Harbor freight is junk anyway

by shawn
(southington ct. )

Normally i have only bought US built machines.. And usually OLD machines at that.. for whatever reason i like the big dinosaur machines. I weld for a living, and everywhere i have worked, we have had old massive transformer machines. So thats just what ive grown accustomed to. But i needed a small mig for portability. picked up a mig from harbor freight for $179. 220v. 110amp. For the price, i had to try it. It actually welded pretty good. The voltage controls were just rocker switches, which i hate, and the feed control was very touchy, But once you dialed it in, I was able to get good solid tacks on 24GA without blowing thru at all, and a decent bead on 1/4" mild steel. (granted i had to weld very slow for it to burn in at all, and i still question the actual penetration)

What i was unimpressed with was the build quality. First of all the gun was made of cheap plastic.. Like really cheap plastic.. the kind that you can tell right away would break easily. the gun was only about 4 feet long. so you better be able to keep the machine close to your work piece. The angle of the tube on the gun was awful, your hand was basically upside down to do anything in the flat position. The gas inlet was a 2-3ft piece of clear braided nylon hose (like for a dish sprayer) with no fitting on the end for a regulator, So i had to find a barb fitting to work. All the drive roll assembly was cheesy soft plastic, And i had to clamp the spring down almost completely to get the thing to feed right. On top of that, for a 220v machine, especially one of the size this thing is, you would expect it to come with an adapter to run a 10lb spool. Nope.. your limited to 1lb spools. Oh yea, and there was no gas solenoid in this thing. The trigger itself was a manual gas valve, So it took alot more pressure on the trigger to get the gas to flow, and the arc to start. i could easily see that thing wearing out and leaking out a tank full of gas if you forget to turn it off immediately after welding. I sold the machine about 2 days after i bought it, because harbor freight's return policy says that anything over $100 is returned in the form of a corporate check, Which i think is pretty shitty. I bought a lincoln 140, and its just much better built, and definitely welds alot better.

my plasma cutter isnt made in china, but it uses the same gun the harbor freight one uses. so im assuming the gun itself is at least chinese.. And it works amazingly. gun is really well built for what it is. cuts great, and consumables arent too bad for it.

my guess is its hit or miss. Just about everything is made in china weather we know it or not. a $12 90* die grinder from harbor freight i bought, fell apart literally after 45 seconds of use. Went to home depot, got a $50 husky one. Works great, never gave me any trouble, and ive used it ALOT. Guess what? both made in china. So it seems kinda like a hit or miss game. Unfortunately, american machines are 3-4x the price (and sometimes i wonder if theres any legit reason for it).. If that weren't the case there would be no such thing as chinese welders. At least with an american machine, you know its more likely than not going to do exactly what it says it will.

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