to get parts for and cheaper to get repaired if it is needed.

And finally, with a little research, you'll find the units used for the same prices as the home units new in most cases, and they hold their value well enough that a good used Lincold or Miller will be worth the same ammount in 10 years when you get ready to sell it that you paid for it today.

All that said, long winded as it was, if you even have the possibility of having a 220V outlet available, I highly recommend getting a unit that uses it. Even if you have to plug the welder into a portable generator outside the garage, you'll be much happier in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just found a Lincoln WeldPro 100 with gas regulator for $250. I think I am going to pass on this one because it is only 100 amps.

Jury?
 
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