Harbor Freight Mig welder

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by Nomad, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad New Member

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    I bought a Chicago Electric 90 amp Mig welder from Harbor Freight a few weeks ago, haven't opened the box yet though. Has anyone had any experience with this welder?... I don't have the "dough" for a quality unit like a Hobart, I am a novice at welding, but did some electric arc welding when I was much younger. Just wondering if this unit is any good at all or will it self destruct.... input appreciated
     
  2. jerseykat1

    jerseykat1 New Member

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    why haven't you used it yet? are you planning on returning it based on the opinions of other members? i have a gasless lincoln mig welder that works pretty good.
     
  3. Nomad

    Nomad New Member

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    Haven't gotten around to using it yet, not specifically relying on the opinions of others, but if 10 people posted that they thought it was pretty much not worth the price,and didn't work very well, I would consider returning it. Under those same criteria wouldn't you? I know a Lincoln welder is a quality item how much do they cost..?
     
  4. jerseykat1

    jerseykat1 New Member

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    it was 269 at home depot. i guess the only way to know for sure if you have a lemon is to try it out.
     
  5. eDJ

    eDJ New Member

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    I've looked at that unit myself. One of my neighbors has a Lincoln buzz box that
    uses sticks to weld with. He was at a buddy of his recently and saw the one he had that was gas-less and was quite impressed with the size and ease of use.

    I'd suggest you unpack it and start doing a bit of reading. If you know anyone who can weld get them to stop by and show you how to do some stuff with it.
    Harbour has bunches of feed wire for those and it ought to do any bike project
    you'd want.

    When I borrow my neighbor's Lincoln....I gotta wheel it over here on a dolly and take the window screen out of the laundry room so I can plug it into the
    240 the dryer runs on. I have friends who work around shops where they weld who bring me a few sticks at a time from work. I now have a collection of various grades or rod (sticks). But having a unit like you got would be fine.
    Just have some protective gloves, mask, and welders jacket to keep the UV radiation from sun burning you.
     
  6. Nomad

    Nomad New Member

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    eDJ, thanks for the info.. the unit comes with a welder's mask, good advice on the jacket, I remember the little burn marks I'd get on the heavy leather welder's jacket years ago....
     
  7. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    If I may...the gasless welders are okay if you're welding fence posts or tractor parts in the field but if you're looking for a nice clean weld with minimul splatter and fumes go for the gas. I use c-25 mix which is Argon / CO2 and can weld anything from very thin sheetmetal to 1/4" plate. There are several good welders available, Miller, Lincoln, Hobart etc. but I'd stay away from the very cheap ones made in China. They're hard to get accesories and parts for and welder repair shops usually won't touch them if you need it worked on. I have a twelve year old Hobart 110v machine along with a high frequency Tig unit. I use the wirefeed ten to one over the tig just because it's so handy and forgiving. The advice from another member to have a welder/friend come and give you some basic instruction is good advice. Wirefeed (mig) welding is easy for most people to master after just a little time. Practice, practice, practice will assure your welds are safe and attractive. Good luck and easy ridin'
     
  8. TwoWalks

    TwoWalks New Member

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    I have researched for a mig welder for awhile now. The small gas-less Chicago gets some pretty mixed reviews.

    People that weld for a profession, hate it. Makes sense.
    casual users seem not to agree about 50/50. About half of them say it works fine if used for small projects (bikes would be a small project) and the other half say it only works for a couple runs or not at all. The biggest problem that I have heard is the wire feed. When they say it works, they say it does not feed smoothly. The ones that hate it, say it does not feed at all.

    For my own self, I decided to wait until I can afford something in a higher price range. Gas welding might be a better choice but not sure about that.
     
  9. Biker Mike

    Biker Mike New Member

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    I have had the Harbor Freight Mig ($99.00 special)welder and the Wal-Mart $149.00 unit. The one from Wal-Mart is by far the better performing one. Less wire feed problems but both work and will do the job for a beginner. For the money I would use it and learn a new skill. If your not happy with it they are very easy to re-sell. Have fun...(^)
     
  10. jerseykat1

    jerseykat1 New Member

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    2 door is correct the gas welders are the better choice and will give you a better cleaner weld. i have a bit more experience doing car exhaust systems with a heavy duty argon gas lincoln welder. The difference is very noticeable in the way the welds look. But for in home use i think the lincoln gas less that i have is pretty good. If i keep the area that i am welding really clean i can get a pretty good looking weld with the correct settings. You just have to practice, gas less is not as forgiving when it comes to how well it sticks and how pretty it looks. But it can certainly get your project finished. While i cant comment on using a cheap welder because i have only experience with Lincoln and Hobart (hobart 1 or 2 times) welders, but typically you tend to get what you pay for, unless its a really high end used model lol.

    ...off topic stuff below...
    I am considering the purchase of an arc welder. I have not used one before but i am thinking it might give me better control or am i wrong. i wonder if i can return it to home depot if i don't like it.

    anyone ever use a mig welder to do aluminum i noticed they have aluminum wire feed available.
     
  11. jerseykat1

    jerseykat1 New Member

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    if you buy it from Walmart you can easily return it.
     
  12. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    Jersey,
    Is there a reason you want a stick welder? They're great for big, heavy work but for home or hobby welding a good mig machine will do everything you need. I have one but it has not been used in years and I've built four cars with my current wire feed and tig units. About control, you need far less practice to be good at wirefeed than stick. As for aluminum welding, plan on lots of practice. I can do aluminum but if I haven't done it for a while its like starting over again. It takes a lot of patients to master and you need the right equipment. The aluminum wire doesn't feed well through a metal sleeve and you need a plastic or teflon liner. The gas is different too; you use argon for aluminum whereas you should use a mix for ferrous metals. I've been welding for quite a while, not professionally but I've done enough that I can comment here with confidence. Get a good quality mig with a tank and flow control, either a guage or manometer type to control the gas and practice on scrap metal. I've known guys who have become quite good mig welders in a very short time. Good luck and easy ridin'
     
  13. jerseykat1

    jerseykat1 New Member

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    ok thanks. i was under the impression that an arc welder would give me good control. i guess i should just invest in a really good mig welder with gas, as that is what i am used to using anyhow. i was pretty good with it, and your right it's pretty easy to get the hang of if you have a quality unit that uses gas.

    as for welding aluminum, would i just need a new feed sleeve? and it will feed without problems or is there a special mig unit all together that i would need to weld aluminum. you see the problem is most of the bikes nowadays are made of aluminum, so i need to learn how to weld aluminum in order to do some projects that i have in mind.
     
  14. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    Jersey,
    Most any of the better quality machines will run aluminum wire. Ask before you buy. Check out your local welding supply stores instead of the big box, Home Depot, Walmart etc. You'll get better customer support and they occasionally have sales just like the retail outlets. Some of them only sell wholesale but they're the exception. Most any large city will have several welding supply places and the guys / gals who work there generally know their stuff. Good luck, easy ridin'.
     
  15. Dave31

    Dave31 Moderator
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    Was having trouble with my HF Mig-100 that I have had for several years. As soon as I would turn it on the wire would feed.

    Took the trigger apart and found this...
     

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  16. Venice Motor Bikes

    Venice Motor Bikes Custom Builder / Dealer/Los Angeles

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    That could be a problem! :rolleyes: Lucky it's easy to fix!


    I have one of these little MIG weders... I use it for everything!!!
    Once you learn proper welding techniques & little tricks of the trade; there's almost nothing it can't do! (^)
     
    #16 Venice Motor Bikes, Mar 13, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011
  17. dmb

    dmb Active Member

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    gas wire feed works great. nice and clean parts no wind. intersheild[no gas] works good but you need clean parts[no paint ect.] but theirs flux in the wire so theirs splatter but if your building fences out side it works great. problems with the chineeze stuff is the wheel that pushes the wire through starts slipping and you end up with a welder that wont work that you cant get a part for or you end up with a wire burnt up in the gun/hose.. a nice dc arc welder will burn through thick oiley painted dirty t-1 steel and thats what you see on underground pipes dozers ships bridges ect. use it for your light stuff and have fun, practice and keep an eye on that wheel and dont tighten it too much good luck! dennis
     
  18. ruppster

    ruppster New Member

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    flux core is nearly worthless for thin sheet metal. I had a cheapo wire feed welder someone gave me and it was nothing but trouble. The wire feed speed had a mind of it's own and I never couldn't get any parts for it so I tossed it. I can't think of anything I could use one for in bike building except for a frame weld if I had no other choice. We have a Lincoln 100 at work and even that has limited uses. My friend has a Lincoln 125 with gas and it's night and day. If you have to have a welder a co worker of mine bought a cambell hausfield at wal-mart that he says works good and I think it might even have gas capability. If you do get a wire feed /mig unit make sure the gauges and regulators come with it. I personally stay clear of anything from harbour frieght. Just my opinion for what it's worth which probably isn't much.
     
  19. ferball

    ferball New Member

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    I just got to using my HF Cheapo mig welder $109 delivered. It worked great for the few pieces I practiced on. Lots of spatter and ugly welds (ugliness was mostly operator induced) but some people weld pretty, the rest of us grind. I love my little unit, but it has to be said that I was the guy that started the post about building your own welder, and after fighting with my home made machine, that HF Cheapo works like a dream. Never having used the quality Hobarts or Lincolns I figure it is kinda like drug use if I never try it I will never know what I am missing so I will be happy with what I got.
     
  20. Ted

    Ted New Member

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    :You can go to a weld supplier and get anti-splatter spray, makes the dingle berries roll of for the most part, welding Alum is touchy, you have to know what your doing because it melts in a heart beat and you can blow a good size hole real easy.
     

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