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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Relative greenhorn needs advice on welder

    I've been looking at threads here and on other sites trying to glean the info I want but decided to just ask. A little background first should help though. I'm 50 and not looking for a new career. I am interested in hobby welding at home but do not own a welder at the moment. I have welded some since I was a teenager. Stick only until mid 90's when I bought a Miller 185 mig at work along with a spool gun. My work involves only some welding. With that welder I did as much personal projects as for work. I also did some aluminum (1/8" mostly) projects that turned out quite well. Currently at a diffent job location we have a Miller Passport (the original that doesn't support a spool gun) that works well for what we do.

    My interests at home seem to be mostly with aluminum and stainless though I've never welded stainless. For my needs I can't see needing to go bigger than 1/4 aluminum and that would be rare. I currently have need to do much thinner aluminum (0.065"). Even steel projects for me would probably max out at 1/4 usually. I've never even tried TIG but that seems to be where this points to.

    And finally but most importantly is my welder budget of 1500 bucks or so. That would put me into a Miller 211 MIG with gun and tank rental or a 165 TIG. Any advice will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Salem ,Ohio


    I have the MM185 with a spoolgun also but if i was to replace it the MM212 would be the pick just because the duty cycle is higher than the MM211. Just my thoughts...Bob
    Bob Wright, Grandson of Tee Nee Boat Trailer Founder
    Metal Master Fab Salem, Oh 44460
    Birthplace of the Silver & Deming Drill
    1999 MM185 w/185 Spoolgun,1986 Thunderbolt AC/DC
    Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011


    Thats a good point on the 212 versus the 211. Thanks Bob

    After reading my original post I want to add a little. I'm really drawn to a buying my own MIG machine. I just am concerned that it will not fit my interest of thinner aluminum work or at least will be marginal. Maybe what I'm hoping for is affirmation from you guys with vast experience that MIG will work even if marginal.

    OR if the verdict is to skip the MIG and get a TIG machine that will be good advice well taken. Again, I do have a budget I need to be mindful of so if I get TIG it will be the 165 Miller of 165 Hobart. Millers online welder selector tool says get the TIG

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Los Angeles


    Within your budget- Mig Aluminum is only good down to 16g- anything thinner will require a Tig machine.

    Even on 16g the results are not very good looking- AL Mig, in general isn't very purdy anyway.

    Now we also come in to the problem of the 165 machine being limited in its abilities on thicker stock
    Ed Conley
    Passport Plus w/Spool Gun
    Miller 125c Plasma 120v
    O/A set
    SO 2020 Bender
    You can call me Bacchus

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Los Angeles


    I vote for the Diversion 180. I know it is a little more money, but is twice the machine and will operate on 115volts as well.
    Nothing welded, Nothing gained

    Miller Dynasty700DX
    3 ea. Miller Dynasty350DX
    Miller Dynasty200DX
    ThermalArc 400 GTSW
    MillerMatic200 with spoolgun
    Lincoln SP-170T
    Linde UCC305 (sold 2011)
    Hypertherm 1250
    Hypertherm 800
    PlasmaCam CNC cutter
    Fadal Toolroom CNC Mill
    SiberHegner CNC Mill
    2 ea. Bridgeport
    LeBlond 15" Lathe
    Haberle 18" Cold Saw
    Doringer 14" Cold Saw
    6 foot x 12 foot Mojave granite

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011


    thanks for the advice, the help is much appreciated! - kind of what I was expecting - I'll look into the 180 and keep saving till I get there

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    Perhaps the answer to what you want is oxy-acetylene welding.

    Quality outfits aren't very expensive. Aluminum was being OA welded before the TIG process existed, and it's used in some high dollar auto and aircraft work.

  8. #8


    I would recommend a miller Dailarc HF.. get one with the tig torch and foot controls and regulator already with the machine.. these can be had for around $500-$700. They are older machines built like tanks and parts are readily available. These were the industry standard back in the day... I have an old white face and would not trade it for any machine. john

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2011


    Thanks for the suggestions. Gives me even more to consider. Almost everything I ever buy is used and needs fixed. Some things I'm okay fixing and some things are an adventure. I really don't want more adventures right now as am not familiar with internals of welders and I live somewhat remotely so also don't relish the thought of chasing parts. I'm probably going to go with the Miller Diversion 180. I wont be making my living from it and the material I want to work with will be on the thinner side. If the Diversion 180 had swapable torches, I would have already bought.

    With that said; Does anyone know if the ThermalArc 211i will have AC output as well as DC?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Diversion 180

    I have ^ this welder and works great, and i would deff recomend a diversion, i had never tig welded befor i bought mine, makes it super easy to learn

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