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  • Gabriel

    Grandmaster
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    8   0   0
    Jun 3, 2010
    6,172
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    The shore of wonderful Lake Michigan
    A coworker has an older Miller Maxstar 140 STL for sale that I'm considering purchasing, but don't know anything about welding and want to use it to learn. I'd just use it to learn stick as trying to get gas and **** for TIG and MIG seems like a pain in the ass, plus I don't have a lot of room in my shop for that **** and the 140 is tiny.

    I'd actually like the ability to weld aluminum, but this is a DC only machine. I'm fine with that as most of this **** I'd weld would just be general purpose stuff like my lawn mower or other basic repairs, plus I want to make a few things like a brake modification to my 20 ton press. The ability to weld aluminum would be a plus, but not completely necessary for now.

    My question is since this machine is old, is it worth $600 and is it powerful enough to do general welding... plus are parts available for these older machines (this one was made in 2002)?

    I was also curious that if welders are any different than most other things in that a $1500 welder 20 years ago is lacking the technology and is about as good as a modern $500 machine. That may not be the case.

    I also see that Hobart has a Stickmate 160i and 290MVP and 190 MIG welders for under $1k from Tractor Supply. I'm not sure if I should go one of those routes.

    I've been wanting a welder for about 25 years, but the more I research them, the more confusing it is. Therefore, I've just never bought one.
     

    schmart

    Sharpshooter
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    2   0   0
    Nov 10, 2014
    423
    27
    Lafayette
    Not a certified welder or anything, but learned welding in HS and put myself through college production welding during the summers. Stick is more difficult to learn on than MIG, but in general is more flexible without getting exotic. My concern with the specific welder in question is it is rated low in welding amps. This makes it nice for thin metal (i.e. 1/8"), but prevents penetration on any thicker material. As a learner, sticking rods is problematic and is partially remedied by upping the amps. Not sure you can do that with this one. However, as it is a DC machine, adding TIG in the future is possible.

    What may work better to learn with is a flux core wire welder. Basically a MIG welder you can use without shielding gas. Entry level welders will have similar issues with deep penetration as the stick one you are looking at, but they are great for thin fabrications.

    --Rick
     

    Frosty

    Grandmaster
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    11   0   0
    Jan 27, 2013
    7,291
    113
    Greencastle
    In my experience, albeit limited, those small welders are good for some things, but a real pain when you need real heat control. I had an entry level flux core, if it was pretty heavy sheet metal like a mower deck or something like that, it would work ok, much thinner and it was pretty difficult to control. My little cheap stick welder, ugh, it was a pain!
     

    thunderchicken

    Grandmaster
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    5   0   0
    Feb 26, 2010
    5,788
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    Indianapolis
    I'm not a professional welder, but with race cars I've done a fair amount of welding.
    My thoughts would be don't buy it. Believe it or not you would be better off looking at a MIG unit and get a spool gun to weld aluminum. TIG, IMHO is a much nicer cleaner weld but takes a little more practice to learn. MIG, is probably the most simple process to learn. We have an old Miller Thunderbolt stick welder under the work bench that we just never use anymore just because for general use, it just sucks by comparison.
    I know of a couple serious racing fabrication shops that exclusively use the Vulcan brand welders and put out top notch work.
    If I were looking at a welder right now that's where I would drop my coins
     

    Creedmoor

    Expert
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    0   0   0
    Mar 10, 2022
    1,159
    113
    Madison Co Indiana
    I have multiple machines and with those I have 4 mogs.
    A 20 yr old Hobart 170 220v I use for tacking and thin metal.
    A esab 250
    A esab 260
    And a esab suitcase that I can run off my bobcat gas 250.
    For a tig I have a Thermal-Arc 185.

    My little 220v 170 will easily single pass 3/8ths plate with solid wire and mixed gas.
    My 260 will tig as a lift-arc, I have never used it as a tig.
    Lift arc just sucks.

    Edit and advice,
    Buy a machine thats sold local to you for ease of consumables, parts and service.
     

    freekforge

    Master
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    12   0   0
    Jul 20, 2012
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    I personally would pass on it. If I was doing at home repairs I'd go with a 220 mig over a stick. Hobart's are just consumer millers so a tractor supply special will work. I started with a 110 Hobart handler140 and it still sees some use. Folks will hate on flux core but a quality name brand flux core wire will run fine and you can avoid the gases. The maxstar is a scratch start tig if I'm not mistaken and that is a real pita, it has its uses but I still avoid it. If I were doing it all over again I would save up and go with a Lincoln 210mp. It's still a dc only though so you still wouldn't be Tig welding aluminum. What ever you go with buy good quality electrodes I prefer Lincoln Excalibur rods and L56 wire I can't remember their flux core wire off the top of my head. Vulcan and Everlast also have some decent welders but I'm biased since Lincoln machines pay my bills.
     

    Creedmoor

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    Mar 10, 2022
    1,159
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    Madison Co Indiana
    I personally would pass on it. If I was doing at home repairs I'd go with a 220 mig over a stick. Hobart's are just consumer millers so a tractor supply special will work. I started with a 110 Hobart handler140 and it still sees some use. Folks will hate on flux core but a quality name brand flux core wire will run fine and you can avoid the gases. The maxstar is a scratch start tig if I'm not mistaken and that is a real pita, it has its uses but I still avoid it. If I were doing it all over again I would save up and go with a Lincoln 210mp. It's still a dc only though so you still wouldn't be Tig welding aluminum. What ever you go with buy good quality electrodes I prefer Lincoln Excalibur rods and L56 wire I can't remember their flux core wire off the top of my head. Vulcan and Everlast also have some decent welders but I'm biased since Lincoln machines pay my bills.
    Why do you believe its good to avoid the gas/mixed gases?
    Ive run a few big spools of Lincoln cored wire,
    In one 40lb spool I had two wire splices and the other I had one. I believe it was there UltraCore
    71A75 dual wire.

    Most of what wire I run is .035 and 1/16th esab 7100 ultra. Not once in 15+ years have I had a splice.​

    I run mixed with the cored wire I use, it will produce a much nicer weld with almost no spatter and virtually no flux on the weld bead.
    And why do you think that Hobart is just a consumer machine?
     

    freekforge

    Master
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    12   0   0
    Jul 20, 2012
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    Why do you believe its good to avoid the gas/mixed gases?
    Ive run a few big spools of Lincoln cored wire,
    In one 40lb spool I had two wire splices and the other I had one. I believe it was there UltraCore
    71A75 dual wire.

    Most of what wire I run is .035 and 1/16th esab 7100 ultra. Not once in 15+ years have I had a splice.​

    I run mixed with the cored wire I use, it will produce a much nicer weld with almost no spatter and virtually no flux on the weld bead.
    And why do you think that Hobart is just a consumer machine?
    OP stated he wished to avoid gases.

    I have run into splices in the 71A75 but I prefer how it runs so I don't mind them but I also don't run fcawg as much as gmaw and smaw . Again I'm also a bit biased I burn up a bunch of barrels on L56 and a hand full of cans of Excalibur 7018 a year.

    Hobart isn't only a consumer machine but miller and Hobart are both owned by itw and Hobart's are generally cheaper and marketed torwards the DIY.ers more than the millers.
     

    Creedmoor

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    Mar 10, 2022
    1,159
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    Madison Co Indiana
    OP stated he wished to avoid gases.

    I have run into splices in the 71A75 but I prefer how it runs so I don't mind them but I also don't run fcawg as much as gmaw and smaw . Again I'm also a bit biased I burn up a bunch of barrels on L56 and a hand full of cans of Excalibur 7018 a year.
    Ok.
    Thats all you burn? I can burn a few cans or spools doing grousers on a D7-D9 on a weekend.
    Full disclosure, when burning stick outside I also use Lincoln Excalibur 1/8th 7018.
    Mostly on heavy equipment tracks and as a cap for pressure pipe. lol

    I believe it depends on what machine one is looking at.
    They all have cheap 120v machines on the market I believe.
    They all have to compete, look at the cheap Lincolns a few years back that had hot mig wire if the machine was turned on. They cut corners to be cheaper.
     

    freekforge

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    12   0   0
    Jul 20, 2012
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    I think I burnt atleast 6 500lb barrels of L56 plus a couple barrels of la90 last year, haven't burnt even a single barrel this year as they move me into the bossman role. As hot as its been I don't mind it lol. We had a Hobart that we used as a haul around machine that was constantly hot. kinda fun to put a new guy on it and watch them panic when it arcs on the table when they lay the gun down.
     

    Creedmoor

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    0   0   0
    Mar 10, 2022
    1,159
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    Madison Co Indiana
    I think I burnt atleast 6 500lb barrels of L56 plus a couple barrels of la90 last year, haven't burnt even a single barrel this year as they move me into the bossman role. As hot as its been I don't mind it lol. We had a Hobart that we used as a haul around machine that was constantly hot. kinda fun to put a new guy on it and watch them panic when it arcs on the table when they lay the gun down.
    Im the owner/bossman, I still burn.
    I like the sound of the Bobcat kicking up and Creedence on the earpods.
    Most days I can be the bitch, i'll even tig the root around the bottom.
    Two more years...
     

    Butch627

    Expert
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    24   0   0
    Jan 3, 2012
    1,484
    63
    NWI
    Back to the OP, do you have a 50 amp 220 circuit, or? What kind of things do you actually want to weld? Are you going to take a class? Have you looked into the additional cost of welding aluminum compared to welding steel? My advice would be to buy a 220 stick learn to weld steel and then decide what you should do next.
     

    gregkl

    Outlier
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    29   0   0
    Apr 8, 2012
    10,779
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    Bloomington
    I'm wanting to get into welding also but honestly did not know that the entry to decent equipment was as expensive as it is.

    I don't like cheap stuff cuz I won't know if it's me or the equipment so I'm looking at Miller's, Lincoln's and Hobarts at least.

    I kinda got my mind set on the Miller 211 or equivalent.

    I want to do some artsy-fartsy welding, some items that I usually make out of wood, be able to repair stuff like a broken mower deck bracket, and maybe even earn some side gig money with it.

    But knowing who I am, I will probably talk myself out of the whole thing!
     

    Creedmoor

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    Mar 10, 2022
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    Madison Co Indiana
    I'm wanting to get into welding also but honestly did not know that the entry to decent equipment was as expensive as it is.

    I don't like cheap stuff cuz I won't know if it's me or the equipment so I'm looking at Miller's, Lincoln's and Hobarts at least.

    I kinda got my mind set on the Miller 211 or equivalent.

    I want to do some artsy-fartsy welding, some items that I usually make out of wood, be able to repair stuff like a broken mower deck bracket, and maybe even earn some side gig money with it.

    But knowing who I am, I will probably talk myself out of the whole thing!
    Look into the multi process machines, if you want to do artsy you probably would want ac/dc tig. That will allow you to weld ferris and non ferris metals.
    You can buy a pretty nice import multi process for the 2 grand the 211 costs.
    You also can bump to the 215 miller $2,200.00 and add dc tig later on for 700.00 or so.
    And also look at ESAB, Thermal- Arc and Thermal Dynamics machines.
    Look and see what you local supply houses carry parts and consumables for.
     

    ditcherman

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    10   0   0
    Dec 18, 2018
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    In the country, hopefully.
    I’m certainly no industrial output welder like freek and creed, I think they know what they’re talking about but I’ve been welding since i was a kid, and it’s never just for fun but out of necessity and have welded some pretty serious stuff together. That being said it can be fun with the right equipment.
    Dads old buzzbox was a pain to learn on, a Miller Bobcat puts out a very nice smooth arc, easy to start, in my experience.

    Had 1 110v portable flux core wire welder, threw it away in just a couple of weeks so my opinion is that all flux core is bad, but it must not be. It’s probably not as forgiving as a mixed gas mig like a Millermatic 250x, mine is probably a 2004 model or so, parts are still available, so I don’t consider it old. We also have a 2 year old Millermatic 252, and I don’t think it will last as long as my old one. I’ve replaced to circuit boards in both of them in the last few years.

    I think if your artsy and creative you’ll love to tig, I enjoy it when I do it but I’m not that good at it. Once again, trying to learn on an old Miller synchrowave 250 probably isn’t the easiest thing.

    You get what you pay for, on the one hand the old used machine your looking at will never be worth less than it is now as long as it’s working, but on the other hand a new big welder will hold its value very well. So if you have the money and you want to enjoy it that’s how I’d go.

    Also, if you’re repairing a mower deck, it’s going to be thin by nature, and a mig is much easier to weld thin materials with.

    ETA I’d avoid the TSC types. When I walk into Indiana Oxygen, I’m absolutely nobody, but they are there with support for the seven machines we have (counting plasma cutters). I think the best I’d get at TSC is “we can have that for you the Thursday after next” and the worst is a burger picking stare.
     
    Last edited:

    boogieman

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    48   0   0
    Nov 14, 2009
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    under your bed!!!
    Back to the OP. With what you are saying you want to do, I would pass on this one. If you want to stick weld you can get a new machine for pretty cheap now. I would personally recommend a Mig welder that is capable of running flux-core. With Flux core you dont have to have gas. Mig is easier than stick and will do anything you are talking about. If you want to do aluminum you can get a spool gun to run aluminum wire with the migs also.
     

    gregkl

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    29   0   0
    Apr 8, 2012
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    Bloomington
    Look into the multi process machines, if you want to do artsy you probably would want ac/dc tig. That will allow you to weld ferris and non ferris metals.
    You can buy a pretty nice import multi process for the 2 grand the 211 costs.
    You also can bump to the 215 miller $2,200.00 and add dc tig later on for 700.00 or so.
    And also look at ESAB, Thermal- Arc and Thermal Dynamics machines.
    Look and see what you local supply houses carry parts and consumables for.
    That ESAB looks promising. $1100 for the EM210 on a quick search.
     

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