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New guy with a "help me understand the differences" question

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  • New guy with a "help me understand the differences" question

    Greetings all,

    New guy to the forum here. Not new to Miller welders. Not that great of a welder, and not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, though I do require my tools to do "real work", rather than pure hobbyist fiddling. Looking for some advice/comparison information, so that I can make a more informed purchasing decision:

    My barn and shop just burned down, and amongst the mass of machinery gone, I lost my welders too. While the vast majority of the things we've been working on, just went up in flames, the wife and I have spent the last 20 or so years working on collecting and restoring antique farm, metalworking and woodworking machinery, with a semi-serious fantasy of eventually making a retirement business out of a "working museum/school/makerspace" that ran on turn-of-last-century's technology.

    A decent welder helped a lot with that fantasy, and it's a fantasy that, despite getting kicked pretty hard, we're going to try to keep going. Before burning it all to a crisp, I was running an XMT-304 with an older Hobart suitcase feeder with a Tregaskis Toughgun and a Readywelder spoolgun, a SSW-2020AT 10KVA spot welder, and a Hypertherm PM1250G3 plasma cutter. I jury-rigged an Intellitig-40 into the system to give me limited pulse-TIG capability, but that was a quirky setup to say the least. I had a S-64M feeder on the shelf that I had never hooked up.

    As I said, I'm far from a professional, but the XMT-304 made it look like I was actually able to competently weld with a stick. That impressed me, and if and when my insurance eventually pays out, I'd like to replace the system with something that will give me at least similar, if not better capabilities.

    The S64M doesn't appear to be made anymore, and the S74MPa doesn't interface with the XMT-304. This seems to suggest that I need to look at the XMT-350MPa for a power source. That then leaves me confused between the S74MPa and the S74Dx. I could use some advice regarding which I really want, and what's going to give me the most parity for capabilities with what I've lost. I'm also willing to entertain the idea that I should dig up a used S64M somewhere, and just replace the XMT-304.

    At the same time, it doesn't look like Miller makes anything like the Intellitig anymore, and honestly, cobbling another one of those onto an XMT multiprocess again isn't something I would look forward to anyway. That points maybe to a Dynasty 280DX? I don't really need all that power in a TIG (never used it in the XMT-304), so the 200 would be a possibility, but I'd rather buy once and never need to worry about it again (until I burn it down :-( ). The 280Dx also appears to have capabilities that the 200 doesn't, so it looks like there are other arguments for it in addition to the additional power.

    I'm not smart enough to even know exactly what questions I should be asking myself to figure out what the right decisions are, or whether what I'm thinking about are sane choices. I also realize that these are machines that usually do not fall into the hobbyist category. While there are some concerns for economy here, I'm /most/ interested in buying replacement equipment that's good enough that I'll never wish I'd bought something better. I have, and will in the future, weld things that are fairly life-critical, like major components on large farm machinery that will take me apart if they break, and structural steel chunks in our buildings (the wife and I built a lot of the barn that didn't burn down with a custom steel frame cobbled together from plate steel and wide-flange beams), so I need a welder that will keep my welding at "this doesn't suck" quality. I also prefer my limitations to be my limitations, rather than my equipment's limitations...

    So. If you'd be so kind, I need intelligent questions and advice regarding what I'm gaining or giving up going with an XMT-304 with some currently-made feeder, versus the XMT-350MPa with a S (or D) 74MPa or 74DX, versus something I haven't noticed in Miller's lineup yet. Also, whether the Dynasty 280DX is a sane approach to a "never need another one" TIG setup, or if there's some other solution that I haven't noticed that would get me where I need to be, without needing to purchase two separate power supplies.

    And does Miller make anything to replace the pedestal-mount, water-cooled 10KVA spot welder?

    Many thanks for any advice or probing questions that I haven't thought to ask.
    Will Ray

  • #2
    I have Dynasty 280DX, Bobcat 250, and Miller Matic 252. If I were to upgrade, I'd want to upgrade the Bobcat. Although it is a fine welder, there are better welders. I weld a lot of aluminum. I believe the Dynasty is the best in the world for TIG welding. If I were doing it again, it'd be a 350 rather than a 280.
    The Dynasty may just be the best stick welder in the world.

    In the MIG discipline I would like more power. Spray transfer appeals to me, I'd like a 350. Aluminum is something I haven't done yet with MIG. I tried it once before buying the first TIG machine, it was less than stellar. Later, I bought a spool gun. The reps from Airgas demonstrated the spool gun, I bought it, but haven't used it.

    Dynasty 280DX
    Bobcat 250
    Spool gun
    Twentieth Century 295
    Twentieth Century 295 AC
    Marquette spot welder
    Smith torches


    • #3
      I use a Dynasty 200, trailblazer 280NT, MM211, and MM200. Covers everything, TB and MM200 bought used, Dynasty and MM21 (old one) bought new. Covers it all.