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Old 11-04-2014   #41
Whitewater Machine Works's Avatar
Groveland, California
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
I would highly recommend a TIG machine:

- TIG = Precision, MIG = Production. IMO the only reason to go MIG is to increase throughput, not for quality of weld. (Of course machine cost is much lower on entry level MIG machines with spoolgun.)

-There is a bunch of hype about learning TIG, but it is really not that hard, at least on flat welds. Ask for help with your initial machine setup and it will give you something to do other than watch TV during the cold winter nights.

-It is very forgiving, you can start the arc and take however long you need to orient yourself before adding the amperage necessary to start the weld puddle. Not so with MIG where you have to be ready to move when you pull the trigger.

-When you move onto other steel fab projects, which you will because welding is FUN, you don't have to worry about weld spatter catching stuff on fire in your most likely somewhat confined home shop.

-You won't need another welder, the TIG can do it all.

A few other tips:

-One of the more inexpensive air-cooled models would work for what you are wanting to do, but I would look for a package (welder, cooler, tanks, etc.) on Craiglist, or find the local industrial auctioneer outfit in the Boise area and go to some auctions. I found my favorite welder on Craiglist almost brand new with cooler, 3 tanks, Helium/Argon mix setup, pulser, torch and tons of tungsten for $1750, which was an amazing steal. (The kid was making bicycles in his parents garage and got a job with Kona.)

-IMO An auto-darkening helmet is not absolutely necessary with TIG, and visibility will likely be better with a standard glass lens helmet for a lot less $$.

-You don't have to start welding aluminum right off the bat with the TIG machine. Start with steel and after a little practice make your first project fabricating a welding will be good practice and a great long term welding investment.

-Be careful who you tell that you TIG weld or you won't have any spare time!

Have fun!

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Old 11-04-2014   #42
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 520
If you want good results when strive to perfect the tig. If you want quick results get the push pull gun. Either way the cost of the welder will be about the same.
Pulsing GTAW (formerly known as TIG) machine = around $2600
Miller 350P GMAW (formerly known as MIG) with push/pull aluminum package = around $6500

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Old 11-04-2014   #43
rollo88's Avatar
Toyota pickup, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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Originally Posted by GC Guide View Post
Pulsing GTAW (formerly known as TIG) machine = around $2600
Miller 350P GMAW (formerly known as MIG) with push/pull aluminum package = around $6500
Wow- you are comparing a top of the line mig(GMAW) from Miller with there bottom line tig(GTAW). If you want to do that why not spec the Dynasty 350 which is around $8000. Or you could compare a Miller 212 and the Dynasty 200 which are within a $1000 or so of each other.
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Old 11-04-2014   #44
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 427
Thank you for all the suggestions everyone. People in the know have been suggesting miller syncrowave machines with a water cooled torch. Is a water cooled torch the best way to go? Are the miller syncrowave machines worth the big bucks?

Thanks again
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Old 11-04-2014   #45
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
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I have had problems with Miller Syncrowave 250 machines and the high frequency they produce attacking circuit boards, disabling other machines (a $3000 dollar plasma cutting machine and computers). Be careful that the machine is grounded to its own 8' ground rod to prevent this from happening, unless Miller has solved the problem.
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Old 11-04-2014   #46
Front Range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 97
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 82
If you are doing small jobs, and not large production, you really don't need water cooled torches. They are nice for long runs and thicker parts.

If anyone is looking for a job welding in the northern front range send me a PM. You will need to pass a 2" SCH 80 2G stainless pipe test. Pass a drug test as well regardless of the legalization of mj.
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Old 11-05-2014   #47
Whitewater Machine Works's Avatar
Groveland, California
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
I think an air cooled torch would be just fine, watercooled ups the duty cycle (how many minutes you can weld per 10 minute period, IIRC. If the machine had a 40% duty cycle that would be 4 minutes welding out of every 10 at the rated amperage, the remaining 6 min. spent resting/cooling the machine/torch.) Like Zeus said, that shouldn't be a problem for your home shop.

Miller makes great welders, but don't rule out Lincoln...they will get the job done also. Gets to be a Ford/Chevy kind of thing...

A quick look on the Boise Cragslist turned this one up:

Miller Tig Welder

I am not familiar with this model specifically, but looks like it would work for you. It is a Squarewave machine, should have Hi-Freq for aluminum. I don't know what the box is on the lower portion of the cart though. Those big Argon tanks are pricey, I believe the last one I bought was upwards of $300. Being close by, you could bring over some sample tubing and have the owner demo some aluminum welds before purchasing.

***Please note that I have no experience with this specific model, have no idea if this is actually a good deal and by no means am I suggesting you purchase it on my recommendation. With some homework and patience on Craigslist though, you should be able to pick up a nice machine ready to plug-and-play at a good price.
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Old 11-05-2014   #48
Atomicrider's Avatar
Arco, Idaho
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Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 74
I've used that model before and it's a great entry level machine. Welds aluminum quite well. Price seems fair as well.
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Old 11-05-2014   #49
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vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,146
I bought a used diversion 180 on craigslist. New, never used for 1500 with 80cu ft bottle and no cart. The cart cost me $25 to make and was good practice. The diversion is idiot proof, you tune the current based on thickness and select Al or steel. The diversion is inverter based. Its very lightweight
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Old 11-16-2014   #50
NOCO, Colorado
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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Preheat less than 300DF. Over preheat destroys temper if air quenched.

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