I'm telling you, learning is a game changer. You can still hire out critical stuff if you want, but you will be able to accomplish stuff you only dreamed about. It's actually pretty easy man, until you get into pipe and non steel stuff. A cheap name brand buzzbox and you can build a bunch of stuff.
I would definitely shy away from inverters, a blown board will cost as much as a new machine. I'm a union steamfitter and pipeliner, and have burned up several over the years, most of them repeatedly. If you want to spend money, buy all means do so, but that's not where i would spend it. A buzz box will do what that thing does, and will last long enough that your grandkids will be able to use it when you are long gone. Spend money on a victor journeyman torch, a 6" makita rat tail trigger grinder, or bigger torch bottles.
Inverters don't run 6010 worth a damn until you step up into industrial machines of 300 amp or more, and even then it's iffy. So you will be running 6011, 7014, and the like. Low hy rods are overkill for most applications, and unless are stored in a rod oven their whole life aren't low hydrogen anymore. Most of what you will find online or in stores is pure bs propaganda, welding is actually very simple when you separate fact from fiction. You need heat to weld, mig doesn't supply enough till you are in spray transfer (3 phase or 100 amp input), you don't need advanced stuff to do what your grandfather did in the barn with simple tools, which are still in production for a reason.
Seriously man, any questions you have i would be happy to help, and so would many others here. Buzz box to start, 6011 rods. You won't need a super fancy hood either.
Yup, the transformer style are very robust, and will last pretty much forever. With a large enough power supply to the shop, and potentially a rotary phase converter, you can use industrial ones as well, which can be found quite cheaply and will have a near 100 percent duty cycle, and much better dc arc.
Im working on my welding skills slowly. A 220 mig is a good thing to have if you want to stick metal together. I’ve gotten decent at it but I refuse to do anything critical. I would love to take some classes but it’s not in the cards right now. I’ve taken Kyle’s advice though and do have someone teaching me the ropes. In fact once my part comes in, I will be using the stick welder to attach a miniskid blank plate onto a TM log splitter. The actual qualified welder will be there to offer advice since it is his machine. I’ve been giving him a hand at work when I can. Usually just tacking things up so he can make them right. He calls his mig the hobby machine.
Derailing the hell out of this thread so just remember the 3-C's Clean, Clean, and Clean. Keep the metal clean grind down to bright shiny clean metal. Use acetone to wipe away any oils. Set a proper (even) gap or bevel the edges or both for thick material.
I can see that easily for rust, paint, mill scale and other grits, but what's the problem with the so tiny amounts of oil ? it should be vaporized, burned, annihilated long before the first droplet of steel even approaches the parts. No ?
Well, obviously not, tell me ...
Oil leads to porosity. I only use acetone on oily stuff, a wire wheel is good enough for most anything else, heavy rust gets a hard wheel. Flame cut stuff gets a wire wheel, and that's on xray pipe. Certain pipe jobs get very weird about grinding marks outside of an area that will be covered with weld. Tig and mig are less forgiving, so everything is polished clean.
Some of the (non pipe welding) ol timers will tell ya to “just turn the heat up and burn that chit outta thar”. I’m like go eat another hunk a cheese and stfu pap. If it isn’t on there ya don’t have to burn it “outta thar”.