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Question about TIG Welders...

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Greg72, Jan 4, 2002.

  1. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    I know there are some experienced welders on this list so I'm going to ask for a little help.

    I want to buy a TIG Welder so that I can do my own sheetmetal work & fabrication. I don't know much about welding but from what I've studied, TIG does seem to be a really good way to weld (clean welds, minimal warpage, etc) once you get past the initial cost of the equipment $$$.

    I was thinking about getting the Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG 175PRO - which claims to be able to run down to 8 amps (good for thin metalwork?). Best price I've found so far is around $1450 delivered.

    BUT, There are also TIG welders that use "inverters". They are a LOT lighter weight, and are also dramatically less expensive. I've heard that you can't weld aluminum with this type of TIG setup....are there other drawbacks that explain the lower price too?

    Examples of this type are: Lincoln Electric Invertec V200-T Best price $690 delivered.


    I could sure use some help understanding the pros and cons of these machines. I am willing to spend the money on either one, but I'd just like to understand better what I am getting (or NOT getting!).

    Thanks Guys! [​IMG]



    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  2. FRIZZLEFRY

    FRIZZLEFRY 1/2 ton status

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    Have you thought about getting a MIG welder?I think for a beginner a MIG would be the way to go.Its faster and easier to fab stuff with a MIG also ,just pull the trigger and go.And with practice and the right settings your welds can come out very clean.The only reason I want a TIG is so I can weld stainless and aluminum.If you can weld well with oxy/acet. TIG should be easy to pick up.As far as different machines go I am only familiar with one and its a Miller

    Some people shouldnt drive anything bigger than their head.<a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/user/beaterwhang>community.webshots.com/user/beaterwhang</a>
     
  3. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Frizz,

    I have just heard that TIG is a superior weld to MIG (probably cleanliness of welds, maybe more variety of materials possible to weld?) and that for thin sheetmetal work (like patch panels) it warps the metal less....actually I think it's the grinding of the MIG weld that causes the warpage! [​IMG]

    Honestly, I don't know enough about MIG vs TIG to really talk like any kind of expert. But I know that once I have a welding rig, I am going to do ALL kinds of stuff with it!! (I'll probably have a lot of NEW friends stop by my house too! [​IMG]) I just want to understand as much as I can about the various TIG options so that I don't make an expensive purchase that I regret later on.....



    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  4. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I thnk I saw the same stuff as you did, if you were searching online. Apparently, TIG is THE way to weld sheetmetal...I've talked to people that weld or used to weld a lot, and they seem to say about the same.

    But for the cost of a good MIG vs TIG, I just don't think a TIG is worth it. If sheetmetal was the majority of what you were doing (and it had to look really good) perhaps it would be worth it. In my case, realistically, I will be fabricating stuff more than repairing very thin metal, so I couldn't justify the cost of a TIG welder.

    IIRC, you can weld AL and Stainless with MIG, you just have to get the right wire and gas. Withg that $1400 for a TIG, you could get a real nice MIG welder, and a good variety of wire, as well as a few refills on the various gas mixes.

    FWIW

    Dorian
    My tech/links page: <a target="_blank" href=http://www.dorianyeager.com/index2.html>www.dorianyeager.com/index2.html</a>
    Why insist on counting when the ring gear has the tooth counts stamped in?
     
  5. FRIZZLEFRY

    FRIZZLEFRY 1/2 ton status

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    Im not the TIG guru but I have been MIG welding for a long time.With the right settings ,wire size,and technique you can mig light gauge sheet metal.When I do patch pannels I use .023 wire and low heat and it works realy well.When I go back to welding bigger stuff I use .035 and turn up the heat.The warpage is caused by too much heat in one area and you can do that with either type of welder.One thing to remember too is that TIG welding takes 2 hands,with mig you can hold the gun with one hand and what your working on with the other.

    Some people shouldnt drive anything bigger than their head.<a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/user/beaterwhang>community.webshots.com/user/beaterwhang</a>
     
  6. FRIZZLEFRY

    FRIZZLEFRY 1/2 ton status

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    I think tRusty is a welder by trade.Maybe PM him and see what he has to say.

    Some people shouldnt drive anything bigger than their head.<a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/user/beaterwhang>community.webshots.com/user/beaterwhang</a>
     
  7. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Frizz,

    Like most things in life....I'm sure the "operator" has a lot more to do with the quality of the work, than the particular tool that's used!!! [​IMG]

    The TIG I was looking at has a "footpedal"....I have no idea why, or what it's used for, but my guess is that it's to 'free up' the extra hand that you normally needed to use with TIG???

    Anyways.....I still hope that someone can comment on the "Inverter-Style vs. Regular Style" TIG machines...that's really the burning question in my mind at this point. [​IMG] ....burning....oops no pun intended!



    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  8. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Dorian,

    The site that I was looking at was:

    See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38
     
  9. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Probably would pay to have a welder weigh in on this first, but since no one has so far... : )

    The foot pedal controls either gas or the arc...you have one hand holding the "tip" and one hand holding the rod. Basically its like combining arc welding with oxy acetylene, which to me makes it seem more complex, and as has been mentioned, keeps both hands tied up with the welder.

    MIG auto feeds the wire/gas, so you only have to hold the gun, freeing up one hand.

    Dorian
    My tech/links page: <a target="_blank" href=http://www.dorianyeager.com/index2.html>www.dorianyeager.com/index2.html</a>
    Why insist on counting when the ring gear has the tooth counts stamped in?
     
  10. hammer

    hammer 1/2 ton status

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    I weld Tig weld aluminum at work. It still requires 2 hands and a foot, one hand for the torch, one hand for the filler rod and one foot to turn the torch on. All I have to say if you want to spend the money for a tig they are the best welding by far cleaner then mig or stick. But don't forget some tig are water cooled with a cooler and not "as" portable. Yes some are portable but size of the welder and the cooler.
    Also don't worry about how low the amperage goes I tap weld down to .030" and I think I have gone smaller in sheetmetal but can't remember with the amperage on 150 all you need is a really sharp tugsten and a fast foot to tap with.
    Try checking ebay for welder's seen on like I use at work a Hobart for $300-$400 and It was a full size welder

    <font color=red>Let me at it I can break it</font color=red>
     
  11. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I worked for years in a body shop (actually, owned my own and then went minority partner/foreman) doing mostly uni-body stuff. I ran the frame machine and I did pretty much all the welding (and spraying but that is irrelevant here). Most of our stuff was high end insurance totaled rebuilds. Nothing over 2 years old and mostly BMW, Mercedes, Maxima, some Cadilacs and Lincolns, etc. I've spent ALLOT of time welding sheet metal and lighter gauge stuff in the uni-bodies and the MIG is quite capable, just turn down the heat and run the smallest wire you can along with 75/25 mix. I could weld large low crown areas that had little support with very little warpage by just taking my time and stitching it up. I really think that for the stuff we do on our trucks, TIG is over kill. For pretty welds, especially on AL and stainless, TIG is nice. But, you can get a nice spool gun and some straight Argon to weld aluminum. I'm not sure but I think you can weld stainless with a MIG but I'm not sure.

    As someone else said, PM tRusty (Rene). I know he knows his stuff on welding and there are also others here that do. I learned to weld by trial and (a great deal of) error or word of mouth/advise, but very little technical "education" so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    Russ

    85 K30 CUCV, 350 TBI, TH400, 205, D60/C14, 4.56 Locked
    Some day: 4" lift, 44" tires, massive cutting, shorter wb and rear overhang.
     
  12. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    I think the TIG is also overkill...unless you are building NASCAR cages. For a newbie welder TIG will be frustrating and will not give you the results you want. It takes a lot of coordination, a good knowledge of welding in general, and a ton of practice to make it do what you want it to do. Everything has to be perfect to attain good results...
    I spend 90% of my time at work fabricating and fitting but occasionally I get to play with the TIG welder. Mostly I use it for tiny parts that would get incinerated by the MIG welder. Example would be welding a #5 screw to the end of a piece of 1/4" round stock.
    I really don't know near enough about the diferent types of TIG welders out there and what their advantages would be to make a recomendation though. The only real recomendation I could make is to buy a quality MIG welder, a bottle of 75/25 mixed gas and some .023 wire. Then find a night course at the local high school or trades college and take a short course to learn the basics. You would be quite surprised at what you can weld with MIG and how good a job it will do with practice.

    Aluminum and stainless can also be MIG welded, so the versatility is there.

    Another thing to consider is that TIG can be painfully slow...

    There's my 2 cents

    Rene

    <font color=green>Dyslexics of the world...UNTIE!</font color=green>
    <a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/project_T2> tRusty pics...</a>
     
  13. JMZ

    JMZ Registered Member

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    Tig is nice for welding metal that really needs to be strong and pure. For what you want to do the mig is your best bet. Easier,faster and less heat distortion. I have a tig setup that I hook to my Lincoln SA 250 Diesel. If I had a mig welder at home I wouldn`t use anything else,(95% of the time).
     
  14. 71RestoRod

    71RestoRod 1/2 ton status

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    Greg,

    You wild man! I would love to purchase a TIG and practice my skills... but I too think it's impractical for the "home hobbyist” (such as myself anyway).

    I've been doing all of my sheet metal work using a MIG and with great results. The trick is to be patient, space your tacks well apart, and be very patient to keep the heat down. Did I mention the being patient part? BTW, the same goes for grinding, which often introduces just as much heat. Once you learn to do a proper tack weld, you can keep the heat very well contained and still achieve full penetration. (gotta like full penetration).

    I read an article several months back in one of my street rod mags where someone (might have been Ron Covell) was comparing TIG and MIG for bodywork. The author was essentially a TIG guy and pre-supposed that the TIG would obviously render the best results, especially in the hands of an expert. To make a long story short, he was really surprised at how well the MIG performed... to the point that he called it a toss-up. He used industry-standard materials testing techniques to measure the malleability / quality of the weld seams.

    My recommendation would be to get a couple of good books before you dive in (sounds like you already have). Ron Covell is good, and I’m sure there are many others. If I can locate that article, I’ll scan it for you.

    BTW, yes I got that new digital camera, and no the web site isn’t up yet! [​IMG]
     
  15. Triaged

    Triaged 1/2 ton status

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    Buy a MIG and use the $$$ you save to buy a gas welder. Than you will be able to heat some of the stuck things on your truck to make them come out and also be able to use the cutting torch.

    Don't forget to add in the cost of home electrical mods (I think to run big stuff you need a special ground).

    '71 Blazer CST w/ a 400sbc, 4" lift, 36" Supper Swampers, and alot of rust
    <a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/user/triaged>See it Here </a>
     
  16. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    tRusty, JMZ, Doug &amp; All,

    Thanks for the input! [​IMG] I had it in my mind that TIG was the way to go (albeit at a higher expense!) but now I'm really wondering if there aren't other "costs" as well (frustration, slow learning curve, etc)....

    For some reason, I just thought that if someone offered you either "a free MIG-welder or free TIG-welder", that everyone would automatically want the TIG.....From your responses, it really doesn't seem like that's true....even when cost is factored out of the decision.

    OK I've got some more thinking to do....




    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  17. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    OK, I've been doing some more "studying"..... here are the <font color=red>MIG</font color=red> options I am considering:

    <font color=red>Lincoln Electric SP-135 Plus</font color=red> $596 delivered.
    (115V model and offers the "continuous" control over voltage settings)

    <font color=red>Lincoln Electric SP-175 Plus</font color=red> $744 delivered.
    (220V model and also offers the "continuous" control)

    The SP-135T &amp; SP-175T models have a "tap" style voltage control, which seems to limit the flexibility when welding thin metal....that is why I focused on the "Plus" models above.

    I have both 110 &amp; 220 in my garage, so I can go with either model.....you guys already "saved" me a lot of money by talking me out of the TIG machines.....so either one is still a bargain! [​IMG]

    The main differences in the 220V model are:

    Solid Wire Size range goes up to .035" vs .030" on the 110V model
    Cored Wire Size range goes up to .045" vs. a single size of .035" on the 110V model
    Amperage is at 175A vs. 135A for the 110V model (Does the 175A let me weld THICKER stuff?)

    .....anyway, my head is starting to hurt so I'm going to go think about something else for a while!!!! [​IMG] It's tough trying to learn all this new stuff so fast......

    Thanks again for the help. Please feel free to chime in with suggestions on this MIG stuff now!



    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  18. Ryan B.

    Ryan B. 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Greg-
    I tried to plug in my buddy's 220 mig welder at my dad's house, and it doesn't plug into the normal dryer socket...
    Someone told me there are like 15 different 220 sockets???
    We are going to go to home depot and get the right wall socket and install it right next to the dryer socket, or get a dryer cord and adapt it?
    my 2 cents

    [Real Men Don't Care About Gas Mileage Or Rapid Tire Wear!]
    Ryan B.
     
  19. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    A welding machine purchase should be based on duty cycle. If you look you'll find the 175 amp machine probably has the better duty cycle which will make it run longer before it needs to cool. a 20% duty cycle means at full power you can weld continously for 2 minutes out of every 10...lower heat settings can be run longer. For strictly thin sheet work it isn't that important, but for projects where thicker materials are used duty cycle will come into play.

    The 110 volt machine has an advantage with portability...you can take it to a freinds house and just plug it in. The 220 volt machine will do more for you but is harder to bring somewhere else unless they also have a 220 volt source near what needs welding.

    Both would be good machines, although I'd lean towards the 220 volt machine. Buying a welding machine is one of those things where you get what you pay for...

    One thing that I'd do is either buy or build a wheeled cart for the machine if it doesn't come with one.

    Rene

    <font color=green>Dyslexics of the world...UNTIE!</font color=green>
    <a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/project_T2> tRusty pics...</a>
     
  20. HarryH3

    HarryH3 1 ton status Author

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    Ryan, adapting it is the quick and easy solution. Just buy a dryer cord that fits the wall socket and then put the correct style socket on the other end. Be prepared for sticker shock. Some of the 220 volt conncetors cost around $15! [​IMG]

    <font color=black>HarryH3 - '75 K5</font color=black>
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    It's a great day to be alive...
     

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