Lincoln AC-225 Stick Welder
Dependable, easy to use and laughs at thick metal
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 11-8-2010
Despite the flood of wire welders the tried and true stick machines remain very popular in part because of their wide-ranging material thickness handling capabilities. Where a MIG (metal inert gas) welder on being fed 220V (single-phase) current may run out of power at 3/16” (0.188”) or ¼” (0.250”) the Lincoln AC-225 Stick Welder is just getting warmed up. Lincoln rates their AC-225 Welder for 16 gauge (0.0598”) and heavier. You get to define the heavier part depending on your skills and how you prepare the stock.
The AC-225 Welder reviewed here remains one of Lincoln’s top sellers. In fact, this welder has been around in this basic configuration for about as long as I can remember things being welded and that goes back over 40 years now. For a few decades (including now) if you went into a short track auto racing shop you are likely to find this familiar Lincoln-red box with the familiar hip-roof shape. The Lincoln AC-225 Welder sports a pair of handles that often fooled someone into trying to toss this 106-lb welder into a pickup truck bed. Part of the illusion comes from that weight being packed into the 25-1/2”-tall by 15”-wide and 18-1/2”-deep physical size of the Lincoln AC-225 Welder.
Hordes of amateur to pro welders alike put their trust in the Lincoln AC-225 Welder and Lincoln shows their own confidence in the long-standing design with a 3-year warranty on parts and labor. For a product designed to melt steel, that sounds like a good deal to me.
The Lincoln AC-225 Welder has a wide welding amperage range of 40-225 amps. Lincoln claims that it has a very smooth AC arc and I think you would be hard pressed to find someone among its users that disagrees with that. The Lincoln AC-225 Welder is capable of welding materials like carbon, low alloy, and stainless steels as well as cast iron.
The Lincoln AC-225 Welder comes pre-wired with a 6-foot-long cord terminated with a typical #42 three-prong welder plug. A pair of quality cables are pre installed on the cabinet end with the ground being about 10-feet-long and the electrode about 12-feet-long. If you recall the 106-lb weight you will appreciate the long cables a little more.
I should note that if you are running out to buy a Lincoln AC-225 Welder, hesitate just long enough at the store to grab a couple boxes of electrodes. The Lincoln AC-225 Welder comes with the welder itself, the ground and electrode clamps (stinger) and some paperwork. That’s it. They really aren’t being cheap but rather realistic knowing that no matter what rods they would include, you would need a different type. I suspect they did not want to add another 5-lbs worth of shipping costs either.
In the Shop
The only assembly required to get the Lincoln AC-225 Welder ready for use is attaching the ground clamp and stinger (electrode clamp) to the cable ends. Within 24 hours of posting the “upcoming” notice announcing this review on www.newmetalworker.com I received an email
question from a fellow who was putting his new Lincoln AC-225 Welder together. He could not find anything in the instructions that told him which cable gets which clamp. I looked in my box and found that the instructions also do not mention which cable is which. There also is no marking where the cables exit the cabinet. However, if you look at the loop-type ends that are installed on the cable ends at the factory you will notice that the holes are different sizes to match the different sized lugs on the clamps. Mystery solved – for both of us!
It has been something on the order of 20 years since I last proved that I could not stick weld very well but now with the Lincoln AC-225 Welder I seem to have improved. I started out with a box of 6011 rods and despite burning up a bunch of them I was only able to produce very ugly-looking beads. After consulting with the very helpful folks on the www.weldingweb.com forum I picked up a box of Lincoln 6013 rods and I became an instant pro (my definition) with the Lincoln AC-225 Welder. All of a sudden I was making what appeared to be welding beads! I even did a couple fillets that actually looked like fillets! Keep in mind that this is only day two with the Lincoln AC-225 Welder after probably 20 years of not touching a welder other than to turn it on for someone else.
I found that with the Lincoln AC-225 Welder I could butt weld ¼”-thick-plate in one pass using only 90-amps. The Lincoln AC-225 Welder goes up to 225 so Lincoln’s “and heavier” estimation of this welders abilities seems to be right on the money if not a tad conservative. If you need to weld sheet metal a decent wire welder might be a better choice or at least someone with extraordinary stick welding skills. But if you need to weld materials from about 1/8”-thick to “and heavier” metals, the Lincoln AC-225 Welder just might be for you.
If you like to buy equipment with a proven track record there isn’t much out there that can beat the Lincoln AC-225 Welder. This machine has been a favorite of amateur and pro welders for decades because it works, works very well and lasts a long time. Add to that a street price of just $280.00 (11-8-2010) and it is easy to see why so many choose this machine.
Aside from the price and history I think that the Lincoln AC-225 Welder is a very easy to use welder that can make the learning curve for amateur welders a much smaller mountain to scale. Practice will certainly remain important but if my experience is any indication at all, even the practice is fun and rewarding when you can create a real bead! Learning is always easier when a good tool lets you make progress.
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