Last fall Lincoln Electric replaced its venerable PowerMIG 215 with an upgrade -- one number in the model name -- with the 216. The new machine sports improved electronics for arc stability at varying working wire lengths, and is quite handy working in hard-to-reach areas when welding isn't as simple as on a bench.
The 216's pedigree reads like this:
* 30-250 amp welding range from a 7-tap transformer and an infinitely variable wire speed control from 50 to 700 inches per minute.
* Input power requirements are 220VAC and a 50-amp circuit.
* Duty cycle at various outputs: 30% at 216 amps; 40% at 190 amps; 60% at 170 amps.
* Comes mounted on a tall-wheel dolly and casters and is equipped with chain-secure easy-to-load cylinder rack.
* Includes regulators for argon blend shielding gas and a thread-plumbed supply hose to connect the gas supply to the welder.
* Handles .025 to .045 solid or cored electrode wire, and welds from 22 gauge sheet metal up to 1/2 inch mild steel. The 216 is also easily adaptable to Lincoln's spool gun for use on aluminum. (We didn't try that option).
* Out of the box assembly includes installation of gas supply hose, mounting of 10-44 lb. wire spool, and connecting to a power source.
When I unboxed the 216, I was welding within an hour and was immediately impressed with how easy it is to make good welds (some of them even pretty)!
Between Christmas and New Year's Day I used the 216 to add a 1/2-inch rebar loop to the hitch on my garden tractor to better pull a clevis-pin tongue cart; built a boat dolly for a friend, and built a steel-frame picnic table for my daughter.
Picnic table with steel frame and all-weather 2X4 top and seats.
My holiday projects were fairly light duty for the 216, but we did do some overlap and butt welds on 3/8-inch steel plates, and it passed with flying colors there.
In all cases, I found the 216 very easy to use, and quite able to maintain a good, steady arc, despite my less-than-professional skills. The boat dolly and table were made from a mixture of new and "weathered" 14-gauge square tubing. Using the 216's on-board application chart, it was easy to select the right wire speed and current supply for that "frying bacon" sound that rolls a wire puddle into a weld like applying fresh caulk.
This boat dolly went together in less than three hours, and that included cutting the material.
And, when I did get too close to a thin edge on a 45-degree cut, the inevitable (for me) hole burned through. Yet, with just a one-step reduction in current and a tweak of the wire speed, hole repair was easy -- much easier than with a number of smaller MIG welders I've used. The 216 truly has a wide range of application and the improvements it features over older machines of any color are quite evident.
Lincoln ships the machine with the "coil claw" a sturdy sheet metal hanger that bolts to the right side of the cabinet which makes a handy place to hang the "stinger" while it's not in use. Also, on top of the 216 is a built-in compartment for keeping consumables, tape measures, chalk sticks, etc., where you can find them.
I used a 10-pound coil of .035 solid wire for my projects, and found the installation and wire feeding to be quite straight forward. I was a little concerned that sometimes the MIG wire uncoils into the very nice cast aluminum feed head at an angle, and there seemed to be no way to center the wire with the spool I was using. Still, throughout my use of the machine there was never a feeding hitch whatsoever.
The upgraded feed head and dual-track rollers are industrial grade, but then, this is a professional model welder. No plastic involved and the tracking pressure adjustment is precise and easy to use.
The 216 has an industrial price of $1878 and will weigh in right at 256 lbs. when you take delivery. For more information, visit: www.lincolnelectric.com.