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1968 320A/BP worth restoring?

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  • 1968 320A/BP worth restoring?

    G'day, first time posting. I am a beginner welder that has exclusively worked with a little 110v Lincoln MIG welder. I just bought a house from the family of a deceased racecar builder/fabricator and they left me his old 1968? 320A/BP welder serial T455934 in rough condition along with a couple of other tools. The earliest manual I could find on the miller manuals and parts page is for the 1973 version so I plan to use that as closely as possible. The power cord was cut so I am not 100% sure if it was wired for 220v or 3 phase (my home garage has three-phase). But, I plan to open the back and compare the wiring to the diagrams this weekend. It is sitting in front of a 220v outlet and I found an old 220v plug so that's what I'm guessing this is.

    Question: Is this worth restoring/keeping if it turns on when I rewire the plug? I would love the capability that this machine brings, and I love old tools but this is new to me and I'm not sure if I would be better off scrapping it or trying to use it. See attached pics, came with multiple leads, sticks, oil cooler (I think), and some broken gauges, no pedal. My understanding is that if I can get it working these machines are versatile and bulletproof and much more capable than what I am used to.
    I'd appreciate any and all advice. Cheers.

  • #2
    Ryan Jones is the resident "Helga" person. Nice find..Bob
    Bob Wright


    • #3
      Thanks for the response, Bob. I will look him up. So this is the "Helga" I've been reading about... Cheers Lewis.


      • #4
        Just remember--Ryan says Helga is very sensitive about her weight! He'll be showing up here soon.

        My two cents: a fine classic, and other than some diodes, relays, switches, and potentially mouse-eaten wires, all of which can generally be economically replaced, those things are just about impossible to kill. Internal technology is magnetic amplifiers (no tubes, no transistors, no moving parts--just lots of big transformer-looking things. Bulletprooof. If you call Miller, they may have an older manual--worth a call to find out.


        • #5
          Aeronca41, thanks for the reply. I called Miller, they said the 1973 manual was the best they could do. Appreciate the advice, hopefully between the manual and google I can figure it out. I just went back into the shed and found a giant Wilson Hornet machine. I saw it a few weeks ago but assumed it was a big compressor. Hopefully, someone here can offer advice about this as well... worth restoring and using? I may have to post another topic but ill scrape the mud off and see if I can find a date or serial on that too. It is also a beast. Helga need not worry about her weight, I already think she is great.


          • #6
            Thanks for posting the Hornet pics. I have heard of a Wilson Hornet, but never saw one. Looks like a prop out of a cold war sci fi movie--a nuclear bomb that must be disarmed to save the world! Bet it still works! I'm guessing Bob has seen and maybe even used one. I'd take the covers off, clear out the mud daubers and mouse nests, blow the dust off, and try it!

            I gather that is a motor/generator set--probably makes quite a whine when running.


            • #7
              Yeah the only things I can find online about them are that they were (maybe) made from 1939 to 1951 and that they are LOUD. I scraped off the dust on the badge, hard to read but its stats are: 3 phase, 220/440v, 300 amp, 1750 speed, model 300, serial 254-6140. Makes me think maybe the miller is set up for 3 phase too. This weekend I'll give 'em a go and see what happens. From what I can tell it only has four switches on the entire thing... what could possibly go wrong?! Hopefully, I can find enough info to either use it or turn it into something else. Can't wait to dust off the last three machines in that shed, there is an old press, a very big grinder, and some sort of torch setup that follows a pattern. Cheers.


              • #8
                That machine there, Mr. 8wire, is not in rough shape. Unless you lifted her skirt and see something those pictures don’t show, you have a beauty. You may as well throw those rods in the scrap bin though.

                She has a sweet stick arc, scratch start tig is a beauty and pulls enough power to dim the lights in your neighborhood if you please. If you have 3ph, that’s even better!

                So, yes, she is absolutely worth saving. Probably no need to “restore” it, just plug it in and fire it up. I’d take the sides off and blow the dust out first.

                Good score amigo!


                • #9
                  Mr. Jones, thank you for the advice. Other than some cracked gauges, chipped paint, and no plug, she looks fine. But then I don't know what I'm talking about yet. I think the plan will be:
                  1. Blow the dust out of the Wilson Hornet and plug it in, see what happens. I know it is a 3 ph machine and I have a receptacle that matches so if it works I will know that the receptacle is 3ph and that the machine works. If nothing happens I'll come up with a new plan.
                  2. Reattach the plug to the Miller, clean it out, see what sense I can make out of the electrics (i.e. see what it is wired for) and plug it in.
                  Hopefully, by the end of the weekend, I find out I have two functioning machines and a functioning outlet.
                  Appreciate yours, Aeronca41's, and Bobs feedback. I'll let you know how it goes.


                  • #10
                    We'll be waiting anxiously!


                    • #11
                      She has some screw in type fuses that are seemingly hard to find as they are not the slow blow type you’ll find at the hardware store. I happen to have an unopened box of them from the 70s, so if you run into that problem let me know.

                      The foot pedal is about the silliest thing in foot pedals. They’re expensive, used, and can be hard to track one down for less than an arm and a leg. They are rebuildable though.

                      There are also a multitude of switches that have to all be in the right places for it to chooch fully. So if something isn’t working, take a step back and start over with setup, you might have missed a switch.

                      There should be a pin out diagram inside the cover plate for the power cord lugs. Pop that off and you’ll see what it’s wired for.

                      She’s 860-ish lbs of pure American brutality of a welding machine that will probably be running long after we’re all gone, albeit of an outdated era of production, it’s still a trooper.


                      • #12
                        I wanna see what else you got in that shed.


                        • #13
                          Met junkie, its the shed that keeps on giving. They also left this large torch with some sort of Pantagraph arm. It has a stencil attachemt with a pin, an olden days cnc I guess. A very big pedestal grinder and an old 25 ton press. There were other tools but.i guess the family sold some before we closed on the property. Ill take what I got!!


                          • #14
                            I’ll take the grinder.


                            • #15
                              That's a pattern torch. You cut your stencil out of steel (has to be magnetic), then it'll automatically cut as many of them as you want. The knob on top adjusts the travel speed. Could still be handy in your shop, depending on what you're doing.

                              ryanjones2150: Nah, the base on the grinder is cracked, you don't want it... I'll do you a favor and take it off their hands instead. :P

                              Looks like you got some nice tools!