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Advice needed on Purchasing Welder for Aluminum TIG and MIG

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  • #16
    Last I calculated there have to be at least 250,000 MIG?whatever made in China machines sitting on shelves in US Mancaves gathering dust either because the machine ain't a welder or because the cave dweller won't ever be a pimple on a weldor's azz. Also by my calculation at least half of the Inturdnet Xspertz on welding machines are addicts to Master Card or one of its kin. They are conditioned to BUY new toys and will find virtue in a lump of buffalo crap painted blue regardless if they can light it or not.

    I been at this craft a while, going back to when SubArc was the current version of wire welding, and have developed a bit of knowledge of what makes money and what don't.

    When MIG came along 40± years ago, a whole bunch of people went about making MIG work with aluminum wire, and until Cobra did it with the baseball bat pull gun, the fallback was the spoolgun. You don't need to look at a spooler -v- suitcase or any other feeder to figure out why, and that why is distance between wire waiting to burn and the tip it will run thru just before it burns. Aluminum flat don't like being pushed. The solution has always been minimizing that distance while retaining some semblance of ergonomics for the operator.

    COST of inches/feet of deposited metal is always a major consideration in selecting a machine. If your aluminum deposits amount to a few feet a week, a spoolgun is probably cost effective. Couple hundred feet a day,, you can't afford a spoolgun, even if you retain empty spools and rewind them cheap from a roll of wire. Spoolgun probably won't last long in that level of service anyhow. Don't forget to factor in the time for spool changes. Also factor in the cost per foot of wire of them doughnuts.

    Secondary consideration, which tool fits the job you intend it to do? Can you get a pull torch in the space?
    Probably ought to factor in how the environment of your shops housekeeping works in combination with 20 feet of gun cable running across the floor from a suitcase is going to work. I like overhead tacks for solving this problem, they work out cheaper than replacement gun cables.

    Third consideration that comes into play more as you age is ergonomics. Less weight you gotta hold in midair for a few hours a day = better welding..
    If you ain't 60 years old, spare the world from your wise comments on the subject of holding weight in the air. You got no talking position.

    I'll not waste keystrokes on the geniuses in tool trucks peddling machines they can barely turn on.

    I personally don't do enough aluminum to swap the spoolgun for the MIG gun on my GENUINE Miller Electric MM-200. It's a steel world here, and I can dial 7 digits and have one of the best on any aluminum work faster than I can set a machine up, but I have the spoolgun on the shelf.
    When the "technicians" in the car shop insisted they needed an aluminum capacity to suplement the MIG machines there so they could weld aluminum, I found a CK Systematics rig with a spoolgun for them. Man who sold it with a pair of 80cf tanks kept telling me his dad could use it just fine, but he never could. I knew that when I saw the spool of e 70 S6 wire in the gun and 2 Argon bottles on the porch. I handed him $300 and loaded the machine fast. The "technicians" have managed to repaint the housing in the 3 years the machine has been decorating the shop. They need to go to school to learn to use it. Oddly, I was able to use it after I pulled the sides and inspected the machine. CK still makes more or less the same machine in Pennsylvania every day, and they still sell parts and have people who answer the phone if you need more help.

    Fourth consideration is the powerunit. I love 3Ø power units. They produce far nicer DC than single phase rectifiers ever can. That's probably why every car alternator put under a hood since 1960 has been a 3Ø machine. If you don't have 3Ø power available, doa hands on test of the machine before you buy. Pay a lot of attention to ventilation of the power unit too. Amps pumped thru the tip to the wire relates to waste heat in the power supply.

    You buy the right machine it's a walk in the park, even a girl can run it. Wrong machine, you got a nightmare. Gasoline is cheap, ride from dealer to dealer and test dance a few of them girls.

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    • #17
      You need a machine for each sadly. Don't waste your money on a used spool or push pull gun. Been there done that. I think people run the crap out of them and when they start acting up they put them up for sale. You can't beat a new mk python but they run about 3k US dollars. So for your budget I would say your best bet is a millermatic 250 amp machine with a NEW spoolmatic 30a. I would look at the new ones as they have pulse, there's a world of difference between pulse and standard cv for aluminum.
      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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      • #18
        If your budget and brand choice is flexible, HTP makes an awesome 320A multi-process Pulse/Std Double Pulse/full manual Double Pulse machine for aluminum welding. You can choose to use a dedicated water-cooled MIG gun, spool gun, or a push-pull gun (either air- or water-cooled). Mine has the former of the three choices, and it runs very well. I don't do a lot of aluminum but when I did use it, ran great. And you can use the Oscar discount code at check out for discount.

        These are the built-in synergic programs for it:

        HTP Invertig221 D.V. Water-cooled
        HTP Pro Pulse 300 MIG
        HTP Pro Pulse 200 MIG x2
        HTP Pro Pulse 220 MTS
        HTP Inverarc 200 TLP water cooled
        HTP Microcut 875SC

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        • #19
          You can’t beat the value on those HTP machines.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by Franz© View Post
            Last I calculated there have to be at least 250,000 MIG?whatever made in China machines sitting on shelves in US Mancaves gathering dust either because the machine ain't a welder or because the cave dweller won't ever be a pimple on a weldor's azz. Also by my calculation at least half of the Inturdnet Xspertz on welding machines are addicts to Master Card or one of its kin. They are conditioned to BUY new toys and will find virtue in a lump of buffalo crap painted blue regardless if they can light it or not.

            I been at this craft a while, going back to when SubArc was the current version of wire welding, and have developed a bit of knowledge of what makes money and what don't.

            When MIG came along 40± years ago, a whole bunch of people went about making MIG work with aluminum wire, and until Cobra did it with the baseball bat pull gun, the fallback was the spoolgun. You don't need to look at a spooler -v- suitcase or any other feeder to figure out why, and that why is distance between wire waiting to burn and the tip it will run thru just before it burns. Aluminum flat don't like being pushed. The solution has always been minimizing that distance while retaining some semblance of ergonomics for the operator.

            COST of inches/feet of deposited metal is always a major consideration in selecting a machine. If your aluminum deposits amount to a few feet a week, a spoolgun is probably cost effective. Couple hundred feet a day,, you can't afford a spoolgun, even if you retain empty spools and rewind them cheap from a roll of wire. Spoolgun probably won't last long in that level of service anyhow. Don't forget to factor in the time for spool changes. Also factor in the cost per foot of wire of them doughnuts.

            Secondary consideration, which tool fits the job you intend it to do? Can you get a pull torch in the space?
            Probably ought to factor in how the environment of your shops housekeeping works in combination with 20 feet of gun cable running across the floor from a suitcase is going to work. I like overhead tacks for solving this problem, they work out cheaper than replacement gun cables.

            Third consideration that comes into play more as you age is ergonomics. Less weight you gotta hold in midair for a few hours a day = better welding..
            If you ain't 60 years old, spare the world from your wise comments on the subject of holding weight in the air. You got no talking position.

            I'll not waste keystrokes on the geniuses in tool trucks peddling machines they can barely turn on.

            I personally don't do enough aluminum to swap the spoolgun for the MIG gun on my GENUINE Miller Electric MM-200. It's a steel world here, and I can dial 7 digits and have one of the best on any aluminum work faster than I can set a machine up, but I have the spoolgun on the shelf.
            When the "technicians" in the car shop insisted they needed an aluminum capacity to suplement the MIG machines there so they could weld aluminum, I found a CK Systematics rig with a spoolgun for them. Man who sold it with a pair of 80cf tanks kept telling me his dad could use it just fine, but he never could. I knew that when I saw the spool of e 70 S6 wire in the gun and 2 Argon bottles on the porch. I handed him $300 and loaded the machine fast. The "technicians" have managed to repaint the housing in the 3 years the machine has been decorating the shop. They need to go to school to learn to use it. Oddly, I was able to use it after I pulled the sides and inspected the machine. CK still makes more or less the same machine in Pennsylvania every day, and they still sell parts and have people who answer the phone if you need more help.

            Fourth consideration is the powerunit. I love 3Ø power units. They produce far nicer DC than single phase rectifiers ever can. That's probably why every car alternator put under a hood since 1960 has been a 3Ø machine. If you don't have 3Ø power available, doa hands on test of the machine before you buy. Pay a lot of attention to ventilation of the power unit too. Amps pumped thru the tip to the wire relates to waste heat in the power supply.

            You buy the right machine it's a walk in the park, even a girl can run it. Wrong machine, you got a nightmare. Gasoline is cheap, ride from dealer to dealer and test dance a few of them girls.
            We repaired aluminum dump trailers in my shop day after day for over 20 years with two PA 3A Airco welders hooked up to XR 30 Miller feeders, sweet running units. That included every thing from total refloors on 34 footers to rebuild after wrecks.
            Last edited by lars66; 10-21-2019, 06:14 PM.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by Snowridingfisher View Post
              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.

              Cheers
              Have you had any luck looking at OfferUp or Craigslist in your area? I am just south of you and see a lot of things popping up, like a good used Spoolmatic 30A with WC-24 from a guy in Yelm and a XMT 350 MPA up your way. I haven't seen that MM251, but that seems a bit high.
              Last edited by jjohn76; 10-22-2019, 08:25 AM.

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