hi guys --

i'm a new member here, hoping to get some advice about a used mig i recently got. you guys all seem to really know your stuff, and are
pretty generous in passing along your knowledge. for what it's
worth, i'm 46, & live near grand rapids, michigan. i've known a
fair amount about welding for a long time, having been really
into BMX bikes in the early 1980's (with their beautiful tig welds) &
done some putzing with making my own parts & stuff as a kid back
in the day, and later working as a draftsman at a metal-fab company,
but i've always completely sucked at doing actual welding.

so, as a (very) novice welder, i was
wondering if anyone could offer any info or advice regarding a used
miller cricket welder i just bought. i got it for $130 off
craigslist (i'm hoping i didn't get taken), and it's missing the
cable hose & liner assembly.

here are some pics:









it fired up & seemed to run ok (the
power indicator & fan), and the seller touched the gun contact
wires together so i could see the wire feeder run. so even though i
haven't seen it weld, it's at least somewhat functional. i figured
i'd take the chance & quit spending endless hours fruitlessly
trolling craigslist for a quality small mig. seems like all that
ever comes up there in my area in my $$ range is pretty much either
oddball, or basket-case, or low-quality welders -- century, clarke,
harbor freight, solar, etc.

the manual i downloaded shows that the
gun i've got seems to be a ga-16c1, and the cable hose assembly i'm
missing is miller's part #110-792.

there's currently no gas solenoid
installed, and the seller was using fluxcore. i plan to try that
process, and would also like to learn mig with gas eventually. i do
have a tank of argon/co2 and a flowmeter, and was thinking of maybe
cobbling up some manual valve to open & close by hand when
welding. not sure though -- maybe that's a stupid idea.

my workshop is bargain-basement, and my
welder budget is pretty low. i've blown my stash in just buying the
welder, so i was wondering if it might be possible to fabricate a
homemade hose assembly. i seem to spend half my life trying to
cobble together low-buck workarounds for stuff, and am pretty used to
it. it doesn't look all that complicated, and the 4th pic above
shows the gun-assembly parts i've currently got. most of the gun
itself appears to be there.

from what i can tell, here's what i
figure i'd need:

1. rubber hose (10 ft for stock, or
longer if i get a longer liner) -- not sure yet about the diameter
required

2. a liner to match, for .023-.035 wire

3. hose barb fittings for the above
hose, with something like an m10x1.0 female compression fitting
connector, hopefully with a large-enough i.d. for the liner to fit
through

4. 2 trigger wires, with appropriate
disconnects, to run through the hose, alongside the liner

5. a short piece of larger-diameter
rubber hose, to act as a strain relief at the plug end

alternatively, i've also been looking
on ebay for guns in my price range, and am watching a few that might
work. they seem to have the modern miller-style plug end, although
some are much higher amp-rated than i need, and are for larger wire.
depending on what comes of looking on ebay, it may not be worth
bothering to fabricate my own hose. and maybe a manufacturer-sponsored forum isn't the place to be asking about cobbling up a homemade substitute for their stuff.

and here are my other really dumb mig
questions:

1. is it the wire housing of the liner
that carries the welding current from the feeder to the contact tip?
from what i can tell, it doesn't look as if there's a separate
welding current conductor also in the hose.

2. is the liner just kinda lying loose
in the hose, or are there some type of spacers that keep it centered
in the hose (if that even matters)?

3. can the trigger wires be safely run
alongside the hose barbs & out of the hose, or will the barb
either chew them up or leak because of the presence of the wires? i
believe that the gas flow is pretty low-pressure, so small leaks at
one or both ends, around the wires, may not matter.

4. if i was to end up buying an ebay
torch set up for larger wire, could i just put smaller contact tips
in the gun & have it work ok with .023 - .035? some forum sites
i checked mentioned possible feeding problems if doing that, but it
was unclear if the oversize liner was causing the problems being
discussed there , or if there were other problems in their drive
assembly.

5. are all regular miller crickets
70-amp machines, and the cricket xl's 90-amp? while researching this
purchase, it seemed like 3/16" is the very max these can weld,
and that only with fluxcore. 1/8" seems to be the max with gas.
is that about right?

6. in the rear end of the brass plug
piece, there's this little screw-in fitting that kinda resembles part
of a compression fitting ferrule. the parts diagram refers to it as a 'liner collet.' from what i can tell, the liner goes through it & ends up stopping pretty close to the drive roller. is this fitting some kind of a stop that grips the liner &
holds it in place or something? or just a bushing with the right
hole size for the liner, to keep it lined up right? if so, is it
removable so that you can use different size liners with the same
basic plug & only have to change out that fitting?

thank you for taking the time to read
all this stuff, and for any input you could offer. sorry if the
homemade-hose stuff is a dumb (or dangerous) idea. and sorry for the
lunkheaded basic questions.

thanks!

drew joseph