Choosing MIG welders

I have been looking at a Millermatic 251with a standard M-25 gun and an optional Spoolmatic 30A spool gun based on some of the reading that I've done over the last six months in this group. The local shop is quoting about $2600 out the door. The manager showed me a Linciln 300 Power MIG machine with a pulse on pulse feature and ability to use larger spools with the standard gun for $3200. I routinely use TIG (Lincoln SQ Wave 175), MIG (Millermatic 135) and SMAW in my hobby that has become a small business. I am wondering if the pulse on pulse feature with dc tig on the Lincoln 300 make it a better buy?? If so, would adding a Ready Welder instead of the push pull Python gun ($1000 option!!) be a realistic option?

regards, Jim

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Rod: Pulse is good for joining a thick metal to a thin metal, or two thin metals, or production welding (automated).

A spool gun is great for up to .035" dia. wire. Over .035" dia., a pull feeder, WATER COOLED gun is recommended.

Pushing and pulling a weak wire offers you frustration. There's a joke in there. ;) But true. :):):)

Rod Ryker... It is reasoning and faith that bind truth.

Reply to
Rod Ryker

Damn I would like to slap some salesmen.

OK the Millermatic 251 is a great medium duty MIG machine. The gun that Miller ships on these machines is OK, but not great. It is a Tregaskis gun that I think is too wimpy for this machine. At school we got 3 Miller 250X MIGs a few years back. The M-25 guns lasted about 6 months. By then they were in pieces from being dropped and handled roughly. I upgraded all 3 to Tregaskis Toughguns. A much much better gun for serious MIG. After 3 years the Toughguns are still fine.

I like them so much I installed one on my Betamig 250.

To give you an idea of the limits of the M-25 gun: If you run 0.045" dual shield wire in one it will practically melt in your hand. The Toughguns can eat 0.045" dual shield all day and not blink.

0.045" dual shield is the limit of a 250 amp MIG machine.

You haven't stated what you are planning to weld with this machine.

The 251 makes a lot of sense if you plan on a lot of heavy welding from

16 ga to 1/2". Miller's 30A spoolgun is the best in the business, and you can buy an optional feeder line that will turn the 30A and the 251 into a push-pull feeder if you decide to weld up a lot of aluminum.

Honestly I think that may be more machine than you need.

The Miller 210 is about $1100 and will weld up to 3/8" steel single pass. There is a spoolgun option for it that costs about $500.

The Lincoln Powermig 300 is a different class of machine. It is designed to be used for heavier production welding. If you were getting into making a lot of small aluminum boats or boat docks then I would say the Lincoln Powermig 300 is your baby.

Keep in mind that the Powermig 300 is DC only, even in TIG mode, so no TIG aluminum unless you use DCEP.

Without knowing more about your needs and budget I can't really say anymore.

The Readywelder is a great gun, I own one, but it is not what I would call a production tool. It is meant as an easy way to get into a spoolgun for the ocassional job, or a way to make a MIG out of a stick or TIG welder.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

I was wrong, it is a $1600 option.

I know the feeling. Thats why I'm here, to get the straight scoop. The annual welding "fair" is coming up at the end of the month and the prices are usually pretty good.

I have no set plans. Odd jobs come up and I am exceeding the capacity of the Millermatic 135. I had an old Linde monster that I was storing for my brother in law but it went to his new shop last week. Right now I have two 16 ft pressure washing trailers to reinforce, add side rails and a 3/16ths diamond plate floor to. I just finished building a molding bench for a foundry, a high volume blower for an other foundry, 800 specialty fabic spring clamps (mig braze welded), prefabed square tube panels for a fence, including two, double gates spanning 16 feet, two quilting cutting tables, 8' x!0' out of 1 1/2 in square tubing, 20 commercial lighting systems out of

1 3/4 round tubing, 10 ea 1 ft sq flange bearing supports for a commercial air handler job, 25 target stands for the local PD etc. etc. The jobs change month to month.

Is that the XR Controller option??

Aluminum has been very infrequent and really odd stuff, like welding a .060 shelf to .250 tubing. The Sq Wave 175 was able to handle that, barely. The learning curve was almost vertical (g). I have yet to have a job that required aluminum thicker than 16 ga. I was thinking that a spoolgun would take care of that if/when needed.

Yeah, that spool gun (SpoolMate 3035) looked a bit flimsy(?)

No boats (yet, grin).


The budget will take a Power Mig 300 with the push-pull options. The pulse on pulse options on this machine are considerably cheaper than anything Miller is offering. I dont know if it is a good thing to have or is just hype.


Based on the above, it seems to make sense to get a Millermatic 251 with a Tregaskis Toughgun and a Spoolmatic 30 A and forget about the GMAW-P stuff. The spoolgun would give me the option of odd alloys that wont feed well throught the Toughgun. I never thought that I would need more than a 115v mig welder and that is why I was looking at the Miller 251 rather than the 210. The 251 gives me a little more amps than the 210 and the best spool gun out there. Comments??

Many thanks for the help.

I consistently get better advice from this forum than the welding shops in town or the factory reps. Scary

regards, Jim

Reply to

Yeah Lincoln really likes their Powermig 300 with the Cobra gun option.

Your list of projects makes the 210 or 251 a viable option. At times you may be stretching the 210 but the 251 will not really get a heavy workout. The spoolgun option for the 251 is a much more serious tool than the one that fits on the 210. So if aluminum is that common of a an application that might push the scale in favor of the 251.

No, Miller released a free upgrade to the software in the 251 that allows the built in wire feeder to work in conjunction with a 30A (or

15A) spoolgun to become a push-pull system.

All you have to add is the cable set. The 30A and 15A spoolguns use the same gun as the XR-A push pull gun.

The only difference is whether the gun has a spool canister or a cable that connects to a wire feeder.

So you can either attach the 30A spolgun to the 251 as normal and use 1 lb spools of aluminum wire, or spend a few bucks more and buy the cable set to turn the spoolgun and the 251 into a "poor man's Cobramatic", so you can use 15 lb. spools.

Then the smaller spoolgun that connects to the 210 will likely be sufficient for your needs. I have used it and it will handle up to 1/4" aluminum with no problem.

Looks can be decieving. I have had a few students buy the Miller 210 and spoolmate 3035 combo. One of them brought their's in so I could play with it. That spoolgun works, very well. I was impressed. It isn't built nearly as tough as the 30A but it welds like a champ.

The pulse-on-pulse thing only applies to MIG welding thin aluminum, like welding aluminum boats, trailers, boxes, docks, window frames, and such. Yes it works very well, but I don't feel it is a worthwhile purchase if rarely ever used.

A Ferrari stored in a garage, might as well be an Escort.

That is an excellent mid-level package for production welding. By mid-level I mean that there are considerably bigger industrial packages, like an ALT304 with Optima Pulser, or even more impressive, the new Axcess 450 MIG power source.

If Lincoln had a Spoolgun as nice as Miller's I would be more inclined to advocate Red, but they use either the MK Prince gun or the really ancient Systematics spoolguns.

I have heard that they have a new low end spoolgun to match the Miller

3035, but I haven't seen one yet.

I big part of that is that we aren't getting paid on commision to sell you stuff.

What you save on your MIG system you might want to invest in your TIG system. Sell the Lincoln Squareave 175 and upgrade to a Syncrowave 250DX. I love mine.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

Hi guys.

This is my take on things in this thread. At the shop that I work in (boats 17 - 36 foot range) we just went through what you are going through right now. We ended up buying the Powermig 300. Mainly because it was the best for our application. Aluminum, Aluminum, and more of you guessed it, Al. We test drove both machines; the Lincoln was clearly the champ for us. If I were in your shoes, and it sounds like your budget can handle it, go for the Powermig. Don't take the Python/Cobra gun, you want the Binzel gun for a push/pull. Super simple and light. If you have to have a spoolgun then you have a problem that starts to sound like a Miller answer. The 30A is the best hands down. No one else can even compare in my book.

One thing to watch out for with the Miller 251 is the control box/module that they mount on the side of it for push/pull. The one that was sent to us didn't work properly and we couldn't get it to work. In my eyes this is/was designed as an afterthought and should be considered a weak link. There are some really good things with this machine, but even more that are less than desirable. It seems that Miller just can't seem to leave things alone. As well they love to release things before they get them perfected and then make you buy upgrades/fixes to hang off of your machine, when this should have already been done and inside the machine's casing before it is sent off to the dealers to sell to you. Don't get me wrong, I really like the Miller XR stuff, and I love the 30 series guns, but they just can't seem to get it right enough in their eyes to leave well enough alone.

One other thing to consider is the drive system. Open both machines up and make up your own mind. I'm sure that you already know what I would say. I am not making a sales pitch to you, just filling you in on what we went through. I have a friend that has the 251 with the 30A and really likes it. He loves the ease of going from steel to aluminum to stainless etc, etc. Again, when it really comes down to it, how hard is it to change a large reel of wire out for another. It's not difficult to change the push/pull gun over to the regular mig whip.

So to sum it up. Miller has a good machine, Lincoln has a good machine. Miller's options are less than desirable and expensive. If you have problems and have to deal with them they treat you like you are an idiot. Lincoln's stuff is already built in to the machine and not hype. It works, it works well and you don't have to waste time on the phone with a condescending factory rep. End of story!

My two bits. Hope it helps you make a sound decision. Drew

Reply to
Drew McEachren

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