If you are going to weld pipe and mount it, which one will be the best? Gas? Diesel? Propane?
A gasoline welder is the best option if money is your highest consideration. A used soldering iron (in my opinion it makes perfect sense if you find a garage queen. This article is not about branding, but in my opinion I would stick with Lincoln or Miller for three reasons.
Made in the USA. Yes, the Chinese are starting to do some good things, but they are still NOT there when it comes to welders.
Spare parts availability. Almost every welding shop in every city will have parts for what’s in your truck bed.
Copper windings. Copper and aluminum are used to conduct and generate electricity. Copper is superior. Why? I don’t really know, but I do know this: A 1980 Lincoln Pipeliner with copper windings will weld so smoothly you’ll think it’s ice cream.
What fuel will you choose?
Gas is everywhere and easy to get. Is it clean. It’s not a big deal if you spill a little. However, gas has a problem: it is not as efficient as diesel. Cars are a good example. A VW Beetle with a diesel will get up to 54 MPG on the highway. Exactly the same because on gas it will max out at about 35 MPG. THAT my friend can mean a lot of money if we talk about feeding a welder sitting in North Dakota running for 12 or more hours a day.
Let’s do a little math.
Let’s say an older diesel Pipeliner uses a gallon per hour of average usage. At $ 4.00 a gallon, that’s $ 48 per day. The same gasoline-powered welder would likely consume about 1.5 gallons per hour under the same conditions. 1.5 X 12 = 18 gallons at, say, $ 3.75 = $ 67.50. The difference is about $ 20 a day. Let’s say you’re running it 300 days a year, so 300 X $ 20 = $ 6,000. And let’s say you’re going to run this welder four years, so that’s a $ 24,000 difference.
What about propane?
Propane is pretty cheap and, where you will be welding, it will probably cost $ 2.00 a gallon. A gasoline engine running on propane will burn more fuel because gas has more BTUs than propane (and diesel has more BTUs than gasoline). Let’s say we are going to use 20 gallons of propane X $ 2.00 = $ 40 per day in fuel cost. Well that’s a little less cost than diesel. Normally, a diesel welder would be more expensive than a gasoline welder, but when you have a propane kit and tank, you’re almost in for a draw.
Propane has another advantage: it burns super clean. Can stretch oil changes. All things being equal, I still think I’d go for diesel. Why?
Propane can have a bad habit of not being easy to get when you need it. It also always means moving the truck to another location to feed the welder. On the other hand, your truck will probably be diesel hence a stop and you can dump the truck and the welder.
Take your time if you are buying a used soldering iron. Find that sweet garage queen who still has the paint on. You’ll be glad you waited. If you decide to go for propane, do your best to find a soldering iron that is already set up for propane. Welders have to move to another trade for various reasons and companies go under. Look for auctions and complete teams that are ready to go. Consider all of your options.
You can put “All Craigslist” into a Google search and it will search everywhere (great for comparing prices.