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Is this welder suitable for me? Stainless Tig, light duty.

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  • Is this welder suitable for me? Stainless Tig, light duty.

    Hi, I'm hoping I can get some shopping tips. I'm new at TIG welding, but can handle gas welding and brazing well enough, I just want to buy a machine capable of what I need it for.
    I'll be TIG welding mild steel, but also polished stainless up to 16Ga. and want something that can make a join that I can polish out without too much bother. I've been told that finding a welder capable of adjusting post-flow, pulse etc. will really help with my stainless work especially if it's polished and I don't want it to warp too much, but I just don't have the budget for a new machine. I'm not doing all-day production work, just short joins like box-folding corner beads, short run stuff so I don't think I need a gun chiller.
    I've seen machines come up like older Syncrowave units that are in my budget, but don't really know what to look for. Yes, I'm aware that all the accessories will add up, and fair point, but I want to find the right unit to start with. Thanks for any advice.

  • #2
    I don't think you could go wrong with a Syncrowave. Though this is a Miller site, there may be some new import machines that would fit your budget (someone on here just posted about a Primeweld, they seem to have a good reputation elsewhere) and do what you need. Most any Tig welder will have the power you need for 16ga.

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    • #3
      Thank you John, I guess my question pertains specifically to the adjustability for welding ornamental sheet stainless with a minimum of distortion and what I should be looking for that has that adjustability (or how much control is really needed). The power problem is as you say pretty easy to solve. Cheers.

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      • #4
        Since you're not doing aluminum, there's a lot of cheaper DC-only machines you can pick from, or use a dc stick supply that has a remote pedal option with a valved torch. But, yeah, I've never heard anyone complain about a syncrowave, other than their power consumption on heavy aluminum and the fun of trying to load one into a pickup by hand...

        For cheap accessories, I've had decent luck with WeldingCity. It's all chinese, but they seem to pick the better of it to stock, and don't charge much more than the randomly awful ebay and amazon stuff.
        Last edited by Bushytails; 03-04-2022, 09:54 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bushytails View Post
          Since you're not doing aluminum, there's a lot of cheaper DC-only machines you can pick from, or use a dc stick supply that has a remote pedal option with a valved torch.
          Thank you, I wasn't aware that not doing aluminum made things easier. Are there any specific models you'd recommend that I should look for?
          Are things like post-flow and pulse only available on a machine with electronic control?

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          • #6
            What is your budget?
            MM250
            Trailblazer 250g
            22a feeder
            Lincoln ac/dc 225
            Victor O/A
            MM200 black face
            Whitney 30 ton hydraulic punch
            Lown 1/8x 36" power roller
            Arco roto-phase model M
            Vectrax 7x12 band saw
            Miller spectrum 875
            30a spoolgun w/wc-24
            Syncrowave 250
            RCCS-14

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Wilitrun View Post
              Thank you John, I guess my question pertains specifically to the adjustability for welding ornamental sheet stainless with a minimum of distortion and what I should be looking for that has that adjustability (or how much control is really needed).
              Controlling distortion is a function of the steps you take in welding, fitup and fixtures etc...not the machine itself. So find a suitable machine in your budget and go for it.

              Richard
              West coast of Florida

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              • #8
                The difference between a good tig machine and a cheap tig machine for what you’re looking to do is how it performs on the low end, not the high end. Being that you’re looking to do artsy stuff, you might consider looking at the low amp arc starting stability of a machine. As a whole, you won’t find much difference in DC arc characteristics between any of the machines EXCEPT on low amp starting and stability.

                I’ve done plenty of stainless sheetmetal without pulse, but if you have a good fit up, pulse is very nice to have. Pulse will also lower the total heat input overall, but it’s not magic, you can still warp the living daylights out of some sheet metal.

                I didn’t have a water cooled torch for a long, long time, now I won’t be without it. Something to consider but nothing you must have.

                Nearly all of my welding equipment is old and it was old when I got it. In fact, the only machine I ever bought brand new lasted 7 years before it let the smoke out, and I was wasn’t even welding with it when it blew up. I have a nearly 50 year old machine that’s still choochin along like it was new.

                Be patient, keep your eyes out for a machine that will fit your needs and is in your budget, it will pop up sooner or later.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wilitrun View Post

                  Thank you, I wasn't aware that not doing aluminum made things easier. Are there any specific models you'd recommend that I should look for?
                  Are things like post-flow and pulse only available on a machine with electronic control?
                  Aluminum requires AC TIG, which is substantially more expensive than DC, as you use on steel, including stainless steels.

                  No specific model recommendations, just pointing it out for your shopping.

                  Post-flow will be found on all machines, while pulse is only found on higher-end and newer machines.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MMW View Post
                    What is your budget?
                    Sorry to be so vague. I'm looking at the cheapest units I can. They're either near the end of their life or being liquidated. I realize the cost to keep an old machine running is a gamble, but I'm mechanically inclined and I'm just not going to be doing enough business with the TIG work to support the cost of a newer unit. Hope that helps narrow it down.
                    I can say I have 208/240V max to work with, so the machine can't be three-phase or 575/600V to operate.

                    Originally posted by Ltbadd
                    Controlling distortion is a function of the steps you take in welding, fitup and fixtures etc...not the machine itself
                    Fair point. Knowing how to use the tool is the most important thing, not what the tool can do. I hear ya
                    However, I've used machines that had features that made the learning curve not so steep, and I'm hoping that post-flow and pulse will flatten it a bit. I'm attaching a picture of what sort of work I'm eventually going to reach for. It's obviously really delicate, but shows the type of material I work with 99% of the time - 16-22ga stainless sheet.

                    Originally posted by ryanjones2150
                    you might consider looking at the low amp arc starting stability of a machine.
                    The older units I'm looking at (I'll get to that point next) probably don't have specsheets available online I'm guessing, so do you have any suggestions on how I can parse this when shopping for older units like yours?

                    Originally posted by ryanjones2150
                    In fact, the only machine I ever bought brand new lasted 7 years before it let the smoke out, and I was wasn’t even welding with it when it blew up. I have a nearly 50 year old machine that’s still choochin along like it was new.
                    Now you're really speaking my language. I've had the chance to buy a few Syncrowaves, and got very close to having one with a damaged board for $400, but that's the downside - I've researched that and found that depending on the serial number break, they're **** expensive to replace and even the reputable shops doing board-level repairs can only return mixed results. If I can get my hands on an analog machine capable of delicate work that'll serve me for 50 years, right on. But if pulse is only available on electronic units and helps me get marketable results faster, maybe that's worth the risk! Which is precisely why I'm here asking the question.
                    Today I'm seeing in my area:
                    Miller Maxstar 200 box only $1000, 150 miles away
                    180SD $1400, reasonably complete, closeby
                    Thunderbolt AC/DC $400, set up for stick, on/off and amps only
                    Syncrowave 350 $1700 water cooler and foot pedal
                    Syncrowave 250 $2800 complete, incl. water cooler and foot pedal, earlier dial unit
                    There's been units of the red variety come up as well. Not really looking at offbrand or overseas units right now. Thanks

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      $1700 for a syncro might be reasonable if it's complete and ready to weld. $2800 for an older unit seems way too high. The syncro will do aluminum if you decide to do so in the future, and they're generally easy to troubleshoot and repair yourself if you're so inclined, at least from what I've seen on these forums.

                      $1000 for a maxstar should get you some accessories too - might try haggling based on that. In particular, you'll need to get a foot pedal, which will set you back about $200, and a torch, ground lead, argon regulator, etc. The maxstar is a DC only unit, so no aluminum, and would be much harder to fix yourself if it breaks due to being an inverter unit, but it literally weighs a fourteenth of what the syncro does. As someone with a bad back and no shop, I've learned to love inverter machines! The portability means you can bring the welder to the work, instead of the work to the welder.

                      The Thunderbolt will not make a good TIG setup - don't consider it, or any other welder only intended to be a stick machine with no foot pedal, unless you already have one and just want to see what you can do.

                      Chances are none of those have pulse. Pulse was an optional addon for the syncro, and isn't found on the maxstar or other budget lines. Even the lower-end Dynasty models didn't come with pulse. You can still buy pulser addons for about $400, but you might be better off looking for a machine that includes it. Pulse isn't necessary for good TIG welds, and most people don't use it.
                      Last edited by Bushytails; 03-05-2022, 09:03 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Even though we're on a blue forum, don't discount the Red (and their Gray) units. Lots of folks have a bit of both and more (Maroon, Yellow). I found Red and Blue has the most support local, until you get into the older machines - then it's to the board repair companies, forums and eBay...

                        It sounds like your budget is from $1500 to $3000. I have repaired a couple of those Maxstar 200 machines (very similar to the Dynasty 200, just doesn't have the AC output inverter) - they went through upgrades over time (need to look at first three digits of serial number to figure out how old it is). Some of those have pulse too, just need to get the full name of the machine (I want to say it was the Maxstar 200SD with pulse).

                        Just make sure everything works, or you'll end up with welder projects instead of metal working projects like a lot of us... If the Sync 350 only comes with those pieces, but it's because the seller is keeping the rest and will still let you test/see every function on the machine, then that may still be good. Something with a damaged board has AT LEAST one issue...

                        If you did that work above with a torch, I am guessing you won't need much time figuring out how to get the Tig working for you. Biggest thing will be figuring out how to keep it surrounded with argon (front and back side) when welding. You could get away with your solar flux on the back side, or make an argon dam out of a lot of things. The post flow control just ensures you have enough argon shielding to let it fully cool to below reactive temps. There are techniques to extend the post flow with most any machine you get, if needed.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jjohn76 View Post
                          Even though we're on a blue forum, don't discount the Red (and their Gray) units.
                          Well, there's an Invertec V160T Pulse for about $900 and looks complete. Would that work?
                          (Ed.: Pending.)

                          Originally posted by jjohn76
                          If you did that work above with a torch, I am guessing you won't need much time figuring out how to get the Tig working for you.
                          The guy I've been using does great work at reasonable rates but I can't feed him work valuable enough to keep him interested, hence the need to start taking it in-house.
                          Last edited by Wilitrun; 03-05-2022, 10:31 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I have never used a V160T, but had a V160S for a while. No issues, though I didn't use it for thin stainless like you would. It's in the same class as the Maxstar 150STH, which I had for a while and sold it to a guy for maintenance at a brewery. His application sounds very similar to yours (plus food grade work), and he really liked the 150STH. It depends on what comes with the V160T.

                            The only thing I'll say about the smaller machines is they are more disposable than the bigger machines - all of the components tend to be integrated on one assembly and they're a pain for board level troubleshooting/repair (surface mount tiny components, multi-layer board, and hidden vias). If it's over 10 years old, it's a crap shoot how long you'll get out of it.

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                            • #15
                              Since your work seems limited to sheet metal I would look for a 150 to 185 amp machine. Miller maxstar 150 sth, Miller syncro wave 180, Lincoln square wave 175 or 185. Maxstar is only dc but the other two are ac/dc. The Lincoln would be my first choice as they are a workhorse in a smaller machine.
                              MM250
                              Trailblazer 250g
                              22a feeder
                              Lincoln ac/dc 225
                              Victor O/A
                              MM200 black face
                              Whitney 30 ton hydraulic punch
                              Lown 1/8x 36" power roller
                              Arco roto-phase model M
                              Vectrax 7x12 band saw
                              Miller spectrum 875
                              30a spoolgun w/wc-24
                              Syncrowave 250
                              RCCS-14

                              Comment

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