I checked and the MG club has a MIG welder so unless I find a friend with a TIG welder, I'll probably have to start on MIG. There is the possibility that I might buy my own welder - if I can find a place to store it! A friend told me to get the highest amperage welder I can afford, but that's not much help for me. I don't think I'm likely to weld anything as thick as 1/4". What amperage would you recommend?
The logic on buying the highest amperage set can't really be faulted because you can always turn it down ! However in the DIY world where it's your own time and doesn't matter if you finish today or tomorrow, then there's a place for lower powered sets. Clearly I'm no expert but I'll happily tell you what I bought and why.
My set is a 160 amp, DC only set with the facility for upslope/downslope/pulse welding, it's compact and runs off a (UK) standard 13 amp plug. 160 amp because 200+ amps requires a 16 amp input. The advantages of higher power are thicker metals, longer duty cycles before it overheats/cuts out and faster welding. Most sets I saw also do arc welding so a higher amperage would come in handy should you want to weld 1/2" steels but I've no intention of welding greater than 1/4" with this set. If it's of interest, that header tank is 1mm 304 SS and was mostly welded at 40 amps, the highest I went to was 50 amps on pulsed current
I picked DC only because sets with AC welding are for Aluminium and other highly oxidising metals. I considered an AC/DC set but decided I'd probably not use the facility as I've got a MIG set which I would use for Al.
Upslope/downslope just make it easier to control the start & finish of a weld, plus reducing the tendency for crater cracking at the end of a run with some metals.
Pulse welding because you can minimise overall heat input and still have good penetration. I think it's easier to control on thinner metals, especially if you're welding without filler metal addition. I used pulse on the overflow return tube attachment where it was easy to build up heat but I don't think it's essential, more a "nice to have".
That's the so-called "logic" behind my purchase although you need a lot of man-maths to claim it's a sensible buy
I don't know if it's an option over there in the US, but some places in the UK run training schools for hobbyists and if you could find one locally that might give you a taster ?