Starter Welding Set

I'm hoping to buy a reasonably priced, used, welding set up. Specifically, I'm wondering if anyone has a working 220V tombstone-style welder they'd want to sell for $50 or so, or a set of
oxy-acetylene tanks, torches, user-owned bottles, etc... I'm not sure what a fair price is, but I've been told that I should expect to pay about $150 for a complete working oxy-acetytelene setup, and $50 for the arc welder. Is that about right?
I used to do a little welding in shop at high school, but that was a while ago... I'd like to get back into welding by making some little motorcycles and sculptures out of junk. Nothing too fancy at first. The majority of my welding will be fairly light "home-shop/fixit/sculpture" type stuff. Eventually there is some automotive welding I'd like to do--I have a '65 Dart* that needs a little work, so I'd like a medium or full-size set (not one of the little portable ones w/milk jug-size bottles). Most of the welding will be pretty light weight, so I could use a smaller torch, but I think I'd just fit it on to regular size hoses (with an adaptor if need be). I don't plan on welding or cutting heavy plate steel or anything.
I don't mind if the equipment is a "older", as long as it's not ancient. In fact I prefer older tools in general, if there well made and in good working order.
I've been told (by Gunner) that the flux-core wire welders from Harbor Freigh are a fairly decent value. Any one have any experience with these they'd like to share?
I'm looking forward to welding, it's something I've been wanting to do for a long time... Well, any way, thanks in advance for your input,
Jeff Polaski jeffpolaski "at" cox "dot" net
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant." -- Robert F. Kennedy, 1964
"The truth is found when men are free to pursue it." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936
*It's a '65 270 GT convertable that I've was using for a daily driver until my wife and I had a kid. Now that I pick my son up after work, she won't let him any where near that car when it's running. Probably a good thing, too. It's a great car, really fun to drive and all, but not so good if you get into an accident.
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Lincoln "tombstone" welders run about $230 new for the AC only version. Since they last forever, a fair used price is on the order of half of that. Of course, if you find someone who doesn't know the value of the new ones (estate sale)or someone trying to 'get rid of it' (divorce or moving to an apartment) you may see much lower prices. I bought a vintage '60's AIRCO buzz box that is way nicer than the Lincoln for $5 that had been set down hard on the front. Fixed the adjusting handle, straigten a bit of the frame and it was good to go. Cost about $50 to get new stinger and ground cable assemblies. The deals are out there, you may have a LONG look to find something in your $50 range.
Oxy acet rigs are a bit different. You can buy new Victor torches and gages for $150, knockoffs for $100, and used for $25 to $50. (I got a banged up set for free, the owner did not want to chance the repair work, wasn't worth it to him) But the tanks are a different story. Many gas dealers will not fill tanks that they are unsure of. Too many stolen, out of certification, bad valves, etc etc. Not to mention unprofitable. So they will want to sell, lease, rent their own tanks to you. The 120 cu ft O2 and 135 acet tanks run around $250 to $300 to buy (with trade in provisions so you don't need to worry about retesting) or deposit on a long term lease (what I have) Smaller tanks are just too much of a pain, always running to the store. So an O/A rig will run $400 or so to have a 'legal' setup. I'm seeing a usual price of $250 or so from private sellers. Buyer beware on the tanks.
The small wire feeds with flux core can be had for $100 and up. Higher price gets you better quality (fewer trips to the parts counter), better duty cycle (10% on time gets old fast!), upgrade kit to add gas for using plain wire (nice), better controls to set the heat, etc. Youpay your money and get your product. Figure several hundred $$ new or half that used from someone who is upgrading.
Which one? I have all 3 at home (180 and 225 amp buzz boxes, flux core/120 volt wire feed, and O/A) and bigger units at school. Use them all depending on what I'm doing. My personal choice is the buzz box to start. Widest variety of possible welds for the $$. Hardest to learn though. O/A for cutting and brazing (brazing for cast iron and repair of sheet metal guards that have fatigue cracked). 120 wire feed is the portable unit for off site repair work and the races. New fabrication is either stick welder for heavy work (hitches and bumpers) or the 240 volt wire feed for tube frames on race vehicles.
My $.02
Cheers.
Jeff Polaski wrote:

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You really need to let people know where you are. Finding a arc welder in WA may not help you. Especially when WA mean Western Austrailia to some of the folks here.
Dan

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Sorry--you're riught. I'm in the United States, Orange County, Southern California.
On 17 Jul 2004 08:57:49 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@krl.org (Dan Caster) wrote:

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wrote:

Well, it looks like I'm going to luck out--an old friend is going to give me his O/A setup!
I think that I'll get a MIG welder in a little while, too, when I Have a little more "fun-money". I don't think I can justify the $ for a new brand-name welder, but maybe I can find an older one...
This is certainly a subject I know very little about, but I think that learning O/A welding first will pay off in the long run. Also, having the set will be very useful around the shop for brazing, heat treating tools, etc...
I don't mind spending four or eight hours practicing to get an adequate weld. In the future I can take a weekend welding class at a local junior college or something, but at first I'll be happy if I can just get a halfway decent weld.
I've been looking around for more info on how to select a welder but I didn't see anything that directly addressed the issue. Did I miss a FAQ or something? I'll be happy to put together a mini-faq about getting started and selecting welders, if there isn't one already. I certainly won't have years of experience to add to it, but I gladly compile the stuff I've read.
Thanks for all your help! I'm really excited about all the stuff I'm going to make now. I'm going to set up a website and a blog to share my progress and hopefully make things a little easier for others.
Again, thanks!
Jeff Polaski jeff =at= cox =dot= net
[P.S. I've cross posted this to R.C.M because the original post was there, and wanted to let them know to follow up on it here in sci.engr.joining.welding]
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<snipped for space> <Well, it looks like I'm going to luck out--an old friend is going to

Oxy ace is a great place to start. It will get you to learn the basics like pushing that darn puddle around. Alot of welding classes start off with oxy-ace, some start with stick. Oxy-ace is real handy around the shop even if you dont weld with it. As far as FAQ's on choosing welding equipment, i cant think of anything that hasn't been covered (in sci.engr.welding), do a google search in the group and get ready to read! Here are some "best of" advice i've picked up: 1. buy name brand equipment. All welding (and cutting) units use consumables. From torch tips, electrodes, to collets and cups. A name brand part is easier to find. 2. buy more than what you'll need. in most cases if you go smaller, you'll be buying again. I learned this lesson the hard way. Started out with a chop saw and a CH flux core welder. That turned in to thousands of dollars worth of stuff. 3. Read posts from Ernie Leimkuhler regarding welding, he is the guy to ask when you're stuck. There are alot of bright guys in this group(Randy Zimmerman, Gary Coffman...), but Ernie may be the reigning king. (I bookmark his stuff!) 4. Get to know your local welding supply store guys. I bring mine food! They will save you time and aggravation with they're knowledge. They do this for a living. 5. Have fun! I cant get any happier than when i'm making something in my shop.
Good luck, walt
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