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I'm looking at eBay for Tig welders. I have aluminum and stainless to weld, although not thick, I'd like to be able to weld them. I have heard that you can only run certain currents on aluminum and would like one to do it because it will be our only way to weld it. Have a stick welder for the heavy stuff and a little 120v wire welder by Lincoln that I like a lot. I can't afford the high end machines, nor do I think they would be practical for my use because I don't have a huge amount to weld that would require the cost. I have read about foot pedals and scratch start and seems like the foot pedal is the way to go. Eastwood make one that tics the box, and I am just wondering what others may have or like to use. I don't have much of a problem buying a used one, but I would like some sort of warranty at least to work with if something goes wrong. What's your recommendations?

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Actually the Vulcan line from Harbor Freight are very highly thought of.  The Vulcan Pro-tig 205 would fit all of your criteria for $1000 (less if you wait for a sale).  I have one of their Titanium multiprocess welders and it has been great.  It is only a DC scratch start tig welder though.  The Pro-Tig is AC/DC high freq start with a good pedal.  It has all of the features of the expensive name bands.  You can buy a two year extended warranty if you feel you need it.  Check out the Youtube reviews.  Weld.com is a great info source too.

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Tig is great if you want to go that way, but mig will weld aluminum and stainless just fine too. Not near as pretty but a lot easier to learn I think.  I have a Hobart 210 and beside steel, I weld stainless using stainless wire and trimix gas and aluminum with a spool gun and argon. I like the 4043 wire better than the 5356. 

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I would recommend you get one from the local welders supply, only because 🤷‍♂️Harbor eBay is won't be have a clue as to what wrong with your machine, When you need help.

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For welding aluminum, high frequency is a better option. The best is if you had a neighbor that has one you could play around and see what you like and dislike about it. Good luck 

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49 minutes ago, 560Dennis said:

I would recommend you get one from the local welders supply, only because 🤷‍♂️Harbor eBay is won't be have a clue as to what wrong with your machine, When you need help.

Yes, given a chance, most welding supply shops will get close to prices at CyberWeld. And in most cases the advice from the sales guys is priceless.

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Thanks for the replies. I have contemplated buying a spool gun welder, but I already have a stick welder and a light duty mig. Hard to justify buying another mig welder to get the spool gun if I can just get a Tig and basically replace the mig. Basically the little Lincoln mig just does exhaust and sheet metal. If I could get a spool gun attachment for it I would, but I haven't found any for a 120v welder. 

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Plus, I just think it would be cool to have a Tig. Nicer looking welds than a spool gun in my opinion. 

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I have kicked around the same thing but have not yet pulled the trigger on a tig.  I really would consider a Harbor Fright one.  Look at the reviews!  There is another brand guys are using on the car forum I frequent, I forget the brand.  What is a welding shop going to add in support that is not already on the internet?

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I have a really good local owned welding supply shop.  I like to support them rather than send my money to ebay (or Harbor fright) only to benefit China. 

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Oops 

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8 minutes ago, gonzo 1066 said:

I have a really good local owned welding supply shop.  I like to support them rather than send my money to ebay (or Harbor fright) only to benefit China. 

Correct, but I simply cannot afford a 1500-$2000 welder. 

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32 minutes ago, MinnesotaFarmall said:

Correct, but I simply cannot afford a 1500-$2000 welder. 

I would be impressed if you could find a Tig machine to weld aluminum good and keep it under $2000.

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52 minutes ago, 460 said:

I have kicked around the same thing but have not yet pulled the trigger on a tig.  I really would consider a Harbor Fright one.  Look at the reviews!  There is another brand guys are using on the car forum I frequent, I forget the brand.  What is a welding shop going to add in support that is not already on the internet?

Everlast?

I bought my big ESAB from Indiana Oxygen.............Local guys didn't even want to bother with me when I said I WANT a yellow machine, I didn't want a Blue Pile or a Red one, I wanted Yellow.  Called out there and talked with a salesman and he got me setup with everything I wanted on it at the time(I wish now I would have bought some other modules but that is hindsight)....................Shipped in on a pallet.  Haven't regretted it at all one bit, has been a great machine.

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Might want to check out a miller econo tig.  Kind of limited in capacity but maybe enough for what you need .  Brand name machine not huge price.

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22 minutes ago, TP from Central PA said:

Everlast?

I bought my big ESAB from Indiana Oxygen.............Local guys didn't even want to bother with me when I said I WANT a yellow machine, I didn't want a Blue Pile or a Red one, I wanted Yellow.  Called out there and talked with a salesman and he got me setup with everything I wanted on it at the time(I wish now I would have bought some other modules but that is hindsight)....................Shipped in on a pallet.  Haven't regretted it at all one bit, has been a great machine.

Esab welders are not even in the same class as Miller and Lincoln.  The reason most places don't deal in their machines is that their price point is significantly higher than the other two. But you get what you pay for too.  Now that they own the Thermal Dynamics brand (which includes Tweeco, Arcair, Victor, Thermal Dynamics), you have more welding distributors willing and able to sell the yellow machines.    Sometimes its a tough sell when someone is very price considerate, but once they go with Esab, they will never buy another brand of machine.

 

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35 minutes ago, TP from Central PA said:

Everlast?

I bought my big ESAB from Indiana Oxygen.............Local guys didn't even want to bother with me when I said I WANT a yellow machine, I didn't want a Blue Pile or a Red one, I wanted Yellow.  Called out there and talked with a salesman and he got me setup with everything I wanted on it at the time(I wish now I would have bought some other modules but that is hindsight)....................Shipped in on a pallet.  Haven't regretted it at all one bit, has been a great machine.

Lotus 

The one guy swares by it!  Says if you can get past the cheaper gun and ground clamp it will weld like any other machine at least for the car guys.

Scott

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5 minutes ago, M35A2 said:

Esab welders are not even in the same class as Miller and Lincoln.  The reason most places don't deal in their machines is that their price point is significantly higher than the other two. But you get what you pay for too.  Now that they own the Thermal Dynamics brand (which includes Tweeco, Arcair, Victor, Thermal Dynamics), you have more welding distributors willing and able to sell the yellow machines.    Sometimes its a tough sell when someone is very price considerate, but once they go with Esab, they will never buy another brand of machine.

 

Yes, it wasn't cheap compared to what I could have bought in the Blue or Red flavor, but after using yellow machines on the welding side of the machine program I took in College I was hooked on them.  I have had no issues with it.  When I opened up the shop here, I needed a TIG machine and found a HF Dial Arc close and got it bought.  Used that quite a bit, but never liked it.  Also had a Blue Plasma then too.  Ended up selling the Dial Arc, and threw in the plasma which took a dump because of a fried board that was more expensive to fix than it was worth.  Ended up buying a 352 ESAB for my TIG machine which I wanted to begin with.  Then found a distant dealer that were selling a bunch of Cutmaster 102 Plasma's cheap(Well it was still expensive, but a bunch off from the normal price) and bought one.  Haven't missed anything Blue here yet.

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I'm basically looking at a budget of $800. It don't have to be beautiful because I'm no expert, although I can weld pretty good in my opinion. I haven't ever used a Tig welder, but I just can't justify the cost of a $1500 welder. If I ever weld aluminum, it will be a max thickness of 3/16". Stainless is for our pipeline in the barn or something thinner. Not a huge amp rating kind of deal. I can possibly use a roll of wire in my mig for stainless, but I weld it few and far between compaired to mild steel. Like I said, most mild steel is done with the arc welder because of thickness unless it's exhaust from a customer or the like thickness. 

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I think that you should buy the welder you want.  Don't let those of us with practical knowledge influence you.   BUT  My first wire welder was a Century china built unit.  It welded OK when everything was new and perfect.  As it got some age (6 months old) it started to show poor welding results that were unacceptable.  One of the worst was the wire spiraling out of the tip.   I found out later this was caused by the very small drive wheel that put a bend in the wire.  When I bought my Miller 250 the quality of my welds improved dramatically.   I have since bought another Miller 185 MIG and a Lincoln TIG machine.   The Lincoln has been a very nice little machine that works on lighter fabrication.  One of the things that switched me to Lincoln was a video that showed where they were built, the people that build them and the owner.   Two of the best days of my fabrication life were when I got my first wire welder (cheep foreign built) AND when I sold that same welder.   

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In 2013 I decided I needed TIG in my repertoire. I made expensive mistakes. I've owned three TIG machines, and would move to a fourth if cost didn't factor. 

I've made all the mistakes, I'll save you from some if you PM me an Email address. 

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I have all Miller welders and love them MIG and TIG with water cooled torch !!  If you get a water cooled torch you can do thicker metals and weld a longer cycle time...

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Divide TIG welders into two categories: 

Steel only, buy an old welder based on a transformer. I had a Dialarc 250 HF. You could TIG steel with a welder you likely already have. Any DC welder can TIG steel. You'd have to scratch start.

A pedal start TIG for steel needs HF. HF is an additional high voltage, high frequency circuit presented simultaneous to the welding current. In steel welds, it gets the arc started, in aluminum welds it stabilizes the AC arc throughout the weld process. 

Until 1970 you would have been happy with the same good quality welder you welded structural steel on DC, or flat welded steel horizontal with AC. In 1970 helium got scarce. There was helium, but cost dictated you didn't use it except in special occasions. 

Simple 60 HZ, sine wave, transformer welders were not as user friendly on argon, a gas derived from air. No risk we'll ever run out of it, but it doesn't behave like helium. 

Welder manufacturers have developed since 1970 better welders able to do what all TIG welders once did on helium.

With argon shielding gas, and 60 cycle AC power, the arc dies each half cycle, (usually 1/2 of 60 HZ) 120 times a second it dies. An arc depends on ionized gas to conduct.

When we weld aluminum, heat moves in the direction of electrons. Electrode negative starts ionization easily. Electrons build on the point of the tungsten electrode, concentrate, ionize gas & conduct to the work making heat. 

Aluminum instantly forms an oxide layer. This layer is a poor conductor of electricity, & melts at about twice the temperature of the aluminum it protects. We have to blast it away. 

The return trip for electrons (EP) sends electrons from the work to the tungsten. It starts from a bigger surface, from a poor conductor. Ionization is less effective. It only has 1/120 of a second to act, if the arc is delayed, it'll be ineffective.

Square wave is the solution. AC switches so suddenly from EN to EP, ionization isn't interrupted.

Cathodic etching is far more effective with square wave. Many square wave welders not needing 50% EP for cleaning do as much with 30% EP, sending less heat to the tungsten. This enables better alloys of tungsten that stay sharp. 

Adjusting frequency influences the width of the arc. You choose exactly the width needed to weld, reducing the size of the heat affected zone.

Aluminum needs lots of BTU to weld. A boatload to start, then less as the workpiece gets hotter. This comes down to amperage & duty cycle. If you need to weld aluminum, not less than 200 amps 60 % duty cycle. I have a 280 amp @ 60% duty cycle. I'd sure love to have more than  that.

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I appreciate all the replies, and the advice. I'm getting the idea saving up might be the best idea. I've always liked Lincoln welders. I've used both Lincoln and Miller, and we have a cheapo wire feed welder, it's a hotshot, yea it works, but not as good as the little wire feed. 

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3 hours ago, MinnesotaFarmall said:

I appreciate all the replies, and the advice. I'm getting the idea saving up might be the best idea. I've always liked Lincoln welders. I've used both Lincoln and Miller, and we have a cheapo wire feed welder, it's a hotshot, yea it works, but not as good as the little wire feed. 

Save up, shop used, and wait. There might be quite a few really nice machines for sale when all the COVID checks quit coming. 

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