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JohnD1956

How to judge for a "good" used welder

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As a novice regarding welders, what attributes should be looked for in a used welder?  What would make one better than the next one?  It seems to me that folks would generally keep a good one and likely only sell one they didn't like.  So how would a novice know if the one they are looking at is any good?

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Most important question: What kind of welder?

 

Brand names always better than the off-brands (of which there are many) but that doesn't mean they're bad. I'll assume you're looking at a MIG, which is a great choice for a hobbyist and a novice. Make sure that the wire moves easily through the cable and torch and that the regulator flows properly. If possible, run a few test beads at all settings to evaluate whether it's working properly--some Chinese brands have little more than ON and OFF settings even though it looks like they have more. If possible, do a few passes on whatever material you plan to weld, especially if it's sheet metal. I would not even consider a flux-core welder; get one that uses shielding gas for best results.

 

Whatever brand you might be considering, look at replacement parts availability. Things like the cable sheath, torch, and wire feed/motor may all need to be replaced at some point so you should know whether you can get those parts easily or if they're obsolete or only sold in Zimbabwe.

 

Also consider the power of the welder. There are plenty of 120V units that work on household current, and most of the well-known manufacturers make both small and medium versions--get the medium if possible. It will handle thicker material and lay down better welds with more precision because it will be using less of its potential. Easier to make a big welder do light work than to make a little welder do heavy work.

 

My advice is always to buy the best tool you can possibly afford. A used Miller or Lincoln Electric welder will cost a bit more, but it will serve you well for many years, offer great parts and technical support, and be easier to work with as a novice compared to an inexpensive used flux core metal-sticker-togetherer from Xuixong Industries.

 

Show us some potentials and maybe we can offer tips. I love welding!

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Thanks Matt. I haven't started to look yet. Just trying to figure out what to look for. Bead consistency is likely very important. But I imagine a novice welder doesn't have enough experience to know if the weld is marginal or was it just their own skills that resulted in a bad bead.

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1 hour ago, JohnD1956 said:

It seems to me that folks would generally keep a good one and likely only sell one they didn't like

 

The less I like something the more I charge because I know I will hear some whining, just in case you are using price as a comparison. I wouldn't trust anyone over 60 anyway. But I might take advantage of a young guy.

 

I bought a Hobart Handler MIG from Northern tools, good brand, good price.

 

Bernie

 

 

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I agree with what Matt says.  Besides Miller & Lincoln, I would add Hobart.  I have a Hobart MIG welder that will run on both 120 & 240 volts. So far I have been happy with it and it works well.  I bought mine at Tractor Supply.

 

The MOST IMPORTANT statement made by Matt is be sure you buy a welder that you can get parts for. If not, the welder will only be as good as the first part to wear out.  The three brand names stated in this discussion should have parts availability for the long future. 

 

All other non name brand welders, ???

 

Just IMO

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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I have a Lincoln which can use gas or flux core wire.  I like it, though I haven't used it heavily (yet).  If body repair is the principal job, then output power control is important.  In that case, I'd worry less about 'laying a nice bead', since welding sheetmetal involves hopping around and around the piece essentially placing a 'bead' of individual spot welds.  Trying to form a bead on body panels will overheat the area and distort both the patch and the panel being repaired.

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I purchased a used Lincoln 180 mig welder (with some random tips, an small empty exchange tank, and half a spool of wire) for $300 off craigslist and used it extensively for my restoration project.  It appeared dirty and well used, but I had the seller show me that it worked after making sure he seemed like a decent person-someone who actually welds and not someone who stole it or otherwise knew nothing about welders.  Lincoln has a good name.  It was priced appropriately based on the others I found.  All in all, a very good purchase.  I added the cart that Harbor Freight sells.  I refilled the tank at Tractor Supply 5-6 times total at about $25 each time and used 2 big spools of wire on the project.  We patched a ton of sheet metal.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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