Why good welders cost $$$

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After quite a while looking, I finally picked up a Millermatic 250 Mig
welder at an auction the other day.  This will replace a Harbor
Freight/Chicago Electric "175" (in quotes) Amp Mig welder I've had for
a number of years.  The HF unit was a piece of junk.  As delivered,
the wire feed drive wheel was oval, which really didn't help the welds
at all.  I ended up reengineering the wire feed entirely, but that
still left one problem: the duty cycle.  At the high end, the duty
cycle is about 10% (1 minute out of ten), otherwise the transformer
starts toasting and the thermal overload pops.  I've been building a
Caddigger and welding a lot of plate from 1/4 to 1/2 and this was
getting annoying, thus the Millermatic.

I had the Miller apart for cleaning and correction of a few minor
problems, and had a chance to compare the units.  I think the duty
cycle for 250A on this unit is 40%.  The transformer looks like it
uses 1/4 inch square copper, compared to 10 or 12 ga on the HF.  The
voltage control uses a couple of SCRs feeding into a cap/inductor/cap
filter (60,000 uf on each bank).  The HF unit uses a tapped
transformer, some automotive alternator diodes and an inductor.  I can
pick up the HF unit with some difficulty, the Miller weighs about 250
pounds.  The Miller also has a thermostaticly controlled fan.

I had reengineered the HF unit to use a Tweeco gun, the orginal was
pretty bad.  The Miller had a Tweeco as well so I could swap guns (the
Miller one was pretty beat up).  The HF has a spot weld timer (and I
kept that when I reengineered the drive), the Miller doesn't but that
was a plug in option.  I never used that option anyway.  I added a gas
purge and wire feed only switch on the HF which were pretty handy.  I
hate wasting gas when loading wire, or having wire run out when
purging the lines.  Those should be easy to add, though.

I mercifully do not remember what I paid for the HF unit, but it was
probably more than what I paid for the Miller, particularly after
rebuilding the wire feed unit.  The cheap units are OK for light work,
I suppose, but there's no replacement for quality.   At least with the
Miller, if I screw up a weld, I know it's me and not the equipment :-)

Re: Why good welders cost $$$

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My experience with NEW welding machines:

You get what you pay for.

Now, USED is a different story.  You can get something dirt cheap that is an
outstanding machine.

FWIW

Steve



Re: Why good welders cost $$$
Paul, how are the Caddigger plans? I've noticed a few different plans out on
the market. A friend and I both want to build one.

dschwalm a t earthlink d o t net

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Re: Why good welders cost $$$
Hi All,
Here's my Caddigger experience:
www.metalwebnews.com/howto/caddigger/caddigger.html
I have 325 hours on the machine and it has performed very well.
Happy Holidays,
Jim


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on



Re: Why good welders cost $$$
brought forth from the murky depths:

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Those little things are tres cool. What all have you used yours
for? Did you get a ripper with it? Are they handy?

Your steel costs seem similar to MetKit's prices. What made
you buy locally and cut your own vs. buying MetKit's prefab
parts?

What would a similar (smallish) backhoe have cost you?

The extension boom looks mighty handy. How much can it lift
and do you have a winch on there or just use the hydraulics
to move the boom around to get height?


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Safe and sane holidays to you, too.


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Re: Why good welders cost $$$

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   I have used the machine for digging foundations, removing trees, planting
trees, grading, lifting heavy objects, driving metal 'T' posts (made an
adapter), clearing brush, screening rock, trenching, and probably a couple
more things I can't remember right now.  If I had more tree stumps to
remove, I would probably make a ripper attachment with large aggressive
teeth on it.

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   I wanted more quality control of the parts. Also, I enjoyed the challenge
of making the parts.  If I were to build a digger today, I could save about
one third of the metal cost by purchasing from a new (to me) source.  I
would also use 3/8" hydraulic hose instead of 1/2".  The 1/2" works well,
but is a bit bulky.

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   The backhoes that I looked at were all attached to tractors and to get
the same size backhoe, the tractor would have been larger than I needed.
I have since purchased a Kubota B7500 and am glad that the two machines are
separate.  I can go places with the digger that a tractor with a backhoe
attachment would not even think of.  As for price, gosh, $20,000??  That's
new - probably could find something used for a better price.

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   Yes, the boom extention is handy.  I am guessing that it could lift about
400 lbs.  I do know that the glulams that I lifted without the extention
weighed about 600 lbs.  I have not put a winch on the digger so getting the
height right took some adjusting.  It was not easy sometimes because with
the boom installed it was difficult to move the machine into position.
I am currently building a house and bought a used truck mounted crane so the
Caddigger boom has not been used recently.
Good luck to all!
Jim

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Re: Why good welders cost $$$
brought forth from the murky depths:

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Yes, they sound even more handy. I'm looking at a dozen rootballs
out in my front yard this spring and really need a backhoe. My
neighbor's little Kubota w/ bucket just isn't heavy enough, even
with the large mowing deck on the back.


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To cut the roots or cut the stump into smaller pieces? Both?


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I can understand the challenge but the parts on the website looked
mighty well cut. Are they less sweet in real arn?


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How quick is the response compared to a backhoe? Would 3/8" lines
diminish that?


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Yes, I was thinking used. Very few things are better new.


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Only about 1/4 ton, eh? It looked heavier.


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I saw a helluva lot of 1/2/5T avo picker trucks in SoCal when I
lived there. Is that the type you got, with a hydraulic arm?

Thanks for the followup.


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Re: Why good welders cost $$$

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planting
couple

   Just to cut the roots for easier removal.
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challenge

   I have not seen the Metkit parts in 'real life' so I don't know what
quality they are.  Five years ago when Metkit was Metco, a couple of RCMers
said that the parts were cut a bit rough.
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about

   The hydraulics of the Caddigger are not fast compared to commercially
made machines.  I rented a Komatsu PC128UU (28,000 lbs.) to dig our basement
and was very impressed with it's speed as compared to the Caddigger.  Still
nothing wrong with the Caddigger's speed if you own the machine!
I don't believe 3/8" lines would affect the response at all.  I just went
with 1/2" lines because that's what NAPA had in stock.
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are
That's
about
the

   It could probably lift more, but the rear wheels will eventually come off
the ground.
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the

   No, I have a Ford LT9000 with a 12 ton National telescoping crane.
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   You're welcome.
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Re: Why good welders cost $$$
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I'm currently building a Cadtrac, and the parts quality from Metkit is excellent.

Gary

Re: Why good welders cost $$$
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The plans are pretty good, with a few minor exceptions.  I have a web
page that details my construction process, but the web server's been
down until I get a UPS back on it (there are currently 2 UPSs on my
bench to fix and I've been running 15 hrs/day on a new house project),
but I'll see if I can get it up soon.  You'll likely find it
interesting, if not useful.

I'm not sure I'd do it over again.  I ran out of time to work on it
and I still don't have a backhoe.  I should get it finished over the
winter, however.  If I did it over, I'd probably get a beat up backhoe
for $5k.  I might have to fix it, but at least I'd get some digging
done.  On the other hand, it's really a neat project and you get quite
a sense of accomplishment out of building it.

  Paul

Re: Why good welders cost $$$
There's no doubt the Miller is miles above the HF unit in
quality and performance. There's also little doubt the HF
unit is at least serviceable.
I increased the high-end duty cycle substantially on my
cheapy SIP wire feed simply by installing a 5" muffin fan in
the case, so it blows on and around the TR and diodes.
JR
Dweller in the cellar

Paul Amaranth wrote:
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Re: Why good welders cost $$$
Not to mention the quality of the welding experience.  My Miller 250
has a "Sweet Spot" a mile wide.  I weld most odds and ends without
making any adjustments.
Paul

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