Welders? Any welders on this site?


Jan 15, 2011
Delavan, WI
I am looking to buy a multi process machine and I am torn between a Miller Multimatic 200 and a Thermal Arc 252i. I know there is a big difference in power between the two. Anybody have experience with either machine? I have run and owned several Miller machines over the years so I know their quality but know nothing about Thermal Arc.
I mostly want it for the ability to spoolgun aluminum well and have the other processes too.
I have a miller 212 and flat love it. Ran many welders over the years and always favored Miller. Thermal Arc I know nothing about. You can spool gun off the 212
I'm a Miller fan. The Millermatic 200 of old was a transformer based MIG machine whereas the current 200 is an inverter based machine.

I assume you're comparing those two based on price point? What thickness of aluminum?

I have a Millermatic 185, the transformer based MIG machine. I would likely stick with Miller. I got my 185 for a song and sold the spool gun as I didn't need it. I have about $350 in the welder. :lol:
That's sweet. Picked up mine still under warranty with wire, gobs of consumables and a bottle for $1700. Haven't been able to drop the cash on a spool gun, they are proud of them.
I think I have a miller 175. Nice machine. I do a few repairs on welders in the electrical shop, they are all about the same when it comes to quality and the price. Best to inquire about repair parts availability. Welders seem to have a 5 year parts supply once production ceases, up here at least.

IMHO nice to have a separate AC/DC arc welder, just for certain welds.
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Aluminum in the 10ga -5/16" range. I like the numbers on the Thermal Arc price and power 300amps and very respectable duty cycle vs 200amps and 35% or less duty cycle for the Miller, but I am not sure about the quality of the Thermal Arc it's made by Victor and they have the market on torches so I don't know.
I dont have much experience with Miller or Thermal Arc. Been buying Lincoln for ever. Thermal Arc has a good reputation as stated above. But Miller is everywhere and people love them.

I like to read reviews on welding forums before I buy a machine but some folks are so loyal to the color they like that they miss out on other brands that may be a better fit, value, or higher quality.

What has the best support in your area? Which machine has a better warranty? Best reviews? Which machine will support your skill level now and later? If welding is something you are interested in, you should not buy a machine that will not support your interests in a couple of years.

Sorry I dont have more to offer, always been a Lincoln man. But I would assume that you could not go wrong with either brand.

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Good to know. I am going to do some calling around tomorrow and see what I can find for support for the Thermal Arc machine. Miller I know where to go for repairs and parts.
I've used the Thermal Arc plasma torches and loved them! Great build quality and they just worked! Wish I could afford one for myself!
If money is an issue, as I'm sure it is, look into the Hobart's as well, they own Miller and the machines are made on the same lines, with some lesser quality parts used on the Hobart's, but you can get parts for them and they are a decent machine. http://www.hobartbrothers.com/about-us/history-of-hobart.html
I have a Millermatic 135xp and my buddy has a Hobart handler 140, at the end of the day they are the same machine and I'd be happy to use either one.
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I just checked Hobart multi-process welders and it defaults to Miller.
I had a little Hobart, built August's chip truck with it. They are good little units but I'd say no comparison to the larger units
I would take a look at the new Lincoln 210 Multi process. $999 dollars and weighs 40 pounds.

Dont know much about them but the price goes up when you add a tig torch and such. I dont think the Miller, Thermal Arc or the Lincoln will tig weld aluminum.

Welding is great!
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Tig welding aluminum is not really something I am concerned about as I would be able to weld ally with the spool gun.

I built my chip box with my small Miller I think 135xp using flux core.
I have a Panasonic Tig set up, bought it and took a course for stainless.

A good friend of mine is a metal fabricator welder. I have utmost respect for his skills with a diversity of welding methods. His welds are so clean and even and things that are notoriously difficult to weld he does a brilliant job on. I know that he started welding from a very young age and now must be around seventy. The guy really knows his sheet, just a solid craftsman all around when it comes to metal fabricating and welding. Always has a lot of work too. A few days ago I had a cast iron flange on a table saw motor mount crack apart when changing some belts and blew it by losing my grip on the heavy thing trying to lift it back underneath, smacked it on the concrete. Dumb and depressed me so i was unable to sleep very well that night, being a fool not getting help to lift. At the shop I was going to try and weld it up but ran out of Argon gas. I ran it over to my friends and not following the rules of preheating cast and all, he did what appeared to be a perfect weld on a delicate broken little piece. No cooling cracks or anything, and he's quick. He's also good with tig, stainless and aluminium. Talented welders have awesome skills. If only they could heat their big shops in the winter, the guys that need a large space. Freezing temps and freezing steel, got to be tough.
Dad has passed on some tricks he learned from some old black smiths. Dad is almost seventy and remembers quite well that everyone used to have a forge, especially out here where we did not get electricity until 1952 or so.

One of my favorites was from old Pum Campbell, an old blacksmith. He used to say that when you weld cast iron you gotta "peen" the hell out of it. Of course he said it with an accent. I always get a kick out of it when I think of him and when I weld cast.
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I have done the preheat and post weld peening with good success. Tho welding cast iron is not a fun thing to do.
Different kinds of cast iron, more or less carbon in it, makes for a different response to welding. I've had good luck with peening as well. Some "magic" filler metal rod with tig, supposed to make life easier with no preheat or post heat or peening necessary on cast.
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I have read about the "magic" fillers and they tend to come and go. Tried and true practice tends to win out IMO.
The best cast iron welds I've seen we're done with gas. I avoid it best I can unless it's someone special. Cast steel on the other hand is a no brainer.
A guy I used to work with taught me a bit about cast and I've had really good luck with it so far, maybe I've been lucky?
I've tried pre and post heating for welding, I've tried using cast rod on an arc welder, all of these with minimal success. Best luck I've had is to gouge it with a grinder and just hit it with a MIG welder and walk away. If it splatters and blows out, you are screwed anyways, if now, weld that sucker up and call it a day! I know it sounds crazy and simple, but sometimes simple works, and this seems to work well for me. I've welded up gun hammers, spare tire carriers, air compressor mounts and so on with no problems.