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welders? on topic?

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  • welders? on topic?

    i guess this is a good place to start...has any one used or have any imput on the 3 in 1 welders?...they have a plasma cutter,tig,and stick combo. engine is finished for the 59 now it`s on to the (cringe) sub frame or what is left of it. I feel a plasma cutter would be a great benifit in sectioning the sub frame and cutting new plates plus cutting out the floor boards for replacement..also the tig would be the cats meow for welding both frame and floor...hold on before the nay sayers say only professional should do any frame work..i am qulified from Lincon welding school. i say qulified but not certified. no pipe lol. the units i`m looking at(EBay) are 3 to $400.00- 50 amps 120/220 volt. i already have a 225 amp buzz box and a mig welder but hey we guys need new toys in the shop...right? these are chinese units i can`t really see over a $1,000.00 up for one of the big 3 any one have one or any imput?..thanks Sid

  • #2
    A couple of things I have experienced working in a machine shop and in rebuilding salvage wrecks in my home shop.

    1-you get what you pay for
    2-low cost combo units are lacking in features - but may be OK in some cases. Yes they can do everything claimed but none of them well. Better to buy used quality dedicated units IMO
    3-a skilled welder can usually make the low cost units work but not easy for the occasional user
    4-I have a plasma cutter - they leave the cut edges too rough for automotive work. I preferred to always use cut off wheels or saws for more precise straight cuts. Sectioning or "Z"ing a frame would require precision.
    5-I also have a Miller MIG and a Lincoln TIG. Seldom ever use the MIG as a good TIG gives better control for automotive restoration whereas the MIG better suited for fabrication work
    6-a person either learns to weld or learns to grind
    7-you get what you pay for. Name brands will have consumables and repair parts available, but will the chineeze unit??


    • #3
      All good thoughts and ideas, gentlemen. It comes to mind that frame members were stick welded on a trunion line by WOMEN. I worked in Dearborn Frame Plant and I'm talking about Mustang (Fox body), SN-95 front ends and full-size frames that were done in sub-assemblies then joined in fixtures with side rails to produce Taxi, Police, station wagon and full size Ford frames. Squarebird sub-frames were done in a similar fashion as the Fox and SN95.

      Ford production welders were never certified but they welded all day long, 'from ding to ding', the same parts many hundreds of times. The equipment used were single phase AC 'cracker box welders', powered with 460V and water cooled. 'Production' cranked the heat up as far as possible. In one hand, a welder held a coated electrode in a Jackson holder and in the other was bare filler rod. The smoke produced was tremendous but so were the exhaust systems.

      We used .045" innershield MIG to weld frame rail halves while they were clamped in a press.

      The front structure components, with #2 cross member, was stick welded in a carousel of fixtures that included the torque boxes, all the outriggers and engine mount and suspension brackets. After the front structure was welded, the suspension holes were pierced in a fixture with hydraulics for positive and consistent location.

      The rear structure with the rear seat support and rear side rails was also stick welded in a carousel, then trailing arm brackets were pierced. Then, front and rear sub-assemblies were stick welded to side rails in fixtures and finished in a trunion line (you guys call it a rotisserie).

      The whole process was fascinating to watch, starting with coils of steel and ending with electro-coated frames, stacked on long railroad cars.

      My point is, restoration work is totally different with the equipment you use and the skill levels involved. The end product is different as well. Yours is all custom work. - Dave
      My latest project:
      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
      --Lee Iacocca


      • #4
        I have Lincoln 155 for 30 years still works great.
        Bought a monster linc 255 for over 1/4 inch work on
        suspension links and frames for my offroad rigs.
        Have a new miller 211 with spool gun, mig for aluminum,
        also works great (but I'm not very good at it so far).

        Also bought a small chinese plasma. It works decent, but
        it EATS consumables. Luckily, I don't use it that much
        anymore, as I don't part out cars/trucks like I used to.

        I doubt I will buy a non brand name anything again,
        in that price range. The money you save up front,
        you pay for (sometimes just in aggravation) on the
        back end.

        If you do buy no name stuff, make sure you get extra things,
        like a wand/cutting torch and wire leads to it now, as 5
        years form now, you won't be able to.


        • #5
          I like your choices and your suggestions, Henry. When I go to Harbor Freight I don't ever look at the welding section for the same cautions you pointed out. Wait a minute, I lied. I bought soapstone there once.

          I was surprised by the brands Ford buys for production. For MIG, they use ESAB with mostly Tweco consumables.

          Remember all the women, stick welding? They used rod holders with jaws that were non-insulated, specially sold that way from Jackson Products. The Frame Plant bought them by the case because they got beat up by high amps at 100% duty cycle and physical abuse. The 200-strand weld wire would typically fray at the point of attachment from flexing but they ran them until the handle burned off. The plant had 100 of them going at all times.

          Each welder had a back-up stinger so production was never interrupted by the Electrician, changing handles. Good stingers were hung up by the handle. Burned-off stingers had no handle so they were laying on the floor and very obvious.

          Back in the 1970s, I bought a 230-amp Craftsman AC welder. Remember 'Thrifty Monday'? I bought all my Craftsman tools on Mondays. I still use that welder for heavy jobs. I either use 6013 or stainless rod in that welder.

          For most of my welding, I use a Lincoln SP-170T MIG welder that I bought new in the 1990s. For consumables, I use Tweco and Lincoln products (mainly from in Chicago).

          MIG Welding aluminum:
          I learned a 'trick' from some of the old timers. In preparation, hey use positive polarity (DC+), 100% Argon gas and they pre-heat with propane.

          Instead of spool guns, they use stiffer aluminum wire (like Lincoln ER5356) in .030" diameter. Then, they kick up the tip size to .035". This requires no special spool gun and the stiffer-thicker wire won't produce 'bird-nesting' at the drive wheels. It produces beautiful results and saves money. I'm all about saving money. - Dave
          My latest project:
          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
          --Lee Iacocca