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Thread: TIG welder advice

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    shand's Avatar
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    Default TIG welder advice

    Hi all,

    I've done a load of digging through the archives of this and other forums and I have a lot of good information. I'm looking for as much advice as possible, specifically from steel f'builders using tig. I'd like to get a tig machine to expand my own personal skillset and also to open up some additional avenues for construction methods. I've been brazing (lug and lugless) for a good few years and we currently make production fillet brazed frames in the UK.

    Anyway, I'd like to get a tig machine to experiment with. I'll be building with steel, can't see me using aluminium but confess to being attracted to titanium, but that would be some way off I think.

    I realise there's an inverter camp and a transformer camp and to be honest I don't really care. I have the space and power for transformer but am also attracted to the smaller inverter packages out there. They seem a little less intimidating! I have a *little* experience with tig from a few years ago but that was under instruction and have absolutely no idea about settings/pulse/flow etc. I'll likely seek some local instruction if I can find it but I'm a 'give it a go' type of guy and will probably just get stuck in after doing as much reading as I can.

    Anyway, as well as specific machine recommendations (I'm in the UK), I'd like any advice anyone has to offer. Specifically, what kind of duty cycle am I looking for (I won't be doing this 10 hours per day but I'd like to get something that lets me get a bike frame done?

    I know a versatile machine would be more useful around the shop but I really am looking for something solely for bike stuff so I'm assuming I only need something at the low end of the amperage scale?

    Footpedal I assume is essential.

    Pulser? I know some do and some don't so I'm not fussy about this unless someone has a very convincing argument one way or another for a beginner.

    Water cooled v air cooled? Again, this will only be for thin wall bike stuff if that makes a difference.

    Cup and torch sizes?

    Waranty/build quality/Chinese machines?

    Anything else I need to think about?

    Cheers

    Steven
    Steven Shand
    www.shandcycles.com
    Bicycle Manufacture - Scotland, UK

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    Bigfoot is offline Pack Filler
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Miller Maxters are good machines for DC. Most people in framebuilding have Millers. I have tried the comparable Lincoln machine and I actually preferred it. Seemed like the arc was more stable on start. And actually, I think there are more people that have Lincoln welders in the autosport industry. Pulsing is overrated IMO.

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    I have a chinese tig. It worked great until I had to send it for warranty. When using stick, it has a comparable performance to my Dad's Miller. I don't have other Tig machine experience to compare to. Its been gone 7 weeks now. From what I understand, this is unusual for the brand I have (Purifion). Most are happy with the performance and warranty. Riland and everlast have good reputations for impotrs.

    MultiProcess Welder

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Strongly recommend looking up Don Ferris's treatise,(rant on tig welding). IMHO, best set of instructions on bike frame tig welding ever written. Yes, that is the same Don Ferris of Anvil fame. Don't forget, Don was a killer frame builder before he focused on jig and fixture design and manufacturing.

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    edoz's Avatar
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    The Lincoln Precision 185 is a pretty decent machine for the price, but in shops I've used almost exclusively Millers. Out in the field it was mostly Lincoln, not sure why. Just seems like if was on the back of a truck it was red, wired into the wall of a shop it was blue.
    I'd be hard pressed to stray from the big 3, Miller Lincoln or Hobart, but the UK is a different market also. Think about what you can get repaired quick, and what your local welding supply sells/services. The money you saved buying an off brand import disappears pretty quick if it breaks and no one will fix it.

    You don't need a water cooled torch for frames, but they are usually smaller, lighter and easier to manipulate. Go ahead and splurge on one, you'll like it.

    Don't underestimate the value of an AC/DC machine, you may not want to build aluminum frames but you never know what you might use it for if you have it.

    Pulse is a personal preference I think, handy in some situations but not necessary. (I love having a pulser on my machine at work, but I can't see using it on frame tubing if I were a tig builder.) My big rant about pulsing is that some guys use it as a crutch to make their beads look better when they're learning and they never let go of it. It has a lot of uses, but weld cosmetics isn't one of them.

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    ThomD is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Best machine no expense spared is the Dynasty ___DX, or whatever amperage you are after. This machine is the upgrade from the maxstar that also does aluminum. I think it is worth it even if you never weld aluminum, or just weld it for fixtures or non bike stuff. But basically aluminum is an AC process, and AC has some utility for even steel. It has the most process control options. The problem with TIG is that there aren't really upgrades, if you want something later it cost a ton to start all over again. You can also get by with the Maxstar 150 which is a very basic machine, but some bike welding at a very high level has been done on it. Price wise, though, that is were the crossover to chinese machines starts to look tempting since for the same money you could probably get an everlast with controls like on the DX. It is also a good point to consider a transformer machine since they will have a lot more features in that price range, and not get to expensive.

    Miller has the big name in TIG, but there is something to be said at the low end for the Lincoln machines. They are clearly out there to undercut what miller is offering. The Precision TIG with the cup holders, :), is quite a nice machine.

    Whatever you buy this time, it is a fair bet that your next welder is chinese, just as your next Apple might be. This is an industry that is probably going doing in the next few years. Hard to see how the high cost, social agenda, thing is going to be durable. In the UK I imagine your prices are a lot higher. I would consider chinese if the machine had an outstanding rep, and the distribution made sense. I got a chinese machine after my last Miller, and part of the reason was that by fluke of geography the distribution was near by.

    OK questions:


    "I realise there's an inverter camp and a transformer camp and to be honest I don't really care. I have the space and power for transformer but am also attracted to the smaller inverter packages out there. They seem a little less intimidating!"

    Yeah, it isn't critical. The inverters weld better, and probably ship to your part of the world for less. They are like laptops, if something goes you need to replace, not jsut tighten a screw, so service rep is key, and I do not know if there are good answers there. Mostly I would go for a trans machine if it was in great condition, and locally cheap, because they do last, or in one of the small packets like the Precision TIF.

    " I have a *little* experience with tig from a few years ago but that was under instruction and have absolutely no idea about settings/pulse/flow etc. I'll likely seek some local instruction if I can find it but I'm a 'give it a go' type of guy and will probably just get stuck in after doing as much reading as I can."

    The only welding instruction I got was a friend who taught me to scratch up a stick. Other than that I am self taught. It is very difficult for a variety of reasons. Great hobby, but if you can't get instruction, then I would get an outstanding machine. Sure there are guys who can knock off alpine hill climbs with a fixie, but having more process control is like having gears. You have enough trouble without the help they will provide. Don't take the advice of folks who learned in a factory and got their basics down on someone else's dime with instruction. Sure you can do it all with just a pedal, and you walked ten miles through the snow to school every day, blah blah.

    Welding is also not a case in my opinion, where a lot of controls are confusing. So you have a control for pre-flow. Big deal what it does is obvious, controlling it causes no hardship, and it might help, or save you some gas. Not an activity for someone who couldn't program a VCR, when that was a relevant skill, but presumably those kind of people don't consider teaching themselves TIG.

    "Anyway, as well as specific machine recommendations (I'm in the UK), I'd like any advice anyone has to offer. Specifically, what kind of duty cycle am I looking for (I won't be doing this 10 hours per day but I'd like to get something that lets me get a bike frame done?"

    Basically not an issue with steel work, with most of the machines you might be considering. Also there is some weld tech reason why a really high duty cycle is not all good, Sorta like no backlash on you mill is not good, though obviously the reasons are not analogous, but I ignore that, unless you are buying some toy. With my Maxstar 150, there were several duty cycles, the part, the torch, and the welder, never knew which would need a rest first. Was not a big deal.

    "I know a versatile machine would be more useful around the shop but I really am looking for something solely for bike stuff so I'm assuming I only need something at the low end of the amperage scale?"

    As far as total capacity is concerned, yes. That may not be as true for Aluminum bikes, don't do that myself, though I would like to at some point. Again, I would not rule out something, because the TIG will not only TIG, but it will drive change in how you look at the world. Right now you only see the first step, but after a few pennies drop, who knows. Definetly, while I actually believe in steel, and that is where it is at for me, part of that is because I can't do either Al, or Ti, but since TIG is my thing, I don't get all magical thinking about lugs, and after while who knows what might hit me. Like for some stuff I think AL is the actual solution. Not a big surprise when one considers all the stuff Al is used for in sporting goods. Whatever you think now TIG will drive some change.

    "Footpedal I assume is essential."

    You need a control, and a footpedal is the main one. One can TIG with process controls and a finger control so if you have a problem, like I have a bad ankle, you could do it, but yeah you need a pedal. It may or not need to be the one sold by your welder manufacturer though.

    "Pulser? I know some do and some don't so I'm not fussy about this unless someone has a very convincing argument one way or another for a beginner."

    Absolute necessity it should just be a control on most modern units. Yes one can do without, but it is a little crazy if you ask me. There are pulsers that aren't all that good so not everyone who has the full rich experience. If the machine you are looking at has a separate one, then the machine is too old, or if it has a crappy one they don't really expect you to use it for what you are using it for. All that is fine, but you have the info.

    So if people say don't pulse, then you need to know what experience they have with pulse, who paid for it, and whether they have tried out any of the new units. On the other hand if they really are fabulous, and they will tech you, go with it. But also be aware that you may even then get home and find your set varies enough that it was an nice vacation but you still have a few of the old problems firing up your set.

    Also consider that pulse isn't just what you do when you don't have any skill, it is part of a complete heat control package, that allows you to set the parameters of what you do exactly as you want them. Your foot will still be on the pedal, but with pulse you can carry two tunes at once.

    "Water cooled v air cooled? Again, this will only be for thin wall bike stuff if that makes a difference."

    So three thoughts pro water. One it allows you to have a very light torch feel. Two it keeps the torch cool, and while a hot torch was never a problem that doesn't mean my gloves didn't burn the odd time, yeah my bad; this is an upgrade item so you can wait, but the coolers are also pretty cheap these days, I got an everlast and it was about the cost of a good torch, and it was made in Italy. I have not fired it up, but I am an occasional tigger.

    "Cup and torch sizes?"

    This is one of those things that one sees a fair amount of variation in, so if you are getting lessons, pay attention.

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    ThomD is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Ok a fair bit of that is crap, and a little cheeky, but you only get 10 minutes to edit so my extensive revisions and tone adjustments didn't stick. ....next time.

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Since it sounds like you don't have a lot of time on any one machine, it may be interesting for you to seek out someone how does have a machine, and see if you can spend some time on it. I do know that many local welding suppliers here in the US will allow you to "try before you buy". If that is an arrangeable option, I'd recommend this as you can then start to make a more informed decision with hands on experience.

    Also - I was first taught by a welding instructor. The time was set and when we welded, it was focused time with instruction, practice, questions and answers. Over time I carried this as I worked, but received additional instruction along the way from other skilled individuals. So each time, I gained new information and insight, refined those skills, practiced them and built experience from initial and subsequent instruction. Personally, I found this whole process invaluable as you start with someone who knows what they are doing, have some tricks up their sleeves and can aid in the process of learning through your work and the mistakes you make. Tig welding is something that just takes time to master and control. Patience is a must. I can honestly say each time I pick up a torch I am excited. It is a challenge and extremely gratifying when everything is "just so". Starting out on the right foot from instruction by a skilled professional is a good thing. Not to mention you may gain a friend - I know I can pick up the phone and ask a question from those in the past who have been kind enough to guide me.

    In my case, I've had most of my experience and welding time on larger machines. But these machines did have the ability to really fine tune all of your settings which I like (These machines were Millers, Lincolns and L-Tec). All of these were air cooled with the exception of the L-Tec which had a water cooler. Before I purchased my Miller Dynasty 200 DX, I 'thought' I was going to get a water cooled unit. However, I had the chance to spend some time on a friends Lincoln 185 with its stock air cooled torch which had an Ultra Flex cable and smaller torch. My opinion changed. The torch stayed cool and the ultra-flex cable was nothing like the cables I had experienced before. Very light, nimble and allowed me to focus on the work instead of being reminded of the weight of the torch/cable in my hand. Since my space is limited and I don't really have readily available access to a truck and my shop is a bit out of the way, I had to seriously consider the size of the machine relative to what it offered and my ability to get it to my shop. The smaller Miller packages appealed to me based on my shop space and location.

    Regarding the Lincoln 185 I mentioned above, it came with a pulse on/off type setup and had the ability to set 3 pulse settings (If I recall correctly). Nice but a bit limited for my needs long term. What I needed to work on however at the time I found it very capable. For someone just starting out, it may be a good option but once you learn and progress, may want to be replaced. So carefully consider this.

    My general recommendations I would make are as follows (some of these you may already have pinned):

    1. Consider your space, your perceived needs and what you initially "think" you'd like to work with, i.e. material.

    2. Consider pulse and a full range of adjustability: it allows for greater heat control, truly refining your process and understanding what is actually happening with your weld. I know personally it's made me a better welder as I can focus more on each task in the total process. I'm always learning/honing each time I pick up my torch. It can be a bit much at first, but if you sit down, read the manual a few times and experiment with the different settings you'll start to connect the dots and the correlation between Pulses Per Second, Peak Amperage, and Background Amps and how all of these can effect your weld. Is it an absolute? No. But it definitely is a wonderful tool and can really help with heat control when just starting.

    3. Consider the torch kit or an upgrade to something smaller, lighter, flexible. As I stated above, the Ultra-flex type cables are quite nice.

    4. Air cooled vs water cooled: After using both, I'd say water cooled isn't necessary for my needs since I'm normally on average in lower amperage settings. From my experience, the newer air cooled torches are very capable.

    5. Consider a gas lens. This aids in argon coverage and arc stability. I've used both with and without. I have to say the difference is worth it and noticeable to my eye. One recommendation: only buy genuine parts for that specific torch. Some of the aftermarket parts, I've unfortunately found first hand, cause problems due to how they are constructed and the materials that are used to secure the screens in the lens.

    6. Foot control: Yes. I've used older hand controls and they were a total PITA. I have no experience on the newer versions however.

    7. Cup size / etc: For steel I'm running a No. 8 cup, with 1/16 Lanthanated (Gold) Tungsten. (Here is a good excerpt on tungsten choice and prep from Millers site) Dedicate a grinding wheel JUST for your tungsten. You can contaminate the tungsten if you don't and thus introduce contaminants to your weld. I generally use ER70s2 for my filler, .035". I have been experimenting with Weldmold 880t recently however. As someone else much more wise than I recommended: "ER70s2 for most and 308 for anything else when everything else just doesn't seem to agree." I'm sure that is debatable as well.

    Some general tips for just starting:

    - Clean everything thoroughly, inside and out. Cleanliness is next to nothing. I finish with an Acetone wipe down. I even wash my hands thoroughly before I weld.
    - Tap the foot pedal to start your argon flow at the weld site before you start your arc. This washes the area with argon and helps to clean things.
    - When you finish your weld, slowly let off the foot pedal and hold the torch at the weld site waiting for the post flow to stop, aiding in the cooling / cleanliness of the weld. Now when you start back up again, the weld site will be clean.
    - Some dip the filler, however I keep even pressure on the filler and feed with the pulse. I was "told" that this prevents introducing contaminants each time you dip. I imagine there is a lot of debate on this.
    - Clip a clean tip off of the filler each and every time.
    - Keep a small stainless brush handy for cleaning the weld site as you go.
    - Torch angle and distance from the material relative to the tungsten is critical.
    - Tungsten prep is important. - Here is a good first timers instruction on proper tungsten grinding and how it effects your arc.
    - Here is a brief bit of info on my own pulse settings. It sparked some discussion and may be relevant / useful / or completely bogus..

    Hope that helps with the decision making. My Best - Kris
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    ThomD is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    One thing I meant to put in was to be sure that you check out that your machine will run really low amps. Just because... whatever, does not mean it has good low amp performance. It isn't guranteed because it's a type of machine, brand, limited amp machine, etc... Check into it carefully.

    Also, on acetone. I used to do a two part wash starting with acetone, and moving on to alcohol. I had convinced myself that acetone would take off wax, or something, and alcohol got the remaining residue. Acetone is strong, and they warn you against using it so it must be good.... Turns out it can contain trace oil as a contaminant. That was the residue that was left behind that the alcohol was getting. I have since been warned not to use it for routine stripping, maybe if the part had a whole lot of crud on it alcohol couldn't touch. This is the kind of little thing that can really mess you up, you wash and wash, it seems so critical, turns out it is just that the solvent itself spreads a contaminant. You have a couple of things like that happening at once, and you can't get on top of it. Maybe your stone contaminates a trode when it grinds, your gas is bad, add in acetone. No one thing that you change will solve the problem, and there are dozens of inputs.

    Also, apparently some people use brake cleaner, and that stuff in combo with argon and an arc apparently you get phosgene gas, which is super nasty stuff. If true.

    Also, look into what kind of electrode is best with your machine. One thing I like about the inverters is they specify a trode that is high performance, and non-radioactive. I don't care how little radioactive the trode is, I am not grinding it in my shop. Probably you can use most anything you like, but check into any recommendation and make sure you are happy with them.

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    shand's Avatar
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Thanks guys. What a fantastic bunch of really useful info. I have one last question, I was offered the chance today to pick up a used Syncrowave 250. It's a bigger machine than I had planned but it seems like a pretty good deal. It's from a guy I buy my bigger machine tools from and he got in amongst a bunch of other tools he bought and he doesn't really know a great deal about welders and would like to move it on. It looks pretty good condition, comes with separate water cooler, water-cooled torch and foot pedal. He's looking for about £350 ($550) for it and is happy to deliver it to our local Miller supplier to look it over and if we/they're not happy with it, he'll take it back.

    Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. However, I got slightly conflicting reports on how good this machine is when running at the lower end of the current spectrum. Anyone have direct experience of this machine for thin wall bike stuff?

    Oh, and there was another question. I assumed this machine was 3 phase but it turns out it's single phase and looks like it'll work from 220v through to 400v. We have 3 phase 400v so I assume I can wire this to run 400v single phase (assuming I have the correct capacity on our main board, breaker and wiring)? I will consult our local electrician but I thought I'd ask here anyway.

    Thanks again for all the input so far.

    Cheers

    Steven
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    Bicycle Manufacture - Scotland, UK

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    That sounds like a good deal. It would be a real good deal even if it didn't include the right to return, and the option to be checked out at miller. As is, sounds unbeatable.

    My favorite welder is Don Ferris. I like stacked dimes, but his totally smooth like a fillet method just blows me away. Don makes the Anvil jigs, and he has to weld some heavy stuff. I have to say the heavy connector he welded on mine was kinda a disappointment as my only piece of welded Don Ferris art. :) But suffice to say he needs to weld some heavier stuff than bikes. He uses a Miller Syncrowave 350 LX. So you are in the right ballpark with that model. Can't see how you would go wrong. Which 250 is it?

    I don't want to froth at the mouth, but this could be better than a Campy tool kit for 100 bucks.

    Current 250 DX is 6300 dollars, so what? That much in pounds? Welds down to 12 thou, and up to 500 thou in steel 15-375 in Al. Of course to get the top end you need a lot of amps on your board. The package it comes with is pretty sweet include a 20 torch water cooled.

    That is one of those deals where you don't know whether to slap down the cash so it doesn't get away, or ask for a discount so he doesn't catch on. Normally the first. If you get him to take it to miller, since he is offering to take it back anyway, buy it first... You don't want to end up at Miller with some guy saying, "oh yeah, these were sweet machines. How much are you asking, 3300?"

    One way to evaluate a machinery deal is to ask yourself whether you will make money if you have to resell it...

    I've lived in the UK, but I don't know your electrical. At this point I would assume where there is 400 there has to be 200 somewhere. You can fill me in later. One thing I don't know about trans machines is whether when under-amped they work fine, just can't go to "11". Or whether they need base amps to got to 3. I'm guessing the former. But even then you need to know what you need for a start-up load. Sounds like you have a lot of juice though.

    By the way, I found it easier to teach myself welding with an auto start helmet. Rather than one that flips down. For a variety of reasons. I don't actual like the auto helmets, but they are good to learn on. I close my eyes to protect myself from the micro flash. Probably a bigger problems with lift arc.

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Oh, here is another very minor point to consider (after you snap up that welder). Most TIG uses HF start. That can interfere with radios, or fry electrical components, so for heavy duty use you may need to do this somewhere other than in an block of flats full of HAM radio operators, on a bench that doubles as a computer component test fixture. Also, nobody has mentioned shield gas. You have experience, but there are a number of people who get talking about TIG, and don't realize one needs shield gas.

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    Mike Mcdermid is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    The rolls royce of welders is really a Fronius over this side of the pond if you can stump to it.

    Which welder you select doesn't really mean anything though it wont weld on its own.

    I used aircrafters and syncrowaves for about 15 years if you can get one for 350 with a water cooler (pretty essential if your spending 8 hours doing aluminium) buy it

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Quote Originally Posted by shand View Post
    looking for about £350 ($550) for it and is happy to deliver it to our local Miller supplier to look it over and if we/they're not happy with it, he'll take it back.

    Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. However, I got slightly conflicting reports on how good this machine is when running at the lower end of the current spectrum. Anyone have direct experience of this machine for thin wall bike stuff?

    That's a sweet deal, and I'd snap that up if it were around here. You get conflicting reports about it's low amp stability because a lot of those machines run differently. Sounds like bunk, but it's true. Some of them will stabilize the arc at a slightly lower amperage than others, not sure why but it's something I've experienced many times. I've never had one that wouldn't run bike tube type stuff, but I've had a few that I couldn't do the .009" stainless tubes I weld for aircraft heat exchangers at work. I think that machine should be fine for anything bicycle related.
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Is it a garbage in garbage out situation? Depends on the quality of current you get in your location? I remember reading something about how Neil Young could tell the current characteristics in a given location from how his guitar sounded.

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomD View Post
    Is it a garbage in garbage out situation? Depends on the quality of current you get in your location? I remember reading something about how Neil Young could tell the current characteristics in a given location from how his guitar sounded.
    No, I'm talking two identical machines wired into the same wall welding differently.
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Kris

    Reading your advise on TIG welding I found your technique very interesting. Do you have any close up video footage on the way you control the filler rod??

    This would be really beneficial to a newbie frame builder like me.

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    That sounds like an amazing deal! Here's a link to find out what year it was made: Miller - Service - Serial Number Reference Chart. I used the Synchrowave 350 at Carl's Metal Guru Framebuilding class Lessons in welded steel frame building « Metal Guru, it was 3 phase and we ran it pretty hot. It was an amazingly smooth machine. Used 150amp for most welds and 135 for the delicate ones. Used non-purged heatsinks whenever available. When I got back to my Dynasty 200DX single phase, I had to adjust to lower amps, as it seems to run hotter. The 3 phase seemed smoother in the arc however, but I guess a real welder figures it out. During that class, I starting seeing puddles when I closed my eyes! Great experience to learn from an expert. Sort of like drinking from a firehose, but just amazing. Highly recomend hooking up with someone who is tig welding bicycles to get the most "aha" moments, and like Kris Henry said, have a mentor/problem shooter to turn to. 312/880T for me, gas lens, stubby kit, superflex cables. And like Kris, use original parts for gas lenses, e.g CK.
    cheers
    andy walker

  19. #19
    Amaro Bikes's Avatar
    Amaro Bikes is offline VSalonistas

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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Hi Steve

    Most of the important things about what to look for on a TIG machine are very well said in all the answers, so not much else to add. To me, remote control, gas lens and pulse are pretty useful options (in that specific order).

    Except... As most of the bicycle frame tig welding info seems to be around USA forums and sites, apparently Miller or Lincons are the only/best option... but... being at this side of the water, I think Fronius/Kempii/Esab/Oerlikon-Air Liquide/etc are at least as good (personally I think even better) than those usa option. Obviously, prices are not cheap... but for example Fronius is something to consider as a masterpiece.

    Obviously, making such a big investment might not be what you're looking for, in wich case best option would be a good deal on second hand as you found or other possible solutions.

    On the other hand, about the "chinese" options, even if functionally they work pretty ok, I would not go for them as they might cause you problems when any failure or manteinance is needed, being a possible no-no situation for spare parts, etc.

    As a half way, considering you're in the uk, I might have a look at the R-tech welding machines, chinese base but upgraded and mantained by an UK based company, already some years in the business and apparently with good reviews on customer service, etc. You can find some good deals with tig machines of different types (dc, ac/dc, pulse, remote pedal, etc).

    Cheers
    Aimar Fraga Angoitia

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: TIG welder advice

    Quote Originally Posted by darthmuller View Post
    Reading your advise on TIG welding I found your technique very interesting. Do you have any close up video footage on the way you control the filler rod??
    My apologies, I do not have any close-up footage. But the technique in question is simple. Instead of dipping the filler in/out of the weld pool, hold it steady at the weld site and slowly push in and downward to the puddle so you are just "laying" the wire into the pool. You basically keep a bit of downward pressure on the filler the entire time. You can leave it there at the end of the weld or remove it. Always taper off with the foot pedal slowly to finish your weld. Wait for the post flow to finish to wash the weld site with argon. If you remove the filler, always snip off a clean tip.

    For those who are just starting and practicing, I recommend not starting with any filler. When I first started, this really complicated things for me for some reason. I like to break things down into manageable "chunks" when I'm learning new things.

    - First concentrate getting used to handling the torch. Practicing different ways of holding the torch comfortably. Focus only on torch relation to work, proper distance of the tungsten tip to the work, and angle of the torch head. This is enough to keep you busy for a long time.

    - Now focus your effort on heat input, bead spacing, and holding a strait line. Work with manageable material thicknesses. Too thin and you're punching holes. Too thick and you're using too much amps and then you're dealing with too much heat that you're not ready to deal with. This is practice. You're building muscle memory and understanding yourself in relation to the work and getting used to the foot pedal and torch. Hand and foot and eyes are all working in tandem.

    All these factors are enough to work on initially and in many ways are more important IMO than the filler wire at first. Once you have mastered these factors or feel confident that you can hold a strait line, have good spacing and your colors / heat input are good, THEN add the filler wire into the equation (now you're using both hands, one foot and both eyes). You'll have better control of the heat and the torch which will make working with the filler a bit easier. You want to get to a spot where you are intuitively doing things with your hands and body rather than THINKING what you should be doing. But just know that it's just a lot of practice and persistence. You'll make sudden gains and there will be frustration. Don't sweat it. Just keep at it. Once you've mastered good spacing, heat input and can hold a strait line, make yourself some T's out of .035 4130 steel tubing and let the fun begin. Go through the motions of cleaning everything thoroughly. Make the miters TIGHT. 90 deg. miters is a great start and you can just keep knocking them out from a long piece of tubing with a T at one end (you can hold that long part in a vise or clamp making it easier to weld). Practice welding sitting AND standing. Some times you just have to stand to get at a spot or it's better to sit. I recommend to be comfortable with both.

    And this is the most important tip I can give anyone: Practice good habits right from the get go. Clean shop. Clean work space. Use protection. Protect your faculties - you only get two eyes and two lungs. Know where your hands are at all times. Never "rest a hand" while you're working at a machine, on a work piece or on the machine. Leave the spurs at the door.
    AndyA and Boedie like this.
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