Welder advice

Welder advice

Maker of Toys
Maker of Toys

April 6th, 2012, 8:27 pm #1

So: it's time to upgrade the welding side of my shop. I'm considering getting a TIG unit-- I've got some projects in aluminum that I want to do, and some fiddly structural tube work is on the docket, too. Plus there'll be some 'take work home' opportunities that will come up, so I'm looking to maximize capability.

My question is: what makes/ models have the rest of you guilders had good luck with? Conversely, what would you stay away from?

My experience is with a BIG old water-cooled-use-a-forklift-to-move-it-480V-fed brute of a Miller that Uncle Sam used to let me play with. . . the sort of beast that'll butt-weld 1/2" aluminum channel in one pass, but can manage .020" wall stainless tube, too. (I might be a little spoiled.) I'd LOVE to have a copy of that one, but space and power say no. . . so how close can I get?

I have 240V/50A available to me, and I have a decent (several thousand) war-chest, though a Craigslist/Auction deal is certainly the preferred option. I have no deadline; I'm just starting my research.

The local welder that does most of the process piping for work recommends Miller, so there's that, but I'm looking for reviews of specific models.


Thanks in advance...
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Stu Friedberg
Stu Friedberg

April 6th, 2012, 8:58 pm #2

I've got a Dynasty 200DX, which is a great stick/tig welder. The DX models have every feature you might reasonably want for welding aluminum.

Depending on how thick material you want to routinely weld, the 200 might not have enough amps for you. There is a 300DX (available used) which will "soon" be replaced in the lineup with the 280DX. At the highend is the 350DX.
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Nobody
Nobody

April 7th, 2012, 2:26 am #3

So: it's time to upgrade the welding side of my shop. I'm considering getting a TIG unit-- I've got some projects in aluminum that I want to do, and some fiddly structural tube work is on the docket, too. Plus there'll be some 'take work home' opportunities that will come up, so I'm looking to maximize capability.

My question is: what makes/ models have the rest of you guilders had good luck with? Conversely, what would you stay away from?

My experience is with a BIG old water-cooled-use-a-forklift-to-move-it-480V-fed brute of a Miller that Uncle Sam used to let me play with. . . the sort of beast that'll butt-weld 1/2" aluminum channel in one pass, but can manage .020" wall stainless tube, too. (I might be a little spoiled.) I'd LOVE to have a copy of that one, but space and power say no. . . so how close can I get?

I have 240V/50A available to me, and I have a decent (several thousand) war-chest, though a Craigslist/Auction deal is certainly the preferred option. I have no deadline; I'm just starting my research.

The local welder that does most of the process piping for work recommends Miller, so there's that, but I'm looking for reviews of specific models.


Thanks in advance...
my friend routinely out runs his 250G Trailblazer. any time he is doing more production welding, he cracks it all the way up to 250 amps and let's it fly. now, he does tone it down when he needs to make the welds look pretty. with that, i would judge the machine at what it can do for the maximum thickness of the metal and what you want to do with it. to me, you would want something with a little play room on the top end, so that if you are doing 1/2", you won't be able to do 9/16" passes cleanly.

that's what i think.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 7th, 2012, 10:14 am #4

So: it's time to upgrade the welding side of my shop. I'm considering getting a TIG unit-- I've got some projects in aluminum that I want to do, and some fiddly structural tube work is on the docket, too. Plus there'll be some 'take work home' opportunities that will come up, so I'm looking to maximize capability.

My question is: what makes/ models have the rest of you guilders had good luck with? Conversely, what would you stay away from?

My experience is with a BIG old water-cooled-use-a-forklift-to-move-it-480V-fed brute of a Miller that Uncle Sam used to let me play with. . . the sort of beast that'll butt-weld 1/2" aluminum channel in one pass, but can manage .020" wall stainless tube, too. (I might be a little spoiled.) I'd LOVE to have a copy of that one, but space and power say no. . . so how close can I get?

I have 240V/50A available to me, and I have a decent (several thousand) war-chest, though a Craigslist/Auction deal is certainly the preferred option. I have no deadline; I'm just starting my research.

The local welder that does most of the process piping for work recommends Miller, so there's that, but I'm looking for reviews of specific models.


Thanks in advance...
A while back, I picked up a Miller SD180 TIG. It was something like $1750 new, and has worked like a champ from day one.

The only drawback is that it's a little small for some jobs. For relatively large pieces of plate aluminum, like that EFI manifold I made (and never finished) the same year I bought it, it's barely adequate.

I can make a nice weld in 3/8" steel plate no problem, but aluminum would only be just barely possible, with a fair lick of preheating.

If and when I get the chance, I'd like to upgrade to a 225 to 250 amp box, possibly with a liquid-cooled torch.

But really, for 95% of what I do, it's been plenty. Nice and stable, good controls, relatively compact and comfy torch. (Especially since I tend to hold the torch head directly.) It's my go-to welder- the only reason I even fire up the MIG is to do heavier plate than the TIG can do, or to do bodywork type jobs where I have to hold a part in one hand and tack with the other. And the stick boxes have fallen down to only being used on rare occasions out in the yard for patching up a trailer or rusty truck frame or something.

Doc.
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Maker Of Toys
Maker Of Toys

April 7th, 2012, 10:44 pm #5

So far, the options I think I want are:

Ability to weld 3/8" aluminum with no fuss, on single-phase input. (I'll probably only ever DO 1/4", but as soon as I say that, you KNOW there'll be something bigger)

Most of the steel will probably be 1/16 to 1/8 wall tube, so that's covered pretty nicely. (unless/until I build a boiler, but I'm planning on farming the welding on that out. If you're planning on sitting next to a bomb, best to be sure it has a LONG fuse.)

AC, (obviously!) with a High-Frequency output function.

Water cooled torch (like Doc, I tend to hold as close to the tip as I can-- a real controllability advantage for the little fiddly stuff.)


I don't think I need the wireless current control capability that Miller is offering. Anyone have an opinion/experience to share?



So the Dynasty 350 is looking pretty attractive, but that MSRP is pretty steep. I may settle for a syncrowave 250... Time to start cruising the shops and Craigslist?


Either way, it's looking like a bigger circuit to the shop might be a good plan. . . Off to Home Despot.
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M Squared
M Squared

April 9th, 2012, 2:07 pm #6

A while back, I picked up a Miller SD180 TIG. It was something like $1750 new, and has worked like a champ from day one.

The only drawback is that it's a little small for some jobs. For relatively large pieces of plate aluminum, like that EFI manifold I made (and never finished) the same year I bought it, it's barely adequate.

I can make a nice weld in 3/8" steel plate no problem, but aluminum would only be just barely possible, with a fair lick of preheating.

If and when I get the chance, I'd like to upgrade to a 225 to 250 amp box, possibly with a liquid-cooled torch.

But really, for 95% of what I do, it's been plenty. Nice and stable, good controls, relatively compact and comfy torch. (Especially since I tend to hold the torch head directly.) It's my go-to welder- the only reason I even fire up the MIG is to do heavier plate than the TIG can do, or to do bodywork type jobs where I have to hold a part in one hand and tack with the other. And the stick boxes have fallen down to only being used on rare occasions out in the yard for patching up a trailer or rusty truck frame or something.

Doc.
I also have a miller 180 SD and like it, in a perfect world bigger would be better however, for what I paid for it, it's a nice machine and will do everything I need in my shop. I looked at bigger machines but they were above my pricepoint at the moment. I did look at the miller "diversion" series, inveter machines. Unless you are doing thin stuff on a very occasional basis or traveling to do your welding I would "divert" clear of these, they just seemed kind of hobby-esque.
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Stu Friedberg
Stu Friedberg

April 12th, 2012, 1:20 am #7

So far, the options I think I want are:

Ability to weld 3/8" aluminum with no fuss, on single-phase input. (I'll probably only ever DO 1/4", but as soon as I say that, you KNOW there'll be something bigger)

Most of the steel will probably be 1/16 to 1/8 wall tube, so that's covered pretty nicely. (unless/until I build a boiler, but I'm planning on farming the welding on that out. If you're planning on sitting next to a bomb, best to be sure it has a LONG fuse.)

AC, (obviously!) with a High-Frequency output function.

Water cooled torch (like Doc, I tend to hold as close to the tip as I can-- a real controllability advantage for the little fiddly stuff.)


I don't think I need the wireless current control capability that Miller is offering. Anyone have an opinion/experience to share?



So the Dynasty 350 is looking pretty attractive, but that MSRP is pretty steep. I may settle for a syncrowave 250... Time to start cruising the shops and Craigslist?


Either way, it's looking like a bigger circuit to the shop might be a good plan. . . Off to Home Despot.

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So the Dynasty 350 is looking pretty attractive, but that MSRP is pretty steep\
Yeah, I wouldn't have a Dynasty if I bought new. By all means, set up a routine search on the used lists, and don't forget the (not in current lineup) Dynasty 300 model.
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Maker Of Toys
Maker Of Toys

April 12th, 2012, 6:39 am #8

I recently saw a syncrowave 500 like I used to play with for REALLY CHEAP, but lost interest when I realized I'd have to have the power company put in a new service to run it. . . . total cost would be about 4x a NIB dynasty 350, what with 300 yd of trench, wire, transformer and conduit. (sigh)

Good point about the 300DX-- that's about the right amount of machine for me, and it'd run on the power available.
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Bruce Bergman
Bruce Bergman

April 14th, 2012, 4:04 pm #9

If you find a big Syncrowave cheap enough, you can always hunt down a 3-phase 240/480V generator set to run it.

Or start looking at the purpose built engine-driven welders, some of them have output settings suitable for MIG and TIG - you just need to add a wire-feeder and torch to do Flux-Core and add shielding gas to do MIG, or a TIG torch gas and a water cooler to do TIG.

Here's the chart: http://www.millerwelds.com/products/enginedriven/

If you end up doing enough welding to where people are paying you, save up your money and you can get that new power line run to your shop later - then the generator is your backup supply.
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Maker Of Toys
Maker Of Toys

April 15th, 2012, 5:42 am #10

. . . that's currently doing yeoman service preventing the concrete in the corner of the shop from warping from insufficient gravity. And Northern tool offers a PTO gen head for 20-something kw. . . .

I'm sure another distributor could find something in about 40kw, which would match the output of the turbine quite nicely. A nice heat exchanger for a first welding project, and I can heat the shop for free!

Great, now I'm thinking, and that usually leads to more projects.

(the neighbors are SO gonna be suspects if I die anywhere but bed. . .)

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