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TIG welder recommendation


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I went with the Eastwood MP250i, 250 amp multi process welder. It cannot natively weld aluminum and it lacks high frequency starting but it mig welds like an animal. Can run on either 110 or 220. They sell this setup for about 1100, however, I have read that the torches and pedal are of very poor quality. I noticed that when you add it to your cart on eastwood's website, it adds the machine as one item, and all of the support equipment as a 2nd item. I went ahead and deleted the support equipment from my cart and bought only the machine which cost 600$ by itself (support equipment was ~550) on sale. I then used the extra $ to build my own 00 gauge ground cable with a lenco clamp, picked up a used Tweco Spray master Mig torch rated for 350amps (air cooled) for ~100$ and already had a WP-9 TiG torch with pedal. I had to make up my own connectors for these torches because Eastwood uses some kind of oddball cannon plug but it works reasonably well.

Another note with regards to Eastwood; I purchased this because their customer support is supposed to be excellent but I found that they have a severe lack of knowledge when it comes to their welders. I repeatedly asked them for the pinout connections on the cannon plug for the welding torch and they refused to give it to me, claiming that it is proprietary knowledge. This is a pile of BS, as the professional welding manufacturers (Lincoln, Miller, ESAB) print their entire wiring schematic on the inside cover of their machines.

 

Also - This is not a small, portable machine at all. It is very robust and well built and very heavy for an inverter power supply. We have a number of Miller Dynasty, Maxstars, Intellitigs, and XMTs at my work, and this Eastwood is built just as heavy duty as those machines. It handles considerably higher power than a Dynasty 200DX can handle (200amps at 100% duty cycle vs the Dynasty's 120amps at 100%).

 

There is a device called an "ArcPig" that can be wired into your welder that will give it both High Frequency start and I believe will allow a DC machine to weld aluminum, albeit fairly slowly.

 

https://axiontool.com/products/no-touch-arc-strikes-arc-pig-hf-inline-starter-stabilizer?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIv8DhrL-t5QIVlIzICh1qeQuSEAQYAyABEgI2RPD_BwE

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technique is way more important than electrode choice in tig welding.  Establish your puddle, then start moving the torch. keep arc TIGHT. Feed in filler at appropriate increments, and don't stop

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Well this has turned into a kind of show and tell,  I've been saving my pennies to buy a good tig that will do for the rest of my life and I found it a couple of weeks ago on craigslist, Miller Dynasty 280DX with 5 1/2 total hrs on it. Having a great time with it, probably never use all the features so finally built a welding table that I can move around.

 

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Miller Dynastys are excellent Tig machines. We have several 200DX models in our production aerospace GTAW Lab, alongside some older Maxstar 152s, some 140amp miller mig machines, a very expensive .1A-100A weldlogic lathe welder, and a 580A XMT 456.

Our head GTAW welder has been able to weld all kinds of oddball materials and weld joint configurations with them, even .020" thick sintered aluminum mesh.

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9 hours ago, seattlejester said:

I'll say I still have much to learn, but adding the pedal has made it much less binary and added a depth to it that is interesting. Still terrible with aluminum. Those projects look real great!

I started with aluminum, and I had so many issues that I couldn’t figure out. Gas coverage was my biggest problem. I don’t know if it’s my lenses or what but I have to have minimal stick out.  Also make sure all the seals are intact on your torch. 

 

If you have good gas coverage, clean metal aluminum goes so smooth.

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2 hours ago, HuD 91gt said:

I started with aluminum, and I had so many issues that I couldn’t figure out. Gas coverage was my biggest problem. I don’t know if it’s my lenses or what but I have to have minimal stick out.  Also make sure all the seals are intact on your torch. 

 

If you have good gas coverage, clean metal aluminum goes so smooth.

General rule for stick out is no more than half your ceramic cup diameter. They make monster cups and clear cups to help. Also - Trailing shields can make a massive difference.

 

https://www.arc-zone.com/Monster-Nozzles

 

https://www.arc-zone.com/2-Series-TIG-Flooding-Cup-Kits

 

We implement a wide range of custom shielding gas tools like these that can be invaluable when welding certain materials. Another extremely critical aspect of TiG welding materials such as 316SS or aluminum sheets (or any situation where you are achieving 100% penetration from one side of the member) is shielding the root of the weld joint. 316SS is known to propogate root cracking and developing hydrogen embrittlement over time when the root is not shielded.

 

Google "alpha casing" and you can see the issues this can cause.

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On 10/21/2019 at 6:02 PM, grannyknot said:

Well this has turned into a kind of show and tell,  I've been saving my pennies to buy a good tig that will do for the rest of my life and I found it a couple of weeks ago on craigslist, Miller Dynasty 280DX with 5 1/2 total hrs on it. Having a great time with it, probably never use all the features so finally built a welding table that I can move around.

 

Nice! I just looked it up and the 280 is a mere 5lbs heavier than the 200. What's the price range of these on the used market?

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More bots? 

 

FWIW I  went down to HF and picked up the $400 tig I had mentioned 5 years ago. It was on sale, paid $319 before tax. Got it home and had a case of buyer's remorse about it not doing AL, and returned it and bought a $600 unit off of Amazon that had good reviews. By the time I added an Argon bottle and a few accessories I was up at $900, but that's still dirt cheap for a tig. My electrician neighbor is going to finish up wiring  220V outlet and I need to heal up from surgery, but in about a month I too should be laying some crappy beads down. 

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When it comes to welding equipment, you definitely get what you pay for. The only anomaly seems to be HF. I know several people who own their mid-range welders and are happy with them.

 

I don’t TIG yet as I’m only doing sheet steel and structural welds at the moment (MIG for now). I have a Lincoln Electric unit now and much happier than the cheapo unit I used to have. 

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I paid out for my Miller 135 mig, and at the time 15 years ago, that was the common wisdom; you get what you pay for. Nowadays I'm not so sure. Lots of cheaper migs, including HF brands, with good ratings. 15 years ago the main concern was getting infinite wire speed adjustment, and I paid $200 more for Miller than Hobart because Hobart had 4 or 5 clicks for wire speed. Now, you can get the adjustability in a bunch of different brands.

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21 hours ago, JMortensen said:

I paid out for my Miller 135 mig, and at the time 15 years ago, that was the common wisdom; you get what you pay for. Nowadays I'm not so sure. Lots of cheaper migs, including HF brands, with good ratings. 15 years ago the main concern was getting infinite wire speed adjustment, and I paid $200 more for Miller than Hobart because Hobart had 4 or 5 clicks for wire speed. Now, you can get the adjustability in a bunch of different brands.

 

Yeah,

 

Honestly today what it really boils down to is whether you want to buy US made or Chinese.  The US machines are significantly more expensive.  Many life long hardcore welding experts will say the US machines are the only way to go in terms of long term quality and reliability, and that the Chinese machines won't last.  But many also say that about Snap On tools, and I know that's no longer true.   

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