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The Pipeliner hood from Honeywell is an absolute bargain. Used for decades by hard working welders, it is a cult classic that never goes out of style.
The simple design of this helmet really makes it stand out from the rest. Nowadays, welding hoods have crazy headgear and all sorts of computer like features. The Pipeliner keeps it simple by offering a bomb proof hood at a price that most welders can afford.
This article will cover the major pros and cons of this welding hood. Pipeline welders and structural welders tend to love it, but you may be looking for a hood with more features that Pipeliners don’t need. Helmet technology has seriously improved in recent years, but the Pipeliner has remained the exact same.
If you like the idea of a simple, stripped down welding hood, then the Pipeliner is definitely worth a look. If you are into the newer, computer like features, then a Miller or Lincoln is probably a better choice for you.
Due to the lower cost of this hood, you can worry less about scratching it or dropping it. It is meant to be used in shop and field settings, and it can take a real beating and last for years.
Pros Of The Pipeliner Helmet
–More Affordability– Since its inception, the Pipeliner has remained well under $100. As far as todays helmets go, that is very hard to beat. Honeywell has done this by removing all of the fancy stuff that other companies are using. No digital buttons, no crazy headgear, no side windows. This hood is purely functional – for working welders, a dependable and affordable hood is key.
–Rugged Construction– Due to Honeywells special fiber glass or “Fibre Metal” as they call it, this hood is extremely hard to break. It can withstand serious drops and abuse without ever cracking. This is a huge plus if you tend to be tough on your gear. Buying a $400 hood and having it get trashed at a welding shop is not a good experience. With the Pipeliner, it can get thrown around a little more without you worrying about the consequences.
–Full Wrap Design– With its oval shape and major curvature, this helmet keeps you protected from all directions. It is great for overhead and “out of position” welding because your entire face remains safe from sparks and spatter. A lot of hoods don’t have adequate surface area to protect the welder from sparks, and this can pose burn dangers. With the Pipeliner, you can rest assured that the sparks will get deflected – no matter what type of welding you’re doing.
–Simple Headgear– The stock headgear that comes with this helmet is not so great. It has a rubber strap in the back and is very hard to get used to.
For a reasonable amount, you can purchase the “3C” headgear which offers a knob in the back for infinite adjustment. This headgear will fit just about any size of head. It is heavy duty and doesn’t have extra bells and whistles. Just a thick plastic band that securely fits anyones head – what more do you need?
The rubber strap shown below is the stock version that is included with the helmet. Some folks love it, but we really prefer the upgrade – the ratchet headgear just seems to work better.
–More Lens Options– The 2″ x 4.25″ lens slot is designed for the simple passive shade lenses that have been used for decades. The viewing area is small. Just big enough to comfortably see your weld. Many welders do not like this and they tend to gravitate towards helmets with larger lenses. However, when you think about it – all you really need to see is the area you are welding. With this mentality, the 2×4 lens size is perfect.
You can also find auto darkening lenses in the 2×4″ size as well. These will switch from a light state to a dark shade when they detect a welding arc. These are much easier to use and are especially good for beginners.
Since passive lenses stay dark all of the time, many welders have a tough time using them. Not being able to see your work piece until you start welding can be a hindrance to progress.
–Cheap Clear Lenses– In addition the the actual welding lens, clear lenses are needed to protect the “main lens”. These clear filters can get pricey on higher end welding helmets. On some Miller and Lincoln models, the clear lenses can be $5 a pop. This really adds up considering how easily these filters can get scratched. When they get too scratched, they must be replaced.
Luckily, the Pipeliner clear lenses are extremely affordable. Around 20 cents a piece, there is virtually no upkeep to worry about. The Pipeliner takes 2 clear lenses, one in front of the shaded lens and one in back. For roughly 40 cents total, you can protect your shaded lens and keep on welding! If you scratch the filters, then its no big deal.
Cons Of The Pipeliner Helmet
–Cheap Hardware– The fasteners holding the headgear are not very good. They are made of plastic. When you tighten them to stiffen the headgear movement, they tend to strip or crack. It is important to have some tension on your headgear so the hood can stay up and not flop around. If there is no tension, the hood will fall down into the welding position when you try to keep it on top of your head.
The good news is that you can get special CNC machined fasteners for the headgear. These are very high quality, and they allow for maximum tension. These aluminum screws are custom made just for the Pipeliner hood. I’ve had mine for about 2 years and they still work great.
–Stock Headgear– As mentioned above, the rubber strapped headgear that comes with the hood isn’t very great. It makes it hard to get a secure fit since the rubber is so floppy. If you are willing to upgrade to the 3C headgear, then this isn’t a big deal.
However, folks not looking to spend the money may get frustrated with the stock headgear. We haven’t met any welder that actually enjoys using this rubber head strap. Something to think about when considering this hood.
As you can tell, adding the fasteners (above) and the nicer headgear (below) will increase the overall cost of owning the Pipeliner helmet.
–White Paint Job– The white paint tends to get really dirty and makes this hood look super worn. I opted to paint mine black which keeps it looking better. If you’re ok with getting spatter on the white paint, then it isn’t a big deal. Just keep in mind that this hood looks old after only using it for a few months. This is especially true if you are doing heavy duty processes – like flux core MIG.
–Lack Of Features– The simplicity of this hood can also be a downside for some welders. You must choose which lens shade you want to install. If you need a darker lens (shades 11, 12), you must purchase it and install it. Most newer hoods will have a range of lens shades that can be changed with the touch of a button. If you are someone who changes shades a lot, then opting for a nicer hood may be a better choice.
–Small Viewing Area– Some welders will have trouble getting used to the smaller viewing area. Larger lenses allow for a wider field of vision, and the Pipeliner doesn’t have this. However, some of the best welders in the world still use this hood. Even master TIG welders use this hood to pass some of the hardest tests. If seeing around your welding area is very important to you, then the Pipeliner is not the best choice.
–Needed Upgrades– As mentioned above, this hood does need some upgrades if you want to get the most performance out of it. The upgraded headgear, fasteners, and auto darkening lens all add to the overall price. With this being said, some welders don’t do any of these upgrades. The hood still works fine without them – it mainly comes down to personal preference.
The most expensive part of these upgrades is the auto-darkening lens. Passive shade lenses go for about $5-$10, while the auto darkeners start around $75. These lenses do last a long time, and offer much more advantages than a passive shade. Being able to see your welding area before you strike an arc is a huge plus. However, if you enjoy using a passive shade lens, then you’ll save some serious cash over the long haul.
For the nice name brand auto-darks in the 2×4 size, you’ll be looking at roughly $100. Ugh!
Performance vs Longevity
Having a helmet with tons of features is great – until something breaks. The newer modern helmets are quite fragile. If you drop them, you may ruin the chips inside and it could be a costly repair. Or worse, you might need to replace the hood altogether.
The Pipeliner has averted this by limiting the features. It is a “less is more” scenario.
Manufacturers can’t pack features into their hoods and expect them to be durable. The more electronics that are installed, the more likely a repair is.
This really comes down to user preference, which is why it is great that there are hoods like Pipeliners which contrast nicer Millers and Lincoln hoods.
With all of the helmet/hood technology that has been coming out, there are endless options for all types of welders. TIG welders may need a bunch of bells and whistles for complicated scenarios, but stick welders usually don’t – hence the name “Pipeliner”.
We find some of the newer modern features unnecessary. Having a computer inside of your hood is awesome, but do you really need it? We tend to run a shade 10 most of the time, so having a huge range of shades isn’t super necessary for us.
The new Miller t94 series are a great example of how far hoods have come. The t94’s have every feature possible, but it is a bit much in our opinion.
It is good to remember that a welding hood is meant to protect your eyes from a welding arc, and offer clear vision. If you want to spend $400 on a hood, then go for it – but most welders won’t even use half of the features in a high end hood.
A frugal hood like the Pipeliner will keep more money in your pocket, and it allows for less maintenance throughout its life. The clear lenses we mentioned are some of the most affordable replacements on the market. This means less trips to the welding supply store, and more time on the job.
Love it or hate it, the Pipeliner from Honeywell is here to stay. It is a true working persons hood. Relatively affordable, very durable and classic. We don’t see a need to upgrade, so we’ll be running the Pipeliner for the foreseeable future.
If this hood sounds like your cup of tea, then join the cult! Just kidding, but Pipeliner owners really do love their hoods. They are highly customizable and personable.
You can paint them however you wish, and you can even trim them if you want to remove some weight. There aren’t many hoods that have this many modification options.
Companies like Outlaw Leather have really customized these hoods. Adding leather and different designs, they’ve really upped the ante on the Pipeliner. If higher end is your preference, then we highly recommend checking out outlawleatherusa.com.
The leather on their models offers even more protection (especially for your neck). Preventing UV burns is very important.
As always, thanks for reading and being a part of the WM community. Check back soon for more articles on related topics.
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