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  • Near new Thermal Arc problems. Should I replace them?

    2 years ago, I had the Thermal Arc rep out to demo some machines. I fell in love with a 252i mig and bought one on the spot. 6 months later, I ordered a 186 tig machine. Fast forward a little bit. I'm welding back in a corner, overhead, and a single BB gets in the nozzle, shorting it out. Next time the nozzle touches the work, it shorts out and the machine starts acting funny. None of my settings have changed, but it stubs the wire on starts, the arc feels "cold", and there black snakes floating in the air after I weld. It actually still welds, but it sure isn't right. I call up customer service looking for a repair shop to bring it to, and I start getting the runaround. Is your gas good? Don't use Chinese wire. It's your settings, do a reset. Are you sure you know how to weld? Ect, ect, ect. My local distributor doesn't want to touch, so I finally find a repair center locally and bring it in. It's done 4 weeks later. Replacing a control board didnt do it. Finally replaced the main power board before it was fixed. It had less than 10hrs toral of arc time on it.
    Started playing with the tig when I got it, and it didn't seem to weld on aluminum like the one I demo'd. I made a few phone calls, got the same runaround, this time I did blame it on my inexperience. I got frustrated with aluminum welding, and didn't turn the machine on for a year. Then we got a dynasty 280dx at work and within 3 days, I was making pretty decent looking welds, so I went back to the Thermal Arc, and I have all the same old problems. I brought the 186 into work, set it beside the dynasty, and swapped the leads, torch, gas and regulator back and forth. Dynasty welds, Thermal Arc still doesn't. Into the shop we go.
    This time, the shop finds some waveforms they don't like, but T/A says they are OK, and tells them to return the machine to me. Before they did, they tried welding with it, and struggle to make it work also.
    While they were doing that, I was talking to an esab person on Facebook about my problems, and they agreed to send out a brand new machine!
    Now for the real question, the machines are almost out of warranty, and they probably have less than 40hrs time combined on them, and they have been a nightmare. If I push hard enough, I think I can get Thermal Arc to buy them back, they told me it was an option. It's going to cost me some $$$ to replace them, but I'm scared they are going to quit and need replaced anyway. Do I take the buyback, or take a risk and keep them? Most people seem to think they are at least decent machines, did I just have horrible luck?

  • #2
    Sorry for the long post....

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    • #3
      Originally posted by derrickd View Post
      2 years ago, I had the Thermal Arc rep out to demo some machines. I fell in love with a 252i mig and bought one on the spot. 6 months later, I ordered a 186 tig machine. Fast forward a little bit. I'm welding back in a corner, overhead, and a single BB gets in the nozzle, shorting it out. Next time the nozzle touches the work, it shorts out and the machine starts acting funny. None of my settings have changed, but it stubs the wire on starts, the arc feels "cold", and there black snakes floating in the air after I weld. It actually still welds, but it sure isn't right. I call up customer service looking for a repair shop to bring it to, and I start getting the runaround. Is your gas good? Don't use Chinese wire. It's your settings, do a reset. Are you sure you know how to weld? Ect, ect, ect. My local distributor doesn't want to touch, so I finally find a repair center locally and bring it in. It's done 4 weeks later. Replacing a control board didnt do it. Finally replaced the main power board before it was fixed. It had less than 10hrs toral of arc time on it.
      Started playing with the tig when I got it, and it didn't seem to weld on aluminum like the one I demo'd. I made a few phone calls, got the same runaround, this time I did blame it on my inexperience. I got frustrated with aluminum welding, and didn't turn the machine on for a year. Then we got a dynasty 280dx at work and within 3 days, I was making pretty decent looking welds, so I went back to the Thermal Arc, and I have all the same old problems. I brought the 186 into work, set it beside the dynasty, and swapped the leads, torch, gas and regulator back and forth. Dynasty welds, Thermal Arc still doesn't. Into the shop we go.
      This time, the shop finds some waveforms they don't like, but T/A says they are OK, and tells them to return the machine to me. Before they did, they tried welding with it, and struggle to make it work also.
      While they were doing that, I was talking to an esab person on Facebook about my problems, and they agreed to send out a brand new machine!
      Now for the real question, the machines are almost out of warranty, and they probably have less than 40hrs time combined on them, and they have been a nightmare. If I push hard enough, I think I can get Thermal Arc to buy them back, they told me it was an option. It's going to cost me some $$$ to replace them, but I'm scared they are going to quit and need replaced anyway. Do I take the buyback, or take a risk and keep them? Most people seem to think they are at least decent machines, did I just have horrible luck?
      Sorry to hear of your problems....

      TAKE THE BUYBACK...!!!!! call it lesson learned.... and buy Miller...

      Bargain machines often are not much of a bargain

      Good Design, Execution & Service cost more but are worth the investment
      Last edited by H80N; 03-17-2016, 07:29 AM.
      .

      *******************************************
      The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

      “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

      Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

      My Blue Stuff:
      Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
      Dynasty 200DX
      Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
      Millermatic 200

      TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by H80N View Post

        Sorry to hear of your problems....

        TAKE THE BUYBACK...!!!!! call it lesson learned.... and buy Miller...

        Bargain machines often are not much of a bargain

        Good Design, Execution & Service cost more but are worth the investment
        I see a 210dx in my future, that's an easy decision. The 252i is different. I actually paid more for it than I could have got a 252 Miller for. I chose it for the arc starts and available adjustments. I still prefer welding with it over the 350p we have at work. But if it's just going to crap out on me again, then it needs to go away. I will have a struggle deciding what to replace it with.
        Plus the 252i runs 6010 really well, although I hear the 210dx does also. My TA 186 will not.
        Last edited by derrickd; 03-17-2016, 07:52 AM.

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        • #5
          FWIW.... I have been VERY happy with my MM350P.... Dynasty 200DX & Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner.....

          yes they cost more than some others..... but have provided many years of trouble free service....

          For me it is well worth it...

          plus.... I know they will have high resale if I decide to sell or upgrade
          Last edited by H80N; 03-17-2016, 11:46 AM.
          .

          *******************************************
          The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

          “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

          Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

          My Blue Stuff:
          Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
          Dynasty 200DX
          Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
          Millermatic 200

          TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

          Comment


          • #6
            It's not that I don't like the 350p, but I do prefer a "crisper" arc, and if you adjust the inductance on the 252i, you can really make it sizzle. I barely notice a change on the 350p with inductance settings, it always feels pretty neutral. Maybe I need to play with the pulse, so far, I have not tried it.
            Edit. Don't get me wrong, the 252i is not in the same class of machine as the 350p, I would never dream of subjecting one to the industrial abuse we put our machines through at work. It does, however, weld nice at home.
            Last edited by derrickd; 03-17-2016, 02:11 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Seriously......??
              I think you already know the right thing to do 😉
              Think about it. We are on the Miller Forum discussing this. You have bought 2 machines and both of them have/had issues. You now have a chance for redemption.
              Let me put another way. Let's say you had a chance to buy either of your machines from someone, knowing their history. I wouldn't even consider it for a second.
              Miller is the machine in this country that everything is compared to, and for good reason. There is simply too much at risk on these late model welding machines with all the built in features to take a chance on anything less than a rock solid support system like Miller has put together.
              You even have mentioned your less than happy experience getting service.
              I love to compare all the cool features of all the different companies offerings. They all look and sound great. But when it comes time to lay down the actual cash...... I simply CANNOT force myself to spend even HALF as much on a brand that is manufactured only God knows where.
              Case in point. Let's say you wanted to actually go into the factory and WITNESS how a 350P was built. You could. To do this with other brands would be pretty tough to say the least. There are some. IMO this is important. There is a lot of Lincoln machines assembled here as well. Although many are imports also. I wanna love Lincolns. They are light years ahead of most mfgs out there, and on engine drives are arguably the best. But for shop machines in this country, Miller is simply the best VALUE.
              When you buy a Miller, you are investing in a system/network. They include your neighbors and fellow citizens everywhere all over this country.
              It's true to say they built a few machines that really didn't work out all that well, but that was things a bit on the edge of developing technology.
              You won't find a better tig machine than a Dynasty. All things considered. In this country. For the money. Or a Miller-matic mig machine as well.
              Now I'll go out on a limb. This is my OPINION. If I was to buy a shop machine that was non Miller and SELECT FEW Lincolns, I would probably just realize that it was a crapshoot at best and go with an Everlast. And I have my reasons for saying this. There are shops in my area who have been using them as their main machines for years. Good friends that I know quite well, that have either worked for me or I wish they could. They openly admit they wished they we using Millers. They weld pretty well tho and they are cheap. When they crap out you may get them replaced if the planets align. Otherwise they are cheap enuff to buy another one. Worth the risk and the wait (they are a bit harder to get).
              Me, I want a machine I can get in a day if need be. When all I had was a 200 Dynasty and it needed repairs, I called Airgas and had a brand new one next day. When the old one was fixed (for free), I sold it and kept the new one. I then realized this was an awesome thing. So when I upgraded to a model with newer features I did the same thing.
              Since then I have ended up with several Miller machines (welding has been good to me). I have loved my 200 Dynasty. It is Blue Lightning with all the waveforms. It has performed flawlessly. But now it is morphing into the 210.....they have improved it by raising the duty cycle a very significant amount. Plus the card feature as well. This is a great time in history to get a machine that has only continued to improve with time and technology advancements. It will more than likely never be cheaper.
              All things considered, if you depend on your equipment, Miller is the least expensive/highest return on investment you can make in your shop. Unless you go with a cheap knock-off and get lucky. Other brands that are well known names but actually are imported are simply the same thing as a cheap knock-off only they cost way more.
              A good weldor can lay good beads all day with an inferior machine. I know because I didn't know the difference. But you can't lay good welds with one that doesn't function or while it is in shop. 2 weeks in the shop is more than a machine costs (maybe more).
              There are times people apologize for long posts..... But not this time..... No way. IMO Miller is as American as apple pie and Chevrolet and I feel with all the companies selling us out these days, it is worth shining the spotlight on those that are doing their best to lead the way for others to see that good old American ingenuity is still alive and well and very tangible at the same time!!!
              I really hope this post helps you with your very real and tough decision 😎

              www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
              Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
              MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
              Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
              Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

              Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
              Miller 30-A Spoolgun
              Miller WC-115-A
              Miller Spectrum 300
              Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
              Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

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              • #8
                There is no buy back, as thermal arc doesn't exist, being purchased twice, the latter being ESAB.

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                • #9
                  I'm on vacation, sitting by my camp fire having a cup of American coffee and reading the new posts and I feel like I should stand up and applaud you FusionKing...bravo sir.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cruizer View Post
                    There is no buy back, as thermal arc doesn't exist, being purchased twice, the latter being ESAB.
                    I received a return shipping label for the 186 yesterday, they are supposed to be working on one for the 252i, it was bought through their rep and needs to be handled differently.
                    I got these before I found out Tweco had acquired them, and their former success with Thermal Dynamics plasma cutters helped in my decision. I did not buy the mig based on price alone either. I believed, mistakingly or not, I was still buying from a reputable company, just a smaller one.
                    If they follow through with the promise of a buyback, that still leaves me with a little bit of respect for them. It could also be the ESAB people pushing this through, since that's who initiated contact with me via FaceBook of all places.
                    I appreciate you letting me post here, it was more about telling the story than needing advice, except for what to replace them with.

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                    • #11
                      FusionKing, you write like you weld! Fantasticly well stated!

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                      • #12
                        It took some persistent complaining, but the machines are hopefully just a bad memory. I got a credit for the T/A186, and my local distributor has a check in the pipeline for the T/A 252i. I picked up a MM252 last night from my LWS, and it welds nice like I expected it to. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the T/A had, but I fully expect that in 15yrs, it will still weld like day 1. My Dynasty 210dx should be here when I get home tomorrow.....

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