As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve gone so over budget on automotive stuff that 2019 will have to be an extremely low spending year. I bought a lot of tools and parts this year knowing that it would take me some time to really put them to use. However, there’s one key tool I did not purchase as I’ve been spending a lot of time researching what I’ll need to learn a new skill within the confines of a personal budget/home garage setup.
Yes. That tool is a welder.
Now I have never had the opportunity to use a welder or learn any actual metal work skills. 2019 will hopefully be the year as I correct this gap in my knowledge.
Now understand, I have no intent on becoming a welder. I merely wish to become a “budget welder as needed” guy to take a stab at the automotive welding necessary in restoring or modding a car. That includes basic frame and chassis welding, and the all important sheet metal welding, incredibly necessary for working on a “pan on frame” type of car like a Beetle.
After almost a year of research, I’ve determined how I at least want to start, and that falls to basic MIG (metal inert gas) welding. With a basic MIG setup, I should be able to theoretically deal with all of the kinds of metal welding needed for basic automotive repairs.
My requirements are pretty restricting, but necessary given my budget and most especially my space limitations. (The Garage of Love™ ain’t at T.A.R.D.I.S.!)
- Less than $1000 total for equipment
- Must be able to work on 120v standard US household voltage/outlets
- Must allow for both gas configuration as well as flux-core welding
- Average duty cycle for amperage
I’m currently trying to decide between a few models.
The Hobart 201MVP runs quite a bit more, but still under $1000 for the core unit. It is far more powerful than the Lincoln, allowing for both 115V and up to 220V (should I ever run proper circuit). It welds steel and aluminum.
The Hobart actually has a $100 rebate until the end of this year, and Amazon currently has it with Prime for $849 so I could get it for $749 after the rebate and get all the fuel perks I get by buying a Amazon gift card at Kroger.
I’d gladly get a used welder, but quite frankly I’m so leery of buying the ones I’ve found on FB Marketplace or Craigslist since they all look so “used” and I just don’t know what I’m getting in terms of expected lifespan on the thing. At least with a new core unit I’ll have a warranty.
All of this, regardless of cost, still requires me to buy a small gas tank and setup to properly do MIG welding too. And that’s before any consumables are purchased!
There’s the accessories needed, including helmet, gloves, and various smaller tools and clamps and such.
And of course, I need to spend at least $300 on this kick-ass Sentinel Welding helmet that not only looks super-mega-balls awesome. It will let me weld in The Garage of Love™ far more stylishly than any other Garage in the neighborhood and also allow me to fill in for Daft Punk if they need me to spin phat beats.