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Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG


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  #1  
Old 02-22-2006, 04:32:14 PM
Big Six Big Six is offline
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Question Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Hey all,

A friend of a friend of a friend is selling a 9 year old Millermatic 150. It has less than 2 hours use. I am a hobbyist, and would use it for repairs on my antique garden tractors, and possibly some art work.

I have learned, from a weld shop, that the MM 150 was replaced by the MM 185, which was replaced by the MM 210, some three years ago.

I'm also told that parts are available, and should be, as parts are still available, per the Miller dealer, back to the 1970's machines.

I could get by with a Miller 135 for almost everything I need to do, but would probably buy the MM 175, based on what I've read here about 110v machines. But even at the $650. new (sale) price for the MM 175, by the time you add up cart, bottle, tax, etc...., it's like $920. Plus auto-darkening helmut.

The used MM 150 comes with (allegedly) an autodarkening helmut, a "deluxe gun," extra wire and it has wheels under it already.

I think he'll take $600.--possibly $550.

Does anybody have any opinions on:

1. Whether parts will be available for the next 10-20 years?

2. Whether there were any problems or other reasons not to get a used MM 150?

3. What might be enough of an advantage of this older, "shop quality" machine (the MM 150) vs. a new MM 175?

4. Is this a "cold tip" machine or whatever the term is, for no juice until you squeeze the trigger?

5. Is $550. - $600. a great/good/fair deal?

Thanks in advance.

Peter
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Old 02-22-2006, 08:32:23 PM
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Jim McIntyre Jim McIntyre is offline
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Well, I don't think anybody could answer your first question. Miller would probably say they intend to support it for the foreseeable blah blah blah. But no guarantees.

$550 sounds like a fair deal. I recently found a MM200 in decent shape for under $400 at an auction. Your MM150 is rated 120 A at 30 %, while the MM200 is rated 200A at 60%. Big difference, IMO. If you don't mind attending a few auctions, the bigger welders are not too hard to come by. I'd stay away from the smaller machines. My MM200 does anything I would have used my stick welder for, is easier to use, and makes nicer looking welds.
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Old 02-23-2006, 12:55:30 AM
Big Six Big Six is offline
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Jim:

Thank you for responding so quickly! That really helps me, because I'm thinking I have to jump on this and go see it tomorrow, (it's more than an hour away from me) if I want to get there before he gets offered higher amounts, given that it apparently looks brand new.

I think you're absolutely right, re: the differences in amperages and duty cycles, between the MM 150 and MM 200. I had no idea that the next machine up from the MM 150 was such a jump up in power! What is the year of your machine?

Also, do you have a link to such data on discontinued welders like this, or have you got this stuff memorized? LoL Because I'd love to read some original sales literature on this model, from like 1997.

I'm a nightowl, so auctions are not my friend. Plus, I'm not in a great area for auctions, IMO. And I'm also not confident I'd be able to decide that a well-used welder is still a good buy, at an auction--I guess that comes with experience? But I appreciate the tip, and I will make a point of attending them where possible.

I would like to test this one before I buy it, and I've never welded with gas before--the intro course I took at BOCES was just stick, though I've done some MIG welding on my own since then.

So is it too involved to tell me how to open the regulator, and set it to the proper flow/psi, to try running a bead with Argon, on steel? The seller has solid core and Argon all loaded up, ready to go. Again, I can fire it up and run a bead--I'm just not sure how to verify that the regulator is working properly.

Sorry to pester you with more questions, but I really do appreciate the help--all of it. In fact, though the guy says he paid "a little over a thousand, or $1,100., 9 years ago," based on your feeling that $550. is only a "fair" deal, I think I'll start out at $400, if the autodarkening helmut works, and see if I can fetch up no higher than $500.

Thanks again!

Sincerely,

Peter
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Old 02-23-2006, 02:31:24 AM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

http://www.millerwelds.com/products/ will take you to Miller's product page for SUPPORTED machines. I didn't the 150 there, which indicates to me, if it is 9 years old it quickly became an orphan. ITW Miller made quite a few machines they orphaned real quickly trying to produce what eventually became the 175 class machines.
If you need an owner's manual for the 150, it may be available from Miller for $15-, but I didn't see one on the free downloadable list.

I could get a whole lot more enthused about putting $$$ into a MM 200 which has been around since the 70s, than I could about putting money into an orphan.
ITW Miller and HoFart are currently conducting a program of declaring older machines obsolete, and no longer worthy of support, including the MM 35 and MM 200, the machines that built the world of MIG welding. Partly, this is because ITW no longer has employees who know the old machines, and mostly it's because ITW preferrs to sell new high profit machines that they know will need to be replaced in 10 years.

A 9 year old autodark helmet is close to a -0- value asset, they weren't that good 9 years ago, and it won't be repairable.

The gas cylinder may or may not have value, it has to be in test and customer owned, or the gas supplier will confiscate it the first time you take it in for a refill.

Calling Miller dealers in your area might get some better information on the MM 150, such as can they provide consumables for it. I don't recall ever having heard of an MM 150 in all the years I've been welding.
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Old 02-23-2006, 03:03:48 AM
Big Six Big Six is offline
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Unhappy Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Franz:

Wow--am I glad you posted, too--sheesh! I also had never heard of an MM 150, but I thought that was just me. Thanks for the link of supported models--that "supported" kind of says it all, huh?

I did speak with one local welding dealer, (and have a call into another) and he acted like he'd heard of the MM 150, and said "that's more of a "shop" machine than the MM 175, and was replaced by the MM 185, which was replaced by the MM 210, about three years ago, and the MM 210 is a $1,500. machine, so I wouldn't be afraid of it."

Yeah, I know--he said all that instead of trying to sell me an $850. (plus tank, cart, etc...) MM 175. I was stunned, frankly.

The seller is the orig. owner and he has the Owner's Manual. He told me it lists the weight as "117 lbs.," as opposed to a new MM 175's weight of only 73 pounds. The dealer said that's why the MM 150 is more of a "shop" machine than the MM 175.

I just learned a ton from you--thank you! Like, I didn't think they'd even test a tank of inert gas--I guess they must, to make sure it doesn't just burst from corrosion, huh? When you say the tank must be "in test," I assume you mean that if it was last tested in '97, and expired in, say, 2002, that if I bring it in, the gas retailer will consfiscate it--is that so?

I ask because I wonder if it's different for acetylene? My acetylene tank was last tested in 1955, and I got it sent out/tested/filled last year, but they never marked as tested, so it's still indicating currency from the, what, Eisenhower Administration--lol? Should they have seized that also, and I just got lucky?

I didn't know that about the older, autodarkening helmuts, either. I figured there'd be no support, but I didn't realize they didn't used to be that effective. That makes a difference, because I figured the helmut was worth $100. He claims to have paid $300. for the helmut, but I don't know if he bought later or what.

When you say Miller was orphaning machines while "trying to produce what eventually became the 175 class machines.", does that mean the MM 175 is "extra good," in some respect, or that they had problems getting the MM 175 class right? The upstate dealer has a sale on MM 175's for $650., whereas downstate their like $850. In both cases, you add a tank and cart, too!

I ask because I'm wondering if there's years of MM 175's to avoid?

While we're at it, what are your thoughts on a MM 175 new, for $650. plus the extras, making it like $920?

I didn't realize the MM 200 had been around so long. From what you and Franz are saying, that machine sounds like a keeper--perhaps I should wait for one. Are they as common as the MM 175's? I'm assuming "yes," because I don't think the MM 175's have been around since the 1970's, right?

Sorry to pepper you, as well, Franz, but both you and Jim M. are a pair of lifesavers--thanks again!

Peter
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Old 02-23-2006, 03:59:40 AM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Peter, you pack a lot of questions into a post, so let me see how well I can answer you.

I just learned a ton from you--thank you! Like, I didn't think they'd even test a tank of inert gas--I guess they must, to make sure it doesn't just burst from corrosion, huh? When you say the tank must be "in test," I assume you mean that if it was last tested in '97, and expired in, say, 2002, that if I bring it in, the gas retailer will consfiscate it--is that so?

>> given your location, you may well meet up with a number of quasi honest gas vendors. They all will take advantage of everything you don't know, even though many of them know little more than you do. Cylinders are worth a LOT of money, and are among the most frequently misappropriated items on earth. There should be a distributor's name collar around the neck, and most other distributors flat out won't refill or exchange that bottle. The dealer the bottle came from may or may not have sold the bottle to the original owner, but UNLESS the word "SOD" is stamped in the bottle, 99% of gas distributors will claim it's a stolen rental bottle, and want you to lease or buy a new one.
What have they got to loose by trying? They have at least a hundred bucks to gain if you don't know better. The original buyer should have paperwork.
Without paperwork, the bottle is scrap steel, and a junkyard won't take it unless it's cut to short steel specs.<<


I ask because I wonder if it's different for acetylene? My acetylene tank was last tested in 1955, and I got it sent out/tested/filled last year, but they never marked as tested, so it's still indicating currency from the, what, Eisenhower Administration--lol? Should they have seized that also, and I just got lucky?

No, they shouldn't attempt to confiscate the cylinder, but they will at least charge you to have it inspected and recertified. An exception may exist for PresToLite cylinders

I didn't know that about the older, autodarkening helmuts, either. I figured there'd be no support, but I didn't realize they didn't used to be that effective. That makes a difference, because I figured the helmut was worth $100. He claims to have paid $300. for the helmut, but I don't know if he bought later or what.

He probably did pay $300- for it 9 years ago, but it's a 1st or second generation autodark, and we are now into generation 9 or 10, and the new ones are a lot better.

When you say Miller was orphaning machines while "trying to produce what eventually became the 175 class machines.", does that mean the MM 175 is "extra good," in some respect, or that they had problems getting the MM 175 class right? The upstate dealer has a sale on MM 175's for $650., whereas downstate their like $850. In both cases, you add a tank and cart, too!

MM 175 is a late model machine. The first machine Miller marketed was the MM 35. The MM 200 followed that by a couple years, and Miller nearly owned the market in small capacity MIG. They had plenty of proving to do to the welding world because Miller used aluminum windings, and very few people believed aluminum would last.

I ask because I'm wondering if there's years of MM 175's to avoid?

While we're at it, what are your thoughts on a MM 175 new, for $650. plus the extras, making it like $920?

I didn't realize the MM 200 had been around so long. From what you and Franz are saying, that machine sounds like a keeper--perhaps I should wait for one. Are they as common as the MM 175's? I'm assuming "yes," because I don't think the MM 175's have been around since the 1970's, right?

There are a lot more 135 and 175 class machines in the world already than there are MM 200 machines. 200s are tanks, and they last for a long time with minimal maintainence. The 175 is a totally different machine design, employing SCR control instead of a tapped transformer. There is NO comparison between a 175 class machine and a MM 200 machine. In addition, the MM 200 was developed and marketed for years before ITW got ownership of Miller Welding. ITW Miller is an entirely different business model than Miller Welding operated under.
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Old 02-23-2006, 05:32:20 AM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Franz:

Happily, you pack a lot of answers into a post--lol!

Gen. 1 vs. Gen 9 or 10, in autodarkeners, kind of puts it in perspective for me--thanks.

The history of Miller's first forays into MIGdom was both helpful and interesting. I would have thought that at least their oldest MIGS had copper windings--learn something every day, if I'm lucky.

Quote:
The 175 is a totally different machine design, employing SCR control instead of a tapped transformer.
I'm assuming SCR is some sort of circuit board contro, right? I do understand what you mean by a tapped transformer.

Do you know what ITW stands for and when ITW took Miller over?

I learned from the dealer that the first two letters (and they're allegedly letters, not numbers) of a MM's serial "number," can be decoded by the dealer, to tell you the year of mfr. of a particular welder. I just wondered if you knew when ITW came along, so I could be aware of the apparent decontenting that went in later years.

Thanks for everything. I will do anything short of a 12-step program to stop batting new questions back at you, but I hope you can forgive me my ignorance and enthusiams. I rarely brush up against such welding-knowledgebleble people as yourself, Jim M. and others.

Peter
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Old 02-23-2006, 05:41:55 AM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Wow...maybe I can't win?

Just as I'm thinking I must look for a reasonably-priced MM 200, I noticed that that machine, also, is not "supported" on http://www.millerwelds.com/products/.

Is that machine so popular that the aftermarket has picked up the slack, or do they just hold up well and need little maintenance?

This is what my innate, Scottish thriftiness gets me--questions and questions....

Peter
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:16:20 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

The owners manuals for the MM200, MM150, MM 175, etc are here: Scroll to your model, leave serial number blank.

http://www.millerwelds.com/service/ownersmanuals.php

Even though not officially 'supported' by Miller now, there's nothing too scary about owning one. Worst case scenario is probably having the main transformer burn up. Highly unlikely, and if it does, that's the end of the machine. Most other parts could be scrounged, built, or substituted. Mine came with an aftermarket gun, and the local welding shop had parts for it.

I bought one, with my innate Scottish thriftiness! (although my wife seems to have another term for it. )

I wouldn't assign any value to the inert gas cylinder because CO2 is so much cheaper, and seems to work just as well for me.
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Old 02-24-2006, 03:53:25 AM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Jim:

Thanks for the manual link! I didn't realize the voltage was not infinitely adjustable--I would have though it was. But I see (I think?) from the manual for the MM 200 that that too appears just to have preset voltage ranges, and everyone raves about the MM 200, so perhaps that's not such a big deal?

I appreciate the info re: parts availability. Which model do you have?

Hey, re: this:
Quote:
I wouldn't assign any value to the inert gas cylinder because CO2 is so much cheaper, and seems to work just as well for me.
Let me further expose my ignorance (yes, it's possible! )

The only gas welding I've done is O/A. I've never done any welding using a shielding gas--from your comment, I'm guessing that the argon tank cannot be refilled with CO2? And how much cheaper is CO2 than argon, roughly?

Thanks for everything--this is a great group!

Peter
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:21:53 AM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Six
I'm guessing that the argon tank cannot be refilled with CO2? And how much cheaper is CO2 than argon, roughly?

Thanks for everything--this is a great group!

Peter
Right - You can't get an argon tank filled with CO2. As to the price, how about if you research that, and let all of us know? Check in the yellow pages under carbon dioxide, and under welding supplies. Then do the conversion from pounds CO2 to cubic feet, and make the comparison.
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Old 02-24-2006, 12:21:06 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Hey, Jim:

I did some research, but on the quick n' dirty, without the math. Basically, I called my local welding shop, and he gave me the following prices for "knee high" bottle refills:

CO2/Aargon (24%/75% mix) $32.50
Pure CO2 $15.50
Pure Aargon "about 20 bucks"

Your posting of the manual for the MM 150 motivated me to discuss price with the seller of the MM 150 under discussion, and we settled on a price of $400., with a manual helmut and full tank included. I didn't want the older (1998) autodarkening helmut, even though it had never been used.

So that link you posted really helped me out--thanks again!

Peter
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Old 02-24-2006, 12:55:10 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

The lowest cost for CO2 is probably a supplier that provides tanks for beverage dispensing.
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Old 06-20-2006, 08:42:36 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice on Buying Older, Miller MIG

Hi All,

I was trained at Miller a number of years ago when it was still owned by the Miller family. As far as parts for the older machines go, you have a lot of leeway with items such as contactors, diodes, switches, etc. Replacements which may not be exactly the same will function well. Typically the MM35 used either a Cutler Hammer or Furnas contactor (that's the oversized relay you hear go 'clunk' when you pull the trigger). Most electrical supply houses could supply the particular brand they carry that will function properly. A number of MIG gun manufacturers have adapters for their product to mate with the older machines. The only major component that would be a problem is the transformer. If that goes, it's probably not economical to repair anyway.
It was mentioned in an earlier post about the SCR control (no more clunk). This is used both for rectification as well as control on a number of Miller and other machines. They are made by other manufacturers such as International Rectifier as well as others and can be acquired at electrical supply houses.

Originally GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) was called MIG (Metal Inert Gas). This is a misnomer as CO2 is reactive, not inert. CO2 was originally used exclusively for mild steel and argon for aluminum. Since most of these smaller single phase machines push the wire through the liner to the gun, they failed at pushing soft aluminum wire. Later models offered a connection for the Miller pull gun. The only problem with CO2 is that weld spatter can and usually does occur. By adding argon (usually 75% argon, 25% CO2) the spatter is eliminated and a smoother bead appearance is achieved. Pure CO2 gives better penetration but this can cause 'burn through' on lighter metal. Pure argon on mild steel gives poor penetration. The bad thing for the customer but good for the vendor is that you pay argon price for the whole cylinder. You could buy 3 cylinders of Argon and 1 of CO2 and use 2 flowmeters and a "Y" connector and mix you own to save money. However a typical home user would not use this much gas to make it worthwhile. This is done in production shops. Hope this info. is of help to you.

Dave.
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