Article And Photos By: Vincent Stemp
Originally Published In The March 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magzazine
No matter how much wrenching and fabrication experience you have or don’t have, there’s a learning curve every time you get your hands on a new tool. A new ball peen hammer will never feel the same as the old one dad gave you, and that same rule of thumb applies to bigger equipment. So when our shop took delivery of a new Lincoln Electric Power MIG 216 welder, it certainly drew some attention. Most of the guys do their own fabrication work, and they’ve done most of that work with MIG equipment. Most of that experience is with the shop’s aging but effective MIG machine. Pushing ten years old and looking rather blue (supplier joke…), the old machine was still laying beads, but was definitely haggard around the edges. The shielding gas regulator leaked from time to time, draining a month’s worth of Argon overnight, and the gun’s cable had been patched with tape so often it was looking like a mummy. So the new Lincoln machine was already looking good, if only by comparison. Feature wise, the Power MIG 216 has mostly what you expect from a 200+ volt machine. It’ll run on 208, 220, or 230 volts and spits out between 30-250 amps selectable by a seven way control. Wire speed is infinity variable (no detents between settings) and will handle wire between .023” to .045” with the right drive wheels. Don’t gloss over this part; the wire drive wheels the machine comes with only do .035” and .045” wire; if you want to feed smaller wire, you’ll have to order another set of drive wheels like we did. If you do want to work with aluminum, you can order a spool gun to handle that task.
The Power MIG 216 unpacked and set up quickly, with little fuss thanks to the built in castors and gas bottle tray. It’s even got a hook on the side for wrapping up the ground wire and gun cable, so the boss man can go ahead and give you hell if you leave cables all over the ground when you’re done welding. There’s
even a little hatch on top for storing spare parts, great news if more than a few folks are going to be using the machine and you want a clear place for parts and tools.
There was nothing left to do but start laying some beads and getting familiar with the machine. Me, Joe and the boss man Sean all laid down some beads, experimenting with output and amperage on some scrap pieces and a ‘70s Sprint 350 tank that’s hopefully going to end up on my Sportster. There was a lot to like about the machine, and also a
learning curve; like when I forgot to adjust the drive wheel tension and Sean was stuck holding a gun that wouldn’t feed. Whoops…a little flipping through the manual and a quick adjustment, and it was spitting fire again, no problem.
Sean was impressed with the output most of all. “It feels like it gets heat in and out of the metal faster than the old machine,” he pointed out. I agreed; this was a great working feature for filling a gap between the base of the Sprint tank and the Ironhead tank bracket I scrounged. It was easy to close gaps working in short bursts, the metal cooling and heating readily for easy flow. Now that we’re warming up to the new machine, we’ll tackle something a little more fun next time, like fabbing an exhaust or maybe getting that Sprint tank finished up. Stay tuned!