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Old 12-28-2011, 09:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Welder upgrade time

I know there are a million threads like this, but I feel like the recommendations depend on what the n00b actually wants to do with a welder. I currently have a $100 welder from Harbor Freight that I bought to decide if I enjoy welding. Turns out I do, and this welder is a joke. I've built a couple of bumpers and stuff for around the house, but it can't even fully penetrate 1/8" steel.

I've pretty much decided on the Miller Autoset 180, but the option is out there to get a Hobart 210 or a bigger chinese welder for the same price. I want to make bumpers, sliders, tube flares, suspension brackets, links, etc. I'm having a hard time picturing what I'd need to weld that's thicker than 3/16" other than d-ring mounts.

And yes, I've checked craigslist (for months) but the Austin hippies/hipsters don't seem to put a lot of good used welders up for sale.

Last edited by smearig; 12-28-2011 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Stick with the big three, miller Lincoln or hobart. Esab is good too. The Chinese welders are good for getting into welding, but if you want a tool not a toy then get something that will last. Hobart is the little brother of miller and are a little cheaper. Made in USA still.
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'm fairly set on a big name US-made welder. But the 210 multi-voltage Hobart for the price of the 180 Miller is kind of tempting.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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id go with the bigger hobart. If you can get more welder for the money, why not? You won't be disapointed with more amperage available.
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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id go with the bigger hobart. If you can get more welder for the money, why not? You won't be disapointed with more amperage available.
bigger hobart is not a bad choice.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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bigger hobart is not a bad choice.
Is there a scenario on a mild TJ build that could take advantage of the additional capabilities of a 210 vs a 180? I'm not going to be shaving a rockwell or trussing a 14ff or anything like that.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It's better to have and not need than to buy because of a need later..
Plus better duty cycles on the 210
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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duty cycle is the biggest thing to look at. While you will not be welding 3/8" plate every day, you will be able to weld 1/8" for a longer time on the Hobart 210 vs the miller 180.

I have the Hobart 210 and have built an entire frame and I am in the process of completing the body work. great little machine. I would also say look at getting the spool gun with this welder as a combo. They are a little more now but a lot cheap them buying separate.

Also don't be fooled by the auto set function. If you can weld you can set a machine up.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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duty cycle is the biggest thing to look at. While you will not be welding 3/8" plate every day, you will be able to weld 1/8" for a longer time on the Hobart 210 vs the miller 180.

I have the Hobart 210 and have built an entire frame and I am in the process of completing the body work. great little machine. I would also say look at getting the spool gun with this welder as a combo. They are a little more now but a lot cheap them buying separate.

Also don't be fooled by the auto set function. If you can weld you can set a machine up.
Yeah, I don't really want the Miller for the Autoset as much as the sort of legendary performance and quality. Around here a Miller 180 would sell used on Craigslist at or above the Cyberweld's $850 shipped price.

The Hobart 210 is rated 30% @ 150 amps (3/8" max) and the Miller 180 is rated 30% @ 135 amps (5/16" max). I'm not really sure that's an appreciable difference.
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I bought a Miller 211 last year and love it. The dual voltage is great for when you have to take it somewhere without 220. And if I ever need to upsize, I figure the blue paint will help sell it quickly and at a good price.

I shopped it online, and took the best price to the local dealer. They came within $50 of the online price, so I bought it there.
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Do you have any desires to want to TIG weld something at some point? If so take a look at the Thermal Arc 181i which is around $800 shipped online. TA just came out with the Thermal Arc 252i as well but it's closer to $2,000. These are nice inverter based machines. I have a 181i and it works really nice and I also have a Miller Passport, Miller 350P and a Dynasty 300DX Tigrunner so I've used a variety of machines. I was never impressed with Miller/Hobart's lower end machines. Inverter is where it's at.
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Old 12-29-2011, 11:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Do you have any desires to want to TIG weld something at some point? If so take a look at the Thermal Arc 181i which is around $800 shipped online. TA just came out with the Thermal Arc 252i as well but it's closer to $2,000. These are nice inverter based machines. I have a 181i and it works really nice and I also have a Miller Passport, Miller 350P and a Dynasty 300DX Tigrunner so I've used a variety of machines. I was never impressed with Miller/Hobart's lower end machines. Inverter is where it's at.
I'm definitely interested in it, but that welder is apparently a Thermal Arc branded version of the Everlast MTS 160 without a TIG torch included for $100 more.

But I'm certainly tempted at the idea of picking up something that useful for less than a Miller 180 mig welder by itself. Did you buy it from a local place or order it? Have you done both MIG and TIG with it?
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Old 12-29-2011, 11:40 AM   #13 (permalink)
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It does appear similar to the Everlast however the Fabricator 181i has an all metal wire feed assembly. I have only used it for MIG welding as I did not buy the TIG torch but for a few hundred more you can have the capability of doing both which can come in handy though I wouldn't want to TIG with it all the time due to the lack of a gas valve and lift start. It's also a very compact machine with a nice MIG gun. Just food for thought.

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Old 12-29-2011, 12:08 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I wouldn't want to TIG with it all the time due to the lack of a gas valve and lift start.
You can buy TIG torches with a gas valve on them. My gas solenoid needs to be replaced, but with the valve on the torch, not to big of an issue.

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Old 12-29-2011, 05:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Do you have any desires to want to TIG weld something at some point? If so take a look at the Thermal Arc 181i which is around $800 shipped online. TA just came out with the Thermal Arc 252i as well but it's closer to $2,000. These are nice inverter based machines. I have a 181i and it works really nice and I also have a Miller Passport, Miller 350P and a Dynasty 300DX Tigrunner so I've used a variety of machines. I was never impressed with Miller/Hobart's lower end machines. Inverter is where it's at.
If country of origin is an issue at all, I'm pretty sure the above equipment is Chinese...
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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If country of origin is an issue at all, I'm pretty sure the above equipment is Chinese...
You are correct. But then again I've had more made in USA equipment fail than made in China so go figure. It's not HF quality by any means - it's a nice machine. Look at the other welders I own - I'm not a cheap ass in regards of buying equipment.

The 252i is built in NH and not China. I was talking to Thermal Arc today about that machine because I may be purchasing two of them.

Last edited by unixadm; 12-29-2011 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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You are correct. But then again I've had more made in USA equipment fail than made in China so go figure. It's not HF quality by any means - it's a nice machine. Look at the other welders I own - I'm not a cheap ass in regards of buying equipment.

The 252i is built in NH and not China. I was talking to Thermal Arc today about that machine because I may be purchasing two of them.
Yeah, but I just can't stand seeing those words. Hecho en Mexico, and Made in China, etc. What kind of equipment you have fail?
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