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Best Transformer Tig Machines

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  • Best Transformer Tig Machines

    My experience with tig, fluffed, would not fill in a thimble. Half a day of instruction back in the early 80's, couple afternoons back in the late 80's welding non-critical parts, 15 minutes at a Hobart expo, and a few years back tried (unsuccessfully) on an old scratch start machine. Looking at what is for sale I see lots of older transformer tig machines for sale, some at very reasonable prices, but honestly don't know if they are worth fooling with. I'm setting up my retirement shop, need to keep myself busy and thinking, but not wanting to spend a fortune on a new machine with probably more features than I know what to do with. So if I was looking for a transformer machine, with lots of good features, what should I look for?

    Currently on local market there is a
    Miller Dialarc HF-P 310A AC/DC tig with everything except bottle, asking price $900, but does not look like many features by control panel, not that I know what features I need........

    So what should I look for?


  • #2
    Depending on the machine, make sure you have the power requirements.

    Maybe if you could tell us what you expect, or want to fabricate that would help in choosing one machine over another.

    I'm guessing you want a machine with AC?
    Richard

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    • #3
      Currently on a 200A 1ph circuit, but plan in next few years is to re-do electrical, bring in 3ph (available), and much more amps (its a 20,000 sq ft building). Most of what I've done over the years is machine repair services, machining custom parts, and some welding/fabrication, but Tig was never a service I offered and had to send that work elsewhere. My new home/shop is in a very isolated small community with no one else offering any of these types of services, there are a few large outfits with in-house shop facilities, but nothing for the average joe. Being able to weld aluminum and stainless would add to my capabilities, currently have mig, stick is almost ready to go, thinking about tig. Seriously doubt I'll ever see the type of work I used to do, and no idea yet what might come thru the door.

      Guessing I should get an AC/DC machine, so I have options? Yes, will need to do some reading and time at YTU. Doubt I will ever be working on anything over 3/8" thickness. Guessing most jobs will be "can you weld this back together?"
      Last edited by dalmatiangirl61; 01-20-2019, 03:02 PM.

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      • #4
        The dialarc might not be bad for 900. Is it single phase. That being said if you want to weld aluminum the old transformers without wave balance are nothing compared to the new inverters. Dynasties being pretty much the best of the best. You could try an find a used dynasty for a good price or you could get a thermal arc 186/ac dc for less then half the price of a new dynasty 200. Not quite as nice but still a really nice aluminum welder. If you dont care about aluminum you can tig with pretty much any decent dc stick welder.
        www.silvercreekwelding.com

        Miller Trailblazer 325 efi
        Miller extreme 12vs
        Thermal arc 186 ac/dc
        Lincoln power wave 455m/stt with 10m dual feeder

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        • #5
          Tig that cannot do aluminum sounds pretty worthless. No idea what "wave balance" is. I do know from previous experience that I need the foot pedal, I cannot do scratch start, I just gob the tip up. The Hobart back in late 90's that I ran for 15 minutes was the only inverter unit I've ever touched. My experience with a couple of plasma cutters that were not worth fixing due to bad boards has me shying away from a tig with boards.

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          • #6
            Lots of good old Transformer machines out there....that are square wave....and for the most part still do a good job on both steel & aluminum. Also the square wave transformer machines are pretty reliable and fairly easy to fix................and your right for the most part they don't have many bells & whistles. The other machine out there that is a good square wave is a Sychrowave that has more features.

            Having said that the Dialarc is really a glorified Arc welder with HF added and also a decent machine but not a true square wave machine........it is in fact a Sine Wave machine........well it weld? Yes!.....Does it weld Aluminum as well as a square wave?........."NO"........But to be truthful I had one for decades that I bought new in the 80's that allowed me to do steel , aluminium & stainless ......and Yes I knew it was lacking in some areas , but it built many 4130 race cars and other things......and never really hindered my abilities as the sine wave aluminum welding could be done but in a different manner as compared to say a square wave , so it really did not bother me.........

            A few years ago while changing a Contactor relay inside the Dialarc machine .....and I might add , the first & only time the machine was down since new.... I decided I was going to treat myself to a new Dynasty 280 DX inverter machine......Lots of bells & whistles there for sure.....and it's made me just a better welder by having much more control over the arc...........

            So , Think about your use factor and what you would really like to see the machine do..lots of choices!

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            • #7
              Wave balance is the ability to change the amount of time the machine stays on negative vs positive. On a machine like the Syncrowave the balance and frequency are set by whats coming from the line power. 60 Hertz in north american and that balance is even so 50% time on + and 50% the time on negative. So why does this matter you ask? Well to weld aluminum you need some of the positive side of the cycle as this provides a cleaning action to the base metal, basically breaking away the layer of aluminum oxide so that you can actually weld it. The problem is that on electrode negative (the standard used for DC tig) 1/3 of the heat goes into the tungsten and 2/3 into the base metal. When you switch to EP then 2/3 goes into the tungsten instead so you just melt your tungsten at even really low amps. Now the thing is you only need a little bit of the EP side to provide the cleaning, so on an inverter you can dial it down to say 70% EN and 30% EP or even lowering depending on the cleanliness of the metal. This in turn allows you to use somewhat of a pointed tungsten which gives a much narrower / deeper penetrating weld. Where as on the Syncrowave your tungsten will ball on you so you end up with a very unfocesed arc. For this reason an inverter set to say 20% balnce and 150Hz (the frequency also narrows the weld bead) and running 200 amps is capable of welding thicker aluminum then a non inverter running say 250 amps.

              The other thing is I don't see Syncrowaves or similar machines selling for that cheap. Non-inverter welders need alot bigger transformers. Electronics are a lot cheaper then metal. That's why I say your better to find a used dynasty or even a new similar inverter. Just my opinion, having welded with Syncrowaves, dynasties, etc.
              www.silvercreekwelding.com

              Miller Trailblazer 325 efi
              Miller extreme 12vs
              Thermal arc 186 ac/dc
              Lincoln power wave 455m/stt with 10m dual feeder

              Comment


              • #8
                Any machine you get will have a "board" in it, transformer or inverter.

                Biggest question is...how much do you want to spend?

                I have an old transformer machine, a newer transformer machine and a couple of inverter machines. I like them all and they all have a place in my shop. tarry99 is absolutely right about the sine wave vs square wave. But unless you're doing fancy stuff, you can certainly get by on fab and repair work with one of those old machines as they were used to successfully weld aluminum for decades. Aluminum is still aluminum.

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                • #9
                  Nicely summarized, Will!

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                  • #10
                    Thanks guys! Think I'll pass on that Miller above and keep my eye out for something nicer. Looking at nationwide ads I see a few other decent looking square wave machines like an Airco and Lincoln, anyone have experience with those? All too far away to consider, but they are not demanding the price of the Miller machines. Heading back to the more industrialized world soon, I'll keep my eyes open.
                    Last edited by dalmatiangirl61; 01-21-2019, 12:39 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Put Lincoln Precision Tig 275 on your list.

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                      • #12
                        I have many hours on a precision tig 225, it's a fine machine. Basic tig machine, not a lot of frills, but it'll get it done.

                        Your budget will dictate what machine will fit into your plan.

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                        • #13
                          Have a look at the thermal arc 186 ac/dc. Very capable tig machine similar to a dynasty. I think I paid 1800 cdn for mine new with a pedal, tig torch, regulator etc. Most annoying thing I find about it is the fan is really loud and runs all the time. Other then that I love the machine and you can't beat it for the price. There are some other companies making similar machines like Eastwood for example but I don't know how good they are. Atleast with thermal arc alot of repair shops deal with them. You'll also need / want a cooler if your going to be doing much aluminum at all.
                          www.silvercreekwelding.com

                          Miller Trailblazer 325 efi
                          Miller extreme 12vs
                          Thermal arc 186 ac/dc
                          Lincoln power wave 455m/stt with 10m dual feeder

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Did a little more looking last night and see that "square wave" applies to many different models. The 2 that caught my eye, but are way too far away to consider are the Lincoln 300 and Airco 300. I see Lincoln has a new square wave 200, and price is not bad, but it looks awful small and makes me think cracker box.
                            Machine was tested. Regulator Foot pedal Ground. what you see is what you get. I have the manual. | eBay!

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                            • #15
                              Don't know where you are geographically, but this is a nice looking Syncrowave in Scranton PA. Not familiar enough with pricing to know if its a deal or not. Unfortunately, I can't get the link to paste into this post. If interested, look at Scranton PA craigslist and search under tools for Syncrowave.

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