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My Welder

Hobart welder.

Hobart welder.

This little beastie is fine machine.  It’s rated for 200 amps with a 100% duty cycle and generates 5 Kilowatts of single phase AC.  It runs 5/32″ electrodes nicely so it’s fine for the work I do; a bigger machine can be rented as needed.

What is notable for a welder of this vintage is how compact it is.  I’ve seen a couple of Hobart welders of a similar age and compact design but never with auxillary AC power like this one.

It has a Wisconsin THD series engine that appears to be original.  As far as I can tell, based on a serial number list found online, the engine was made between 1958 and 1960.   What I will say about the old engine is this:  I love old machinery and Wisconsin engines have a well deserved reputation of being reliable workhorses, but  a crank-start engine loses some of its charm when it’s you turning that starting handle.

I’ve been laughed at for welding with an antique machine but it produces a beautiful, smooth arc and I would have to spend about $4000 to buy a new engine driven welder that welds as nicely.  There seems to be a double standard:  Many welders will drool over a vintage Lincoln Pipeliner but raise an eyebrow over my Hobart.

Of course the dilemma that rears its ugly head when purchasing ancient equipment is the matter of buy-in versus operating costs.  My welder cost me a total of $400 for the purchase and repair parts, plus about 20 hours getting everything working properly while the new machine I was considering was about $4000 before taxes; that is quite a difference.

The downside of my cheap buy-in is the efficiency of that 50 year old engine when compared to this year’s model.  When an engine-driven welder is run all day, every day, the fuel efficiency is a serious matter.  With a new welder of 200-300 amps capacity, depending on utilization, the money spent on fuel can exceed the original purchase price in a matter of months.  As soon as I find myself running my little Hobart every day, I’ll go out and buy a newer machine.

Another thought related to fuel costs and welders comes to mind:  If you find yourself running your welder a lot just to power a few small loads like a grinder or work lights you shouldconsider getting a smaller generator. I once worked for a fellow who spent about $45/day to fuel a welder that was just used to power a couple of electric hand tools.  The payback on the purchase of a small generator would have taken a week in his case.   He didn’t seem to care; you can tell a welder anything, but you can’t tell him much.

As for my welder, I’ve considered coupling a compressor head and an air motor to the back end of the engine so I don’t have to haul a seperate air compressor with me and also have an easy way to start the engine but I’m just too busy.

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