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Used TIG


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I'm thinking about enlarging my welding capabilities (actually, practice would help more than new equipment, but that's no fun) and would like to add a TIG welder.  What are your collective feelings about used TIG welders?  I guess I am wondering why anyone would sell their TIG unless something is wrong with it.  Advice?

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TIG is wonderful with a superior welding machine, and annoyingly frustrating with a poor one.  Don't go with something simply because it's cheap, get something that'll be worth using.  A good machine also holds value for resale so is more like money in the bank.  I absolutely love doing TIG work--it's like painting art with a fine brush vs throwing paint on a house. You get into a "zone" with TIG that doesn't seem to come with other welding types. My MIG (Miller 251) gets the most use by far though so I'd recommend a good MIG machine first over TIG if you are doing mostly simple fabrication and don't really need TIG's abilities.

Used machines are highly variable.  I've seen junk that was both ridiculously cheap and way over priced...as well a gems of machines that tend to be more market priced.  Better (usually brand name) machines follow market pricing:  Junk tends to be hit and miss.  

With TIG machines, it tends to be all about "features"--high frequency start, automatic post/pre flow, AC/DC (you need AC to properly weld aluminum, DC for stainless), waveforms and balance, etc.  You don't need all of that but they sure are nice to have.  HF start is the big one that I miss on my personal machine.  I have an excellent inverter based TIG machine that's designed for field work...but it is a "scratch start" and that can cause some issues and sometimes even remarkable swearing.  Nothing major, just frustrating to screw up a perfectly dressed electrode because you twitched.

At the main shop, we are still using mostly transformer-based older syncrowave TIG machines (stainless fabrication).  They are heavy  but last virtually forever.  Cheap these days because of the weight with repair parts also cheap and available.  Inverter-based are far better machines now...as long as you avoid the chinese specials.  Those work but for how long and at what possible resale?  The field TIG mentioned above is an old POWCON 400SMT and it's a wonderful welder except that HF start issue.  Multi process machine so is great for stick and mig too (mig with a wire feeder) Those are still available on the used market at fairly good prices but are no longer made.  I'd highly recommend one if you can get it at a good price and it's tested and working.

I'm buying a high end Millermatic TIG machine in the next month to incorporate in a robotic welding operation.  That price is painful.  Features cost.

So...what's your real potential budget? Expected use?

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 I bought mine from shop auctions, and they work great. The first was a LINDE UCC-305, and the next was a Miller 250. Paid $250 for the Linde and another $250 or so for a foot pedal, flowmeter, and torch. The Miller was $1,000 and it came with a mess of extras.

If you can, test them out ahead of time. I was not able too, but just doing some inspection visually I figured that they were in good working order.

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If you can handle the weight and power requirements, an older miller syncrowave 250 (give or take) can often be had in that price range with a bit of searching. They are excellent machines that will serve you well for a loooong time.  Modern inverter machines are nice but at that price point, you'd be settling for more of a bare bones machine or Chinese offering.  Once you use a top quality machine, it's really hard to go back to inferior..and you start to understand why good machines cost more.  Still might be overkill if you happen to only use one here and there but you will soon fall in love with the better machine and wonder why you didn't get one years ago.

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32 minutes ago, Kozzy said:

If you can handle the weight and power requirements, an older miller syncrowave 250

Hi Kozzy ... i bought a Lincoln "bullet" welder, 3 phase DC generator,  250 AMP, years ago

made in the sixties imagehandler.ashx?t=sh&id=1243870&s=n&in

and the seller gave me among other things, leads for tig welding with it. I never used them since I never TIG welded before. Is it likely to be relatively easy to do with this dinosaur? It surely weld like a champion and is smooth as they come. 

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They made spark-gap high freq "injectors" for such things back in the day...could turn any welder into a pretty good tig with HF.   Sometimes those show up cheap as dirt because 1) no one knows what they are and 2) they are "old" tech.

You can do it without the HF but starting an arc can be...troublesome (trying not to use a swear word).  You'll contaminate the electrode and "stick" electrodes to the work until you go broke unless you are really good at arc starting without HF.  The new "scratch start" machines without HF do so by lowering the amperage for the initial strike and then it automatically ramps up to the proper setting, allowing you to start a tiny micro arc and pull back to the actual welding position and current.

Here's the example I happen to have sitting around of the old HF unit that'd go with a DC machine like yours.  It's bigger than a toaster, smaller than a microwave.


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