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Northern tool MIG 135 review


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21 replies to this topic

#1 7point62fmj

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 08:57 AM

I bought this one this week and will be doing a review as I learn how to use it. I have a good friend that will be mentoring me on its application.
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200332691_200332691


Why did I go with this one. Well I wanted mig since it was supposed to be the easier forms of welding to learn. It also has the option of using gas and it will hold the 10lb spools of wire. It comes with a 3 year warranty and will let me weld Steel, stainless steel, aluminum. Gun uses Tweco-style replacement parts and for the price there was nothing else on the market that had all these options.

Yes I know it is a chi-nee welder but with the northern tool stamp on it it hopefully will make it easier to find parts as well as deal with any foreseeable warranty issue. I will post some pics on it this week. I am really excited to get some projects started.
My first lessons start tomorrow!
I will keep you posted.


#2 Loyale 2.7 Turbo

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 12:15 AM

...My first lessons start tomorrow! ...


Good Luck! :)

#3 VaporTrail

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 02:42 AM

moved to shop talk....

I've been thinking about getting a wire feed welder.... I have a "Hobby Arc" stick welder right now. worked fine for making my utility trailer larger, but won't work too well for sheet metal :) ... at least not the way I weld :lol:

#4 Legacy777

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 11:50 AM

Let us know how it works out for you. I was looking for a MIG welder last year, but decided to wait since I already had a fair amount of projects going on and didn't need something else to occupy mytime :)

I'll probably look into one this summer again.

#5 7point62fmj

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 07:29 AM

I need to get some leathers and a angel grinder and a table vice... arg. I just recived some scrap metal this week to work on. I will let you know how it goes.

#6 3eyedwagon

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 01:56 PM

Leathers aren't really necessary for the kind of voltage that machine will put out. I'm not saying it isn't going to throw any sparks, but, they aren't going to be the big gobbing balls of molten steel that you may be expecting. Especially if you are going to be using primarily hard wire. A good dense, high thread count loung sleave shirt will handle most anything that baby will throw off, and will cost you a fraction of the price. In fact once the weather warms up a bit, I usually weld in short sleaves. It helps me tan for summer! :grin: It also increases your UV intake, so I wouldn't really reccomend it. :rolleyes:

#7 The Dude Abides

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 02:20 PM

Weve got guys wire and stick welding in our shop with 2 and 3 phase stuff and they dont use leathers. Long sleve shirts with some type of sleve pullover they use. Basically just extra protection. If you go to a prax air or any other type welding and cutting outfit i bet they have something similar.

#8 3eyedwagon

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 02:27 PM

Weve got guys wire and stick welding in our shop with 2 and 3 phase stuff and they dont use leathers.


Bingo. I don't get out the leathers until I'm running over 30 volts Dual Shield. The smaller 110v machines will only put out 19-21 volts maximum. I don't use leathers at all for most kinds of stick welding, because it just doesn't spatter that much.

Just wanted to point this out because I'd hate to see you invest the money in a nice set of leathers, and have them spend most of their time rolled up collecting dust like mine do.

#9 The Dude Abides

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 02:46 PM

Yea and in my shop we have folks like osha, and the safety board. And the Iowa Safety Comittie breathing down our backs about all types of safety. If they needed it they would be required to wear it.:)

#10 7point62fmj

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:57 AM

Thanks for the input. I guess I realy only need them if I am under some thing I am welding. Save me some change. Pluss I already have a few projects I would like to get the jump on.

#11 VaporTrail

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 12:13 PM

any update on this? I'm thinking of getting one myself for some other little things on the Brat.... don't want to do it with my stick welder ...

#12 erik litchy

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 08:33 AM

any update on this? I'm thinking of getting one myself for some other little things on the Brat.... don't want to do it with my stick welder ...


if you have a nice "stick welder" what i would do, and am eventually, is to buy a wire feeder for it. sure it wont have all the bells and whistles of a normal mig, like spray mode etc, but it will get the job done.

#13 VaporTrail

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 12:09 PM

if you have a nice "stick welder" what i would do, and am eventually, is to buy a wire feeder for it. sure it wont have all the bells and whistles of a normal mig, like spray mode etc, but it will get the job done.


:) no, I've got a little hobby arc POS :lol:

#14 ShawnW

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 10:56 PM

Ive got a Hobart handler 135 and I love it. Works well and transports easy. I loan it to friends quite often. :) If you lived 2 hours away like the good ol days I would drop it off.

#15 erik litchy

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:41 AM

:) no, I've got a little hobby arc POS :lol:


oh im sorry, sounds frustrating to use.

#16 7point62fmj

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 07:24 PM

Ok.. so I finally got a chance to use my mig and I got to say it as Borat would… niiiiice. I had a lot of fun playing around with the voltage and wire feed rate to see what worked best for the metal I was working on. It was also nice to see how the bead changed due to adjusting these two variants.
I took all the welds I made and put them in a vice and started to beat them profusely with a hammer to see if they would hold. To my surprise even my crap welds brought on by inexperience seem to make the cut and held there bond. I did not have any gas to try it with the non flux core wire but I feel pretty sure that there welds would be as least as good if not better. Also one more thing, whoever said that using Pam cooking spray as a anti splatter for your tips was a smart man. I am more than ¾ of the way through on my 10lb real of flux core wire and my welding tip looks just as clean after I wipe it as it did brand new. I had a lot of fun with this tool which you will see is pretty much indicative of the reviews on northern tool web site.
I would highly recommend this to any one as their first mig welder and I would buy it again. I have a few projects on my list that I will hopefully soon start after I get my root cellar in and purchase some metal to work with, because we all need something else to spend our money on.

#17 VaporTrail

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 10:01 PM

I got one of these for Father's Day!

#18 speaker

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 10:40 AM

Ok.. so I finally got a chance to use my mig and I got to say it as Borat would… niiiiice. I had a lot of fun playing around with the voltage and wire feed rate to see what worked best for the metal I was working on. It was also nice to see how the bead changed due to adjusting these two variants.
I took all the welds I made and put them in a vice and started to beat them profusely with a hammer to see if they would hold. To my surprise even my crap welds brought on by inexperience seem to make the cut and held there bond. I did not have any gas to try it with the non flux core wire but I feel pretty sure that there welds would be as least as good if not better. Also one more thing, whoever said that using Pam cooking spray as a anti splatter for your tips was a smart man. I am more than ¾ of the way through on my 10lb real of flux core wire and my welding tip looks just as clean after I wipe it as it did brand new. I had a lot of fun with this tool which you will see is pretty much indicative of the reviews on northern tool web site.
I would highly recommend this to any one as their first mig welder and I would buy it again. I have a few projects on my list that I will hopefully soon start after I get my root cellar in and purchase some metal to work with, because we all need something else to spend our money on.



Any updates or thoughts?

I took TIG classes and continually trolled craigslist looking for a good used one. A month or so back I read an interview of Jamie from Mythbusters and he made the most sense on why owning a basic MIG trumps all.

I am curious now how you still like the Northern?

#19 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 11:47 AM

I don't own the Northern Tool version, but looking at the pictures and having just upgraded from a Harbor Freight 110v Mig/Flux machine, I can say that the Northern Tool looks like a similar machine. While they work and I have used mine for a number of small projects, I'll give you a heads up on the problems I've run into:

1. The gas valve is a cheap plastic thing that is IN the gun. It's purely mechanical and so anytime you pull the trigger (even with the machine unplugged), gas flows. Nicer units have a solenoid in the machine that's tripped by a switch in the gun (no gas if the machine is OFF). This also means that you can never upgrade the gun to something like an aftermarket Tweco. Being the most used/abused part of the machine and the most often replaced that can be a problem as getting those spare parts may not be possible at all in a few years or you will have to mail-order them. No one local will carry anything but tips.

2. The connections of the gas tube and the wire feed tube inside the gun are very weak. I have had to remove the gun, shorten the main power lead and glue the feed tubeing and gas tubing into their respective ports. I was somewhat succesful. It's still a POS.

3. They claim you can weld aluminium..... I tried and have welded aluminium on a Licoln Sqaure Wave TIG machine.... it didn't work well for me. I wouldn't reccomend it.

4. At 110v, any voltage drop through your extension cord or circuit to the machine is a BIG problem - it will not weld for beans. Not a problem per-se, but budget yourself for a nice 10/3 or 12/3 AWG extension cord for the machine - up to 50' should be OK with 12, anything farther and you are going to want 10. If you are an enterprising individual such as many of us here are - you can buy bulk SOOW cord in the size you want and then just install the plugs. I just built a 50' 8/3 220v extension cord for my new machine and it was under $100.

5. Penetration is limited. 1/8" is about the limit with 110 machines. If you need to do anything structural, multiple passes would be required, and that's just not an option with a Flux welder. So you would at least be looking at adding a gas bottle. These machines benefit GREATLY from gas. Penetration is improved and there's no slag on the weld.

6. Duty cycle is painfully inadequate for even small jobs. You can realistically weld about 15 inches on 1/8" plate before the machine overheats and has to sit for 15 minutes to cool down. If you are in a hurry.... well you best just not be in a hurry. :rolleyes:...... good example - I cut a 4x6 opening in a catalytic converter to remove the broken, mangled contents - welding the plate back over the hole took over an hour because the machine had to cool 3 times.

If you can live with some of that stuff, and you understand the true cost of owning one.... here's what you have to figure:

Machine + shipping - $350
Extension cord - $100
Gas Bottle - $150
Welding Cart - $50 (Harbor Freight)
Mask - $35 (4x6 glass, #9 or #10 shade)
Gloves - $10

Total - $695

Now - I just upgraded to a 220v machine. It's comparable to the Miller 180, but a bit less expensive. It's made by Thermal-Arc, which is a division of Thermadyne - they own Tweco, and a bunch of other big-name welding brands. Their MIG welding line is Thermal-Arc. It's a NICE machine - a Caddilac to the Harbor Frieght's (Northern Tool, whatever - insert your favorite flavor of Chinese) Yugo. I picked it up from my local welding supply for $625 and it includes a 5 year warantee.

My sugestion is to ante up the extra clams and get something decent right from the start. The difference will be about 30% more in cost, but you will save yourself a ton of headaches down the road. Especially if you are learning to weld - learning is hard enough without poorly made chinese equipment.

Anyway - thought I would give my perspective....

GD

#20 7point62fmj

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 09:53 AM

I do like the NT. The specs are the best for the money (350ish) and the warranty is better the HF. Read the reviews on Northen tools web site for a better feel of how others like it. This is my first mig and I realy enjoy it.Whith using pam cooking spray for the splatter I am still on my first tip.
I know Mic has one too. Maybe he will post a review.. we will see.
IF you have the money there are better units out there but that can be said with pretty much all things.

#21 VaporTrail

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 10:13 AM

mine's not out of the box yet :(
still unpacking from the move and the garage is last on the list for now....

#22 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 12:19 PM

One thing I have noticed is that the newer Harbor Freight units have a better designed gun - they have push-lock style connectors for the bits that I have had trouble with. Still have the gas valve in the gun head though.

I have done a fair amount of work with mine - besides haveing a lack of penetration on bigger stuff and an insanely short duty cycle, it sticks metal together..... that's about all it does though. It's hard to make "pretty" welds with it. I must say that it doesn't spatter much at all - doesn't really have the power to throw much metal anyway.

I let my former boss borrow it for some field work where his 220v machine would not have power - he said that his friend who is an amature welder could not make it work. He could do alright with it (master welder), but was not impressed.

I wouldn't say I'm anything like a master welder, but I've got experience with most types of welding and my HF machine did not make learning easy.

I just broke down and called HF customer service to order a new torch/cable assembly - $33 shipped - so at least the parts are cheap :rolleyes:. Hopefully it's the new style I've seen at the stores with the push-lock connectors. I'm going to relegate the HF to a flux core machine - it will be ok for a portable unit that I can throw in the car and take for small jobs.

GD




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