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  • Best Machine

    Whats the best all around ac/dc machine for x-ray quality welds? smaw tig fcaw mig or is there a need for separate machines?

  • #2
    Best is perhaps the most relative term you could have used. What are your parameters? Is time of no issue whatsoever, or the cost of the machine and necessary extras? What about operator proficiency? What about work environment (outdoor pipeline versus indoors on a bench, etc.)?

    Remember that most of the best pipeliners in the world are still welding with SMAW, and that is perhaps the greatest need for x-ray quality welding.

    GTAW (TIG) is certainly x-ray quality, but requires greater operator skill than does SMAW, and is a slower process that is harder to do, especially when out of position, and requires more expensive equipment. Also, anything with a shielding gas is limited by an outdoors environment to some degree.

    Flux-cored wire welding, FCAW, is actually growing in the pipelining industry, and can do the job with a skilled operator.

    GMAW (MIG) has the limitations of requiring a shielding gas (a liability in wind sometimes), but can produce excellent x-ray quality welds with less training than the others, especially when multiple passes may be required.

    You may notice a common thread in all of the described processes: a skilled weldor.

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    • #3
      Mac702 well lets see what i am looking to do is weld in my garage for now. I need fcaw for speed smaw for rooting or tig .Cost is very much a factor as im married and a welder hehe,used equipment is fine.60% of the welding i do is smaw 7018 7018-1 8018 9018 all position 20%fcaw all position and 20% tig (this is what i do at work) I want to start my own thing.
      Welding isnt any problem im just looking to get the most machine for my dollar I would like to get something for the shop then later something thats portable like the 304 pipepro and a suitcase for moble service . I have my aws D1.1 cert then work certs smaw 3G 1" plate sa 516.Gtaw 3g 1/2"plate sa516,GTAW 3G1/2"PL 304 SS,3G fcaw 1" sa 516:6G SA106-gr-B wall thickness.436 filler 309SS.
      Heat exchangers are what i do at work.looking for something challenging now
      thanks Mac702 Oh and i am new here this is my first time oh oh oh im not a ****** anymore heheehe

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      • #4
        B2n3,

        Do you have 3 phase garage power? The ALT 304 is a nice x-ray quality multi-process machine maxing 300 amps at rated duty cycle of 60%. It will also push 225 amps on single phase. It has a built in gas valve, lift arc tig, mig, fcaw, smaw, inductance and dig. The arc is similar to the Pipe-Pro 304 you mentioned. This is a DC only machine. So much for AC tig. Grab some 100% He with a nice sharp tipped 1-2% thoriated tungsten and push dcsp if you have to. It does not sound like AC tig is a big deal for your application. I ran an XMT 304 for several years-it's the auto link power input version minus the gas valve of the new ALT 304

        Since money is an object, buy the suitcase 8RC or 12RC, 30A spoolgun with the WC24 controller, 2 wire tig torch, flowmeter, etc. All these accessories will fit the Pipe-Pro 304.

        The Pipe-Pro 304 is a real nice machine, but high dollars-12 thousand or so. Consider the Trailblazer 301G gasoline drive-around 3 thousand. It's never cost me a cert test on any process. It also has AC capabilities for smaw and tig. If you go with the TB 301G, then the only other accessory to round out the corral is a high freq box for gtaw.
        The only draw back to the 301G versus the Pipe-Pro is the option to use an Optima pulse controller for mig. Both machines will use the PC300 tig pulser-have not found the need in mobile work-.035 is a park walk on tig w/o pulse.

        There are not a lot of ways to go with a single machine for multi-process. The Pipe-Pro 304 has the dual power option: 1 or 3 phase electric or crank up the engine. I believe the Pipe-Pro is overkill unless you just "gotta or wanna".

        Good Luck

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        • #5
          HAWK Yes i have 3 phase in my garage, I forgot about the ALT 304 and the XMT I have used them also the alt seems to run smaw smoother and the easy selector switch is really nice too. AC isnt a big deal now but i would like to get into it Later. The 301 Trailblazer sounds like it would work just fine for what i would want. What do you like for tig torches and amp control? Thanks for your Input its appreciated
          B2n3

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          • #6
            B2n3,

            I have a Miller Diamond Back 17 for most applications. I also have several weldcraft tig torches up to the 26. I used to use a foot pedal, but switched to a rotary left-right finger control. It is not nearly as hard on my back and neck. I use on velcro strap and one plastic wire tie to hold it on the torch I'm using. I like it strapped to the bottom side of the torch.

            For scratch start tig the single wire tig torch with a connector block is nice. I like the 2 wire torch without the gas connector block for use on the high freq box. There's no chance for high frequency bleeding or out right short from the post to the connector block.

            Merry Christmas

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