My MIG has issues

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Active member
Jan 14, 2024
My MIG is a Neiko tools MIG 135 that I bought in 2009. It’s one of the old Hobart MIG 140 clones that were available then. Eastwood, Northern and many off brands were sold. In storage for about 2 years.

When I turn it on now it has a really loud buzz, which I’m thinking is loose windings. It comes and goes. It does arc and feed just fine. However it’s not getting gas either. The gas regulator was ruptured so I bought a new one with the check ball that floats which I tested unhooked. My welds don’t look bad, like porous but they are dirty so I’m not sure If it’s getting some amount of gas… something is telling me it might be the gas solenoid or even the torch liner

Right now Hitbox is having a sale on their MP2000 and MP250 welders which are multiprocess MIG, lift TIG and stick welders. The 250 is $188 and I could get the 200 for like $160. Not Lincoln, Miller or Hobart but my Neiko tools one worked great… the 220V option for the MIG might make chassis welding easier than with stick… I already bought the Hitbox 200A compact stick welder which works good on 220. I got it to burn Harbor Freight 1/8” 7018 out of the box. I don’t have a rod oven and it has some moisture in it so it’s a pain. I have always used Hobart electrodes but i was at the freight one day
Where to start?
On the Neiko Mig 135, was the wire also in storage with the welder? Could be the wire itself has some rust or is dirty. If its rusty, it needs to be replaced. You may be able to unspool enough wire to get back to clean non-rusty wire, but wire with rust on it doesn't weld for crap. If its dirty, you may be able to tie a short piece of cotton cloth around the wire just before it runs through the guide for the rollers. You also want to make sure the roller surfaces are clean and don't have surface rust on them. I would pull the wire out of the liner and blow compressed air through the liner to make sure it isn't full of dust. A bad tip could be part of the problem too, replace the tip with a new one. The tip should slide smoothly over the wire. While you have the air compressor going, blow out the inside of the welder case through its cooling fan with the compressed air as well. If that has never been done, it can make a pretty big dust cloud, be ready. If the gas regulator was ruptured, it is possible bugs and dust got into the supply line, might want to disconnect the regular and blow through that open line as well.

As far as the stick welder, invest in a new box of welding rod. You don't need an oven to store the rod. If you have an enclosed cabinet, simply adding a trouble light with a 60 watt incandescent bulb (If you can still find one in your area) left turned on in the closed cabinet provides enough heat to dry out the rod and keep it dry. If your existing rod got too wet, it may not help to dry it out. When the flux coating on the rod starts flaking off the rod, is usually toast.
I pulled the cover off. And looked in the valve. The supply hose is new with the regulator.. it looks like the valve is full of teflon, and i cannot get it out. The rattle is a solid state part on the control board. I wouldn’t know what it does except that it’s blue. Now the question is how much do I invest vs getting a 220v unit to replace and upgrade.

I know 7018 is really susceptible to moisture. I used to bake them in a toaster oven if they set for a while. But these Harbor Freight Vulcan rods are horrible. I’m tempted to take them back. I used to buy Hobart 7018 by the 10 pound dry box.
Oh and the wire looks brand new, clean and the wire runs through the tip good. The tip could probably be replaced but it’s working. I think this welder burns .023
The first 220 welder I invested in 30 years ago cost $1500 back then. The second 220 welder I invested in cost $1200 on sale and came with a spool gun for welding aluminum (the main reason I bought it). I sold the 2nd welder when I retired, after 15 years of use and got $1200 for it. The 1st welder is still here and still gets used, and still pretty much has the same parts it came from the factory with. Both welders lived in a one man welding shop and worked 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week.

It sounds like your cheap welder has died, you may not even be able to buy replacement parts. I'm probably not the guy to ask about buying another cheap welder. An "upgrade" to another cheap welder is not an upgrade. Invest in a good welder!

I have a friend that tells me I wasted too much buying my Miller welders. He is on his 3rd Harbor Freight welder, and this one isn't sounding so great either. After about 10 years, he has spent more then I did (and more then a Miller would have cost him) and he soon won't have a welder again. Cheap welders have a short duty cycle at about 1/2 its rated capacity, if you exceed the duty cycle, they die in 3-4 years. A 30% duty cycle at 50% capacity means that if you weld at 1/2 of what the welder's highest settings are for 3 minutes, you have to let the machine run to cool off for the next 7 minutes before you get another 3 minutes of weld time. Both of my Millers have a 100% duty cycle at max load.
Eastwood has the parts for my welder as they used to sell their own brand of it. So the gas solenoid, guns, liners and things are all available. I don’t think this was really due to usage. It was sitting in a damp old garage. It did a ton of welding for me for years.

I would buy a good welder but with my rat rod budget it’s either buy a welder and have nothing to use it on, or buy another cheap one to get by and spend the budget on rat rod parts.

The one hang up I might have with a new welder and push me to fix mine is it will run .023 which is what I run. The other welders run .030. But my rat rod cab is 18ga with a 16ga framework.

I should also mention that Harbor Freight welders are over priced. My Hitbox 200D compact arc welder cost $62 on a flash Christmas sale. Normally $100. I did buy better leads for it for about $30. A similar welder at HF is about $179.

The welder I could buy right now is $160 on sale. A relatively low cost that I could buy and scan the marketplaces for a good used welder later.
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I think what I’m going to do is replace the gas solenoid. It’s like $20, and then replace the main board. It’s like $50, and I’ll get a new liner because they are cheap and some new tips. The front panel which I cracked years ago is also available for like $20 if I wanted it
I ended up just ordering the gas solenoid. I can’t verify the main board is the correct one. It looks very similar but not exact. So I’ll see if I can get it to flow gas first and then if I get it that far where it’ll weld again I’ll investigate more.

Hitbox is begging me pretty much to buy that multiprocess welder. I have an offer from them at $141 which is tempting just to see.. but the other part of me says that is a little more than the ‘32 crossmember
For the time being it’s repaired. A new gas solenoid fixed it up. Still buzzing but I found the bad components for sale. The main board has one bulging capacitor and the transformer that is buzzing. I would swap the entire board except I can’t find a main board that matches 100%.

I did order the other welder. Was $135 + tax as a holdover. European reviews suggest it will work okay.Who knows the longevity but if it works over a week it pays for a rental. And it does do .023 wire. That was buried in the specs
What welding rod should I use for a model a frame? I bought a box of 6011 1/8” and a box of 7014 3/32” from TSC to see what those 2 will do with the little arc welder
It looks like you have settings for AC or DC, and you can reverse polarity, so that lets you use about any rod. So here are the basics, also note that newer rod is more diverse than the old stuff. 6013, "Farmers rod", welds easy, on about anything, even a little rust wont hurt it. lots of smoke and spatter, but with practice it is fine. 6010, Great first pass "hot pass" for pipeline, dc rod , welds easy in any direction. 6011, the AC version of 6010, pretty clean when the machine is set right. 7018, all the other pipeline and structural welds. welds uphill, and overhead with practice, but a very solid, and clean weld, important to keep moisture out of this rod. It doesn't like rust, or dirt, and can be a little more difficult on two different thicknesses of metal. There are hundreds of other rods out there, but those are the most popular, and most widely used. 1/8 is a pretty good standard size to start with, and you can size up or down depending on the thickness of what you are welding. When I am welding structural steel 1/2 thick, I use 1/8th in multiple passes mostly. Some people like 7024 as a cap pass, because it is a jet rod, that you drag. I found it good for long straight flat work, like truck beds, and loader buckets.
My arc welder is a DC inverter welder. Although 99% of the arc welding I’ve done has been on a Lincoln tombstone AC box. The directions say not to run 6010 but 6011 will run. Research online seems to agree and notes it’s a voltage issue. I’ll have to get some dry and good Hobart 7018, as that is what is available locally. That’s not garbage HF rod
I like Forney 7018 over Lincoln 7018, but I have never run Hobart. I understand it used to be made in Troy Ohio, but is now made mostly overseas, but who knows nowdays?
If I can catch air gas when it’s open, I can get whatever rod I want. I’ve seen the Forney online. Been curious. Lincoln may be available at one of the box stores. Walmart used to carry some but I don’t think they carry it anymore.

The only thing i can guarantee is the 7018 from harbor freight is garbage. The package is not completely sealed and it just won’t burn for crap. It also looks dirty for lack of a better term… I’ve gotta get some practice metal to tune this welder in, because I don’t think the amperage settings are 1:1 accurate
7018 is low hydrogen rod. Which makes it draw moisture quicker than any other rod, that is what causes it to look dirty. Also makes it burn poorly. When I was a young man, I stored welding rod in an old non working refrigerator, with the light bulb inside on all the time. That was my rod oven. Nowdays before I weld on a project, I put a load of rods in a real rod oven the night before. I don't buy a big box of rod unless I plan to use it all in a month. I buy the smaller boxes, and use them up, because 7018 doesn't last forever. After it is re heated several times the flux starts breaking up.
I’m actually going to buy a toaster oven. Set for 200* and toast a few at a time and yes I’ll buy fresh rods a pound at a time.. I knew the harbor freight container didn’t look sealed. I would have bought Hobart that day but i was there so i tried them
I always keep my rods in a storage box. When I built the original frame I was using 7018AC and they got damp so I had to get more. I probably still have the damp ones somewhere. I didn’t have an oven then. I still don’t but I think a thrift store toaster oven will work fine. 200* for a couple hours or whatever.

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