So Many Choices: MIG novice

  1. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    Total novice here looking to find a MIG welder to learn with. I've been looking on Ebay and ended up with more questions than answers. Most of what I'll be doing is aluminium (3mm/5mm and 3/8 angle plus flat) but might try steel at a later date.

    What is a good starter MIG? I have 16A single phase and 16/32A three phase supplies available.
     
  2. skotl

    skotl Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    7,089
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    Welcome to the forum :waving:

    Good to hear that you've got options on the electrical side - that opens it up a bit.

    If you're going to be welding aluminium then you would need a spool gun for MIG. Have you considered TIG instead?
    I'm pretty inexperienced on TIG so will let others recommend but that is probably the best way to go for aly (and can do steel, too).

    Do you have a budget in mind? And would you have a preference for new vs used?
     
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  3. metalmelt Member

    Messages:
    327
    Location:
    UK
    You could certainly MIG ally of this thickness and as Skotl has already pointed out it needs a spool gun really, you may get away with a teflon liner and short umbilical but you are still pushing wire down the liner and round bends which may cause a lot of bird nesting in a MIG without a spool gun.

    In reality it comes down to price, for steel and ally you would need a decent ac/dc TIG and they are expensive, for much less you can buy a reasonable MIG with the plugs for a spool gun, and the spool gun.

    You pays your money and makes your choice.
     
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  4. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    Thanks guys.

    Had a look at spool guns and promptly noticed that most look a little unwieldy as well as some being suspiciously cheap. For the time being I'd prefer to go for a standard MIG torch and filler rod despite being truly crap at gas welding steel with this when I was at college! I wasn't any good at stick welding either, never got as far as using the MIG's they had.

    Not really got a budget set because I'd rather see what is out there in the various price brackets first. Ideally I'd like it below £300 but if I have to go a little more to get something better then I don't have an issue with that. New or used doesn't matter especially.
     
  5. slim_boy_fat

    slim_boy_fat Forum Supporter

    Welcome aboard :waving: Do you already have the 'ancilliary' stuff like PPE, grinder(s), helmet etc - if not then your budget is pretty low :(
     
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  6. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    The budget doesn't include the ancillary items of which I probably have others are easy enough to find new/secondhand. I have an Elliott double ended grinder which should be fine for sorting the tips of when they get contaminated.

    One concern I have just realised is what degree of standardisation is there with the torch connections on the front of the welder?
     
  7. Mark 2

    Mark 2 Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    London UK
    Either hard wired or euro socket.
    I'd be leaning towards tig if I were you.
     
  8. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    For the moment I'm going to keep my mind open to both kinds. I'm seeing an awful lot of welders that are listed as being MIG/TIG/MMA which would give me the option of changing later.
     
  9. skotl

    skotl Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    7,089
    Location:
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    These are likely to be DC "lift" TIG machines (mine is!) which are not as easy to use as AC TIGs.

    If you're definitely looking to do mostly aluminium then I'd suggest looking for a second hand AC TIG.

    Where are you? Not sure whether there might be anyone local to you who might let you have a shot of theirs to see how you get on with it?
     
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  10. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    The problem is I am unable to travel anywhere to pick things up. A friend has offered to give me a go but it could be weeks away because one of his colleagues might have covid.

    I'm going to have to rely on youtube and this forum to get this job moving forwards!
     
    skotl likes this.
  11. Country Joe Argoshield Dark

    Messages:
    1,562
    Location:
    Somerset - United Kingdom
    Maybe get someone on the Forum to go and test it out, on your behalf?

    I did that a while ago for somebody on here - I just can't remeber who it was.
    Ha! Got it! It was @Tony-D-1976 - about a year ago. now.

    Sometimes, they just don't come up anywhere near to you.
    I was going to drop it off for him, (London area, but this side of it) but he nipped up to collect it from the buyer, in the end.

    All the Best,
    CJ
     
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  12. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    UK
  13. eddie49 Member

  14. skotl

    skotl Forum Supporter

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    If it looks too good to be true then it probably is.

    By the way, despite the title on the ad I don't believe that it does come with a spool gun. No picture of one, and the "package" list doesn't mention one:

     
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  15. skotl

    skotl Forum Supporter

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    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
  16. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    That would fall into the category of no I'm afraid. I'd rather not jump in and spend a huge amount of money on something like this then use it once.

    The one I linked to doesn't come with a spool gun but has the capability to run one though the seller is out of stock at the moment.

    From what I can see there are several standards of connector with is a little concerning because it makes it harder to find the right one. My normal way would be to get everything from one place.

    On the "stuff I got" side I have a welding mask, gloves and an unhelpfully empty argon cylinder.
     
    Country Joe likes this.
  17. Country Joe Argoshield Dark

    Messages:
    1,562
    Location:
    Somerset - United Kingdom
    It may not be much better for your needs, even if it was full, if it's pure argon, it'll only be usable (with a MIG) to weld aluminium.
    Very handy for TIG, though!

    Maybe it's an argon/co2 mix, though?
    Straight argon is a fair bit more pricey than the mixed gas, too.

    All the Best,
    CJ
     
  18. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    No real idea what it had in it but it's useless because it's a BOC cylinder and I've looked at their prices....
     
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  19. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of many trades, Master of none

    Messages:
    2,541
    Location:
    Cumbria
    Welding aluminium doesn't come cheap. That's the harsh realities.

    If you're just wanting to "dip your toe in the water" you'd be much better served with an ac/dc TIG set. At least it will always have resale value.

    MIG welding aluminium with a regular gun - can easily be done, with the right machine and the right setup... but not for a novice buying his first machine without any experience! Unless you can buy a setup that is already proven on aluminium.

    If you go out and buy a cheap MIG set and try to weld alloy, chances are you'll have such a shocking time of it that it'll put you off it for life.

    You'll need pure argon with either MIG or TIG, for aluminium.
     
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  20. lostcookie New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    If I was in a position to buy one it would be something British made but I don't have deep pockets, I have no option other than the cheap route.
     
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