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fordfasterr 01-25-08 12:56 PM

best mig welder under $ 300 ?
I was looking to find a decent mig welder for under $ 300.

I need something that can weld bicycle frames for custom projects such as tall bikes and cargo bikes.

Last weekend I borrowed a mig welder from a friend of a friend, and it plugged into a regular outlet in my shed, another friend of mine did the welding on the frame and it seemed to penetrate the seat post and bottom bracket with ease. There was no gas used, and I don't know if the wire was flux core or just regular plain steel wire...

From my recollection, the settings on the maching were quite low, I don't recall the brand or any of the specs and I've already returned it witout much hope of getting more info about it...

I was looking at Amazon's mig welder products and I don't know which one I will need to do these projets... I see 110-120v units from 70amp all the way to 135 amps ...

Which one should I get ?

fordfasterr 01-25-08 02:35 PM

Update, I did some searching and I think I found the exact welder that I borrowed..

Lincoln Electric Weld Pack HD Feed Welder

Model K2188-1

$249.00/EA Each

Welds up to 1/8 In. steel
Output range: 35-88 Amps DC
1-year warranty
Complete kit. Start welding immediately!
MFG Brand Name : Lincoln Electric
MFG Model # : K2188-1
MFG Part # : K2188-1

NoReg 01-27-08 08:18 PM

The guy who does the tallbikes etc... Brad welds most everything with DC stick, and 3/32 rods. he came first in his class in welding, and can do some zanny stuff with his gear. He was featured in Maxim on one of his bikes. MIG without gas is probably not a better investment than a stick machine. And these days there are inverters that can be upgraded into TIG for that kind of price or around 500. It's all still inadequate for bike work, mostly but the materials used in tallbikes may be mild steel. If I had a hard budget but would pay the absolute minimum to do serious work with the least regrets, i would go gas welding. Maybe a propane unit off the tinmantech site. You can weld the tubes, You can braze, and you can do lugs. The torch is cheap, but you need other stuff also. I think it is still the best option.

sailorbenjamin 03-25-08 12:16 PM

That looks about like the welder that I bought a couple of years ago to do up the floorboards in this old dead car I had.
Mine didn't come with the gas set up but can be retrofitted if I ever have the need/money. they had a cheaper unit that wasn't upgradable and a more expensive one that already had the upgrade.
I'm pretty happy with it.

CAAD5AL 04-09-08 04:04 AM

I use basically the big brother to that one, the Lincoln SP-135 for about a million things and have had great luck with it. Of course Hobart and Miller also make high quality small units as well, but they're all going to exceed your goal of $300. I'd probably steer clear of a stick welder, even flux-core "MIG" (sort of a misnomer without the gas) is going to give you vastly better welds starting out.

Hillsy 04-09-08 04:43 AM

MIG is the go if you're starting out learning how to weld. I've got a gasless MIG that I use for my frames and it welds fine (as long as you don't mind a bit of splatter). Stick welders are just a PITA to use compared to a MIG.

If you end up getting a MIG - make sure the wire feed rollers are NOT plastic. Some of the cheaper (read Chinese built) ones have plastic rollers / tensioners which will break (or at the very least, will slip and give you inconsistent wire speed).

Now go have some fun! :D

NoReg 04-09-08 07:10 PM

Not really true. MIG gives a false impresion of the quality of the welds you get for beginers. They look good but serious welders will tell you looks can be deceiving. Of the various types, each controls some feature for you and makes that aspect easier. MIG feeds the wire automatically, TIG allows you to have pure control over the arc, Stick is about a middle course you have arc and feed mixed together, but manual and dail control to some extent.

Remember this question isn't about MIG VS stick, which in the real world would be penetration Vs. productivity. It's about a flux core sub 300 bucks MIG vs a goodish most features stick. That's the deal here, stick is cheaper you just get more at this price point. You do need to be able to stop sucking your tumb welding wise.

gregam 04-09-08 07:21 PM

Have you considered braising? I used to do welding and write weld procedures for the aerospace industry and also did welding for the local race car nuts. I found that a good gas welding rig with an inline fluxer produced some of the best welds arround. Great penitration and they looked like a TIG weld.

fordfasterr 04-09-08 07:30 PM

Thanks for the updates.

I have used this welder on a few other projects and so far so good.

It has worked for me, and I have learned some basics of welding.

My next big project is to fab a trailer hitch on my sportster to tow my track bike to the velodrome. =) I will also use it to tow my road bike to the sunday rides that are a ways out !

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