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I am considering buying a Mig welder but, Ive never used one. I have stick welded quite a bit. How hard is it to learn to MIG weld? Is it something I can learn on my own ? Id love to be able to install some patch panels on my car prior to painting to save some money. From what I understand, MIG welding is the way to go with thin panels. Can anyone recommend a welder that would be good for a hobbiest to use on occasion?
 

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Interested.

1966 289 Auto Coupe
 

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I taught myself to MiG weld, I did have a friend show me some tips and I read a bit. It isn’t too hard but does take some practice.

You’ll learn to tell when it is working well by the sound. You’ll want a good auto-darkening helmet. The metal needs to be VERY clean.
Don’t be tempted to try cut out the least metal and weld in a patch. You need to cut back to solid metal. Overlap welding is pretty easy. But welding takes a lot more practice.
 
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If you can stick weld, then MIG should be very easy in my opinion. And MIG for car restoration is what you want (unless you get into TIG for certain areas)

I have a Lincoln MIG unit from Lowes or Home Depot and it works just fine. I think it was $400 or so. Get CO2 gas and use non flux core wire for best results. Flux core wire can be used in a lot of situations, but it would suck for sheet metal in my opinion.
 

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I had a project this spring that needed some welding. Since it was a one-off, I got the cheapy one at Harbor Freight, figuring if it worked, I'd keep it and if not, well, I'd return it. Pure junk unless you want to weld tin foil. I wasted gas buying it and taking it back. I rented a Miller at Sunbelt rentals and did the project with no problem.

I recommend you rent one on a Saturday morning and play with it all weekend, trying different thicknesses and see if you like it. You'll probably be pleased with the ease and learning curve.
 
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As the story goes, back in the day when salesmen were trying to convert shops to the newfangled mig welding from stick they would grab the secretary from the front office and spend a half hour with her teaching her the basics of mig welding and then have her demonstrate how easy it was to the experienced welders in the shop.

I taught my supervisor where I currently work how to mig weld basic 1/8" plate in 20 minutes. Go Argon CO2 from the start. We have a Miller 211 at work and it is much easier to use than my Miller 215 at home. Don't know a thing about the offshore welders.
 

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There are loads of videos on YouTube about learning to MIG weld. But since you already know how to stick weld, I thought you might enjoy watching this video that has an overview of MIG welding mistakes: It will give someone experienced with welding a good overview of what settings to watch out for.

 

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I use an "off shore" MIG. It's not fancy, but, welding is like learning to hit a golf ball. You take your lessons, then, you go to the range and practice, practice, practice hitting balls and perfecting your swing. Same with welding. Once you get comfortable, you are so happy! All of the neighborhood dads come to your garage for their little odd welding jobs.
Ask me how I know...... Someday, maybe I'll grow up and go for the Miller, Lincoln etc. My Italian make has to "buzz" off first.
 

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I bought mine from Eastwood and bought a gas welding tank Fro n Central Welding . I have yet to use it , but my son has used it multiple times .
 

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If you can stick weld, then MIG should be very easy in my opinion. And MIG for car restoration is what you want (unless you get into TIG for certain areas)

I have a Lincoln MIG unit from Lowes or Home Depot and it works just fine. I think it was $400 or so. Get CO2 gas and use non flux core wire for best results. Flux core wire can be used in a lot of situations, but it would suck for sheet metal in my opinion.
if you can stick weld, then you can mig weld as well. there are differences between the two though, but none that cant be overcome.

same with tig welding, if you can gas weld you can tig weld, again some differences but again there are none that cant be overcome.
 

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I went with the Hobart Handler. I replaced a LOT of sheet metal on my Mach 1 project. I've been using it for over 8 years and I'm very happy with it.

https://www.amazon.com/Hobart-500559-Handler-Welder-115V/dp/B009X43F38

Of course, I had to buy a gas bottle and a cart to go with it. But it appears a little less expensive than the Lincoln.

I had never welded before. I practiced on scrap, burned a few holes and eventually got the hang of it.

Welding sheet metal is nothing like welding heavy steel. It's actually harder to weld sheet metal. But like everyone has said, you can get the hang of it.

Have fun!
 

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I used an arc welder to do rear wheel houses ,quarters,frame rails,floor pans lower front fender patches, ect on my 1st 66 so it can be done
that said I now have a Hobart Handler 140 , if you can arc you can mig

 

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Notice in the Amazon page for the Lincoln, that the Hobart has higher user ratings. Look carefully at the owner feedback, it indicates overall satisfaction and ease of use. Don't go out and buy a cheap welder and expect great results. You are a novice and will learn more quickly and get better results with a good machine. That said, HF now has a better line of MIG welders available, so they may be an option. Once you have purchased a welder and shielding gas, go to a local metals supplier and get a bunch of scrap to practice on. Once you feel you are proficient, move on to the real thing. I bought my ESAB welder through Cyberweld. They often have special sales where the welder is bundled with a good helmet and sometimes with manufacturer rebates too.

Good luck, I was in your shoes two years ago, very happy that I bought a good welder and decided to learn. Nothing beats experience, so instead of taking classes at a local JC, I just went with a better welder and practiced. Like others have said, with so many YouTube videos out there, you should be welding fine in no time.
 

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I have been running the Eastwood now for going on 2 years. It has been flawless. It also has infinitely variable power and wire speed controls instead of static click controls which I have found useful. Which ever you get, get one with a tweco gun and Argon/CO2 gas capability.



Youtube and then some scrap pieces of metal taught me to become passable enough mig welding to do my car. I wouldn't say I am even in the same class room as people that do it professionally. In addition to just mig welding, there are the body panel correction techniques as well. It isn't as simple as putting down wire. I have watched every mustang repair video on you tube that I can find and just about all of Jo Daddy's garage mustang restoration projects. He is pretty good at working old mustang metal.


A few of the things I have learned, maybe some of this will help;


mig welders love absolutely clean, bare, white metal


they also hate rust, primer, body filler, bronze, lead, any other coatings and paint so it all has to go


setting the welder is a combination of the right wire speed and the right power level together at the same time


if the metal is too thin, its going to blow through, there is not much way around it, you can drop your heat and wire down and peck around a blow hole and sometimes be able to get it filled and ground smooth


PATIENCE IS ABSOLUTELY a virtue when you are welding on body sheet metal
burn it on too fast and it is just about guaranteed to warp, you have to be patient, move your gun around and tack or stitch in different places and wait for the metal to cool down before go back to a place you just hit



my welder has a chart on the inside of the side door that gives you recommended settings to try to start with
for metal gauge and wire gauge, it is generally correct even though I try and argue with it sometimes



if one setting is wrong, both are wrong and your welds will be poop



get an instant darkening helmet


choose your wire and wire diameter carefully
for example, I only buy the Lincoln mild steel wire for general purpose and .025 for body panel work
somebody else probably does something different though



clip the wire end off when starting if it is too long or has a steel ball on it, I keep a set of wire cutters on my home made welder cart which was my first actual project with the welder



you have to get the end of the thing relatively pretty close to what you are trying to stick to get it to burn right



a bright light on what you are welding so you can see it well is perhaps your best friend
I kept popping shop bulbs until I got an led one and it is pock marked like the surface of the moon but hasn't popped yet


be aware of spatter and later on be aware of grinder sparks, you do not want that getting on stuff that will melt or burn and it will pit glass, I use doubled sheets of cardboard as shielding against spatter and grinder sparks and they work ok


grinding down welds is the thing I absolutely love the most, uh NOT REALLY, but you will need a collection of things for grinding down welds from flap discs to angle grinder discs, fiber backed sanding wheels. cut off wheels, occasionally a carbide bit. to keep things going I wound up with 2 electric angle grinders, an electric Makita that is a large dremel type tool with the mandrel for cut off wheels and a cordless drill, a small air powered 90 degree sander that uses roloc 3 inch discs


for me, grinding the welds down smooth is as much of an art and almost as difficult as the welding is


I plug all the electric stuff in a power strip so I can switch around and not be unplugging and plugging


That is all I can think off just of hand.
 

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This is one that Ive been looking at. The Lincoln 180.https://www.amazon.com/Lincoln-Elec...ocphy=9027204&hvtargid=pla-571267791835&psc=1
I can get one for about $600.00. Anyone here have experience with one of these? Id love to have a Miller but they are out of my budget.
I’ve got a previous version prior to them offshoring that line (moved to Mexico). Mine is great For general auto and even hobby racing it was a strong choice. They’ve changed a few things, the PSU and drive rolls since I bought mine.

The Hobart Handler line has bee a great value for decades. Made on the same line as the lower end Millers. The new HF Titanium line is getting good reviews as well.
 

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Macstang listed a whole lot of great advise. In addition I would add:

1) get a can of nozzle jell to coat your nozzle and other things you don't want splatter to stick to.

2) get an assortment of welding clamps (both vise grip type and magnet) fit up is about the hardest part of the job.

3) get a couple "spoons" made of copper to use to back holes and heat sink thin metal.

4) I have a couple tubs of handy weld (it's a blue gel/clay stuff that will hold things in position) and also will sink heat so you can weld close to things you don't want to burn.

5) get a couple of welding blankets. They are cheap and using other stuff will catch fire (ask me how I know!)

6) DO NOT try to run a bead on sheet metal. Most of our car metal is 19 - 20 ga. and all you will do is burn through. Its better to stich weld or plug weld and let it cool.

7) Get a pair of mig pliers. Not only to cut wire but to change tips. Cheap and very helpful.

8) I use a set of auto-dim goggles with a face mask to weld under the car and out of position. The helmet just slides around on the floor.

9) Replace the cheap ground clamp with a good solid one. Also make sure you have a GOOD ground when welding; disconnect the neg on any battery in the vehicle.

10) get a ten pack of tips, extra nozzle and other consumables and a spare liner. This should be for each size wire you plan to use.

I also bought my Miller 180 from Cyberweld and am very happy with it. I didn't want to fight with a cheap unit and then have to upgrade. I use the old buy good stuff and it will last and do a good job. Depending on how much you weld get as large as gas cylinder as practical. I started with a 40 cf (too small) so went up to and 80cf and am happy with that. Like was stated by others practice, practice, practice. Good luck. Mel
 

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I’ve only welded a handful of times. A few of those times were actually on purpose ?

So what type of welder will work for something like subframe connectors?
 

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Welding MIG are probably easier than stick. When welding thin body panels you biggest enemy are the heat. It's all about controlling and minimizing the heat build up in the panels. Otherwise you are going to need a lot of body filler. Minimize welding time while using maximum possible power will give the best results.
 
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