Hi all! Am looking to buy a small MIGwelder in the 135 amp range and looking at Lincoln or a Hobart (who i think is made by Miller) and not sure which may be the better unit. I read somewhere that Lincoln started using aluminum instead of copper in their windings. I guess I'm hoping you can help with some insight / experience on these different manufacturers for someone who will be doing some light repair and fabrication work. I know this would be a marginal unit for any 'serious' welding, but it is what I can spend now.
aluminum transformers are common anymore, but lincoln cuts a lot of more corners that just shouldnt be cut. fayetteville technical community college in fayetteville nc bought a half dozen lincoln "ideal arc 250" stick welders for their welding curriculum. in the _first_ year the rheostat position indicators in every machine was broken and replaced (the cheap rubber band that lincoln uses is what actually broke). when they all broke again in the second year they were left broken leaving the students to guestimate their settings because it was determined that its not in the budget to replace them every year. by the third year most of the rheostats themselves had been replaced. this was most likely due to student abuse by switching the rheostat while welding but the school also bought a half dozen miller dial arc 250's that same year and now 5 years later none of the millers have required service. the same school replaced their lincoln MIG units with miller and hobart for the same reason.
now, im not calling the lincoln "junk"....lincoln still builds a fine welder....but its not built as well as the comparable miller.
I was out shopping also and I went to a welding shop that sold the 3 major brands and I had him tell me what the difference was in the units and I did get sold on the miller 135. People that have the Hobart are not pleased and the linc. just in not up to my standards... The Miller was worth the price difference. So far I am pleased. I bought it just as a fex core but now I bought the gas and will play with that this weekend I hope if I find time along... and I also went with the auto dark Hornell Speedglas entry-level shade 10 for $125.00, well worth it.. I am a novice just starting fex and mig welding, for now self teach from others and trial and welt. I will do the college coarse in the fall..
Save for the miller 135. worth it in the long run of time spent playing and working with it..
My newbe input... (man, I never thought I would ever call myself a newbe on anything)
I've heard a lot of good stuff about HTP and their customer service. I'm sure it's a great company. I'm leery as far as buying a machine based on duty cycle specs. It is getting to be a game with manufacturers' marketing depts. on how to write about the machine to be one up on the competition. It's similar to how my 1980's 1 HP air compressor compares darn near equal to today's 5 HP compressors.
When I went shopping for a baby MIG in 1998, I tried a friends Miller(XP?)130, tried the Lincoln SP125 and Hobart Handler 135 at the dealer. I went with the Lincoln SP 125 Plus because of certain features(including color) and have been very happy as is my friend with the Miller 130. I may be a slow fitter and maybe that's why I have never had a machine overheat, ever. I've had to stop because the gun and metal were too hot, but never the machine. I have 20 amp circuit for my MIG and that may be a factor too but I think 95% of us using a 120 volt welder use it on a 20A circuit and the other 5% use them on a 15 amp breaker. 25 amp/120 volt outlets are rare as chicken lips. What that means is most people will never realize the max output of the 120 volt machine and probably not miss it either. The reason being the multi-pass weld or the backup stick welder. My humble recommendation would be to find a dealer that has machines to try out and don't mind having their ears twisted a bit and have a good stock of supplies.