Shopping for a Powerful Portable MIG

I do ornamental iron to occasional heavy fabrication. I've managed to get b y with my Lincoln SP170T MIG for light fab and ornamental work, and my Maxs
tar 200 using TIG for heavy ornamental and stick for industrial.
Now I've got a heavy ornamental job that will entail a few weeks of outdoor site welding 1" solid square bar, so stick is too messy and TIG is impract ical.
I think it basically comes down to comparing price, power, and duty cycle i n portable form.
Hobart Handler 210MVP / Max 210 Amps output / 15% Duty Cycle / $990.00 Millermatic 211 / 210 A @ 15% duty cycle / $1180
Thermal Arc 252i Mig-Tig-Stick / 210 A @ 20% duty cycle / $1485 Thermal Arc 211i MIG-Stick-TIG / 250 A @ 40% duty cycle / $2100 Miller Multimatic 200 / 180 A @ 10 % duty cycle / $1830 ESAB Caddy MIG C200i / 180 A 25% / $990
after my initial research my thoughts are -
In the $1K range: I can do this job and most anything else... I think 210 Amps should be fine to make 1" bar joints strong enough - I can bevel where I really need it. I'm a little wary of the 15% duty cycle, but I've used the SP170T a lot on full power and that's 20% duty cycle. Hobart looks like the logical choice. (I like Miller, but haven't seen why I would spend the extra $190 for the Millermatic 211.)
In the $2K range: The Thermal Arc 211i seems to blow everything else away. I did a search for this unit here and found nothing. I don't know anyone who has used Thermal Arc welders.
I'd really like to hear what you all have to say...
Also - I haven't used flux-core wire in years, how will that affect penetra tion? I've read some conflicting comments on that.
Thanks, Ed
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On 2/6/2014 1:10 PM, Ed Fasula wrote:

I've managed to get by with my Lincoln SP170T MIG for
light fab and ornamental work, and my Maxstar 200 using
TIG for heavy ornamental and stick for industrial.

few weeks of outdoor site welding 1" solid square bar,
so stick is too messy and TIG is impractical.

power, and duty cycle in portable form.

I think 210 Amps should be fine to make 1" bar joints strong enough -
I can bevel where I really need it. I'm a little wary of the 15%
duty cycle, but I've used the SP170T a lot on full power and
that's 20% duty cycle. Hobart looks like the logical choice.
(I like Miller, but haven't seen why I would spend the extra
$190 for the Millermatic 211.)

I did a search for this unit here and found nothing.
I don't know anyone who has used Thermal Arc welders.

will that affect penetration? I've read some conflicting
comments on that.

Why do you consider stick too messy? Run some 7014 hot, and you should come out with some nice looking welds that will hold. Your problem with that big of solid bar is that you will probably have cold lap, meaning that the two heavy sticks might not fuse together. Innershield will burn hot, and fuse the two together, you just have some cleanup from spatter. You may have a problem with having to wait a lot for your machine to catch up. Keep us posted.
Steve
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Is there a reason you are avoiding the obvious solution? Buy a used suitcase feeder and run it from your Maxstar 200. Use self-shielded flux-core wire, I would recommend either ESAB Coreshield 8 or Hobart XLR8. Both wires are pretty easy to run.
Check craigslist for a Lincoln LN-25 or Miller S-22. They tend to show up for $500 to $800 used.

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Two reasons, first I haven't used a CC power supply for MIG and haven't got a clear picture how well it works. Back when I got the Maxstar, local wel ding supply folks advised against it, probably because they just didn't kno w. Second, the first LN25 I found on Craigslist was listed for twice that so I figured why bother when I can get a new stand alone for that.
So I'll look more, thanks. Like I mentioned I didn't find a clear explanati on of how the suitcase machine would weld when supplied by my Maxstar, it would be great to hear what you have experienced...
Thanks, this is why I asked here!
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On Sunday, February 16, 2014 12:41:36 PM UTC-5, Ed Fasula wrote:

In the spray mode a CC supply works better than a CV supply. It is pretty much like stick welding in that the electrode does not contact the work.
Dan
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Gotcha Dan. I dug into it some more and it jogged my memory from when I loo ked into this years ago. Not that I don't take this with a grain of salt, b ut today Miller still says it can't be done, and Lincoln says it's not reco mmended.
Basically, as I understand it, they are saying you have to have steady weld procedure to keep the voltage in range needed for passable weld quality. I t's all subjective and obviously they need to be on the safe side. I have a steady hand, but it makes me wonder about how many times I'll have to move the ladder to make all the welds :)
Thanks, Ed
On Sunday, February 16, 2014 6:10:58 PM UTC-7, snipped-for-privacy@krl.org wrote:

got a clear picture how well it works.

y much like stick welding in that the electrode does not contact the work.

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On Monday, February 17, 2014 2:23:30 PM UTC-5, Ed Fasula wrote:

I did a little looking on the interent and the first site had this to say.
I searched using google using 'aluminum association welding advice"
1. Short Circuit Transfer - Metal transfer in which molten metal from a consumable electrode is deposited during repeated short circuits. This metal transfer which is sometimes known as short arc or dip transfer has been perfected for and is most widely used in the welding of thin gauge steels. Short circuit transfer produces a very low heat input and for this reason has the potential for producing incomplete fusion if used for aluminum. Short circuit transfer is not recommended for MIG welding of aluminum and has in the past been identified as such in technical publications and welding specifications. 2. Globular Transfer - The transfer of molten metal in large drops from a consumable electrode across the arc. This transfer mode is not considered suitable for welding aluminum and is most predominantly used when welding carbon steel with C02 shielding gas. 3. Spray Transfer - Metal transfer in which molten metal from a consumable electrode is propelled accurately across the arc in small droplets. When using argon, or an argon rich shielding gas with the MIG process the spray transfer mode can be achieved once the current increases above the globular-to-spray transition current. When we increase current to beyond the globular-to-spray transition current the metal transfer moves into spray transfer (The table below shows globular-to-spray transition currents for a selection of aluminum electrode diameters for welding aluminum). The spray transfer is a result of a pinch effect on the molten tip of the consumable welding wire. The pinch effect physically limits the size of the molten ball that can be formed on the end of the welding wire, and therefore only small droplets of metal are transferred rapidly through the welding arc from the wire to the workpiece. This transfer mode is characterized by its high heat input, very stable arc, smooth weld bead and very little if any spatter. Because spray transfer has a very high heat input which can overcome aluminum's high thermal conductivity, the spray transfer mode is recognized as the preferred mode of metal transfer for welding aluminum with the MIG process.
And this from Lincoln
Modes of Metal Transfer What is important to note when welding aluminum base material is that the thermal conductivity of the aluminum base material is higher than it is for carbon steel, and because of this the lower energy modes of metal transfer are unable to provide sufficient melting of the base material to ensure good fusion. Constant current power sources provided excellent penetration uniformity, and they reacted slowly to changing conditions. The slower dynamic response to changes in arc length were desirable for welding thicker sections of aluminum with electrode diameters 3/32" (2.4 mm) and larger. The primary disadvantage of CC power sources is arc starting and the ability to regulate arc length. Axial spray and pulsed spray metal transfers are the preferred metal transfer modes for aluminum, each of these are capable of providing the required energy levels for base metal melting to assure good fusion.
Dan
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On Monday, February 17, 2014 2:23:30 PM UTC-5, Ed Fasula wrote:
I had a friend that was ignorant of the recommendations for welding steel. He had a 110 volt Lincoln Mig and a 220 volt Lincoln stick welder. When h e needed to weld something too heavy for his little Mig welder, he would di sconnect the power supply from the mig welder and connect the stick welder. So he was using the little mig welder as a wire feeder and using the sti ck welder for the power supply.
Dan
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The important difference is that when running wire feed from a CC stick welder, your wire stick out sets your voltage, so you just need to be able to maintain a steady hand. I've done it lots of times. I have a Readywelder spoolgun which is basically a tiny suitcase feeder. I have run it from every possible CC and CV power supply around with no problems.
Miller and Lincoln can be weenies when they would prefer you buy another power supply from them, rather than jury-rig something you already have.

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I hear you Ernie... after I talked to a really good weld engineer at Lincol n I got a little concerned about slag inclusion and property degradation fr om voltage variation due to unsteady stick out. Not freaked out but a littl e concerned.
I just got off a lift engineering job where the guys were welding heavy iro n with a LN-25 outfitted with a FCAW gun that looked more like a wand than a gun. Believe me, I lusted after the rig, and thought long and hard about your suggestion, but in the end I realistically need a new MIG more than I need a LN-25 rigged up with my CC supply. I also got a $1700 price on the T hermal Arc 252i from Frank's supply in Albuquerque, which is $400 to $1K le ss than I've seen elsewhere, so I bit the bullet and went for it. Just got it yesterday and like it quite well. I haven't tried stick yet but from wha t I've seen I expect it to be better than my Maxstar 200 because it's an ea rly version that you can't hack into the operating system and up the OCV, w hich I think is too low. I've used fancier pulse welders at work, but the w eight and size put them out of the running. I'm also pleasantly surprised w ith the new Tweco Fusion gun. It feels good and the threadless tip system i s really nice. I bought some extra nozzles and will try hacking one back fo r running flux core with a little more maneuverability. I bought the "roll cage" which is pretty solid and handy for lugging the beast around. I'm goi ng to make a little platform dolly with big casters for it, and a removable stand to use when desired to get the unit up higher. I'll use the dolly as a dolly as well, I'm sure.
The only snag in my plan is they don't make either of the nice self shieldi ng flux core wires you recommended in 045. I talked to a great tech guy at Hobart who recommended the Fabshield 21B as the closest alternative, but it doesn't have toughness. The guy at Lincoln wasn't too good but I found ind ications online that their NR212 wire might have better properties than the 21B. Both have a max 3/4" thickness because mixing with base metal is impo rtant. The guy at ESAB was completely useless and was going to ask around a nd get back, and he never did after two calls. It's too bad because I know they make good wire. Any thoughts?
As it stands, for the job welding heavy bar outside I'm going to test tacki ng up/root pass with the NR212, then going over it with solid wire. If that works OK, I can assemble the monstrosity without lugging a bottle around o r worrying about wind. Then my helper can go around with a wire brush and s olid wire when it's calm. I might ask Hobart about doing this with their 21 B as well.
On Saturday, February 22, 2014 2:06:26 AM UTC-7, stagesmith wrote:

salt,

weld

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I have a miller 212 (I think the same power and duty cycle rating as the 211), and I have run up against its duty cycle a few times welding 3/8 wall steel tube. I think you would also with the 1" solid rod. Certainly if you were trying to weld continuously. I think the 250/1/2 would be a better choice.

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Also - looked for a quick connect for the gas with no luck. If anyone has a bead on one please LMK. thanks
On Thursday, February 6, 2014 1:10:28 PM UTC-7, Ed Fasula wrote:

by with my Lincoln SP170T MIG for light fab and ornamental work, and my Ma xstar 200 using TIG for heavy ornamental and stick for industrial.

or site welding 1" solid square bar, so stick is too messy and TIG is impra ctical.

in portable form.

ne to make 1" bar joints strong enough - I can bevel where I really need it . I'm a little wary of the 15% duty cycle, but I've used the SP170T a lot o n full power and that's 20% duty cycle. Hobart looks like the logical choic e. (I like Miller, but haven't seen why I would spend the extra $190 for th e Millermatic 211.)

or this unit here and found nothing. I don't know anyone who has used Therm al Arc welders.

ration? I've read some conflicting comments on that.

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Western Enterprises sells quick connects for shielding gas. I use them all over the place.
As to wires... NR212 is kind of like 6010 stick electrode. Higher penetration and toughness, but not a low hydrogen wire.
When you go to smaller wire sizes choices are limited. Hobart, and ESAB are my top choices, but Lincoln makes some OK wires as well.

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Thanks! Ordered Western hose fittings and inert quick connects:
1    QDB 300    Plug 1    QDB 303    Socket 2    AW-14A    Nut 2    AW-17    Barbed Nipple 1/4"
On Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:33:07 PM UTC-7, stagesmith wrote:

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