Low cost arc welders?

  1. Onions Member

    Messages:
    7
    North East England
    Hello all!
    I am the sort of person that can't just buy something without wondering how to make my own version. Lots of things that I was wanting to make require welding though - something that has appealed to me before.
    Plenty of research narrowed the choice down to either a SMAW or MIG welder; a quick look at the price of the welders on offer quickly made me go for an arc welder. Being short of money, I was wanting a welder under £70; I would prefer a MIG welder, but they are all out of my price range. New or second hand, I don't mind. What matters is that it works, and I can learn to weld with it. I was looking at a 45A-100A arc welder, but I don't know whether it would be up to much.
    The welder is shown here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-...PXHE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717132&sr=8-1 What thickness of metal could it weld, what types of metal, what electrodes would be good for this particular machine and would it blast holes in thinner pieces of metal?
     
  2. cumbriasteve

    cumbriasteve Moderator

    Messages:
    9,660
    Location:
    Cumbria UK
    Welcome to the forum

    That is the type of welder many of us started with, it has limitations but it will work and will certainly weld items for you.

    You would do better getting a 140 amp machine, you should be able to find one for the same price and even cheaper second hand.

    Buy some decent rods and not the cheap ones from Screwfix and Machine Mart etc

    Yes it will blow massive holes in thin steel, especially when you are learning and even when you aquire some skill it won't really be suitable for car work.

    It is still a good introduction to welding, just be prepared to practice and take your time.
     
  3. Onions Member

    Messages:
    7
    North East England
  4. cumbriasteve

    cumbriasteve Moderator

    Messages:
    9,660
    Location:
    Cumbria UK
    Ideally you want one that states it is turbo fanned, simply means it has a cooling fan in it to extend the weld period before the thermal cut out shuts it down for 10 mins.

    A fan can be added easily by anyone with a bit of leccy knowledge and are cheap to get, would ruin yor warranty on a new machine though

    For rods you could try weldequip at the top of the page, he only sells decent quality stuff.

    If you are not doing car body then 40 to 50 amps min current is ok, your most commonly used power would be from about 70 amps upwards depending on rod size

    You could also try a wanted ad on the forum, I sold a scruffy but excellent working 140 amp for £25, thats the price they tend to fetch
     
  5. cumbriasteve

    cumbriasteve Moderator

    Messages:
    9,660
    Location:
    Cumbria UK
    Missed the Draper rods link, never used them but they look like poor quality rods to me, you want 6013 rods really
     
  6. oddbob

    oddbob Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    436
    Location:
    East Midlands
    It's only low amps, but Lidl are selling a stick welder for £35 at the moment ...if they haven't sold out yet that is. Their Parkside tools are better than the average cheapies as well (in my experience).
     
  7. rich r

    rich r Member

    Messages:
    635
    North Yorkshire
    The Lidl one is a bit weedy, but it'll run 2.5mm rods nicely.

    The 160A one Aldi started doing at the end of last year (now they're not being supplied by Omega Wolf) for £35 is actually not bad at all. It's got a powerful fan, so duty cycle is good (I ran four 2.5mm rods in succession at the weekend without getting close to the thermal cutout tripping). It'll just about go down to 1.6mm rods, and will do 4mm rods if you wire up a 16A (or ideally 32A) supply. However - Aldi only have them in for a week every 6 months or so.

    Otherwise, I'd look at second hand - you shouldn't need to spend more than £50 on a 150A buzzbox with a fan.

    Learn on 2.5mm or 3.2mm rods, with 6mm steel and you'll pick it up. Realistically you won't be able to weld anything thinner than 2mm with SMAW unless you're very good. Watch this video from 1988 - it's by far the best introduction I've seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWdgEaXWDxQ
     
  8. BillJ Member

    Messages:
    645
    Devon
    Another vote for the Aldi 160A welder. I have run up to 3.2mm rods on mine but I suspect you couldn't do many of those in a row. I actually prefer it to my DC inverter for stick welding. It would be useless for production work but for hobby work it is fine.

    The rods that come with it really are rubbish. Best to chuck them straight away and buy decent ones with the money saved on the welder. It works fine with decent quality rods.
     
  9. rich r

    rich r Member

    Messages:
    635
    North Yorkshire
    I found the rods that I bought from Aldi last December to be perfectly usable. The 1.6 and 2.0mm ones are a bit harder to use than the 2.5, 3.2 and 4.0mm ones, but I was putting that down to my inexperience. I tried some SIFtrodes and they were a bit nicer, but not massively different. Aldi have changed suppliers since Omega Wolf went bust, and the things now coming in from Austria are a lot better.

    4.0mm rods work fine - but you do need at least a 16A supply (even then you're limited to 150A). I did a few T-joints and caps on grooved butt joints with them. But they at that current and rod size you do get a lot of heat into the workpiece, which has made me decide that I'm not going to use them much.
     
  10. Onions Member

    Messages:
    7
    North East England
    Thanks everyone!
    I have been looking round and seen some different viewpoints on the subject; for someone in my position that cannot weld yet, but would like to, which is the better type of welder - arc or MIG? Also, what price range could I get a MIG for? All the new ones I've seen are £150+, but I haven't managed to find any secondhand ones. Would it be possible to pick up a decent MIG welder for around £50, and would it be better to get an arc welder instead?
     
  11. shenion

    shenion Tool Pack Rat

    Messages:
    7,588
    Location:
    Stone Mountain, GA USA
    A decent, new, MIG setup is around £300. Definitely easiest to learn.

    You might find one used for a decent price. But expect to pay to replace worn parts.

    Arc is fine unless you want to do thin stuff (under 2mm;) then MIG is the preferred way to go.
     
  12. keith19 Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    1,346
    Midlands UK
    Onions, you won't see many decent used migs in working order for £50, or even £150. Occasionally you see them for sale locally on the ebay for around £150-£200, but unless you really know how to test them before buying, or take someone along who does, it's a matter of buyer beware!

    Although the mig is easier to learn, its main advantage of working with thin steel would be lost on you if you are doing nothing under about 3mm. For around £50 or under you should be able to find a half-decent arc welder that could get you started in welding cheaply. If you wanted to have a go at thin metal later on, you could then start looking at migs.

    I was lucky to pick up a £25 used arc welder locally to me, advertised on ebay. It's only an old buzz box, but its top whack of 125Amps output means it can be used easily off the 13Amp domestic circuit, and it runs up to 3.2 mm rods, so long as I don't rush it. I usually use 2.5mm rods, as it burns these nicely without getting overheated at my slow pace of working.

    Although I have a 150Amp Clarke mig welder, as soon as the welding of metal much over 4mm is called for, out comes the old buzz box. Once you are reasonably good with one of these, you can weld much thicker metal than with a hobby mig welder. Arc welding is certainly more difficult to learn, but patience, practice, and persistence pay good rewards, as with most any new skill.
     
  13. PTvor Member

    Messages:
    1,863
    UK
    Buzz boxes aren't too bad if you can already weld and don't want to do much welding. Lots of useful jobs only involve burning a couple of rods. The problem is that if you are learning and burning a lot of rods for practice, the poor duty cycle and waiting for them to cool down for ten minutes gets frustrating.

    Off brand rods tend to be very variable and expensive in small packs. You can get white box rods from major makers which are generally good and consistent and not much dearer.
     
  14. rich r

    rich r Member

    Messages:
    635
    North Yorkshire
    I'm obviously a glutton for punishment, as I've learnt to weld with an Aldi buzzbox - and intend to get a Mig welder at some point in the future :) I have more need for >2mm metal repairs though than thin metal, so decided that spending around £80 on a buzzbox, helmet and rods was a better bet if I found I couldn't get the hang of it. As it turned out, I've picked up the basics quite quickly.

    Cooldown time doesn't seem to be an issue with the newer 'turbo fan' models around at the moment. As said above, I've run four complete 2.5mm rods in succession (not even stopping to clear slag) with no cutout or odd noises from the welder.

    Oh yeah - definitely budget £25 for an auto darkening helmet. You'll struggle to learn with the Popeye plastic fixed darkness faceshield you tend to get with cheap welders.
     
  15. Onions Member

    Messages:
    7
    North East England
  16. keith19 Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    1,346
    Midlands UK
    Difficult to say without any kind of spec. See if the seller can give you a few details, like amps range, age, what it's been used for, etc. Only have vague recollections of Gable as a make, but if it's quite old it will generally be better made than some of the cheap newer ones.

    Don't go for anything with a top output less than about 125 -130 Amps, or the duty cycle will be too low. If it goes up to 140 -160 Amps it should be good value. Above 160 Amps can be iffy anywhere near the top end on a domestic circuit.
     
  17. rich r

    rich r Member

    Messages:
    635
    North Yorkshire
    Looking at the photos, it's a SIP130.

    Power supply 230V, 10A-24A
    Output open circuit voltage 50-55V
    Output closed circuit voltage 22-26V
    Output current 30A-130A
    Duty cycle 60% at 50A, 40% at 75A, 20% at 130A

    Not too bad at all for £40. Could do with a wipe with a cloth though!
     
  18. keith19 Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    1,346
    Midlands UK
    Yes, it was probably originally sold by Gable Arc.
    Not a bad spec for the money, but compare the duty cycle to a new Aldi or Lidl machine for around the same price, if anyone has the spec of one of these?

    I had one of the old SIP 160 Amp jobs at one time, and it was near indestructible. It's only fault was that it started around 45/50 Amps, and wouldn't burn 1.6mm rods nicely. Even 2 mm could be a pain.

    All in all, if it's working - and there's not a lot to go wrong - it should be a decent enough machine to learn with. Should go down to 1.6mm if you want to go there, and burn 2 and 2.5mm rods fairly easily, with the odd 3.2mm rod now and then.

    If there's room in the back you might be able to stick a fan in for a slightly better duty cycle.
     
  19. rich r

    rich r Member

    Messages:
    635
    North Yorkshire
    Just popped out to the garage and got the specs for the current Aldi 160A buzzbox (the Walter Werkzeuge ones, not the older Omega Wolf ones):

    Power supply 230V, 11.8A-36.8A. Fused with 22A slow blow.
    Output open circuit voltage 48V
    Output closed circuit voltage 20.2-24.4V
    Output current 55A-160A
    Weld time/cooldown time 470s/892s at 55A, 211s/805s at 80A, 106s/727s at 115A, 68s/685s at 160A

    So in effect you can run 2.5mm rods continuously for 3.5 minutes then it'll need 13 minutes to cool down completely. In practice of course, you're unlikely to weld continuously for 3.5 minutes without stopping, so it's a very usable duty cycle.

    Power supply should ideally be a 32A, but 16A will allow you to go up to around 150A output current, and the limit with a 13A supply is around 115A, so you can use 3.2mm rods just about.
     
  20. shenion

    shenion Tool Pack Rat

    Messages:
    7,588
    Location:
    Stone Mountain, GA USA
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