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Technical Tig welder question before purchase.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 1oldtimer, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 2,779

    from Brooks Ky

    Don't care if it's dual voltage as long as it has 220. 220 will weld thin things, but 110 won't weld everything. People who buy only 110 usually regret it. Far more people have 110 volt welders sitting in a dusty corner unused than 220 ones.
  2. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 20,515


    I did just weld 1/4" aluminum with a DV TIG on 120V, though, but I hear you.
  3. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 9,034


    And reading the post just before your, uh..rant?

    Why pay 3-4K, then need to invest that again to fix it, 8-10 years later?

    Before you go off, I have 3 Miller wire feeds (MM35 and a Vintage). a Miller buzz box -just AC- a Lincoln buzzer, older than myself, and a HTP? 3-one, don't reacll the brand, takes Miller parts. Then there the Airco (takes Miller stuff) small plasma cutter and a ThermaArc plasma cutter too.

    But why the fuck would I spend 4K if I was in the market for one?

    How much of those Wisconsin dollars come back my way?...none.

    How much would I save buying HF cheap ass China shit? More so than to last me a life time.

    Get off your high horse, don't order from Amazon anymore, look at every roll of TP you buy, make sure it's made in the USA, where's the computer you're using from? Your shoes, pants, etc...

    I could go on.
  4. brianf31
    Joined: Aug 11, 2003
    Posts: 783


    Yep, I welded aluminum for the first time with the Square Wave. I played around with the pulse to get the hang of it. I haven't tried SS yet.

  5. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 5,251


    @gimpyshotrods sorry bud your stats are just wrong on the miller comment. I made and sold springs to miller for over 20 years. Our company in IL was not the only company as a couple buddies shops screw machine ,molding plastic and stamping house made them parts as well. Miller sources many of its parts throughout the Midwest ... I will say your right on the GM auto makers supply chain. In our town we had countless manufacturers making parts for the big three us included. Trade policies killed many of the businesses and I will leave it at that... .
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  6. ss823
    Joined: Aug 10, 2015
    Posts: 14


    I`ll try to clear some things up. I had a miller AC/DC machine (scratch start tig) then a 180 syncrowave, now a miller 200 mig , 350P , 250 synro, & the 200 dynasty. I`m not antimiller. I had zero problems till the issues with the 200. look inside an inverter machine. there`s a gazillion tiny gizmos in there & I think most are necessary. as I said the syncrowaves (transformer) are hard to kill. I would like to think the components are getting better (inverter). as to the cooler , if you are wanting to do Al. yes . if you are like me you will become addicted to the smaller #20 torch & the air cooled will feel like a club. SS
  7. Arominus
    Joined: Feb 2, 2011
    Posts: 394


    We have a millermatic 215, while it doesn’t do ac the 220 does. The flexibility of the 215 has been great so far and it’s been trouble free for the few years we’ve had it. It’s on 220v at dads shop and it’s good on 110 when it’s in mine.
    Multi process welders rock!
    Peter Nowak likes this.
  8. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,668


    I am a sucker for cheap tools and about a decade ago, I purchased a S.A Genxiang TIG-200A welder for 1200rmb in China, which is about $300. It is a DC inverter machine with a momentary switch on the torch. I would say the main problem with this is the person operating it; me. I would constantly get my electrode stuck on what I was welding. It has improved somewhat after I purchased a better self-darkening helmet, but for the most part, I revert to my old ways and go back to the acetylene torch. A few weeks ago, I discovered that Wray Schelin started a beginner welding series on his proshaper youtube channel. In the first episode, he demonstrates welding with a $300 welder, a lot like mine and does a good job so there is yet hope for me. In later episodes, he goes on to better welders and provides a lot of good information and it looks like he really knows what he is doing. Check it out.
  9. Happydaze
    Joined: Aug 21, 2009
    Posts: 1,306


    Lorch, German made, are at the upper end of mid range pricing. I bought a 180 ac/dc machine just over a year ago and am loving it.

  10. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 2,779

    from Brooks Ky

    There are certain tools that should be purchased with the idea that they will be a long term (permanent /semi-permanent) part of ones tool arsenal. There are a lot of old Miller,Hobart,Esab,Lincoln welders that were made 30 or more years ago and still work just fine. They built their name over time with proven products. There is a reason they cost more, but amortized over time they are very cost effective. The Chinese brands often use parts which they source from different suppliers and they adapt it to their welders. When that supplier no longer makes them or a cheaper but different source pops up...........they change the components in their machine but still sell it under the same name and model. While they are under warranty, the buyer may be satisfied with having to ship it to California or wherever for service. The distributor may even pay the shipping costs.
    The problem is what happens after the warranty period. What happens if that part is no longer available?

    Law of averages says that ALL brands are going to eventually have some failures. You pay your money and you roll the dice........I believe you will find a bigger percentage of Miller customers are happy with their purchase than brand X purchasers. For the most part, those Miller buyers will still be happy 10/20 years later. Thats why they cost more, and thats why a 10 year old Miller is still worth more than a new Brand X if someone wants to sell one. I've been thru a half dozen Millers and a Lincoln. Only reason for selling was wanting to move from stick to Mig, then a better Mig and a bigger Mig,and a stolen Mig, and a Pulse Mig. In each case (except for the stolen one), I got back most of the money I paid for the machine. I also came out very well on the stolen machine because the insurance company paid me what I gave for the used machine. Its an investment that doesn't lose much value if you take care of it. Over the long run, Miller has proven value. Yep, its hard to choke down that initial investment but over time its a good choice. Take a look at the myriad number of Brand X welders on Ebay. I couldn't believe how many their were, and you had to look closely to even find a brand name in the ad. Its not just about initial cost, but how they actually perform. Roll the dice..........

    Dynasty Receipt x 001.jpg
    I only saw one "well used" Dynasty 200 on Ebay . Think it had a cooler and heavy duty torch and they wanted a lot more than $3k for it. People who have em usually keep em..........
    continentaljohn likes this.
  11. Jmountainjr
    Joined: Dec 29, 2006
    Posts: 1,449


    It is good that you want to make an informed decision. A lot of good advice had been given. Just a few comments based on my experience and as a distinguished graduate from the school of hard knocks.
    1. You said that you are looking at 200 - 250 amp machines. If you think you want the capacity to weld aluminum thicker and about 3/16", go with the 250.
    2. At times I have made a purchase with the intent of getting an available add on later. When later finally came around models had been updated, for better or not, and the add on for my older machine was not readily available. So if you really want a capability, like the water cooled torch, getting it up front may be cheaper in the long run.
    3. Be realistic with the duty cycle that you need. And I am saying that in perspective of a home hobbyist shop, not a commercial application.
    4. With the global parts sourcing, I think any brand has the potential of occasionally getting some bad product into the marketplace. So there is some value to having local support.
    5. And as to brand feedback, my MIG, TIG, and plasma cutter are all Hobart. Some date back to the mid 90's. All have either identical, or very close, specs as the parent Miller counterpart and are priced slightly better. Again this is from a home shop reference.

    So buy something and get welding!
    rpm56, ekimneirbo and continentaljohn like this.
  12. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 20,515


    Nope. I was there in August 2019.

    What you speak of is how Miller used to build machines. Those days have passed.

    All of my old Miller equipment has a Made in USA sticker.

    All of our new stuff at work has a sticker that says Assembled in the USA.

    The US made content has fallen below the legal threshold to call them Made in USA.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,673


    My shop is a no brainer since it has 600 AMP 3ph service. At home I ran a single phase 100 AMP service to the barn. I can upgrade to 150 since I have the capacity to do so. My 220 welder service is 60 AMP. I also have a 60 AMP separate box for the compressor and have since reduced consumption on that. When ever I was TIG welding at home I shut that compressor off so as not to tax the main, and with 200gal of air a brief touch to clean up a spot was a cinch. I did weld 1/4" aluminum at home a couple times and never broke a sweat, but then again my machine is not an industrial version. I also ran a huge extension cord to my 220 welders. I have a 50A "dryer plug" at each end and the wire is huge (bigger than standard 10). I added that because of the irrepressable warnings we hear to never run an extension cord on a welder, and it's really really bad if you run one for a 110 MIG, right? WRONG. What about the wire in the wall? Now you shouldn't use your basic homemaker 18ga shit, I get it. But a good 14 or even a short 16 will always do the job. Not to mention, I've not been able to attach right to the pole for full AMPs yet but if someone knows how? I'm in, hook a brutha up...;)
    thintin likes this.
  14. telecaster_6
    Joined: Dec 8, 2001
    Posts: 600

    from Dorr, Mi

    Gimpy that is an outright lie. Miller is still made in the USA, there is documentation to prove it. They are the only company that still takes pride in US manufacturing.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  15. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 5,251


    @ekimneirbo well said and so true . I know this so true as a business owner that had over 100 spring machines in the shop. When we bought a machine we expected it to last for many many years. We had some machines from the 1950s that still did great work and held the tolerances .. then we had some only a few years old that had computer/board issues and never used and 50k sitting around. We had 6 welders to make modifications ,tooling ,repairs production . I dont know how old our Lincoln /century buzz stick welder was but it was very old and great. The miller machines arc mig and tig were a bit older but work horses and did the trick when they were needed. We had other welding machines that didn’t last very long but we tried to save a buck or two and didn’t work out very good. A good tool should last you a lifetime ....
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  16. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,037

    from kansas

    I understand your point but when it comes to home shop I have no problem with buying my primeweld. It was 775.00 brand new shipped to my door.

    Let's say it only lasts 4 yrs, now I also have my Lincoln mig, let's say 4 yrs and it breaks down, as stated by several posts above most fixes ain't cheap, went thru this one in the late 90,s with a big Lincoln, its repair cost would buy me another primeweld.

    So the way I see it is I can spend the money to fix 1 or take basically the same money and buy a new 1, one advantage of buying new? I get newer options (although some times that's not a goid thing).

    So for 750.00 I get new ac/DC with hf that also works in ac also. I get fully adjustable pulse, ac frequency and cleaning adjustments. New inverter technology which means better efficiency and lower electric cost.

    So yes for 750. And rave review's and 3 yr warranty I'll take my chances.
    K13 and gimpyshotrods like this.
  17. Pat
    Joined: Jan 6, 2002
    Posts: 173

    from Felton Ca.

    Everything pretty much been covered here. I’ve tig welded with many different machines. When I bought my first tig it was a Miller 180 in 99’. Great machine on ac or dc. Almost built my entire roadster with it. I thought I needed a torch mounted switch. The shop I worked at would sometimes tape a micro switch to the torch when we did tough roll cage welds. Old syncrowave 250. Whatever the dial on the welder was set at is what you got when you hit the switch. My 180 had a modern round pin connector so I bought a dial type switch, I hated it. Too much fiddling to start and adjust amperage. When I started doing side jobs making aluminum tanks the air cooled torch would get so hot I’d have to stop. I sold the 180 and bought a 1970 Dialarc 250 with ac/dc and hi frec. For $700. Added a water cooler. I’ve been tempted to buy one of those inverter type welders from everlast or primeweld. So many features and 1/4 the size of my Miller. I guess time will tell if those will last as long as my old Dialarc. Whatever you decide be sure it’s ac/dc and high frequency.
    rpm56 and gimpyshotrods like this.
  18. I guess I can only look so far into the future as I doubt ANY brand of inverter machine will last as long as a non inverter machine. It's just all the boards, pressure buttons, electronics can't stand the test of time as well as manual switches, contacts and point type relays.

    Keep the reviews coming......and again thanks.
    dan31 likes this.
  19. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 20,515


  20. I have a Monkey Wards 220 amp ac dc cracker box that I used with a Craftsman hi freq for decades. I had a 50 amp 220 breaker. When welding al., it would trip the breaker sometimes. My inverter will run on 20 amps and never trip the breaker. If your wiring is subject, that is a no brainer. I learned on a Lincoln tig 300. They are at least 3 foot square and weigh hundreds of pounds. They break down also. The Lincoln rep at the time was kind enough to send me wiring diagrams and I learned to repair them. If the main core burnt up, we threw them away. They have their place but for small shop owners, not so much. The 300 had a thumb control. I think that is the best way for anybody that moves around. When I was building dragsters, that would have been way better than any foot control. Eventually, we all make our own decision. We have that privilege before we spend our money. :)
  21. demon452
    Joined: Dec 23, 2007
    Posts: 392

    from Michigan

    I have had several machines for home use. None broke down on me or failed. Right now I have a thermal arc tig welder. It's an inverter. I have welded for years with this. Aluminum, ss, and steel. I bought it used and have never had any issues at all. Prior I had a syncrowave 350 from early 90s it was a beast. Again had no issues. I tig for a living and at our shop I use a dynasty 350, the shop isn't filthy but a lot of dust on a constant basis. Has been working flawlessly for years. Twice a year a we clean all the machines. The dynasty's have a feature where you can check to see how many hrs are on the machines. This is run time not idle time. So if buying a used 1 it's a nice feature.
  22. Updated: I put the wrong info which I corrected. I'm using a 40a circuit at home, so an inverter machine is still probably needed.
  23. Teague
    Joined: Mar 21, 2022
    Posts: 1


  24. PotvinV8
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 240


    I would pay a visit or two to your local welding supply stores to see what they stock and for what brands, then make my purchase based on that. You don't want to find out the hard way that parts for your new welder need to be special ordered, that's a huge inconvenience when you're half way through a project and need something you didn't think about (collets, collet bodies, back caps, cups, etc.). I upgraded my Miller MIG welder with a Tregaskiss torch and guess what? Nobody in my area carries tips for them. I swapped back to the stock Miller torch and ordered the Tregaskiss tips, but that wasn't very convenient.

    A lot of welding manufacturers go to car shows, industry trade shows, etc. and offer the demo equipment for sale at the end of the show. I've bought a Lincoln MIG welder years ago after the Street Rod Nats that way for half the price of a new unit. Had 4-5 days worth of demo time on it, still works great. I figured a well-broken in machine has proven its worth as opposed to a brand new machine that hasn't been abused by Joe Public for a week.

    Like others have said, I would go with the largest amperage 220v unit I could afford. You can always turn it down, but when you need the grunt, those smaller machines might get overworked.

    Food for thought...
    ratrodrodder and theHIGHLANDER like this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,673


    What @PotvinV8 said. I bought a unit from my local welding supply that was their loaner when servicing a company's machine. Nice big Millermatic 250 mig. I got it for 1/3 of retail (what retail was in the 90s!). Still running like the day I got it. Do I weld all day, all the time, dozens of spools a year? Nope, but it still looks and runs like new. Could I? Whatcha got, I'll start tomorrow. I also whipped up a cover for it so it doesn't eat shop dust. I could wipe it down, wax it, and it would look like new.

    Air compressors are good item to buy fro a commercial supplier too. Units left never picked up, assembled from good spares, warranties, and usually 50 cents or less on the dollar for something you will never have to replace as a home user or lower volume shop. I have a compressor from the 60s, no worries. Ever. Then again that box store pretty-pretty might be shit after a few hundred hours. Think it through. Auctions are dangerous for welding machines. Why is it in the auction? And bidders go damn near retail every stinkin time (!). Unless you know the company or machine, a crap shoot. How'd you do BTW? It's been a minute...
    ratrodrodder likes this.
  26. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 5,380


    Just wanted to follow up on this thread in the 2 years since I last replied to it.

    My HTP Invertig221 is still operating flawlessly. In the past couple years, I took on a few very fabrication heavy projects that really worked the machine out. The suspension setup and new engine swap in my 61 Olds is basically all completely custom and required every piece involved to be fabricated. Some of it being very thin stainless, other materials being 3/4" solid bar stock. The machine itself never skipped a beat and has proven itself as a reliable, solid performer. I honestly couldn't be happier with it.

    There was likely some truth years ago that off-shore equipment was sub-standard to USA-made quality. I honestly feel like those days are long gone. Improvements in manufacturing processes overseas, as well as a drop-off in quality in USA made equipment, has led to a real leveling of the field in that regard. Anecdotally, in the time since I last replied to this thread, my father-in-law's Millermatic 211 took a dump on him, and he's owned it less time and used it less than I have my HTP TIG. The unfortunate reality is that it's not beneath USA-based manufacturers to put out a mediocre product. The mere fact that a company is based in the USA, employs USA workers, or that you as a consumer paid a premium for a high-quality, USA made product, simply doesn't guarantee that the product you get is any good, or even if it is good, is necessarily any better than a foreign built machine.

    A TIG welder is, IMHO, one of the staple tools in your arsenal for which quality should not be compromised. It's a tool that, once you learn the skill to be proficient at the process, is the go-to means of welding. That being said, that doesn't mean that one can't look for value in a purchase.
  27. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,680


  28. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,990


    :D yeah, most of those 110's sitting around are basically new, purchased by people who can't weld, thinking that they'll teach themselves.

    I've had to use a few 110 flux core at times, it will weld - if the user can lay bead - but youll fight and curse the little shitbox the whole time. I feel bad for someone that tried to teach themselves on one.
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  29. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 20,515


  30. I'm still doing research and I'm looking at the Invertig also. I was looking into a Syncrowave 250DX (early to mid 2000s vintage) and was reading about circuit board failures (on the digital read out versions). Seems like there's a good number of them and some have even had multiple failures over time (with the board costing $300+). Now I'm back on the fence and need to think what I'm really going to use it for, how much and also power input at my house. This is my process, hell it took me 2 days of research to replace my broken refrigerator (after I tore it apart and tested it).
    saltflats likes this.

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