Tig welders - discuss

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  1. moper

    moper Well-Known Member

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    I'm reaching my mid-life crisis andd have sketched some plans for a 25.3B car. It's along term thing and I've been looking at buying a Tig - new or used and I'm not sure what to do. I will be taking a local supplier's weekend course on Tig wedling as I've done very, very little with it (like played with one twice years ago - it was - less than successful...lol). I have arc and mig welded - I'm pretty proficient with a Mig. So - for a hobbyist working with chromoly, some aluminum and stainless work - what do you guys like (or dislike)?
    I have a Miller Mig - and I'm considering (as a new purchase) the Miller 907627.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. Rodzilla

    Rodzilla Well-Known Member

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    Hoping you get some good advice as I'm in a similar boat. Got pretty good with my mig but looking to start a chassis car in a couple years. I've already been looking and reading welder info a bit, but no idea what's the best bang for my buck. I've also been eyeing up the 907627, I'm sure if no one chimed in we couldn't go wrong with that unit, but it would be nice to hear opinions on other options. Cheers

    :happy1::happy1::happy1::happy1:
     
  3. DDodger

    DDodger Well-Known Member

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    one big thing is whether you need or want to work with aluminum. that is a huge dividing line for many machines, esp some of the cheaper inverter machines. "steel only"
     
  4. Woods74

    Woods74 Broke Senior

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    Ask DavidBonds, he just got a new setup; see if he likes it.
     
  5. 72bluNblu

    72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Hard to go wrong with a Miller. Make sure it'll do aluminum if that's something you want, has to be capable of welding in AC with a constant high frequency. The duty cycle is even more relevant with a TIG than it is with a MIG, so you'll want to get as much duty cycle as you can afford.

    I'd offer more specific advice, but I use old Miller's. Like 1972 and 1974 old. My MIG is a Millermatic 75, my TIG is a Miller 320 A/BP. No fancy settings like the new ones, but that A/BP has a 100% duty cycle at 200 amps, so I could probably get into the battleship building outfit if I wanted to. ;)
     
  6. 69MOPE

    69MOPE Well-Known Member

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    Have you tried a TIG yet? I have used a MIG for 20 plus years and tried a TIG and could not do it. I can't control the electrode gap while working the foot pedal while working the filler rod while breathing while keeping the correct pace while trying to see what I am doing while trying not to burn myself while trying to learn how to do it. I think flying a helicopter would be easier!
     
  7. toplscuda

    toplscuda Well-Known Member

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    The advantage you have with the older machines is less crap to go wrong.
    The newer Millers I haven't seen in for repairs yet but the predecessor syncrowave series constantly have issues mostly with the control board that would set you back about a grand to repair.
     
  8. moper

    moper Well-Known Member

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    I have played a little with a TiG a friend had - but it was on valve covers (steel ones) and I was just working on the "everything at once"...lol. I found it difficult, but lots of things are difficult when you first start...lol. The 907627 can do aluminum, but it doesn't have the finers adjustments of the next model up. It's a hob by model - the next step up is professional stuff that is another grand more $$. I don't mind spending for results but I have no point of reference yet... My plans include chromoly chassis, various misc aluminum stuff, and stainless steel for headers and turbo manifolding. I know some guys like TiG for everything - I like Mig for steel and bodywork.
     
  9. 67dart/cuda

    67dart/cuda Well-Known Member

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    I have a Miller Econotig which is an older model but works great and was my first welder. I also have a Miller 210 Mig welder with the spool gun for aluminum. I use my tig welder any time I need to do precise welding. I have the foot control and also the finger tip control. I would also recommend a Separate grinder for the Tungsten as you do not want to contaminate it. Mig is certainly faster but with the Tig you can weld some thin material and have a lot more control of the welding process. Taking a welding class is a great idea. It helped me.
     
  10. bdusted440

    bdusted440 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Get the miller divertion 180. I bought one at the beginning of the year and love it. I had never tig welded before and had it down in an hour.Plus it does aluminum.. Check it out.
     
  11. Colt1911

    Colt1911 Member

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    I have been TIG welding for years both on the job and at home. I have a Lincoln square wave 175 for the house and it does everything I need it for. Like everything it takes practice, be patient, you will get the hang of it. As far as welding aluminum, it's a completely different beast than mild steel or moly.
     
  12. 72bluNblu

    72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Absolutely. Everything is analog with the 320 A/BP. Lots of copper too! It took awhile to figure out how to get it set up, but once I did it works fine. Not as user friendly as the new machines, but it'll run forever. Picked it up for less than the copper windings are probably worth too.

    TIG definitely takes some practice. Whole different ball game from MIG welding, although honestly I'm still better at TIG. Learned that first, believe it or not. Still not as hard as just plain old gas welding though. Pretty much all the same motions, just easier to control the heat with the foot pedal.
     
  13. torkflight

    torkflight Well-Known Member

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    LOL, an hour, ok, you may think you have something down but I guarantee you don't
     
  14. 340GTSDart

    340GTSDart Well-Known Member

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    I second this. I've had my square wave tig 175 for about 18 years and it has done everything I have wanted to do. My personal experience with welders is you get what you pay for. I've got this and a powermig 255 mig welder. Happy with both. I was able to build a very nice set of headers with the square wave tig 175 machine.
     
  15. DusTed74

    DusTed74 Well-Known Member

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    I have a Miller syncrowave 200 and I love it.
    I say go ahead and buy that machine.

    Ted
     
  16. moper

    moper Well-Known Member

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    I knew about the seperate grinder - my thought was a seperate wheel. My garage is rather tight and I'd hate to have a 2nd grinding wheel sitting around most of the time. I also understand each material has it's own personality. That's one of the things that concerns me...lol. I only "know" mild steel.
     
  17. 67redcudavert

    67redcudavert Well-Known Member

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    I learned MIG and TIG at work long ago. It took a while, but I got quite proficient at both. One thing that helped with the TIG was that I learned to weld with a gas torch back in high school so I already had the hand motions down pat.

    I did both mild and stainless steel at work, not much difference. Aluminum, however is totally different. With steel you start to see the color change as it heats up so you have a little idea of when it is going to be molten. Aluminum doesn't do that, it keeps it's normal appearance as it heats up, no color change, then all of a sudden it turns shiny and it's liquid and running everywhere, kind of like how solder does. I had widely varying results trying to weld aluminum, from real good to real bad.
     
  18. DaveBonds

    DaveBonds Garage Trash

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    I think some of the Miller machines are more plug and play, per metal application.

    the Miller and other machines that have digital wave presets basically tell you to do whatever the chart says for each metal and thickness, much like a chart inside of the spool access door on a MIG.

    I believe that with a digital preset, the machine probably took a lot of the bugs out of welding the working material. Ironically enough, this is the reason I did not buy one and opted for analog potentiometer controls.

    A lot of the presets on the Miller machines are great and you can adjust them, but I felt that I would pay for a lot of stuff that I am simply not going to make use of, like pulse control. I think it can help with heat control, but after reading up on turning the frequency up on a pulse wave to emulate high frequencies that AC has for aluminum, even though it cuts down on heat spread, it makes the weld itself more brittle, which is already an inherent problem that a TIG welder gives.

    Don't let that scare you away from a TIG. This is not a factor on a finished weld with the correct filler rod and penetration. The only time it affects anything is if you plan on beating the crap out of the weld. Why would you do that? Because planishing sheet metal requires it, for more involved panel fabrication.

    With the exception of panel fabrication (big stuff, like joining large surface areas to to other large surface areas without a body line, butted for metal finish), a TIG is ideal, but not always necessary, depending on what you are looking for on the finished product.

    You will get more exercise changing wheels than what it's worth, or essentially lose a wheel on your grinder that will be living on it, especially when you are learning.

    Every time that tungsten touches the work metal, you will have to grind the work metal off of the tip by resharpening it, or the arc will wander everywhere and have a ton of unfocused heat soak into the work. This is because tungsten steel melts at around 6000°F, whereas mild and even stainless steels melt closer to 2000°F.

    The reason a TIG welder has such a focused heat range and high control, is due to the fact that the polarity is reversed. The reason the torch tip needs to be made from Tungsten steel with other high heat withstanding elements like thorium or lanthanum, is so the tip can withstand the heat of the arc that is coming from the positively charged work metal, into the negatively charged tip. The tip takes the heat from the current direction, even on AC, it takes the majority of the alternating current frequency direction, so when the tip touches the work metal, it actually takes part of the work metal with it, making the negative electrode weaker to withstanding and controlling heat.

    This means, when you are working with the welder, you will do best to sharpen both ends of your tungsten rods and have a few on hand, sharpened, ready to go, in case you fumble. The grinder will be used a bit more frequently than you want to use it at first. It can get frustrating, but if you stick with it and really focus on distance and angle control, you will find that the pedal pulse and bead control will come with practice.

    TIG welding is like combining torch welding with pinstriping. You always find a good rest for your hand to either prop on or drag against, out of the heat area as a guide and do a dry run to see how you will execute the pass without obstructions. This is how good tig welds look straight and consistent. Pulse control with pedal changes bead width as you amp soak each bead to melt, so it takes some practice on a mock up joint with the same material and angles.

    The key to each weld made is to try it on junk metal, until you become familiar with your working material, angles, machine settings and techniques.

    Here is what I would recommend considering, when buying a machine ~

    - As mentioned, aluminum or not?

    - What thickness of metals do you plan on welding? The number of the machine is usually given by AMP capability. 1 amp per .001", with the exception of stainless steel and moly, because they soak up and disperse heat, so 2/3 amp per .001" when working with those metals (not to mention a good mask, because chromium is deadly).

    - Working environment? If you weld outside, forget it. You will never get the control you need with a TIG without excellent shielding cones and lenses, along with no breeze. You will want a collection of different ones for different jobs, along with a diffuser for lenses.

    - How often will you be using it? Sometimes a few jobs would make more sense to hand out, rather than take it on. If you plan on fabricating a lot, look into jigs and various clamps to have repeatable results. This is also a huge part of a good looking weld. Cleanliness of the metal and orderly condition/ shape and gap consistency. It turns a frustrating trial in error into a job well done to be proud of, if you spend a little more time prepping the parts for fitment and cleanliness.

    - TIG only sheepskin leather gloves. Would you drive an F1 car in mittens? Don't bother with Harbor Freight. Go to Northern Tool or someplace that sells thin, sheepskin welding gloves that fit you well and keep them nice. Don't use them for other things.

    - A bench grinder with a cubby/ stand and a preset grooved guide for making tip sharpening quick. The first 12 times you will immediately screw up when learning, you will thank yourself for the hours saved, setting up a rig that makes this quick and painless.

    - A good helmet that has a tig frequency or "TIG" setting. Most helmets don't. Frequency and pedal pulsing can jack with the time out on auto darkening lenses and TIG arcs give off unique light, even on DC, so be sure you can adjust tint and sensitivity. Don't bother with anything, other than an auto darken with a good setting ability.

    - Finger and pedal amp triggers. Get both. I leave my pedal on for most work, but there are times when I'm not using filler rod for tac welding stuff for fitment. This is key for exhaust and other plumbing fab. A quick zap keeps it held together and its awkward to use a pedal in weird environments. A good workbench and a couple of body panel stands for most of your work is a good idea.

    - Neodymium magnets. I use 3/8" squares and they keep me from having to guess. They work great in 3s or 4s for header tube mockup with filing the edges of my cuts. I can see how it will fit up, welded, without moving. Clamps work well for some work, but the magnets are awesome. I think I bought about 2 dozen. Try not to weld next to the magnets. You will kill them. Just tac the parts up 1 inch min away from each one and take them off quick.

    - Tank dedicated to 100% Argon, possibly smaller one for adding Helium if you do cast aluminum. You can't use Co2. You want great shielding and you want clean metal on all sides for clean, uncontaminated welds. If it gets contaminated by lack of shield gas or too much turbulence from shield gas (small cone, high flow) it will look like garbage, even with the rest of your welding conditions on the money. I discovered that the hard way on a stainless tank I welded. Built new panels, changed the cone/ nozzle and gas settings. Did nothing else and it looks professional, now.

    - Copper. Get lots of copper chunks. sheet metal, maybe a paddle, a good flat square bar... The bar works awesome as a hand guide and a heat sink. Especially on stainless and aluminum, but does well on mild steel, too. Clamp or drill it up to glue some of those neodymium magnets at each end and you've got a great welding helper. It also means you can set your hand closer to your work for better control and you will have a lot less warping.

    TIG welders can be your friend with good work environment. Set the filler rod tubes up in holders, make your shop/ work area cozy. Think about the job and plan it. It gets involved. Think of a TIG like a high end kitchen, while a MIG is a microwave. MIG is great, gets the job done, you point it and shoot it and its all done. You can make awesome welds with both machines, TIG just takes some more thought, but if you can cook your own food, you can do this, too. There is a basic science to the work and some trial and error with adjustment is all it takes.

    Look into analog controls as well as digital. I went analog. All my cars have sticks. I trade a bit of comfort for the control, because I like it, but that's me.

    I bought an Everlast 185, because it has 110 and 220 input. I made my own pedal because I'm a nut case and I kept the hand arc trigger with a piece of velcro for a quick plug switch for tac work. If I find myself using it more, I have a dead lead in my pedal and I'll put it on a toggle switch.

    The other analog machines I looked at had a good variety of pulse wave control, but I didn't need them. This one had AC balance and AC frequency analogs, which is all I was after, along with the max Amp analog. Gave me what I wanted without paying for stuff I didn't think I'd use.

    If you buy a used machine, be sure to go through it and clean the gear up. A screwy potentiometer in a pedal or a couple of fried consumables in the torch could make a learning experience miserable.
     
  19. SRT_DSTR15

    SRT_DSTR15 Well-Known Member

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    We use all miller at work, Aria Fabrication and Prototyping
     
  20. EchoSixMike

    EchoSixMike Well-Known Member

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    What do you have for electrical wiring? If you have at least 60 amp 230v, consider a used Syncro or Lincoln Square wave. If less, since you want to do aluminum consider a HTP 221. 40 more amps than the Diversion and not that much more money. Aluminum eats power. S/F.....Ken M
     
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