Lincoln Tombstone advice needed


New member
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120v MIG
Hi Guys
I am new here and joined because I see there are very experienced welders here and you sure can't beat hands on experience.

I have a small shop that I rebuild corvette differentials, trans, etc. From time to time I need to make a holding fixture or bracket. I have a little 120v MIG I used for years that works well for sheet metal and minor work- which is most of what I need anyway. However, I have need for more at times. I have seen the Lincoln buzzboxes for years and I think that would be the next thing I could use. I never TIG anything so I don't need a combo machine for the added cost. I saw a new in box Tombstone for $275 but it's the original ac model.

Here is my question- for my use - up to 3/8 steel flat stock, sq tubing, or black pipe to flat stock- is the ac unit good? I know they make a ac/dc machine but for my limited use and application do I really need DC?

Thank you in advance for your advice.


Well-known member
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North of Montreal
Hobart 200 stick
Hey, a decent AC welder is the most trouble free machine U can buy.
It is basically one big stepdown transformer but with some method to control the amperage output.
For up to 3/8 steel you can't go wrong.
Worst cases U just make another pass.
While DC has advantages there is really nothing AC can't do, and well at that.

Heck I even re wound a power transformer to give me a basic 70 or so VAC output and 'stuck' many things together that never let go.
Worst situation is that U might just grind better than weld (for a while).

Don't even spend big $$'s, go to the multitude of web sites and buy a clean looking used stick welder.
Heck any used used stick welder that looks decent might be had for under $100. (or close)

Worst case is duty cycle.
If U only weld occasionally then you really don't care all that much.
Like will U weld non stop for 3-4 hrs?
I bet not!


Well-known member
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Sonoma County
Before posting I looked on Cragslist to verify what I expected. Yep, quite a few old heavy transformer-based welders priced $50 - $75 -$100 - $150.

Tombstone, Thunderbolt, Wards, Sears, any of those will do the same work as buying new. Blow out the cobwebs, on some add a little tape to frayed leads, and put it to work. As Piloon said there is nothing inside those but a huge indestructible transformer and a simple cooling fan you might have to oil to get it moving again. Old doesn't make any difference.

Here's the $50 stick welder I've used for 15+ years. Rated 230A AC but I've never tripped the 30 amp breaker in the wall. It was new in the mid-60's and works just as well today.

I suggest try something cheap like that for a while. Then decide if you want to spend a lot more for a complicated modern unit with the same specs.

Craiglist San Francisco + 100 mile radius @ $50:



Active member
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I had a tombstone that my dad had, the biggest drawback to them is the relatively low open circuit voltage (16-22 if I recall) that tends to cause the rod to stick when starting an arc. I got an Airco 300, which is a rebranded Miller, from a neighbor who was upgrading and it has a much higher OCV (around 80-85) and it starts and runs beads much, much better.
If you can find a Miller, or any brand that has a higher OCV for a comparable price, get that. Most of these old machines are practically indestructible and only maintenence they need is an occasional blow out with the air hose and perhaps a dab of grease on the rotary switch, if it has one, and a drop of oil for the fan bearings.


Well-known member
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Arrowsmith, Illinois
You wont stick the rods much after you weld a bit with them. My favorite welder is the Linc. 225 ac jobber----bought it new in 1984 -- still using it today.

Gary Fowler

Well-known member
Good Post Points
AC or AC/DC is your choice but I would opt for a model with infinitely variable amperage settings rather than the Lincoln click 15-20 amps at a change or the Forney pictured that you have to move the lead from step to step. Many times one setting is too cold and the next one up is too hot especially when welding thin materials.
Just my opinion, a little more money now will save you many headaches and possibly $$$ in the future.
I bought my used Miller Dialarc 250AC/DC years ago for $350 and it came with a couple hundred feet of welding lead. The other advantage to having a DC machine is more types /sizes of welding electrodes commonly available.


Well-known member
Good Post Points
While a machine with infinitely variable amperage settings are preferable, having predetermined tapped settings is a lot easier to learn on.

Instead of fiddling up and down with a dial you learn to compensate with rod manipulation and/ or speed. One learns to change technique on the fly rather than going back to the control panel every time a situation changes mid-bead.