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Did I cheap out BAD

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  • Did I cheap out BAD

    This weekend I ordered a Syncrowave 180 Runner. The order got botched, I got guilty about spending $2G and long story short I bought a Thunderbolt AC/DC.

    I am not a welder but am going to build a landscape trailer under the supervision of someone with some experience welding - albeit years ago.

    Questions are:

    Was it important to replace the Lincoln 225 AC that I have in order to get the DC modes.

    Was this switch wise or cheap being that likely all my projects will be in steel and I don't even know how to TIG yet.

    Is it a decent machine for light fabrications like this and some repairs.

    Whatdaya think Andy

  • #2

    If you want the DC capabilites, then yes the AC/DC Thunderbolt is a good stick machine. However, you can do a good job with your old Lincoln 225 AC machine using 1/8" 7014 stick electrodes. The DC will allow you to run the common low hydrogen 7018 electrode. The 7018 is also made in an AC version, but I do not believe it runs as well as its DC cousin. If your metal is rusty, you may want to run a 6010 root pass then fill and cap with the 7018. If you can clean the metal well, just use 7018 for all welds. Metal prep is important-particularly cleaning and joint prep to obtain proper penetration.

    I think you made a good decision passing on the Syncro 180 package. It's a fantastic machine in its class, but I would not spend countless hours tigging a steel landscape trailer. If you want to learn to tig, then by all available means go for it. Tig welds are beautiful, clean, and very strong by nature of the process. Save these new found skills for a stainless trailer or something of that nature-just my thoughts.

    The AC/DC Thunderbolt is better than decent for what you are doing. My neighbor is an AWS CWI and tigs Cu/Ni alloys for a living. However, he has a Thunderbolt in his garage that he hooks a dry 200 amp tig torch to and scratch starts his arc. The Thunderbolt is capable of tigging on DC in this manner (you want DC for mild steel).

    I own and use mig, stick, and tig machines. If I were building a landscape trailer outside in the weather, I would choose the stick process. It does not care about the wind conditions as mig and tig rely on generous amounts of shielding gas to prevent weld and or tungsten oxidation. If this is a one or two time project, stick is it. For production use a mig in a shop where the atmosphere is calm.

    Stick weld your trailer and spend your extra time learning to tig with the scratch method on your Thunderbolt. You can purchase a 150 amp dry tig torch for under $80.00. If you like it, then spend the cash for the Syncrowave or other great Miller tig machines. In the meantime build your trailer and have fun. Don't sweat the small stuff.

    If you want specifics to get started tigging with your machine, please post or email. There are some really knowledgable multi process welders on this site. We can help you get going. Let's see that finished trailer.

    Have fun and good luck!!!

    Hey Andy or Rock,

    What do you think???


    • #3
      For what it's worth, I have to agree with Hawk. My first machine was a Thunderbolt AC machine. I learned to weld on it and for years, it served me well. I loaned it to a local farmer who was trying to weld with large (5/32" and larger), damp electrodes and basically melted the insides. Thirty years later, I bought a new Thunderbolt. And I also have a Syncrowave 180SD. And while you can use the 180 for stick or tig, why spend the extra bucks on something that you may never use? Tig is an expensive, slow process so unless you really need to use tig, don't rush into it. The Thunderbolt AC/DC will do a heck of alot of welding for you and like Hawk said, you can use it for tig if you have to.

      I think that you made a great choice. That's a great machine for beginning and experienced weldors alike.....


      • #4
        FOCUSLL..........Congratulatiosn you did fine.....That is a godo basic machine to learn to weld on..........

        HAWK AND MOJUNK ........Well gentlemen I can't think of much to add to this........Except.... if focusll ever wants to learn to tig he can start with the ac/dc machine he has.....Options are add HF-251-D1 to it or scratch start with it in the dc mode.....Aquires the Tig skill he can always upgrade then...

        You gents did goooooood.........Enjoy the long weekend.....Rock...
        [email protected]


        • #5
          Thanks and I'll take you up

          Hawk, Mowjunk, Rock thanks very much for taking the time to write me detailed replies. I very much appreciate the encouragement and the genuine answers.

          Also, I'll take you all up on some of that advice starting to learn TIG.

          The guidance I mentioned is my grandfather. He's 80 and has probably missed a whole lot when it comes to tech advancements but I am sure he can offer a lot of mechanical/practical advice once I have the torch etc. He has a lot of time in as a welder and as a machinist.

          When it comes to advice regarding expenditure I have to say he doesn't support purchasing a thing - thus my questions here. I am, god help me, lying about that Thunderbolt and saying it's borrowed. He is old school, had nothing growing up and still doesn't believe in getting anything more than is absolutely necessary - he said that AC Lincoln machine was fine. Although it sounds like he was right I really want to learn this (TIG, different Stick currents) and would like to from him while he's here.

          Anyway, dry TIG. Does that speak to cooling or sheilding. I would guess that the gas is key, but I don't know. Can you tell me more about what I need to buy and some basics about the setup. If you have the time recommend some Miller PN's.

          Thanks again for the time,



          • #6
            Basically, you need an air-cooled torch and an argon regulator and of course a tank of argon. You'll also need some filler material. The dry torch that Hawk referred to is an air cooled torch as opposed to a water cooled torch. With this setup you can scratch start tig on steel, not aluminum. Scratch start is similar to stick welding in that you touch the tungsten to the work and start the arc. Then you quickly withdraw it and go about welding. The newer machines have a more sophisticated way of starting the arc by means of a high frequency voltage similar to the spark of a spark plug. This gives the welding arc a path to the work to start the arc without touching the tungsten to the work. There are probably other methods also.

            The torch has a valve on it to turn the shielding gas on or off. Turn it on, start welding and when you're finished, turn the valve off. It seems primitive, but it works and it's an inexpensive way to start tigging! My neighbor used this method with an AC/DC Lincoln to weld a roll bar for his race car. It came out very nice. Probably would have been better if he had used a Miller machine.....

            Go to the Miller site and request a full line catalog and also the Diamondback torch catalog. There, you will find a little drawing in the back that shows a couple of set ups. You might also go to the education section and order a student package ( I don't think that's what it's called, but you'll find it) and it contains almost all of the educational guides and books that Miller puts out. It's a great deal for the price.

            If you need more help, post again. There are others here who have tons more experience than I do about it and I'm sure they can get you started in the right direction.


            • #7
              Tig is not the process for building a trailer. Stick has built many trailers, although many people have switched to Mig for such applications. Hawk was thinking DC when he told you to try 6010 root-6010 is DC and 6011 is the AC counterpart. 7014 makes nice welds, but for a trailer I would prefer 6013 for better penetration. I wouldn't worry about 6011 root passes.

              AC/DC is nice, but I got along with out it for 28 years and even though I have DC capability I rarely use it. Also, be careful using 7018 rods. They require special oven storage that is a PITA for home users. If you buy them in small packages and use them up right away they are OK.


              • #8

                Sorry about not stating DC for the 6010 rod. I like the rod because I run so much of it. Almost every pipe job requires the root (first pass) to be 6010. Cope mentioned the 6013 rod over the 7014. The 6013 is very easy to run. When you finish a weld and start again the rod will also restrike very easily. Most of the time I run 6013 on thin stuff like 16-20 guage sheet metal. The last trailer I built was overkill on the frame material 3x2-1/2x 3/8 angle for a 6 x 10 tilt trailer. I used 7014 rods because I like the easy burn on AC and they are really good for poor fits where you have gaps in your joints. Both are good rods and recommended for mild steel. Cope has a good point about the 7018 rods. Once opened they draw moisture quickly-about 80% of their saturation level in 24 hours. I like to buy in 10 lb tubes and store in the plastic rod tubes with a couple of silica gel packs inside. You will be fine for a month or two like this. If you go the 7108 route, try the Lincoln Excalibur brand because they have the best restrike capability of any 7018 I've found. The ESAB ATOM-ARC runs a close second. Don't worry about a an oven-some code work requires the 7018 to be dry and to a certain temperature. COPE IS RIGHT-YOU CAN SKIP THE 6010DC OR 6011 AC ROOT PASS. JUST USE THE ROD OF YOUR CHOICE.


                • #9



                  • #10


                    I'm clear on the setup - sounds like a simple and solid way to start learning the TIG process. As a rationale I'll say that I could use it on the fenders. I had palnned to be brazing them but by the sound of it I can shoot for TIGing.

                    As for the subject of rods. I did run the 6011, 6013 and 7018 on my AC machine to play around. I just tried to run some beads on a piece of angle. 6011 was messy (spit a lot) and I did not count it as something I'd use. The 6013 and 7018 were nicer looking and nicer to use - liked the 7018 that I opened about 5 minutes after I used it the best.

                    How much of a problem will the way this rod takes on water pose. I will take Hawk's advice regarding the Silica, but is there a way that I can tell if my rods have been ruined and are do for the trash - will they just run poorly. This ? in case I get delayed and have to put my project on hold. Ideally we'll finish in 2 weeks.

                    Maybe I could find a place to cook them for me if I had to. I suppose at the price of what rod I will need to build this trailer that could prove a waste of time. I do hate to waste though.



                    • #11
                      The rod dampness should be of no concern on this project. Just keep them in a tightly closed container. They won't degradate for several months unless you store them out in the open. The moister they are the more spatter you will get and you may have to vary your heat setting toward the high side of the burning range and run the rod a little faster. As for drying them out-2 cheap options. Use an old molded plastic cooler(NOT Styrofoam) and cut a hole to install a regular light bulb socket. Fill gaps around the hole and socket insert with high heat perm-a-gasket or filler epoxy. Scew in a small heat lamp or just a plain 60 watt bulb. Store your rods loose in this homemade oven. The bulb will put out enough heat to create air circulation thus ridding the enclosure of moisture. You can also place the rods on a pan and bake them in the kitchen oven for a couple of hours at 200-250 degrees. I have placed several pounds of rod on a baking pan and directed a couple of IR heat lamps on it from a foot away overnight. All these methods will work. I think you'll be just fine storing them in a rod tube with or without the silica gel. IF THEY HAVE BEGUN TO RUIN YOU WILL SEE THE FLUX TURNING POWDERY AND TYPICALLY HAVE CORROSION ON THE ROD ITSELF WHERE THERE IS NO FLUX AT THE END FOR INSERTING INTO ELECTRODE HOLDER.


                      • #12
                        dry rods

                        welcome, hawks right about the cooler deal it workes good and in southwest florida it only takes about 24 hours to screw up 10lbs of rod. i have a old cooler and bought one of the Golden rod dryers like i have in my gun vault their only 25 dollars and don't use any noticable electricity. pistol8


                        • #13
                          I had not thought about about a dry rod, but that is a great idea and will not spin the electric meter nearly so fast as the heat lamp. I think I'll make 2 aluminum boxes and and set one inside the other with a 2" clearance all the way around the two enclosures for air space insulation. Too much time on my hands this week?


                          • #14
                            Got the Thunderbolt

                            I picked up my machine yesterday. I immediately had it all apart to add longer/heavier cables. I also upgradedthe ground clamp. I played around on some scrap last night and can already see that it is much smoother.

                            Hopefully in a few weeks I can send in some pics.

                            Thanks again all.


                            • #15
                              I would of personally spent my money on a Dialarc or even a Blue Star 6000....2 Grand is just way too much for such a small welder like that little Tig,and anyways you can't do much productive work with the little tig