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What MIG Welder should I get?

Are the cheap ones getting any better?

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Iain Downs17/12/2018 07:32:08
488 forum posts
377 photos

I'm entirely sure that this post will generate a good deal of opposing comments.

The main comment I expect to see is, 'buy a proper one - the cheap ones are s**t'.

Unfortunately, I can't afford a proper one, nor could my domestic supply manage without melting the wires.

Currently, I have a Clarke 115EN which I'm frankly not very good with. From my welding course I expect a MIG to be easier to use. My use will be varied and sporadic.

The two 'popular' cheap ones in my list are the Clarke 151EN (the Clarke 151TE I suspect is just the newer version but it's a lot more expensive) and the Sealey MightyMig 150.

Both these seem generally well regarded, but both have some detractors as well. I suspect professional welders sneer at all these machines, whereas the likes of me know no better.

What I'm interested in is the new crop of what I think are Chinese built machines. In the same way that we're mainly buying Chinese lathes - which are generally of decent quality - perhaps the Chinese MIG has come of age?

The ones I've looked at appear to have a higher technical specification with better electronics - not that I completely understand all the terms. My contenders are

Wolf MIG 140 Welder (very keen price, good reviews). Probably my top option at 150 quid.

Stahlwerk MIG MAG 135 (Looks impressive but web site and offer confusing - email response to questions prompt but from a definitely non-native speaker)

Rohr 3 in 1 (or MM *& TIG). Again specs look good, but I can't quite work out what you get from the web sites)

Andeli 200 TIG & MM / Andeli 5 in 1 200A. Hard to find reviews of this.

The last two (or 3) seem to offer a TIG/MMA/MIG option. The idea of TIG is nice, but I'm not sure that I'll get any value out of it.

So I'm going to duck now whilst 'buy European steel' grenades get thrown into my trench, but it would be interesting if any one had tried one of the new boys.

Iain

IanH17/12/2018 07:58:14
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60 forum posts
44 photos

So, I had a Clarke MIG machine for many years, and following some minor mods to the wire feed, had reasonable success. Recently I decided to upgrade, but did have some budget. I ended up with a Jasic machine which Is excellent and improved the consistency and reliability of my welding at a stroke.

My advice is buy the brand sold and supported by your nearby “proper” welding shop. You will get advice and support from people who know what they are doing, and know the kit. They will also support you should it go should go wrong, and because of this, should only sell you decent kit. My shop is Brookside welding in Macclesfield.

My MIG machine is close to the bench and it surprises me how often it gets used....

Ian

Chris Evans 617/12/2018 09:11:09
1450 forum posts

I have the Clarke 135 now around 15 or more years old. It's biggest failing is the operator I only use it on the odd occasion and have usually got to the end of the job before getting the "Feel" of it. A friend who welds for a living reckons the torch, be it MIG/TIG or Stick has to be part of you. Sporadic use is the downfall. One day I will buy a bottle of gas and sit in a corner until I can just pick it up and weld. But at 70 will I ever do that?

Dave Halford17/12/2018 10:37:40
439 forum posts
4 photos

Firstly you can run a 170A welder and weld 6mm steel on a 13A plug, nothing melts just don't go flat out.

Your welding course was no doubt done on a commercial machine so you already know the difference between budget and a proper one.

The first question you need to answer should be 'what is the smallest and largest gauge steel I will weld'.

Car bodies need a low end of 20A to 30A, is 2mm as thick as you want? A lot of Chinese welders will not go that low.

Do some reading on this https://www.mig-welding.co.uk/forum/ the learning section is quite good.

Edited By Dave Halford on 17/12/2018 10:39:04

XD 35117/12/2018 11:24:46
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1312 forum posts
111 photos

The only advice i can offer is to stay away from the low powered units - less than 150 amp as they are useless . I had a minimig 120 for years and it was good for light stuff like car panels but struggled with 3 mm stuff . I bought a Chinese made rossi - supposedly 200amp but i doubt it - but it works fine and runs 0.8 wire ok . I wouldn't buy one of those mig ,tig , stick units as I'm not a fan of multi use machines , the mig / stick units are ok but if you want tig save your money up and buy a good quality tig . I think you will find tha these cheap migs are a bit like minilathes , many made in the same factory just different looking housing ,

Pete White17/12/2018 12:22:49
53 forum posts
6 photos

I am wondering what your phrase "not very good with" means. As mentioned you really do get a better arc with more money spent, but does your unit do the job for you?

If you want more power have you thought of a stick welder, my weapon of choice when away from thin material. Tig is not the easiest of processes to master, which takes me back to my opening question.smiley. Don't forget you will need pure argon here, not cheap.

I longer have an argoshield bottle on account, mainly cos my minimal use is taken care of by the stick welder, but when needed I find co2 and my rattly box mig, does for me.

Having said that I have hung my nose over a small tig unit more than once..................anyone remember O/A welding, thought I had "arrived" when I got into that. lol

Neil Wyatt17/12/2018 12:33:52
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Moderator
16435 forum posts
685 photos
74 articles

I've got a Clarke 135, they are very popular with the car restoration fraternity as they are about as powerful as you can go with a 13A plug.

I took it over to show JS and it was rapidly clear that the main problem with it was my experience.

He got me practicing with his pro set, which was already set up and a doddle to use. After a bit of fiddling I could get perfectly acceptable results with the Clarke, although the pro gear he had certainly did make less demands on my (minimal) skills.

FWIW John was a big fan of Chinese inverter welders, and bear in mind they were a significant part of how he made a living..

It's certainly easier to mig weld than stick weld, but I still prefer sticks for quick and dirty jobs.

jaCK Hobson17/12/2018 12:36:26
164 forum posts
20 photos

If you are going to get a cheap Mig, get the Clarke. With Mig, the wire-feed is critical and the Clarke one works OK which is largely why they get recommended. Also, if you have machine mart near you then you can pop in and get all the spares. If you want easy welds, get proper welding gas (argon/CO2 mix) and make sure to prepare the weld properly - super clean.

But, your stick welder is probably going to give better penetration on thick steel - ie. stronger welds. And it isn't nearly as fussy about cleanliness of the material. If you can't get good results, check your power supply - if you are a long way from the house then you may be getting voltage drops.

Mig has real advantage for thin material like car body panels.

Tig requires another level of preparation and cleanliness.

I'm just hobby and own the cheapest stick and cheapest Clarke Mig you can get, but that means I'm familiar with the end of the market you are considering. Both of mine are probably 10+ year old and going fine.

I think that, at least at one time in history, the Clake Mig welders were made in Italy.

Edited By jaCK Hobson on 17/12/2018 12:47:00

Peter Sansom17/12/2018 12:58:14
58 forum posts
2 photos

Look at the Duty Cycle, higher amperage welders usually have a better Duty Cycle.

Also look at the torch. If it has a Euro fitting you can easily replace the torch assembly. I upgraded my old MIG because the liner needed to be replaced and you could not purchase a replacement. the replacement MIG has a Euro fitting Binzel style torch, this means replacement liners are available,

Aeronut17/12/2018 13:27:48
18 forum posts
39 photos

Hi Iain, I've had a Clarke 145 turbo for almost a year and I'm very happy with it. Firstly regarding duty cycle, according to the blurb mine has a higher duty cycle than the 151EN weird or what. Why they call it a 145 when it goes from 35 to 135 amps who knows it could all be a marketing thing. Liners are easily available even tho its not a euro torch. I've even welded an aluminium model engine exhaust using 5356 mig wire and no I didnt change the liner it didn't leak this was a non critical application. The clarke was bought on a vat free voucher so cost just over £160. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one. The main problem with any hobby migs seems to be wire feed, you sometimes just have to waste a couple of feet. All the small reels of mig wire seem to be layer wound whereas you can get 5kg reels precision wound. I personally buy all my mig wire, welding rods and mig tips from a local welding supplier and they work out much cheaper than Machine Mart, Screwfix and Tool station etc. My local welding supplier has ebay accounts as well with free postage, wecsltd and tawltd, arcriteweldingsafetyltd been another I use. I've no association with these other than a happy customer. Feel free to message me with any queries.

Regards Lee

Gray17/12/2018 13:38:45
999 forum posts
8 photos

Iain, you mentioned Stahlwerk, I have owned a Stahlwerk Tig/Plasma/MMA set for a few years now and it performs admirably. I would hazzard a guess that their MIG sets are just as good although, I would suggest looking at a model above the 135 as that does not have a euro connector torch.

For MIG, I use a R-Tech MIG160. I don't think they do these now and their MIG180 may well be out of your budget but they are darn good, never let me down.

Both companies have given excellent after sales service.

john fletcher 117/12/2018 16:00:44
524 forum posts

I recently bought a BOC 150 mig welder,(pro owned as the car salesman said) which I think is bit long in the tooth, been busy with other things so not got around to using it. If a reader has any experience of these BOC150 I would like to hear from them. Also I would appreciate any ones experience or can recommend Budget/home workshop priced welding helmet. John.

Stuw18/12/2018 12:59:00
6 forum posts

I’ve been a welder all my working life and still weld in my retirement, I have one of these from machine mart, a Clarke 130 mig set, it is permanently set up for welding aluminium, Teflon liner, smooth Rollers pure argon gas, it is very good, I fix old motorcycle castings, weld anything aluminium with it, and it hasn’t failed in 18 years, here’s a few tips, make sure the parts are clean that need to be welded immediately before welding, grind or wire brush down to bare metal, always do a test weld on some scrap to get the machine singing your tune, pre heat if you can, but not essential, practice if your not a welder, it’s not difficult, use the correct shade in the welding screen, you have to see what’s happening, clean the lenses before you start welding check for a spattered lense, change a badly spattered one, I use shade 9 upto 120 amps.good luck !!!

I have several welders and have just bought one from JTF a small inverter TIG set for £70 online shop, itcame with a 140 amp inverter, and a TIG torch with spares, it can be used for stick welding (MMA) and it will burn special electrodes like inconel or dissimilar alloys, also low hydrogen E7018 electrodes it weighs just 7 kilo, plug into 3 pin 240 volt, you don’t need to pay a lot for hobby machines, only if you intend to work the thing in a business day and night, or if your the kind who must have the best, that’s another story. Stuw

charadam18/12/2018 14:02:26
179 forum posts
6 photos

Just seconding the comment above about RTech. The kit is excellent and the after-sales service second-to-none.


Pete White18/12/2018 14:13:56
53 forum posts
6 photos
Posted by Stuw on 18/12/2018 12:59:00:

you have to see what’s happening, clean the lenses before you start welding check for a spattered lense, change a badly pattered one, I use shade 9 upto 120 amps.good luck !!!

 

 

Not an ali welder myself, all good info, especially the bit above. I nearly gave up welding because a I was having trouble seeing  properly. New lens cured my eyesight, told two of my mates and they were able to see the light. lol

Thanks Stu

Edited By Pete White on 18/12/2018 14:16:25

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