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I have been considering purchasing a TIG (heli-arc) welder. I need to be able to weld mild steel and moly tubing at .140 thick. I may also need to weld 3/16" to 1/4" (axle housing tubes & brackets).

I have been looking at the Miller Syncrowave 180 and 250 machines. According to Miller, you need 1 amp per .001 of material for single pass welding. The problem is the 180 cost $1500 (air colled) and the 250 cost $4000 (water cooled).

I would like to make this a one time purchase and not outgrow the machine later on down the road. Of course, I don't think I can justify spending $4k on a welder for personal use (and some side jobs).

Anyone with any TIG experience have any comments or suggestions?

Thanks
Todd Geisler
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http://www.qis.net/~tgeisler

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I bought a Lincoln 300 amp tig welder in '78 for $2000 with the air cooled torch. Never had a problem with overheating because most of my jobs were pretty small. I think you would have the same experience. I doubt that you would take on any jobs of welding 1/2 thick plate in a single pass for 5 feet of weld.
 

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Just my opinion, but if you plan on doing auto body sheetmetal, you are better off buying a wire feed MIG welder. Of course you'll need the shielded gas wire feed, not flux core. (the IG in MIG stands for inert gas) TIG welding automotive sheetmetal is similar to welding with an acetylene torch. It causes a lot of distortion to the metal. TIG welding is usually best for non ferrous metals like aluminum. So unless you plan on welding a lot of aluminum, save the bucks and buy a MIG setup. Home Depot sales a Lincoln wire feed for about 400 dollars and the gas conversion kit is another 100. You can also check places like W.W. Grainger for larger, professional type MIG welders that will start out around 800 dollars on the low end and can go up to 2000 and higher on the top end. My plan is to go with the smaller, portable unit from Homer Depot, since I'm not planning to build an all out race car anytime soon. I'll check around for more accurate pricing if you are interested. For the mild steel welding that you've described, MIG is the way to go. TIG also requires a higher degree of skill that not everyone can master. I know a lot of people who can stick and MIG weld, but just can't get the hang of TIG welding. It took me longer to learn to TIG weld than it took to learn stick and MIG combined. As for NHRA rules, they want professionally built equipment on the tracks for obvious reasons, and anything that is TIG welded will have to be done by a pro 99% of the time. They don't want cars to be raced if they were welded by some mud dobbing hack. I can't say that I blame them.

[This message has been edited by Randy Mosier (edited 07-13-99).]

[This message has been edited by Randy Mosier (edited 07-13-99).]
 

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TIG is what is used in Nuclear welding applications. I also believe the NHRA requires any and ALL cage/rollbar welding to be TIG as well. Why?

Hands down, TIG IS far stronger. I see in the magazines where guys weld brackets and suspension components with a MIG... kinda spooky to me.

I welded for a living awhile back (MIG & TIG a little stick as well) on heat exchangers, pressure vessels.

TIG is also what's required for the exotics, Stainless, etc.

Thanks, Len

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Lincoln makes a small unit that is air cooled as well I had though about bying one of those but had also feared out growing it was a compact unit that would do up to 1/4 in Alum I figure it would do everything you want it to do as far as migs go I got the one Randy mentioned it is the 155weldpac model I do nut use it much but it is worth its weight in gold when needed it is a 220 machine so I have a little more capabilities but am limited as to where to plug it in
Back to the heliarc I would get the largest machine you could afford I would talk to someone at a welding supply house they often have a used machine I took a night course last year in welding to brush up in heliarc
the teacher there Always had deals on used stuff a former student that started a business then quit etc there are dels out there look around Mike
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys, but I already own a mig welder. I was looking for some ideas as to what size TIG to buy. For cages and frame/suspension work, I prefere a TIG weld.

So, which size machine?

Thanks
Todd Geisler
Malibu Muscle

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I think that BULKSS is on the right idea in his recommendation of talking to an instructor at a welding school. He would have a better feel on the different units out there and if they would fit your needs.

I'm happy with the Miller MIG unit I have. Unless I was to do welding on stainless or aluminum, it's just fine.

I don't agree with the comment on NOT using a tig welder on body parts. If you are good with one, you have VERY good control of the heat put into the metal.

Wes.
 

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One of the key things to look for when buying a GTAW (TIG, Heli-arc) welding machine for hobby is the duty-cycle rating. You really don't need a water-cooled torch for hobby welding. The only time you really should think about a water-cooled torch is when you are reaching over about 80% of the duty-cycle rating. Get yourself a TIG with enough amps to weld what you plan on welding, but also remember that you can weld thicker metals with multiple passes, and think about how much you are going to use the machine continuously and match that with your duty-cycle rating. As a general rule I prefer Miller machines.
 

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Todd If you can go with the bigger unit you will be happy with it in the long run I have seen small machines do over and above their capacities buy preheating material to be welded with a torch . I have also seen guys weld on body panel usually done one a body line or curve to keep warping down however you must be careful I would Imagine if you consider the price difference it seems huge but if you think about it over the amount of time you own it it will not seem bad MIKE
 

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Todd, check your local welding supply house or W.W. Grainger. I've got some catalogs at work for some local tool suppliers. I'll check them at the start of my shift tomorrow. I saw one recently that had TIGs and other welders at various prices, depending on intended use. I've just got to dig around a little and find it.
 

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Todd,
I am not a welder,but I have been in the welding industry for (10) years as an engineer and inspector. I just want to clear up some comments made to your post.
1. TIG is not just used for the nuclear industry. It is simplt a different welding process. If applied correctly, the filler metal with TIG is the same as MIG and therefore the wled strength is equal.
2. TIG is great for welding smaller diameters because you have better control of of the electrode.
3. TIG is also better for thinner base metal material welding since it uses less heat than the other processes and therefore does not distort the material as much as the other processes.

You may already know this, but I thought i would give my $0.02.
As for what type of machine, I'm not sure, but did you consider a high end "used" machine. Typically there's alot around.

Brian

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Like i had said earlier there are plenty of used ones I have two welding sppliers within a few miles both have used machines let us know how it work out for you MIKE
 
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Thanks for all the input guys. You gave me alot to think about.

Now, where is the money gonna come from to pay for this thing?...hmmm.

Todd Geisler
Malibu Muscle
http://www.qis.net/~tgeisler

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Brian Termine, I don't believe I said that TIG is ONLY used in Nuclear welding. It's used in ALL kinds of situations where a HIGH quality weld is required. Large food processing plants are another place it's usually required.

READ what I wrote. It's what is USED in that application. NOT exclusively to that (Nuclear) but it DOES kind of tell you the quality of that type of weld.

Thanks, Len

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Todd, I didn't get a chance to check the catalogs at work today, but I have a suggestion. Check the newspapers for auctions and bankruptcy sales. Look for body shops and/or welding shops that have gone under. Also, check for construction companies that are auctioning off equipment due to bankruptcy, foreclosure or whatever reason. You'll need cash or certified check for auction sales though. If you are patient enough you'll find what you're looking for at a price you're willing to pay.
 

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I bought a Lincoln Square Wave TIG 175 two years ago and I'm very happy with it. I bought it mainly to weld stainless steel exhaust tubing and it does a great job. I paid $1300 for it brand new.


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