I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I've been mulling all this over for awhile and have hit a wall. I need some help.
I have not been active in the group for a long time. I've been taking Ernie's advice on my education plan and over the past two years I have done gas welding and stick welding. I also just passed my 3G test in stick. Woohoo!
So, now is the time to buy a machine of my own. I've tried to go back through the group and look at the archived messages regarding 'which welder to buy'. I have also been comparing things online and getting some prices from local suppliers. As it turns out, I can get a 40% discount through my welding school here in Kentucky. Needless to say I'll be taking advantage of this, but believe it or not need some help spending my money. ;)
I was recently GIVEN! a Lincoln 225 AC welder. I am adding a plug and work clamp and it will hopefully be operational this weekend. I've never used one of these machines, but I'm looking forward to it. I've mainly been doing stick DCEP and really enjoy it. However, I think I will be progressing onto MIG and then TIG. The goal is to be able to weld all processes and, at the very least, mild and stainless steel and aluminum.
My brother-in-law has an equipment and party rental business and rents seeders, tractors, implements, tables, chairs, tents, etc. Stick is really handy for a lot of the heavier stuff, but a lot of the party stuff is aluminum. Aside from that, I do some art/general blacksmithing and am learning horseshoeing. Stick will be good for these as well.
So, I'm trying to decide if I should just buy a Miller Bluestar 185 DX so that I can have portability (for back and forth to my brother-in-law's shop, field repairs, etc.) OR buy a Millermatic 252 for the speed, ease of use, and the ability to add a spool gun for aluminum OR to buy a Synchrowave 200 machine for the ability to weld everything, albeit slower. What say you all? Keep in mind that I have single-phase 100 amp service in my barn (which is where the equipment will live and work most of the time) and need something that will fit the panel.
Any advice about these machines or Lincoln versions of similar? Anything else I should be considering; a Miller Maxstar 200 (SD, DX, LX?) perhaps? I'm open to any and all advice. I don't need to buy the end-all be-all machine, but want to make a smart purchase that will serve me well now and as my needs grow.
-- As Iron Sharpens Iron, So One Man Sharpens Another. Proverbs 27:17