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Old 16th January 2012, 12:38 PM   #1
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Which tig welder to get?

What should I look for in a hobby garage tig welder? Does anyone have any experience with these things? Some I have looked at are super portable but I don't know if they would work well.

Welders Direct: Thermal Arc 95S Stick/Tig
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Old 16th January 2012, 12:55 PM   #2
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

I've got the TIG that a friend who is a certified pro welder recommended to get, the Lincoln Square Wave 175. It may not have the bells and whistles and settings that a Syncrowave has, but for schlubs like us,this is perfect. The auto start/frequency adjust helps,as well as some other features that make it easy for the beginner to advanced user to use on everything from alum. to steel to stainless without changing a bunch of settings( except dc to ac with alum.). I have had mine for 10+ trouble free years and still love it.
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Old 16th January 2012, 01:22 PM   #3
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Dean:
It depends what you intended use is. I personally have 2 older transformer based machines that work great, but the newer inverter machines are really nice. Miller has a few, and I have a Dynasty which is a really good machine as far as power consumption, features, and it is super lightweight, it will run off a regular 50 amp ac 220v outlet and give great results. The Lincoln and Miller lower end machines such as 160 to 200 amp output are good but forget doing any substantial aluminum welding such as 1/4" and up unless you pre-heat, and they generally are set up for air cooled torches which have a low duty cycle.
As Dave mentioned the high frequency is a real plus, especially on startup allowing one to preserve the electrode shape especially on DC, and touching on AC with aluminum makes a mess.
I would look for a machine with a 200 amp or better output, good duty cycle (60 percent or better at full power), and maybe a few bells and whistles such as arc balance when you go to ac. If you intend on doing any high output long duration welding you can always upgrade to a water cooled torch. The physical size is virtually the same but they will handle twice the current.
Rule of thumb, more features=higher cost, but a few extra bucks in the beginning IMHO are worth the investment.
Good luck looking
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Old 16th January 2012, 01:35 PM   #4
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

All depends on what you want to do with it.
Much cheaper if you're only going to do mild steel for example as you can use the far cheaper DC models, aluminium requires AC which is pricey.

As an example on a quick browse of (UK) ebay the cheapest BIN DC TIG welder is 119, the cheapest AC one is 329.

I've had suggested you want to budget about the 1000 / $1000 dollar mark for a decent one if you're going to want to weld alloy.

Domestic is likely to be best but more expensive, watch out for those that are little more than re-branded Chinese machines (with a hefty mark up for little more than a brand name), if you are going to get Chinese you may as well get the discount!

On the subject of the Chinese machines, opinion on the cheap ones is varied, IMO they are a bargain if you get a 'good' one but quality is very varied and support/spares can be slim to non-existent. If you are going to get one best to at least buy off an importer (with a small mark-up) rather than directly as it gives you someone to contact/complain to if it goes wrong.
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Old 16th January 2012, 02:46 PM   #5
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Dean,

I also have the Lincoln 175 Squarewave. When I did my research I decided it would be either Lincoln or Miller. I was about to pull the plug on a new Miller Synchrowave when a minimal use Lincoln came up locally, so I purchased it.

I am very happy with it although have not used it very much as I also have a MIG which is easier for car body sheet metal work.
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Old 16th January 2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlampe View Post
What should I look for in a hobby garage tig welder? Does anyone have any experience with these things? Some I have looked at are super portable but I don't know if they would work well.

Welders Direct: Thermal Arc 95S Stick/Tig
The Thermal Arc welder you reference above is a DC-only welder, and tops out at less than 100 amps, IIRC.

That won't be very helpful if you want to weld on the SLC chassis, since virtually all aluminum welding is done with AC.

There are other reasons why it isn't an ideal welder for a beginning weldor.

I agree with the suggestions to go with Lincoln or Miller, preferably their inverter line. Make sure whatever you get has AC/DC output, at least 185 amps (more if you want to weld a lot of 1/4" aluminum), and a high-freq start.

If you do a lot of aluminum welding, you'll want a water-cooled torch, but that can wait.

I have a Lincoln Tigmate 185 and like it. If I were doing it over again, I'd get the next size up (225 amps) to make welding aluminum easier. You'll want a 220V input machine in any case, esp if you weld aluminum.

There's no telling how much better a weldor I'd be if I had better equipment!

That's what I tell myself, anyway.
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Old 16th January 2012, 03:08 PM   #7
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

As David says, you need A/C... D/C If you want to weld alluminium

I have a Thermal Arc 200. and its a very good little welder. The unit under it is for the watercooled torch. but you wont need that unless you are doing long welds

Which tig welder to get?-welder-002-jpg

the latest version is a 180 amp...

http://europe.thermadyne.com/IM-Uplo...s%20Manual.pdf

You wont be dissapointed with these machines
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Old 16th January 2012, 06:43 PM   #8
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Thanks for the tips!

I really only need it to weld aluminum. I have a mig that works great and a plasma cutter. I thought the tig would sort of round out the shop. I'll take a look at Craigslist and ebay to see what I can find.

I'll report back when I find something.
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Old 17th January 2012, 12:36 PM   #9
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

I bought a Lincond 225. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have paid for it 3 times over by now. This was my first tig experiance. I was able to figure it out in a matter of hours.

I have welded everything from alum to stainless steel tubing. It has enought power to weld on the chassis of my SLC, 250 amps, and goes low enough to weld stailness steel water pipe, 20amps.

Very good machine. The pro welder who has helped me said it is all anyone would ever need. If I was to do a lot of high power welding all I would need is a water cooled torch.

Get a 35CF tank. Bigger is hard to move around and it is big enough to last many hours of welding.

The most important thing is a really good helmet with a electronic darkening eye shield. Buy a good one.

This isn't the cheapest way to go but you won't have to do it again.

http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us...roduct=K2535-1
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Old 17th January 2012, 02:22 PM   #10
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

I learned this from experience...

If you are an accomplished and well experienced TIG weldor, you can probably make just about anything work.
However, if you're still relatively new to TIG welding, you may have troubles and not know if it was the way you set up the machine, the machine being faulty, or possibly your own inexperience showing...

If you can afford to buy a good name-brand machine like Miller, Hobart, Esab, etc - I would advise that you do just that.. It will save you time and money in the long run - not to mention that you'll probably turn out higher quality parts...

I have a Miller Dynasty 200DX Inverter unit for my TIG welder... No question about it now - if I have a bad weld - it's my fault, not the unit...
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Old 17th January 2012, 05:50 PM   #11
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Jones View Post
The most important thing is a really good helmet with a electronic darkening eye shield. Buy a good one.
This probably isn't that relevant for the OP as he already has MIG but for anyone else viewing this later I was advised to get an electronic darkening shield as a newbie welder and found it was fantastic.

No guessing where to start, flipping the shield down, missing and re-aligning but start where you want to start every time. Obviously this is where the pro's differ from us mere mortals as they get it right first time but while learning (and beyond) its worth every penny.
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Old 17th January 2012, 10:52 PM   #12
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Dean:

Got a Lincoln last spring. With the "pulse" and other features it can help an amateur make pretty nice welds. Come on by and run a few beads if you want to give it a try. Quality piece, built like a tank. Bit pricey. But suspect it will be around a very long time. Got it primarily for aluminum.

Chuck
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Old 20th January 2012, 05:43 PM   #13
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Dean,

I got a Miller 185 Diversion box (AC/DC) and have been very happy with it. It took me a little while to fuse Alu rather than just melt it but I have been very happy with the results.

I've only run it off 120V as that's all I have currently in the shop, and at 120V the output is limited to 125A. I have welded on my chassis with reasonable results, although the welds I was doing were cosmetic and not structural (filling holes). For the thicker stuff, I think 185A will do it but I don't know. Certainly by the time you're at 225 or 250, you're good.

I bought new, paid $$'s, but as Randy said, I know the machine works and I have a warrantee. I had looked at used units, but not knowing how to weld Alu, I had no idea if they were good or bad.

The unit itself is super simple with no real options or high frequency start assist or arc balance stuff. A switch for AC/DC and a knob for max amps. Very little to fuss with. It's done well by me so far and I've been working it a little bit recently.

What I've done:




Perfect? No. Completely functional and not too bad for someone with about 10 hours of torch time. Heck yeah!

Chris
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Old 22nd January 2012, 05:17 PM   #14
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Last week I got myself a Cebora 220amp single phase Tig welder.
I had a demo of this and thought it was more than capable for anything I needed.
A few days later I set it up and tried welding thin plate. Forgot completely what the sales guy told me but after a phone call all was put to rights.
Except It's not as easy as mig welding and I seem to have got through the odd few tungsten tips and created some serious snot on the plates. That's all part of the leaerning process I guess.
Anyway about half hour later I managed to get a reasonable good weld on two 5mm ally plates.Adjusting the settings to what suits me.
Time will tell.
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Old 22nd January 2012, 07:15 PM   #15
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

When this combination went on sale for $999 a few months ago I bought it.

TIG200 and Versa Cut Plasma Cutter Kit

I'm sure it isn't the best TIG or plasma cutter around, but we've made quite a lot with it. My buddy Deon did all the welding on his custom bike with it and I just in from using it to seal up the floor pans on the Mustang. Working underneath a car and welding upside down is difficult with any welder. TIG, IMHO, is far easier than MIG (I have a Lincoln unit for that) and much neater, at least when the pieces are clean and flat. The underside of a car is neither clean nor flat, but the job managed to get done.

We've used the plasma cutter to cut out door skins, sheet metal for various projects, and weight jack plates for the Mustang suspension pieces. While I'm sure it isn't a great plasma cutter, we've wailed on stuff up to 3/8" thick very easily.

For $999 I think it was more than a good deal. And the current list of $1250 I'd still think it good.

R
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Old 22nd January 2012, 07:54 PM   #16
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Earp View Post
When this combination went on sale for $999 a few months ago I bought it.

TIG200 and Versa Cut Plasma Cutter Kit

I'm sure it isn't the best TIG or plasma cutter around, but we've made quite a lot with it. My buddy Deon did all the welding on his custom bike with it and I just in from using it to seal up the floor pans on the Mustang. Working underneath a car and welding upside down is difficult with any welder. TIG, IMHO, is far easier than MIG (I have a Lincoln unit for that) and much neater, at least when the pieces are clean and flat. The underside of a car is neither clean nor flat, but the job managed to get done.

We've used the plasma cutter to cut out door skins, sheet metal for various projects, and weight jack plates for the Mustang suspension pieces. While I'm sure it isn't a great plasma cutter, we've wailed on stuff up to 3/8" thick very easily.

For $999 I think it was more than a good deal. And the current list of $1250 I'd still think it good.

R
That is a heck of deal, I bought a miller 250 sync-wave 16 years ago and could have had 4 of these and they are so much smaller now.
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Old 23rd January 2012, 01:49 AM   #17
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ckouba View Post
I got a Miller 185 Diversion box (AC/DC) and have been very happy with it. It took me a little while to fuse Alu rather than just melt it but I have been very happy with the results.
I have the 165 Diversion. I sure hope I do as well with AL as you did after that amount of time. Nice Job!
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Old 17th July 2012, 01:50 PM   #18
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

TIG Welder Starter Kit, R-Tech Tig161, AC-DC Inverter TIG Welder AC-DC 240V 160Amp

If you can follow this link I have 2 of these, one set for ally the set for steel. Brilliant pieces of kit.
Not sure if they are available in the states. They are based on a Kempi.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 09:02 AM   #19
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Earp View Post
When this combination went on sale for $999 a few months ago I bought it.

TIG200 and Versa Cut Plasma Cutter Kit
Ron

Are you still happy with both the TIG and the plasma? Would you still recommend these units? The price is still $1300 and they are offering free shipping until the end of September. I've had my eye on this for a while and am close to pulling the trigger. How have the units been holding up after months of use? How about the consumables; are they industry-standard things that can be purchased anywhere, or do you have to buy from Eastwood?

I'm more than a bit gunshy about buying off-brand, so to speak. I bought an HF plasma cutter a couple of years ago, understanding that you roll the dice when you buy from HF. But it was crap, pure crap. Never worked. Sent it back for a replacement. That didn't work. Sent it back for another replacement. You guessed it, that didn't work either. It went back for a refund. To its credit, HF asked no questions, paid for all of the return shipping, and refunded my money with no hassles. But, I still ended up with no plasma cutter.

Your wisdom as an owner/user of these Eastwood units would be appreciated. Thanks.

Eric
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Old 23rd July 2012, 07:07 AM   #20
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Re: Which tig welder to get?

Eric my wife gave me a plasma cutter for a gift.
I used it once it shit itself.
Had it repaired ,it shit itself.
I picked it up and threw it in the bin, hoped in my car went down the road and picked up a thermal dynamics unit and never looked back.

Poor man pays twice.

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