Looking at buying an electric welder
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Thread: Looking at buying an electric welder

  1. #1
    Registered User Array
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    Aug 2003
    Greater Vancouver

    Looking at buying an electric welder

    I'm looking to buy an electric welder this winter and am debating whether to buy a MIG or a TIG welder and would like some oppinions/experiences with each. Initially I'll be using it to weld various motorcycle/car parts in both aluminum and steel. Part of the point of buying one is so I can spend a lot of hours practicing and develop welding skill. I'd also take a course in whatever type of welder I end up with as well. I know a couple of people with MIG welders that I can go and use, but I can't get alot of practice time and can't really produce a good weld.

    Eventually I'd like to do stuff like making custom tubular steel motorcycle frames and aluminum swingarms etc.

    For a TIG welder, there are two types available: the older-style full size versions (I forget what they're called) and the newer inverter powered ones. The inverter ones are small and portable (<50 lbs) and the bigger ones are a couple hundred pounds.

    What is the difference in welding with the two types of power sources? I was just at KMS Tools and the Miller Dynasty 200 (inverter) runs at $3400 I think, and the Syncrowave 180 SD (older style) was $2000. Is there an advantage besides size to the inverter based welder?

    By comparison a Millermatic 175 MIG welder was about $900, but would also require a spool gun for welding aluminum (~$350).

    A MIG welder is considerably cheaper, but I plan on using this welder for a long time (potentially 40 years if I'm happy with it) so a $750 dollar difference isn't that much of a difference considering the time frame. It will probably never see really heavy usage but be used regularily for a short period and then sit for a while before I start a new project. Can I assume any of these welders would last more or less forever under light useage?

    I've been told the Syncrowave 180 and other similar welders have a very good resale value if I decide to change for something else in the future. Can anyone confirm this? What the resale like for the inverter based TIG welders and the MIG welders?

    Thanks for your advice


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  3. #2
    Moderator Array TeeTee's Avatar
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    Feb 2002
    Out to pasture in the 'Wack
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    I'm not up on my models of welders but if you stick with a decent brand then select the model that has a suitable duty cycle and the amperage to get the penetration you want then it should be fine. Full duty cycle production machines cost way more than what a 25% cycle machine will go for and are not really needed if you'll be doing a joint and then letting it cool while you set up the next joint.

    One item to bear in mind is that aluminium in any significant thickness like rods or over 1/8 thick plate soaks up heat like a sponge. It takes a SERIOUS current to form and hold the bead. I've only dabbled with welding aluminium but I was shocked at how hard it was to even tack weld a 4 inch "washer" of 1/4 plate to a one inch rod with any degree of penetration.
    A backyard mechanic without a service manual is just like a hooker without a lamp pole.... they are both in the dark.

  4. #3
    The Synchrowave 180 is an excellent machine with great resale.
    I currently own a Miller 250 mig, a century 225 mig, a Canox 300 stick and a 125 mig for body work and very light duty work.
    Each one is set up for a different purpose.
    My next aquisition will be the SW 180 as I don't yet own a tig welder....have played with them lots, and they make runnning a flawless weld much easier once you know what you're doing, but tig welding is way more time consuming than mig.
    Biggest benefit I can see is weld quality, and strength.
    If yer welding chromoly tubing I'd stay with a tig, for mild steel tubing mig works great, as usual prac tice makes perfect.....I've seen horendous welds out of both machines, and perfect welds in the same token depending on set-up and how good the welder is.
    Best thing to do is talk to one of the welding pro's at KMS or Barry Hamel welding supplies, and let them know exactly what yer plan is....they'll set ya up with exactly what ya need.
    Be sure and shop around when ya figure out what ya want.
    I currently have prices of between 1850 and 2300 for a SW180SD... Acklands had the best price, but this was a couple months back.....not sure if they'll still honor the 1850 I was quoted, but it's worth a shot
    Hope this helps some.

    BTW if money is no object look at an Esab mig/tig/stick.......haven't used one, but have heard great things about them!!

  5. #4
    It's a flat black 600 now Array
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    Jul 2004
    Powell River
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    Might be best to forget about Tig for the time being. I would say get a 220V miller mig with shielding gas. (I wish I could remember the models maybe ?200 or 175) They are way more user friendly when they have the rheostat controls on both the feed and the voltage instead of the "clicks". Use it for all your steel work and get good at it then upgrade. Sure if $ is no object get the bigger miller that you can buy the spool gun for. Be cautious about the cheaper ones that say that you can get the aluminum kit for, like said above it takes a LOT of current to weld aluminum properly. There are so many way to do it you could buy an older stick machine and then get an old one pound spool gun for your aluminum. Like said above KMS would be the guys to talk to.

  6. #5
    Registered User Array
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    Aug 2003
    Greater Vancouver
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    I think I made a mistake in the price of the spool gun for the Miller. Their website has a list price of over $500 US and the $350 I mentioned above I only got through hearsay. Their website is a little confusing as it states the Millermatic 210 is the only one specifically designed for aluminum, but goes on to offer a spool gun and adapter for the Millermatic 175. The 210 is $1600 at KMS so it's starting to look like price wise MIG and TIG setups would be comparable.

    Money is an issue, but I intend at looking at the ESAB welders once I have more of an idea of what I want. The company I work for buys about $180,000 worth of plasma cutter power supplies from ESAB a year that we adapt to power a plasma spray system we manufacture. So I'm thinking maybe they would give me a sweet deal on a little welder .... But unfortunetly business has been slow so we haven't been ordering alot lately, and my company has a tendancy to be late in paying them, so maybe not.

    The guy at KMS mentioned the high current requirement for welding aluminum. The syncrowave 180 will put out 180 amps square wave AC. Do you guys know how thick I could weld with this? The webpage is lacking info, and the guy at KMS didn't seem to have actual numbers.

    I've had brief experience with both TIG and MIG welding. I found TIG welding to be much easier, but this may be because I have much more experience at gas welding and found running a puddle with the TIG to be quite similar. I was able to produce a decent steel weld almost immediately, but my attempt at welding aluminum ending up reducing the whole piece to a molten blob. Fortunetly it was just scrap I was practicing on.

    I'm leaning towards a TIG. I believe they are more flexible and controllable as you can continuously adjust the current as you weld. The only advantage I've seen in liturature to MIG welder is they are faster, but I'm only doing this for a hobby, so speed isn't an issue.

  7. #6
    Rageaholic Array Jayson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Canon 1ds3 1d4
    40 years? get the dynasty 200dx for sure. prob one o fthe best welders in its price range, infact thats the exact welder i would buy right now if i had 10g...

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