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Thread: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

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    Default Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    I spent a year in full time welding school in 1979 and my oldest friends still think I'm an authoritative welding resource. It's hogwash of course but one must try to rise to the occasion and not disappoint entirely. So, one of my oldest friends texted me this evening;

    "I'm going to get a welder; I'm thinking a "multi" welder, TIG, MIG, stick. Should I just spend the money and go Miller or look at other brands like Lincoln?"

    He has a couple of mid-60s Jag E-Types that are in terrible condition and have been in pieces since 1975; he'll soon retire from a career at the rocket ranch and I suspect that the jags and construction of associated tooling, tables and fixturing constitute the welding focus.

    If it's an AC/DC welder than stick is fully covered.
    MIG - I wonder what features exist, which ones are worth while for a middling hobbiest, and more importantly, which ones have wire feeders that are less troublesome than others and for which spares are readily available.
    TIG - Same question. I recall that high frequency start and a foot pedal were important but I think that selectable power pulsation would require more skill than he'll probably develop. We had a single Hobart Cyber TIG in school but I was just as happy with the Miller machines.

    Certainly I'll go look at what's on offer and review my old welding text for some basic refresher info but what the heck do I tell him?
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    BTW, I meant to put this thread in Path. Please PM me if you have any experience to share.
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    FWIW: He got a Miller Multimatic 220. Looks like an excellent choice to me.
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    I look for TIG welding machines that can start down at 5 amps and weld down to at least 5 amps.

    AC is good for aluminum welding, but welded aluminum usually needs heat treating and aluminum frames are normally bought to save money, not so much for custom frames.

    I don't think aluminum frames sell well.

    Aluminum is fine for machine made factory frames at a price point, but isn't that popular for people buying handmade frames.

    Titanium has a good following with money and welded with DC.

    Some cheap TIG welding machines can start at 10 amps, but I like to see a machine that can start at 5 amps.

    The Miller Multimatic 220, like many multifunction welding machines, can only go down to 20 amps in TIG welding mode.

    MIG welding generally requires about twice as many amps / as much power compared to TIG welding and that produces about twice as much heat and the current is flowing in the other direction.

    Some people claim they can get away with MIG welding thin wall chrome moly and maybe they can.

    I haven't tried it.

    Not many years ago the welding industry called for weld filler to have equal or greater alloys of the base metal, such as chromium, molybdenum and sometimes nickel and those wires generally require stress relieving when MIG welded and can be more crack-prone.

    More recently, with the acceptance of plain carbon steel weld filler on chrome moly, MIG welding has been more successful, but may not look as good as TIG welds.

    For welding steel frames, I recommend a good DC TIG welding machine.

    TIG welding thin steel results quit a bit of dilution of the weld from the base metal, adding strength to the weld.

    MIG welds pick up fewer alloys, less carbon and dilution from the base metal and rely more on the strength of the welding wire.

    With the welds twice as thick as the tubes, strength shouldn't be an issue though.

    It is more difficult to judge penetration of MIG welds compared to TIG welds.

    This is one reason MIG welds are discouraged in aviation welding, but they have become more popular recently.

    Most European tubing companies still recommend chrome moly TIG filler for welding their steel tubes.

    What they recommend is called CrMo-1.

    This is similar to US grade ER80S-B2, but has slightly less chromium and about twice as much manganese.

    CrMo1 has specs for both as welded and stress relieved, where ER80S-B2 only has specs for being stress relieved.

    The only source of Euro spec CrMo-1 in the US I know of is Weld Mold, as Weld Mold 9211T and they only sell it for TIG welding.

    https://www.weldmold.com/9211T.html

    US ER80S-B2 from Weld Mold is Weld Mold 215-T CM and is NOT RECOMMENDED for welding bike tubes.

    http://www.weldmold.com/215TCM.html

    They are both made for welding chrome moly pipe, but the Euro spec CrMo-1 is more crack resistant.

    Plain carbon steel weld fillers are fine though and chrome moly and weld fillers are normally reserved for high temperature applications in the US these days.

    For welding steel, stainless and titanium frames I recommend a good quality DC TIG welding machine.

    I started brazing as a teenager in the 1970's and experimented with TIG welding chrome moly bike frames in 1985 at university in Belgium as a materials engineering student.

    Welding chrome moly frames in 1985 wasn't common at all.

    Frame tubing wasn't made specifically for welding.

    I had a frame building business in Italy from 1987 to 2015, when I returned to the US.

    I have no experience MIG welding frames, but I see some people online MIG welding recumbent bikes and such with generic tubing of unknown thickness.

    Generally TIG welding is recommended for bike frames.

    I think those multifunction welding machines are best for motor vehicles.
    Steve Anderson

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo View Post
    I look for TIG welding machines that can start down at 5 amps and weld down to at least 5 amps.

    AC is good for aluminum welding, but welded aluminum usually needs heat treating and aluminum frames are normally bought to save money, not so much for custom frames.

    I don't think aluminum frames sell well.

    Aluminum is fine for machine made factory frames at a price point, but isn't that popular for people buying handmade frames.

    Titanium has a good following with money and welded with DC.

    Some cheap TIG welding machines can start at 10 amps, but I like to see a machine that can start at 5 amps.

    The Miller Multimatic 220, like many multifunction welding machines, can only go down to 20 amps in TIG welding mode.

    MIG welding generally requires about twice as many amps / as much power compared to TIG welding and that produces about twice as much heat and the current is flowing in the other direction.

    Some people claim they can get away with MIG welding thin wall chrome moly and maybe they can.

    I haven't tried it.

    Not many years ago the welding industry called for weld filler to have equal or greater alloys of the base metal, such as chromium, molybdenum and sometimes nickel and those wires generally require stress relieving when MIG welded and can be more crack-prone.

    More recently, with the acceptance of plain carbon steel weld filler on chrome moly, MIG welding has been more successful, but may not look as good as TIG welds.

    For welding steel frames, I recommend a good DC TIG welding machine.

    TIG welding thin steel results quit a bit of dilution of the weld from the base metal, adding strength to the weld.

    MIG welds pick up fewer alloys, less carbon and dilution from the base metal and rely more on the strength of the welding wire.

    With the welds twice as thick as the tubes, strength shouldn't be an issue though.

    It is more difficult to judge penetration of MIG welds compared to TIG welds.

    This is one reason MIG welds are discouraged in aviation welding, but they have become more popular recently.

    Most European tubing companies still recommend chrome moly TIG filler for welding their steel tubes.

    What they recommend is called CrMo-1.

    This is similar to US grade ER80S-B2, but has slightly less chromium and about twice as much manganese.

    CrMo1 has specs for both as welded and stress relieved, where ER80S-B2 only has specs for being stress relieved.

    The only source of Euro spec CrMo-1 in the US I know of is Weld Mold, as Weld Mold 9211T and they only sell it for TIG welding.

    https://www.weldmold.com/9211T.html

    US ER80S-B2 from Weld Mold is Weld Mold 215-T CM and is NOT RECOMMENDED for welding bike tubes.

    http://www.weldmold.com/215TCM.html

    They are both made for welding chrome moly pipe, but the Euro spec CrMo-1 is more crack resistant.

    Plain carbon steel weld fillers are fine though and chrome moly and weld fillers are normally reserved for high temperature applications in the US these days.

    For welding steel, stainless and titanium frames I recommend a good quality DC TIG welding machine.

    I started brazing as a teenager in the 1970's and experimented with TIG welding chrome moly bike frames in 1985 at university in Belgium as a materials engineering student.

    Welding chrome moly frames in 1985 wasn't common at all.

    Frame tubing wasn't made specifically for welding.

    I had a frame building business in Italy from 1987 to 2015, when I returned to the US.

    I have no experience MIG welding frames, but I see some people online MIG welding recumbent bikes and such with generic tubing of unknown thickness.

    Generally TIG welding is recommended for bike frames.

    I think those multifunction welding machines are best for motor vehicles.
    Good info and perspectives, thanks.

    Re the low amp comments, this isn't for bicycle framebuilding or other similarly thin material. It's largely for futzing around and scratching a decades old itch to learn to weld. It'll do some hobby automotive work but space frames, not thin panels....I think; but I'll advise my friend.
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by jclay View Post
    Good info and perspectives, thanks.

    Re the low amp comments, this isn't for bicycle framebuilding or other similarly thin material. It's largely for futzing around and scratching a decades old itch to learn to weld. It'll do some hobby automotive work but space frames, not thin panels....I think; but I'll advise my friend.
    Low amperage ability might be desirable in general for chrome moly steel.

    Many things made of 4130 steel are 1/8 inch or less in thickness, which is considered thin in the welding industry.

    Thicker steel items are often mild steel or 4140 chrome moly steel.

    MIG welding is considered good for wide gaps, where tight fit ups are usually desired for TIG welding.

    I don't have any MIG welding machines and most multifunction machines don't have the TIG welding features I like to have.

    I can see where they might be handy for railings, fences and farm tractors though.

    MIG welding is popular, just not so much for bicycle frames.

    Aluminum frames aren't difficult to weld, but I find them to be a tough sell for my work.

    I think it can make decent frames, but most aluminum buyers are looking for economic frames.
    Steve Anderson

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo View Post
    I look for TIG welding machines that can start down at 5 amps and weld down to at least 5 amps.
    Speaking of controllable, low amperage TIG machines, any specific make/model recommendations? I'm merely curious.
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by jclay View Post
    Speaking of controllable, low amperage TIG machines, any specific make/model recommendations? I'm merely curious.

    For good quality DC TIG welding the Fronius TransTig 170 TIG is a nice unit.

    It goes down to 3 amps.

    More expensive than the cheap Chinese ones, but I do know people that do well with the cheap ones.
    Steve Anderson

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo View Post
    I look for TIG welding machines that can start down at 5 amps and weld down to at least 5 amps.

    Some cheap TIG welding machines can start at 10 amps, but I like to see a machine that can start at 5 amps.

    The Miller Multimatic 220, like many multifunction welding machines, can only go down to 20 amps in TIG welding mode.
    I don't see the starting specs in the Fronius info (haven't looked at the Miller specs); can you point it out?

    You mentioned that the Miller doesn't, and the Fronius does, have features that you find helpful; what are those, aside from a lower power bottom end?

    Thanks much.
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by jclay View Post
    I don't see the starting specs in the Fronius info (haven't looked at the Miller specs); can you point it out?

    You mentioned that the Miller doesn't, and the Fronius does, have features that you find helpful; what are those, aside from a lower power bottom end?

    Thanks much.
    I didn't see starting specs, but it welds down to three amps and the starting amperage is not that low, but I believe is five amps, from what I remember.

    The brochure nd operating instructions can be downloaded in PDF and also some are available to view in an online format too.

    https://www.fronius.com/en/welding-t...g/transtig-170

    https://www.fronius.com/en-us/usa/we...g/transtig-170

    The Miller Multimatic 220 specs show a minimum TIG amperage of 20 amps.

    https://www.millerwelds.com/-/media/...c--english.pdf
    Steve Anderson

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    I'm sorry I didn't see the rest of your question.

    The Miller pulsed TIG only allows setting the pulse frequency, not the background percentage or the peak percentage, as those are fixed.

    That in itself isn't a big deal, but I find a 20 amp start a bit hot for chrome moly steel.

    Many 10 amp starts seem hot, especially with capacitive discharge starting (such as the Lincoln Square Wave 200), but a very few machines do have seemly mild 10 amp starts that might be acceptable.

    A 5 amp start is really nice to have.
    Steve Anderson

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo View Post
    I'm sorry I didn't see the rest of your question.

    The Miller pulsed TIG only allows setting the pulse frequency, not the background percentage or the peak percentage, as those are fixed.

    That in itself isn't a big deal, but I find a 20 amp start a bit hot for chrome moly steel.

    Many 10 amp starts seem hot, especially with capacitive discharge starting (such as the Lincoln Square Wave 200), but a very few machines do have seemly mild 10 amp starts that might be acceptable.

    A 5 amp start is really nice to have.
    Really useful information - Thanks!
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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    Default Re: Please Tell Me About TIG+MIG+Stick Machines - What You Like/Recommend & Why

    Just noticed the move; thank you SysAdmin!
    John Clay
    Tallahassee, FL
    My Framebuilding: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21624415@N04/sets

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