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Advice needed on Purchasing Welder for Aluminum TIG and MIG

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  • Advice needed on Purchasing Welder for Aluminum TIG and MIG

    The title says it. I am in the Alaska Commercial fishing industry and I have been MIG welding Aluminum for over 15 years. I have mostly used a XMT 350 with 30A Spoolmatic. I want to buy a setup for my home shop to use on projects like building Aluminum Flatbeds and Sled decks. I want to learn how to Tig Weld in the short term. I am aware of the concept of AC and DC welders not necessarily being in the same unit and that MIG and TIG require different output. So I thought I would ask the community what my best option would be if I want to do both MIG and TIG for aluminum. My Budget is flexible. I am looking at brand new Maxstar 280 on Marketplace for $3000, but I don't think it is compatible with the Spoolmatic 30A. Also there is a brand new Miller 251 on craigslist with a brand new 30a spoolgun the guy has had sitting in a bedroom for 14 years, he's asking $3250 But no Tiggy for that setup possible. I only have 220V AC available. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Last edited by Snowridingfisher; 10-16-2019, 03:02 PM.

  • #2
    My advice would be a stand alone GTAW, and a stand alone GMAW set up. While I haven't window shopped in forever, I'm not sold on the all in one units although the general welding warrior market is going that way. That said, you'll pay more with stand a lone, but they tend to be more encompassing with process specific features. With that mentioned, if you rarely get AC GTAW work, spend on the wire feed and cut back on GTAW. Nothing worse then a bunch of dollars sitting not being used other then displaying well as a collection. You spend the right money on the GMAW equipment and you won't be seeing a strong need for AC GTAW. DC Carbon and stainless as well.

    But if you drop a number all in, I'll do some window shopping and tell you what I'd buy with your money with what you mention for use.


    • #3
      The new Dynasty 280 has mig (constant voltage) options. It's a fully optioned AC/DC stick/tig machine that has mig capabilities built in. I would assume the dynasty 210, 400, and 800 may follow suit in the near future. Another option would be the multimatic 220. ESAB released a rebel 205 recently that is also a AC/DC stick/tig/ mig unit but it is only 205 amps. Everlast has a 275 unit also... but as mentioned above I recommend dedicated machines. When they cram 10 lbs of stuff in a 5 lbs box something suffers performance wise. Keep you eyes open for a older Shopmaster 300 with a Hyfreq unit. It's a transformer machine that does it all AC/DC CC/CV tig/stick/mig.
      Last edited by sledsports; 10-16-2019, 04:08 PM.
      Dynasty 400 Wireless
      Coolmate 3.5
      Aerowave loaded with Sequencer and pulse
      ​Watermate 1A
      ​Coolmate 3
      XMT350 CC/CV
      D74DX Feeder double the fun
      Optima Pulse Pendant
      30A spoolgun
      Neverlast 100 amp plasma with Hyper Duramax torch
      Avortec 280 mig
      GO CNC Poweredge CC/CV pulse and double pulse
      Harris Old school 2 stage Oxy/Ace
      Victor flow meters
      Flametech Duel flowmeters
      Just a hilljack in the woods with fancy welding equipment
      and a pet Raccoon.


      • #4
        I vote with Neil.

        Run the first 3 pages of this site and see how well the sortaMIGkindaTIG machines are working and surviving in the field.


        • #5
          A dialarc HF would be a pretty bullet proof machine for your climate. It’s an old school 60 hz transformer machine that will be choochin long after me and you are gone.

          I also agree with the separate MIG and TIG machines.


          • #6
            Thanks for the info!


            • #7
              I would buy the 251 and 30-A setup. Alaska prices aren't all that great so that might be a great deal for you. By the time you bought an equivalent machine and everything that it takes to actually make it and the spoolgun function you will have saved a bunch. (try it out before you buy it) And you are already a mig guy
              Any of the 2 in one machines are nothing but a fancy toy and have no use in industry at this time IMO.
              That said, to do much in the aluminum world you need to look at a robust tig machine. Duty cycle is king in this case.
              If you could find a good used Dial Arc as Ryan suggested, that would be good.
              One thing you seriously need to consider. In your climate things are much colder. Aluminum requires more heat to weld. By the time it is welding good you will be out of duty cycle. So to really "go to town on something" you are gonna need at least a 350 amp machine or bigger to do it any justice.
              Otherwise you will simply be wasting your money. If your budget is really flexible then go get a Dynasty 400 and call it quits. It would do most anything. But then you will get an education on warping at the same time.
              IMO.....about the only multi-purpose tig-mig machine worth a hoot would be a Trailblazer. Just sayin'

              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


              • #8
                I wish a dynasty 400 was in my budget.


                • #9
                  I use three TIG boxes (one a multi-process, engine drive, DC TIG only) and my advice is similar to above --- go with a separate, dedicated TIG, MIG (individual) cart setup so you won't have to lug around all the gas (shielding) bottles, deal with all the they learned in "multi-role" fighters whenever you try doing too much in one box things get watered down or overly complicated..........Dynasty class would be my choice.
                  Last edited by Auto_Tech; 10-17-2019, 09:59 AM.


                  • #10
                    Wow guys. I Should have thrown out a number and been a bit more specific. My budget is 3 to 4 grand. I’ve been looking at a couple refurbished 304 mig setups on eBay. Do you guys like the cobra push pull or the miller suitcase extreme?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Snowridingfisher View Post
                      the guy has had sitting in a bedroom for 14 years
                      If he was a biker it could have been an old Harley or a old Brit bike, guy had to be a welder? Keeping a welder in the bed room makes for a very large night stand? That's just dumb. The bike I understand however. Hang shirts from the bars, socks and undies in the bags. jeans on the seat.

                      Dynasty...Dy nasty. Isn't that the stuff of youthful dreaming.


                      • #12

                        cOBRA, COBRA Cobra powered y --different product, sorry.
                        If you were in the area I'd introduce you to Danny. He's run a suitcase Cobra off a Trailblazer for 25 years, generation 1 torch, and I defy anyone looking at his work to tell if it's MIG or TIG. If he can get the baseball bat in position, it's MIG all day every day.

                        New machines fresh off the truck from the manufacturer do NOT impress me, and definitely fall short of showing me their ability to pay for themselves.

                        Unfortunately, Ak sucks for machines at reasonable prices. You can do what my bud ChromeDome did, visit Connecticut, buy a nice 8" lathe and take it back in your luggage for the living room shop, it was cheaper than buying a lathe in Ak.

                        FedEx ground is your friend if you understand their system. Most items under 1000 pounds fly to AK and then go on trucks.

                        Along the lines of too little too late, this machine was hard to sell in Rochester for $1000 8 months ago.. D A Y A M sweet snake for somebody with 3Ø power. The liar who bought it put it on ebay a month later for $2500 and had no trouble selling.


                        • #13
                          Example of the marketplace here


                          • #14
                            I work in AK 6 months a year on an Aluminum 58 footer built in 1980 in Richmond BC by Shore. She is in amazing condition for the age, I love Aluminum boats, f*** sandblasting. However I live in Bellingham WA and that is where I want the machine. I found a seller on Ebay that has a variety of used machines that are "thoroughly tested" seller is arc-heat.
                            He has some 304's with the miller suitcase for 4K. Also a Miller Invision 354MP and XR-Push Pull Feeder for around 3K. I have a descent Chinese 200Amp MIG for steel and I don't really need stick very ofter/never. So if I'm just focused on getting a good AL Mig Setup what do you guys think? Also Do I really want push pull? I'm not planning to do much field work which apparently is better all around, for field work and such, but push pull for a shop/lite manufacturing setup?
                            Or would I be best off to just go with the 251 and the 30A which comes with some nice accessories, cart, and an auto hood all new for 3250?
                            Last edited by Snowridingfisher; 10-18-2019, 10:31 AM.


                            • #15
                              I’ve been running a lot of wire through one of the new 30a guns and I have to say it’s the best spool gun I’ve ever used. For the money, and unless you’re going to build boats for a living, my vote would be for a 251 and spool gun. Then you can trade off your Chinese mig for something else.