I got to try my new Eastwood TIG 200
I know there's already this thread
, but i decided to start a new one anyway.
First, I'm no expert welder. I have experience with gas and stick welding. Never used a MIG or a TIG before. I prefer gas welding. I did even try welding stainless steel with gas (and the very-hard-to-find appropriate flux).
Why I chose Eastwood
Acetylene prices went way up in my region, so I wanted a TIG because I felt it was closer to the gas welding experience. Something like the syncrowave 200 would have been my choice, but the price was just a turn-off for me for a process I had no experience with. As for the (few) used machines, they were either barely used and cost as much as a new one or they were so old I did not know if they were equivalent to the more recent models and still a bit pricey for God knows how many decades of use.
I generally have no problem with Chinese tools, as I don't used them professionally, but for welders, the 3-in-1 machines that are available are kind of scary for 2 reasons: From what I've read combining all machines in one is feasible but not recommended and, secondly, my local welding shop informed me that he might not be able to get the parts (cups & collets for example); and repairing it, just forget it!
And then came the Eastwood TIG 200. A Chinese machine backed up by a reputable and established American company. Plus, because it's a new product, free shipping, even here in Canada (which never happens). I rarely take chances but this deal felt good, especially with the positive feedbacks that their MIG machine seem to have.
Everything is pretty much as I expected: Basically, you get what you pay for. First, the instructions are really basics and they could be better. You have to guess a few things. For example, I don't know how much amperage I can used when plugging the machine on 110V. Does it protect itself automatically or does the amperage control values have to be divided by a certain ratio? I don't know.
Another thing is the cable lengths. It was supposed to be 10' supply line and ground lead. It's actually 12' supply line and 8' ground lead. 8' is freakin' short! Although it shouldn't be a problem to lengthen it. The pedal wires are 14' long and the power cord is 6' long (+ 2' for the 110V adapter plug).
The funny thing is the torch. The thumb switch (which you don't need if you use the pedal) is a simple switch held with ... tie-wraps! It feels good and I guess it does the job, but that looks funny!
I didn't have a lot of scrap sheet metal around, so I end up using a 0.030" that was previously stretched. The following was done:
1. Heating only without filler;
2. Heating with filler;
3. Hole filling (I've made a few
4. Welding a «tear» in the metal sheet;
There was a lot of tungsten dipping and lack of hand-foot coordination. Plus, I don't have an auto darkening helmet, so once you put the torch and the filler rod where you want, there's an extra hand that would be needed to put the mask down! I probably won't have a choice and upgrade.
There was no heat distortion from the welding (the ones you see were already there).
I then choose another 0.030",but this one was previously shrunk. I did one pass with heating only and then I went over it with filler. There were still no heat distortion, even with such a small strip of metal.
Decided to see what it can do, so I took a 1/4" plate and set the machine to 200 A. As you can see, with heating only, I couldn't go through the part, it barely changed color on the back side. The part was completely red hot. Maybe a pro (or some tuning with the clearance effect knob?) could do better. 3/16" seems to be a more reasonable limit for the machine (I expected that).
By the end, when I shut down the machine, I noticed that the gas flow had increased to slightly higher than 20 scfh (It was at 15 scfh). Maybe that had an effect on my welding results.
Nice feature: the fan runs a little longer after you shut it down to better cool the unit.
Everything considered, I'm glad with my purchase. Even if I want to upgrade later, once I master the process, I don't think I will have difficulties selling that machine for a fair price.
Now I guess it's practice, practice, practice.