Questions on MIG Welders

I’ve posted this here since a lot of teams weld and they might have some suggestions or insight for me.

I’m planning on buying a MIG welder within the next few months. I’m deciding between this one or this one. I’m leaning towards the 140 (the second link) and I know where I can get it cheaper than listed on the Hobart site.
This will be for home use mainly and I may use it occasionally for my team. I’m planning on doing some work on my car this winter and need a welder. I want a 110v model since I don’t have 230v in my garage (I could add a 230v line if needed though) but with the 110v models capable of welding up to 3/16" to 1/4" that’s more than what I think I would ever need especially for body work. I know the 110v models have a lower duty cycle but that doesn’t bother me. I’ve never MIG welded before. I’ve got experience with acetelene and arc welding only. I’m getting a MIG for the fact that it seems the most universal of welders and the fact that doing body work with an acetelene torch is asking for major heat distortion. Working on a car is my main objective with this welder. I have some spare body panels I’m going to practice on first.
What I want to know is if anyone has any experience with any of these two models or any others (Hobart or not) I might want to consider. I don’t mind spending up to $500 for a welder, I just don’t want a piece of crap or something that won’t meet my needs. I’m planning on keeping this welder for the long term, not getting rid of it once I’m done with it. Another question I have is these welders can weld with or without gas shielding and when I set this welder up which way should I go? What are the benefits and downsides between gas and gasless? What shade helmet do you recommend when using one of these?
If you have any suggestions or anything else I might have overlooked/or not realized, or any tips when using these let me know.

P.S. In case you’re wondering I’m going to drain and pull the gas tank from the car and disconnect the battery before welding. I just have a feeling someone would ask that question sooner or later. :wink:

It is better to be safe then sorry. But unless you are welding something within very close proximity to the gas tank or gas lines, you do not need to remove them. The battery is even less of a worry. I have watched several people weld parts right next to the gas tank or lines without any problems. Removing all that stuff is a waste of time unless you were already planning on removing it.

I’m planning on removing the gas tank and replacing it since it’s damaged. Someone before me had the bright idea of trying to jack the car up by the tank! :eek: It’s dented upward and now instead of being a 16 gallon it’s a 15 gallon. :rolleyes: With the tank removed it would also give me the chance to clean and detail that area of the car more easily. I know that unless I’m right near the tank I shouldn’t have any problems. If the tank wasn’t damaged I would actually top the tank off to minimize the fumes. The fumes are what you have to look out for, more gas in the tank the less space for fumes. All the welding is going to be in the front of the car.
The battery has to be removed because that’s where the problem is. I’ve replaced the battery tray but the surrounding sheetmetal has been damaged by acid over the years. I’m going to replace the whole inner fender. The passenger door also needs to be reskinned. With the interior panel off you can see that the door took a good impact in the center at some point and it was bondo’d up on the outside.

If anyones wondering this is the Mustang I’m planning on doing this work to.

i had to make a similar decision this summer and ended up going with the miller matic 135

here is what i have learned:

  1. variable voltage is a really good thing, much better then set positions. with MIG lower voltage=longer welding times thats about it

  2. get gas shielding. the flux cored wire requires the circuit to work back wards positiver though the ground clamp and the ground is the actual wire. the problem is you can;t get good looking welds this way, there is alor of splatter and they are just less quality overall. I use an argon co2 mix 25/75% respectively

3)don;t think you are gonna weld aluminum with it, aluminum wire is way to soft to be pushed through a standard feed hose, you will need a spool gun for that and they run about 700 just for the spooler

  1. don;t scimp out, this is one of those cases that you get what you pay for, money saved will defiantly cost you quality and consistency in the welds. this is especially important for auto body work

  2. duty cycle, yes it is true that lower duty cycles come with the 110v machines buy for your application it isn;t such a big deal. for example a 20% duty cycle means for every 2 mins on you have 8-10 mins off. now this is alot , for most body work i have done it is spot welding anyway and most welders have a bilt in senor that wont let you hurt anything, so i wouldn’t worry too much about it

6)total cost, you will have to figure in all the accessories that you will have to buy to get going. It will cost about 1000 for a decent setup soup to nuts.
1)welding mask: you will want an auto darking one, having used both it is like night and day. $50-80
2) gas and tank: a new 40 lb tank Will cost about $130 filled and will be about $30 bux a pop to fill. standard use is like this 20lbs of gas will last about an hour of welding
3)MIG pliers, must have for cutting wire and there are a bunch of other reasons that you will find out. $15
4)clamps, magnets, gloves, apron, etc. figure about $100-150 in random accessories.

i hope this helps get you started, just let me know if you need any other advice.

I will echo everything that Greg Needel said, and throw in a few other points. Since you said you are going to keep this welder for the long haul, get the very best machine you can afford. if you can, get one that is well above your current skill level of welding. As your skills improve, you can “grow into it” and not be limited by your machine as you get better.

With that in mind, definitely get a welder with the gas supply option. This will help limit contamination of the weld and make a big difference (particularly for fine or detailed work - e.g. thin body panels). Also, don’t be so quick to eliminate 230v systems. If you are going to be doing most of your welding in your garage, is your laundry room nearby? If it is, I am willing to bet that you probably won’t be using the dryer every time you want to weld. Get a 20’ super heavy duty extension cord and plug the welder in to the dryer outlet - you get 230v, which means you can run a bigger system and get a longer duty cycle (making your work cleaner and faster). Then you will have a capability for deeper welds - that may not be important right now if you are just doing body panels, but who knows what you might want to try next?


just wondering, but how old are you?

I bought my welder in june( iwas 15) and i went with the Millermatic 175. It uses the bigger outlet, but it was worth the extra money. the variable voltage is SO much better. i’ve used a hobart handler 135, and the difference can really be felt. As for shielding gas or not, you will definetly want it if you are working on a car. the gas (most likely 70/30 or 75/25 Co2, Argon) will make the weld clean, and less pourus. Welding aluminium can be done fairly easily(it isnt THAT expensive) but it requires different wire, and a spool gun, and different gas( it costs toget started, but it is cheaper from there). Also, aluminium under 1/2" probably shouldnt be welded with a MIg, mainly because you dont have the heat settings like on a TIG welder. Also, ( i know at least with the millermatic 175) you can weld stainless steel.

As to doing it on your car, you’ll want to have the shielding gas (i dont know if you know anything about bodywork), and after you weld the replacement panel or patch, you’ll want ot grind your welds, and then use a fiberglass body filler (commonly refered to as ‘tiger tail’ or ‘kitty fur’) so as not to have it rot away. if you use a standard body filler(i.e. bondo), it can get wet and expand and ruin your fresh paint job. also, the fiberglass filler will prevent water from reaching your welds. use the fibergalss (let it set up, it will get warm and then it cools down) right after it cools, you’ll want to rough it up with 80 grit sandpaper. if you wait it will be like sanding concrete, and you’ll have to grind it, which means fiberglass on your skin, which equals painful red itchy bumps (trust me i found out the hard way). sand the filler until it is level with the rest of the car, or just a little low ( if you see metal, you’ll want to stop, this means that is a high spot, so you have to fill to level the rest to that). if you sand it a little low (less than 1/8"), you can then use a regular body filler, doing just a skim coat, and then snading that with 180 grit paper. you may then want to use what is called “poly putty” a thick primer that mixes the same way as body filler, but is much thinner. if you are comfortable without using it, you can use roll on primer (slightly thicker than spray-on primer) and then go from there. Primer will fill 180 grit scratches, but nothing less than that. hope that helps a little bit!

Get a 20’ super heavy duty extension cord and plug the welder in to the dryer outlet - you get 230v, which means you can run a bigger system and get a longer duty cycle (making your work cleaner and faster).

I would recommend NOT using an extension cord, mainly because you will lose power doing so, which means you’ll have to mess with your voltage settings.

I can’t help but think that power losses in a good extension cord are probably negligible. Provided you get a nice super heavy duty extension cord with 12 AWG or higher wire, the resistance of a 20’ cord would easily be less than .1 Ohm. If you were pulling 20 amps through the cord, that’d be 2 volts you’d lose to the cord. I have been informed by my father that the power company delivers us 120VAC +/- 10%. So you’d really have to worry more about the power company stiffing you on any particular day, I’d think.

If done properly, there is no problem with using an extension cord with an electric welder. It is done all the time. The important thing is to make sure it uses as large gauge wire as possible, and it is as short as you need. Note that I am not talking about the little 7-strand, thin-wire cord you connect to your Christmas tree lights. I am talking about a heavy duty construction-grade cord, rated for at least 20 amps continuous use and with 12- or 10-gauge conductors at a minimum.

Yes, there will be some additional voltage drop over the length of the cable. But if it is sufficiently large gauge the additional drop caused by the extension will be minor in comparison with the drop caused by the in-wall wiring from the panel to the outlet (or from the generator to the welder, etc.). Regarding adjustments, you should check and adjust your voltage settings every time you locate the welder in a new location or connect to a different power source. The input voltage in different locations is rarely identical (some lines may be electrically “dirtier” than others, different length runs from the transformer will cause variations in voltage drops, cabling that meets or exceeds code will also cause different voltage drops, different size breakers on the lines may behave differently, etc.).


i was simply stating what the owner of the local welding store told me when i bought my welder. I guess i would have to say you guys are right, and if you do HAVE to use one, make it only as long as you need. i didnt even know they made extension cords with the big plug on it!

i found you an extention cord.

and also a discussion on a welding board about making your own if you are so inclined.

:eek: it was cheaper just to put in a new outlet in my basement!

i looked at my bill, and for my welder (Millermatic 175), the tank, the gas, and 11 pound spool of .030 wire, and a basic helmet (i’ve also used both, and while an autodarkening DOES make it easier, it sometimes is cheaper ($30 compared to anwhere past$150) just to learn the hard way). It was $750. cant beat that deal. the 175 is probably the best for your money, because millers are made BY MILLER. with some welders (like hobart) they source them out to different companies. take for instance if you bought your hobart from sears or from a hobart dealer. the sears calls it a different name, which means different parts, which can lead to trouble later on. With miller, you know you are safe. I’m not positive on what hobart does, but when i bought my welder, they took the serial number and my name and put it into a computer. if my welder is ever stolen, and then 10 years down the road needs a new part, they will have to put that serial number into the computer and see that it is stolen. this may sounds somewhat dumb, but i’d rather get my $1000 investment back in 10 years then never.

Try ro find an affordable Miller model. In my opinion those are the best, either that or Lincoln. I don’t know much about MIG, since I mostly only to TIG. TIG was the first thing i learned, and when i tried to go from that to MIG, i was set off track…so i stuck with TIG.

My dad owns a Hobart and he loves it for the price he paid. He wishes that he had a nice miller tig machine but right now thats out of the question. As for experience with welding thats basically what he has done all his life. Although he does special alloy welding at his job using a miller machine mostly, he would still purchase another hobart. I learned to weld on both the hobart and a miller machine. Both did the job and I cant say I have anything against either of them. You might be able to find a good deal on the hobart machines at a Tractor Supply store if you have any of those around where you live. I know that we have gotten some good buys on chop saws and supplies there a few times.

I just want to thank you all for your input/suggestions. :slight_smile:

Right now I’m looking at what’s out there before I jump and purchase one. Even if I got it now I wouldn’t really start using it until March. With the holidays and build season coming up I won’t have time to really work on the Mustang until then. Like I mentioned in my first post I was looking between the Hobarts but I’m planning on going to a local welding supply store this weekend and seeing what they offer and possibly compare the Hobart, Miller, and Lincolns-depending on what they carry. I will not buy a “no name” welder though (as with any major tool expense). After reading your responses I’m definitely going to get the gas shielding. I’m still leaning towards a 110v model.

As for the suggestion of using the dryer outlet if I get a 230v model, it was an excellent idea but it won’t work in my situation. The clothes dryer is located 1 floor up and on the opposite end of the house than the garage. The house is a Colonial and when they built it they decided it was best to put the laundry room off of the kitchen (makes sense). I should’ve mentioned this before but the service panel box is located in the corner of the garage. Much easier than running a 100’ cord through the house or out a window to the (attached) garage.

I just want to give an update to everyone.

I purchased a Millermatic 135. This is the 110v model. I also got the 75/25% Co2-Argon, and I own the tank outright. I didn’t get an autodarking helmet though…for now. I haven’t used it yet since I only got it this morning and it still needs to be set up. I’ve only assembled the cart and chained the tank to it.

I decided on 110v for versatility reasons. If I ever need to take this welder to another location I won’t have to worry about locating a 230v power source. Restoring/working on cars can get expensive but sometimes you’re able to trade off work between other people you know. I’ve done this many times. Having a welder and knowing how to weld makes the ability to barter that much better! :smiley:

As for the power source I took care of that Halloween weekend. I added a dedicated 20 amp 110v line in the garage. The original outlet in the garage was on the same line as the garage lights and it was only 15 amps. The hardest part was finding a 20 amp breaker (or ANY breaker for that matter) for a Challenger service panel. One thing I learned, if you’re building a house or just replacing the main panel, installing a Square D or General Electric panel would be best. You will never worry about finding a breaker for one of these.

Well, I guess I’ll go finish setting up my welder now and maybe get to try it out this weekend. :wink:

Another update since some of you have asked how I like the Miller MIG welder so far.

I’m very happy with it and I successfully replaced the battery area inner fender (front passenger side). I practiced on scrap metal until I had a idea of where the settings should be. I attached some photos below so you can get an idea of the amount of work I’ve done with it and how I did it. I didn’t do any continous beads with it, instead I plug welded the panel in so once the welds were ground down they would resemble the original spot welds. The photo of the replacement panel on the bench shows the holes I either drilled or used my air flange/punch tool to make. This was done after I test fitted and tweaked the repro panel to fit. The panel was clamped in place with numerous Vice-Grips and I scrapped the primer off the underlying metal where the holes were. The edge of the underlying original metal was cleaned and temporarily primered to protect it from surface rust (this is the pic of the primered edge of the shock tower with the welder visible in the background). I then welded up all the holes which also welded the panel to the surrounding metal. I then ground down the welds so they look like the original spot welds (photo also below)

The bottom line is the MIG welder is one of the best new “toys” I’ve gotten! :smiley:

Looks great Jay. Are you satisfied with your Miller? I love mine, and plus, they are great for service and repairs. Any problems you’ve experienced?
Good luck with the rest of the 'Stang!

Ive done work on miller MIG and TIG welders… and I could never figure out how to weld aluminum with a MIG. Is it even possible? Maybe I just can’t mess with the voltage and power well enough…

And a really random question, has anyone ever welded aluminum with an acelylene welder? Just interested…

it is possible to weld aluminum on a MIG but you need aluminum wire, 100% argon gas, and a wire feed reel (because aluminum is to soft to run through the long wire run) and then once the setup is complete the voltage and feed rate is still a fine adjustment.

overall it is much easier to weld aluminum with a TIG