After 40 years of running to a welder to get simple projects done, I finally decided I had had enough. Enough of the tedious marking, measuring, and clamping I had to do to properly position the parts for the welder. Enough of spending 30 minutes to do all this, and another hour going back and forth to his shop, so he could take 10 minutes to do the deed. Enough of having to stop in the middle of a build to make the trip — if he was even open. It was way past time to get myself a welder!
The next step, of course, was which one to get? I decided the best one for me was a Lincoln Electric POWER MIG 140C (#K2471-2/$694) welder kit. The 140C plugs into a standard 120-volt/60-cycle/single-phase three-prong outlet that has a 20-amp breaker. In short, what you’ll find in a home garage. Lincoln designed the 140C specifically for the do-it-yourselfer. It’s a high-quality welder that’s perfect for home and farm projects, sheet metal work, and small shop welding (up to 5/16″ plate). Plus, the 140C comes with everything you need, minus gloves and a welding helmet, so you can start welding as soon as you take it out of the box. But before I get into all the stuff you get in the kit, let’s go over the 140C’s features.
As soon as I got my 140C, I took it to the guy who’s been doing my welding to see what he thought of it. At first he blew it off as a cheap (as in useless) home unit. However, the more he checked it out the more he liked it. That’s because the 140C has features normally found on more expensive units. The first thing he liked was that it has a cast-aluminum, dual-gear wire feed drive. He expected to find plastic. He also liked the split wire guides that keep the feed wire properly aligned. Another plus was the brass-to-brass connections for good conductivity between the welder and the gun. Finally, the 140C has an industrial-grade, closed-design drive motor, which means you get consistent and steady wire feeding. As you’ll find out, proper wire feeding is critical to good welds. Crappy wire delivery results in crappy welds. He also liked that the unit has a potted control board, which seals its sensitive electronic components from the elements and dirt, in a shock-resistant tray. Though it made no difference to my welding buddy, I liked the fact that the 140C is easy to weld thanks to Lincoln’s Diamond Core Technology, which delivers what Lincoln calls “a forgiving arc.” Basically, if you’re not positioning the arc just right, or you’ve got the settings a little off, you’ll still get great welds with low spatter.
The 140C comes configured to weld steel or stainless steel. However, if you want to weld aluminum, just remove the PRO 100L gun that it came with and plug in the optional (as in you don’t get it with the kit) Magnum 100SG spool gun that runs its own spool of aluminum wire. Since we’re on the subject of swapping components, the 140C comes set up to use self-shielded flux-cored wire. However, if you hook up a tank of CO2 or CO2 /argon mixed shielding gas and use the solid MIG wire, you have to switch the unit’s polarity to get the penetration needed for heavier gauge plate. This is done by simply swapping the positions of the gun and ground wires on the unit. It takes about one minute! In fact, you don’t need any tools to swap out wire spools, change polarity, and service the wire drive.
Here’s what you get in the K2471-2 kit: Magnum PRO 100L gun with a 10′ (3m) hose, gas and gasless nozzles, cable liner, 0.025″ (0.6mm) and 0.035″ (0.9mm) contact tips, work (ground) cable and clamp, adjustable gas regulator and hose, spindle adapter, sample spool of 0.025″ (0.6mm) SuperArc L-56 mild steel MIG wire, sample spool of 0.035″ (0.9mm) Innershield NR-211-MP flux-cored wire, Learn-To-Use DVD, 0.025″ (0.6mm) and 0.025″-0.030″ (0.6-0.7mm) drive rolls,0.030″-0.045″ (0.7-1.1mm) knurled drive roll, and 0.025″-0.035″ (0.6-0.9mm) and 0.035″-0.045″ (0.9-1.1mm) wire guides. In short, everything you need to use the 140C right away. The only equipment missing are gloves and a welding helmet. Picking gloves was as easy as picking the welder. Lincoln makes all kinds of quality hand protection. As you can see in the photo, I went with three different length pairs. For a helmet, I wanted Lincoln’s idiot-proof, auto-darkening VIKING 2450. Auto-darkening keeps me from using the wrong lens and hurting my eyes. Plus, it’s a lot easier to just drop the lid, see everything normally, and let the lens automatically darken to the correct tint as soon as I start welding. Of course, it doesn’t suck that it’s got cool flames on it, too! AIM
22801 St. Clair Ave., Dept. AIM
Cleveland, OH 44117
Story as published in the January 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine.