Welder Advice for Motorcycle Applications

Hello All,
I am currently in the market for a welder to be used for a custom
motorcycle build. I would assume it will be used primarily for some
sheet metal fabrication. There may also be a need for welding tabs to
the frame. I have no experience with welding so I am getting very
confused. I have been told to consider only 220 volt units. Since I am
a beginner in this arena, I was planning on purchasing a MIG unit with
gas conversion. Can I get some views on the 110 vs 220 units? Thanks
in advance. Rich.
Reply to
rricciardi
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Best bet is really a 220VAC unit if you have an easy power feed for it. (I started with a Miller 135 and then graduated to a 210 for MIG) The 210 really was a big jump in duty cycle and material thickness. Now Miller has a DVI unit that has interchangeable plugs for 110 and 220 I never used one, it looks like a glorified 175 in a 210 chassis but I bet some of the guys here have trigger time on them. Skip getting a cheap-o unit in my opinion, you get what you pay for. I just threw a Harbor freight "loaner" I let friends use into the truck for target practice at the rifle range this weekend (Raining at the track). it died after 9 months of VERY light use and they would not honor the warranty. I even went into the store with the machine and got blown off. Lincoln, Miller, ESAB, and anything a professional recommends here should be seriously considered if you plan on it. I'd listen here before stopping at a dealership to avoid being "oversold" Some of the dealers on E-bay have free shipping and are certified dealers for the products they sell and I have never seen a machine on a floor go for less than what I have seen on E-bay. Any yes, they are brand new. My buddy just got his Thermal arc yesterday and won't answer the phone in his shop. I got my Plasma cutter the same way and saved $350.00 so just factor that in. Also buy a cylinder. 80cf is about $140.00 here in Chi-town. Any way you go you are gonna have fun, just get good protective gear too!
The guys on this group have answered some of the craziest questions I had, don't hesitate to ask. I always came out ahead by asking what I thought was a "dumb" question.
Oh, I will gladly post pics once we put a bunch of .50 and .223 rounds into the pile of shit HF unit for kicks. I then plan on leaving it at the HF store on a busy day.
Rob
Fraser Competition Engines Chicago, IL.
Reply to
RDF
Thanks alot for the input!! I have found exactly like you have been saying about EBay. The best prices I am seeing for Hobart and Miller are on EBay with shipping included. Thanks again because I was thinking of getting one from Harbor Freight based on the price alone.
Reply to
rricciardi
just wondering about the details on the HF POS transaction; they have ALWAYS been quite up on customer satisfaction in this neck of the woods
Reply to
dogalone
Yea, get the H/F only if you need something for target practice !! Hobart and Miller are both owned by Illinois Tool Works. I don't know if the internals are the same but man, they look really close. I never used a Hobart but I never heard a complaint from one of the guys who own one.
Rob
Fraser Competition Engines Chicago, IL.
Reply to
RDF
New store in Burbank IL. The "Manager" is some reject from Burger King. He argued to the point I had to walk out or risk punching the guy out cold. (no joke, and I fancy myself as a rather patient person.) The idiot called an office in CA. and we had a speakerphone conversation and they said they had to adhere to "policy" no exceptions would be made or considered for any electrical gear at all. I stopped at the gun shop and picked up some 12ga slugs after that one. that thing won't even resemble a "welder" if it even merited the title to start with once I'm done at the range.
Reply to
RDF
well, here they have a 30 day "no question" return for cash (or reversal if paid for with a credit card); after 30 days, up to a year in some cases, can be returned for REPLACEMENT if defective. on the "lifetime" stuff (mostly wrenches, sockets, and likewise) it has been just that way. did your transaction fall within these guidelines?
Reply to
dogalone
Your aren't going to be happy with a MIG welder for motorcyle applications. MIG is a production orientated process, it does not accomodate one joint at a time setups.
We build off custom off road buggies from 1" OD and 1.25"x.049" wall tube
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we use the MIG process we tack weld all the joints, grind them down, then weld the whole frame in one session after an hour of setup to get it just perfect. This year we switched to TIG, obviously the better way to go.
Regular TIG setups run $1500 and up (Miller Synchrowave 180SD, Thermal Arc Prowave 185TSW), you might be able to get by with a cheaper scratch start unit.
As for your question on 120 vs 240 units, what you want to do is within the power range of 120 volt units, trouble is these cheaper units don't have the features you need to do great welds on thinwall tubing.
Don't get me wrong, I bring a cheap 120 volt MIG fitted with flux core wire to competitions for panic repairs, it burns right though the paint and spilled oil. But I would never consider using it for the original fabrications.
snipped-for-privacy@cfl.rr.com wrote:
Reply to
RoyJ
"RoyJ" wrote: (clip) MIG is a production orientated process, it does not accomodate one joint at a time setups. (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Your remarks do not agree with my experience, nor the impression I have from reading this newsgroup. Several people have compared MIG to a "glue gun for metal." After years of experience with a buzz box and A/C torch, I invested in a Lincoln 120 volt MIG unit. My only problem was in learning to see thru my auto-darkening helmet with the new welder. For light duty work I find it ideal, and I do a variety of joints--none of them production setups.
One thing I particularly like is the ability to hold the work with one hand and make tack welds with the other--eliminating a lot of time consuming positioning and clamping frustration.
Reply to
Leo Lichtman
Save the gun and wire feed unit. Lots of folks may need this in the future.
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
Reply to
Gunner
Have you tried thin wall tubing with angled coped joints and fitup that may not be perfect? Have you tried repair welding on rusty or painted steel? Do you need portability at the job site? Do you work in an area with air movement (say on a pipeline or bridge)? A MIG is not the best way to tackle any of those.
My crew has one Mig welder loaded with heavy wire for brackets and plate, another with .023 wire for tubing, a Synchrowave 180SD TIG, a high end stick welder with wave shape control, and O/A in the shop. For competition use we borrow a TIG, run a 120volt MIG with Flux core, or drag out an ancient 240 buzz box to run off a 4kw generator. They argue about MIG vs TIG for fabrication (and do beautiful work I might add!) but when they need to weld a bracket in the greasy engine compartment next to a hot manifold, they somehow want me to drag out the buzzbox and stick weld it. Whatever works.
The OP wanted to weld motorcycle frames. Been there, done that, MIG is not my first choice.
Leo Lichtman wrote:
Reply to
RoyJ
Thanks for the input. I am assuming that the bulk of any welding will be for gas tank and fender modifications. Maybe some round bar welding for a sissy bar. I have been told that for welding tabs to the frame the best bet is TIG. I have no problem paying someone if I need tabs attached to the frame. My desire is really to get into sheet metal fabrication. I know you get what you pay for but I also don't want to spend more money on something that I might not ever use. I guess what I'm asking is: Can I get by with a 110 volt unit for the tank/fender applications? It will be a rigid motorcycle which equates to alot of engine vibration and not much buffering from the road surface. I would gladly spend the money for a 220 volt unit if that is the best option. It just means also needing some electrical work done in the garage.
Reply to
rricciardi
ARGH! Thin gas tanks that need to seal, fenders that need to be warp free to look right, low frequency, high excursion vibration........ you are picking on all the really tough stuff to do right!
Learning to start welding and sheet metal are a tough combination. Your application is the worst of the worst.
You can get by with a 120 volt MIG with the gas upgrade, a 240 volt MIG will have the extra controls that will make things work better even though you don't really need the extra power, and TIG is the premium welder at double the money and 1/10 the weld speed.
I think it really boils down to how serious you are, how much you want to do, and how much loose change you have in your pocket.
snipped-for-privacy@cfl.rr.com wrote:
Reply to
RoyJ
By "welder" here you're looking for a guy who knows how to work it. This might be you, with suitable training.
Motorbikes are tube frames and highly loaded. You need TIG, and you _need_ to be good at using it.
There are a few things you can do with MIG, With both in the workshop, you might even reach for it first. But for some unavoidable parts, you're going to need TIG, and you're going to need good, reliable skills.
Reply to
Andy Dingley
Rob, Please do post pictures. Maybe put them in the drop box under "friends don't let friends buy HF welders".
To the original poster: I would pick TIG for motorcycle frames, gas tanks, fenders, etc. The TA185 would do this nicely for a reasonable setup cost. Like others have said, for other than in-shop construction of new frames (i.e. at race, etc.) other welders could come into play. But for small volume production shop work, I'd pick TIG.
Jeff Dantzler Seattle, WA
Reply to
Jeff Dantzler
Thanks Jeff. Who makes the TA185?
Reply to
rricciardi
Thanks Jeff. Who makes the TA185?
Reply to
rricciardi
I think Jeff is referring to the Thermal Arc Pro-Wave 185 TSW. Ernie Leimkuhler, resident welding guru and all around good guy consistently recommends this TIG welder as being a best buy in its class. This is the TIG welder I intend to buy once I have built a proper shop to use it in.
Reply to
Artemia Salina
I do motorcycle work all the time, and unless you are going to be welding very very thin sheet material, then a good quality MIG with a pulser, to make it easier to use on thinner material, would be a good choice.
It will take a bit of practice to get good welds on thin sheet steel, but this is likely to take a lot less time, than learning to TIG weld from scratch.
However you do need to get a good quality machine, as trying to weld thin material with a cheap MIG which has aluminum windings, is very difficult indeed.
Finally many motorcycle chassis are built using the MIG process, and this is quite acceptable in terms of strength, but appearance wise is not as attractive as the same job done by an experienced TIG welder.
ken
Reply to
Kenny
Roy, or anyone: Tell me more about a "high end stick welder with wave shape control." I'm aware of wave shape control for TIG welding, and sorta understand what that does for you. What about for stick welding? I was under the impression that high-end stick welding mostly used DC if possible, and AC only for special circumstances (arc blow).
Thanks,
Andy
Reply to
Andrew H. Wakefield

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