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With Father's Day right around the corner and some deals going on, I am thinking it may be time to pull the trigger on a new welding machine. I am strongly looking at the Hobart Ironman 230 with a spool gun for aluminum. I don't know how much I would use the spool gun, or if a tig machine would better serve my purpose. The reason for the purchase is that I am at a cross roads. I have 2 M416 trailers and I need to make a lid for one of them, or have a shop do it. I am not sure weather to build the lid out of steel or aluminum, or just start from scratch and build my own trailer. Should I just stick to steel? Or learn to MIG or TIG aluminum? So, to my question. For those of you who are experienced at welding. Which welder would you recommend? My budget is under $2,000.

P.S. I can weld mild steel with stick or MIG. Have not done much TIG.
 

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I am no expert as far as welding goes, but I just purchased this welder from Amazon. I got to use it on some scrap metal last weekend and it seemed to work fine. I based my purchase on the use its going to get by me and the fact it came with the spool gun for aluminum. The price was the main factor of course but it had very good reviews for that price.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QMXEIMK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

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I have an Eastwood high frequency TIG 200 Amp I think, I really haven't used it yet but it has great reviews.

In case you don't want to go high frequency you could simply purchase the TIG rig for a regular welder and use it as a scratch TIG welder without the foot pedal, take a look at YouTube and you'll see what I'm talking about. I can buy that setup for about $200-$250 and all you need is shield gas to go with it and Shazam you have a TIG rig without the need for a $1500-$2000 machine. Btw you can still use your stick welder as a stick welder no problem.

Just something to ponder, good luck in the hunt. @Red Crow

Hey as an aside you can get the Eastwood TIG and high powered plasma cutter for about $1500 if you want to have a look. I can attest to the strength of the plasma, cuts through 1/2" steel like butter.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I looked hard at the ESAB unit, multipurpose, MIG/TIG etc...

ESAB Rebel EMS 215ic MIG/Stick Package 0558102239
I like the specs on that machine. Great price too. I am looking at the Hobart Ironman 230 with the spool gun for aluminum. Northern Tool has it on sale for $1,800, plus they will give you a $200 gift card, or without for $1,400 locally.

Even though I learned to stick weld on pipe, I don't currently own one. Thanks for all your advice.:clap:
 

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Take a look at a Lincoln SQUARE WAVE® TIG 200 TIG WELDER around $1300. You can weld AC/DC, stick, Tig and includes High Freq. for welding aluminum.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Take a look at a Lincoln SQUARE WAVE® TIG 200 TIG WELDER around $1300. You can weld AC/DC, stick, Tig and includes High Freq. for welding aluminum.
I can't seem to find it on Lincoln's website. Is the Invertec 160V comparable?
 

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Take a look at the Duty Cycle on these machines before you buy them, the ESAB for example only has a 20% Duty Cycle at 130 Amps, that's terrible for an expensive machine.
(means you can only use it 20% of the time or 12 mins out of every 1 Hr, the rest of the time it has to cool down)

12 mins actual welding for each 1 hr is quite a long time but just be aware of it if you intend to use these machines on big projects.
 

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You get what you pay for. If you want 100 percent duty cycle and are going to be welding 1/4" or thicker aluminum for periods of time you will need a water cooled tig-rig and a lot bigger welder for alot more money. For home use and automotive repairs these machines in the 1500 to 2000 dollar range are fine and will weld anything you need.
 

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I used a lincoln 125 to build my m416 trailer and lid. Its not a large welder. I wouldn't even cakl it a medium sized. But Its versatile enough to, get most projects done. It never failed on me.
 

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Those are pretty good for the money. Those are list prices so you can usually find at least 10% off. The AC functions are pretty sweet. If you learn how to TIG, then you'll TIG everything. You can also stick with them too.
 

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Thanks guys. I ended up getting a Millermatic 211. Never welded with one, but it got good reviews and 2 guy at work have them and really like them as well.
This should do you well, for most hobby reasons most people never need to get a mulitiprocess welder. Mig/Fluxcore should do you fine, the only time I have used stick on mine was when I needed to take the welder with me and I didn't want to take bottles, but even if you get the right Fluxcore you can ditch the bottles.
 

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I'll be honest if you want precision for aluminum go TIG, there really is no substitute. That being said you can MIG Aluminum quick and dirty but it wont be as precise and you'll probably burn through a lot if you don't have a lot of experience. I don't know if you've ever welded aluminum before but as soon as aluminum is exposed to air it starts to form an oxide layer on the surface, this is a problem because the oxide layer melts at about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit the aluminum under it melts at about 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit so if you don't remove it you'll have a contaminated weld which leads to cracking and bad weld quality. Theres a simple fix though right before you weld use a solvent (rubbing alcohol or acetone) to remove the oxide layer with a clean piece of cloth, the solvent will cut through the oxide and remove it leaving a mirror clean aluminum surface under it, the solvent will also evaporate within seconds leaving a non flammable surface. The short version is Aluminum welding with TIG or MIG is a skilled welding job if you don't have experience with it I wouldn't recommend fabricating with it for a first time project. I would recommend you stick to mild steel and MIG or have a shop do the fabrication if you aren't a skilled welder. Ive had good experience with both Lincoln and Miller I prefer Lincoln personally for ease of use but again there really is no substitute for practice. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a msg. Good luck!
 
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