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Old 09-29-2003, 10:49 AM
Coming back from burnout
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: in the Pacific Northwest
Posts: 2,274
Tools--is it worth it to buy a welder and if so what kind?

Among the specialized tools I own: a Vacuum pump , an air compressor , an engine hoist, several kinds of Pitman pullers, shop ginders

...All the tools pay their freight except for my investment in compressed air. It turned out I dont use air tools that much, you cant access tight spaces , they scare the neighbors ,and I only use the compressed air to clean when I am rebuilding engines.

---Would an arc welder turn out to be a similar boondogle? I dont need an overpriced toy. I plan to use it fix the rust pitting on the body on my 240D and do some exhaust work. I was really po'd when Mieneke charged me $60 for an exhaust weld--

If not, what kind of welder should I look at?

Tools--is it worth it to buy a welder and if so what kind?
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Old 09-29-2003, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: NB Canada
Posts: 1,173
Get a MIG

...the kind that takes a compressed gas cylinder, not the flux core wire models. Believe me, you'll be an expert in an afternoon! I used over 30 lbs of wire on my streetrod project, and have attended to the rusties on a 76' 450SE for over 10 years (car has been sold, though).
1986 560SL
2002 Toyota Camry
1993 Lexus
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Old 09-29-2003, 04:27 PM
csnow's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
Posts: 1,127
MIGs are nice(I want one), but a regular old 'stick' arc welder is very inexpensive, and a good starter machine.

I have a common 220v Lincoln.
Great for fabrication and structural work.
Can melt through very thick materials.

Hard to control on thin body metal, however, and welds require more cleanup than with the fancier machines.

I also have a 120v Sears, which is not great as a stick welder (weak), but can be setup with a carbon arc torch for brazing, and it works well with a spot welding attachment, which is nice.

Really depends what you want to use it for...
1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.

Last edited by csnow; 09-29-2003 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 09-29-2003, 06:34 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Utah
Posts: 51
I would get a mig.

I have used mine to repair and restore many cars over the years. I have also used it to build skateboard rails, fix bikes, and build tools. I just used mine to graph an Allen wrench to an old Chinese ratchet to brake the rotors lose on my 560. This took about 5 minutes to build.

I purchased my mig at Sears about 10 years ago for $300.00. The tank was another $75.00. It has paid for itself 100 times over.
1988 560SEL, Green, Chrome wheels.
2000 Suburban, 20" wheels, DVD, wood grain dash (wife's car).
67 Beetle euro, Lots of Empi parts.
69 Beetle conv, 1980s cal look.
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Old 09-29-2003, 07:18 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: NB Canada
Posts: 1,173
Yes, I'm with the MIG vote here

I plan to use it fix the rust pitting on the body on my 240D and do some exhaust work.
As the OP has said, the requirement seems to be woking on thin steel, either body or light tubing, etc., so that would certainly endorse an inexpensive MIG. But I'd try and not be tempted to save $$ by buying a flux-cored wire-only machine. I've tried one of these, and they do work, but there's a limit to how thin the sheet can be before you really have burn through problems. There may come a time when the manufacturers will address this with better flux compounds, but right now, the heat required to vaporize the flux core is too high for body metal work.

As for brazing, this is fine for many shop jobs, and relatively cheap too, but the problem for body work use is again, the fluxing agent, which will play havoc with your filler and paint.

In my home shop, I have a 220V stick welder, oxy-acetelene, and the gas MIG (which is Metal Inert Gas, BTW). The stick welder is back-up for the MIG, and used for very occasional heavy steel work (trailer hitches, frame repairs, that sort of 1/8" and up stuff). The torch comes out to persuade rusty nuts, and cut muffler & tailpipe bolts. The MIG is used 99% for the heavy and light jobs both.

I built a streetrod over a 14 year period with a MIG, bought locally and still available from Enderfield & Hall, Chicago, called the Practic 120. It doesn't have to be top $$ to work well, especially for home shop use.
1986 560SL
2002 Toyota Camry
1993 Lexus
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Old 09-29-2003, 07:34 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Battle Ground, WA
Posts: 576
Get a Mig welder!

Hi there,
I have a 280 amp arc welder, an oxy-acetylene outfit, and a mig welder. I find myself using the mig welder for over 75 percent of the welding I do. The arc welder is indispensable for welding anything 1/4" thick and thicker, and the oxy-acetylene outfit is good for cutting and brazing, but warps sheet metal too much. The mig welder allows you to weld sheet metal and tubing with very little effort and makes a very strong weld. My unit is an inexpensive italian unit that I bought 20 yrs ago for $350 or so, and has given good service.

Happy shopping!

Richard Wooldridge
'82 300D/4.3L V6
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