Q I'm a 40-year-old who likes to restore old cars for a hobby. I'm not a welder, but I was a painter and body man for several years. Back in my day we always used an oxy/acetylene torch with brazing rod for patch panel work. I have read several articles on welding techniques and today's technology for patch panel repair. It appears that some prefer MIG and some prefer TIG. I have used a MIG a couple of times and find it fairly easy to use, but I have never patched a rust spot in an old car or truck with it. I plan on purchasing a MIG or TIG welder in the near future, hoping to keep the price under $1,500. My interest right now is the Lincoln Power MIG 200. My needs are for hobbies, auto restoration, and small repairs around the garage. I want to be able to weld or box frames, 3/16- to 1/4-inch plate, patch panel repair on older vehicles from the '30s-70s, bicycles, lawn mowers, fence posts, and all the other small repairs around the house. I don't foresee anything thicker than 1/4- to 5/16-inch metal plate, and I want something that works well for patch panel work. If it weren't for patching rust spots on my old cars I would get a MIG without any questions.
Do you think the Lincoln Power Mig 200 is a good choice for patch panel repair for older car metal? I'm currently working on a '55 Ford F-100. Would you go TIG or MIG for an overall welding solution for my needs?
A Choosing between a TIG and MIG machine can be a difficult choice. I much prefer the TIG process, since it gives me better control, lets me make a tiny, well controlled bead, gives me a weld that is soft enough to hammer smooth, and allows me to weld virtually any weldable metal. If you want to do bodywork that requires little or no filler, I think the TIG is the best way to go.
Most bodywork done today is MIG welded, then covered with a skim coat of plastic filler and sanded smooth. Modern plastic fillers are very durable, as long as they aren't applied too thickly or used to build up an edge. Certainly MIG welding is easier to learn, and it is a faster process. The greater speed is especially appreciated when you are working with thicker metals, like the frame boxing plates and fence posts you mentioned.
You might see if there is a local community college or adult education program near you that offers a welding program. This would be a good opportunity to experiment with both processes, and see which one meets your requirements the best. If you should decide to go with a TIG welder, both the Lincoln 175 and the Miller 185 SD are good, full-featured machines that fit within your budget.
Q I enjoy your articles, they are very interesting. I am hoping you can help me out a little. I purchased an English wheel kit last year and immediately built it, but I haven't done much with it since then because I haven't learned how to use it. I started to build a hood scoop for my '55 Chevy truck, but I think I may have made a big mistake. I started the project by making a formed scoop out of 1/4-inch mild steel round stock (it is just the outline of the form that I want with a single formed rod down the exact center), and then I tack welded the apparatus to the exact spot on the hood where I want the scoop. My thought was that I would use this form as a guide, then try to "wheel" out two halves that I could weld right to the wire form, then grind smooth. My problem is my lack of experience with the wheel, and I am not so sure that my approach was what a professional metal finisher would do. Can you give me any bits of advice that might help me out. I look forward to your response.
Marty "Scout" Handford