Welder question

What kind of things would need to be replaced on a welder like this, or do they last a long time?
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item $94498325

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Michael Shaffer wrote:

The welder often needs to be replaced when you need one that can do DC. :-)
Seriously, this is a very bottom-of-the-line welder. Like all little current buzzbox welders, the transformer is wound with aluminum and not copper. They have a shunt that cranks in or out to deliver variable current, and they have a fan. If the thing powers up without buzzing excessively, and the shunt cranks to its full extent smoothly, and the welding cables are in decent shape, then I'd say that welder is worth at least $35. But if you are desperate and real broke, then maybe. Shipping would put that out of reach unless you can go pick it up, it weighs at least 60 pounds.
I have an use a little buzzbox welder. Mine is a Miller Thunderbolt AC-DC. I got it a few years ago. I bought it over a Lincoln tombstone because the Miller's leads detached, which made for much cleaner storage. I like my little Miller. I have made some mods to it:
1. I replaced the power cord with a nice piece of 12-SO3 with a real plug. 2. I made a welding cage on casters, and bolted the machine to it (through the base, which has almost-holes just where you want them, drill them out and bolt through them, you have to remove the outer case to see down there). 3. The welding cage has a removable plywood top which in use acts like a little storage table. I have never once welded without using that table.
I am considering a second (mk II) version of this welding cage. Bigger casters, rewire it so the 220VAC cord goes to a J-box with 2 outlets on it (wire the outlets slightly illegally, L1->N, L2->N), maybe add some run capacitance to balance up the current (although I already run mine off a 30A circuit), add a bar to hang welding clamps off of.
My ex-stepdad, a savvy guy, made a welder out of an old transformer. He rewound the secondary with a couple of loops of heavy copper tape and ran these out to lugs. It was a perfectly serviceable Depression-era AC welder. I'm sure he had no more than $5 into it. Too bad I had to divorce him when I divorced my now-ex-wife.
Grant
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Altho Grant referred to it as bottom of the line, doesn't mean it's a bad welder, which I'm sure he wasn't suggesting anyway. But it is basic. I bought one, complete w/ helmet, wheels, rod, sparker, you name it, for $105 in 1980--exact same machine, color, shape, you name it. In Manhattan!! I don't think it has an aluminum core, tho. but could be. At 75 amps, it's 100% duty cycle, for pipe warming, etc.
Altho the prices have certainly shot up since 1980, I think $75 is high to start, and there is always some idiot stupidly bumping up the price--a shill, perhaps? Check the new price. Plus the goddamm shipping on ebay.... I think these characters make more on the shipping than they do on the product.
I would hold out for an AC/DC lincoln, which also has higher amps; Miller is also good. I have a Miller EconoTig, myself--which doesn't have the AC oomph of the basic lincoln, but is pretty versatile. High power diodes are pretty cheap, now, so you might could get an AC buzzbox cheap and just rectify it for your DC. Check your local pennysaver, ask around. Whatever you do, don't buy sears, unless it's for $5. ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll

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Oh, yeah, I think 95% of all farmers in america have that Lincoln buzzbox!
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Tell us more about how you like the Econotig -- I am actively looking at buying one...
Thanx!
As for the original question, I would look to Home Depot for the Lincoln AC/DC new @ $387 with no interest or payments for a year...
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It's been quite a while since I've used it, and you will probably get a better report from sci.engr.joining.welding (good good bunch over there). I think it maxes out at 160 amps AC, a little less DC, and it is good for up to 1/4" alum, if you stand on your ear (pre-heat, insulated bottom), or 1/8-3/16 in worst-case scenarios. It's not a true high-frequency machine--they finesse something or other, but they finesse it really well. You can lay some cosmetically beautiful mirror finish beads, but these are not structurally strong penetrating welds. I mention it just from a control POV. I had an expert come over and give me some lessons, and he kind of sniffed--I later saw why when I saw his $4,000 dedicated tigger! So this machine is not for production or demanding tasks. But I liked it for the prototypes I was doing. And you can't beat it for all around versatility. Altho I'm pretty handy, I found it worth my while to enroll in an evening BOCES course for tig. Helped quite a bit, even w/ our lousy instructor. I got the lessons from the expert after the course. Learned some about OxyAcet and stick welding as well. Finally lernt how to cut thin sheet metal w/ OA!!! The econotig has been replaced by a something-180, basically the same machine with a little more oomph, and maybe by now that 180 has been replaced as well. You will find yourself spending a few dollars if you get into alum. Keep in mind, tho, that you can tig anything, and get really nice welds, esp. stainless. You can really go wild w/ all the different tungsten types, filler alloys, on whether to use helium instead or mixed w/ argon, blah blah. Stay away from helium, unless you really need to tweak some heat. I've forgotten the deal w/ the various tungstens but some do work better than others. From a machine shop I picked up pounds and pounds and pounds of 1/8x1/2" alum drops, about a foot long. Musta welded hundreds of these together, practicing. You MUST, however, use gloves, and a heavy jacket, w/ no bare spots. Tigging will burn the everlovin bejeezus out of you, w/ the ultraviolet, even thru light gloves/clothing. Don't find this out the hard way like I did--took WEEKS to heal! You need darker lenses as well. Anybody can stick weld hot rolled steel, to some extent; but just getting an arc w/ tig takes some practice. Artful welding, stick or tig, ultimately takes lots of skill, but tig is more persnickety and has more variables, at least initially. But, you'll find that knowledgeable welders of alloy steels are metallurgists, in their own right. Also keep in mind that if all you want to do is stitch together some aluminum, and you don't quite care how it's done, they make a hellified aluminum rod that works with plain non-tig DC reverse (I think--it's been a while). I wouldna believed it had I not seen it. No cleaning, no gas, no nothing; just a big fat *strong* fast weld! wow! Don't know what the name of it is, except the flux was thick and white. The rod is consumed *very* quickly. Kind of pissed me off, after I spent all that money on my tig set up! But I did not regret buying the econotig. Well put together, never broke, complete kit. Also loved my Lincoln AC225!
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Thanx for this response. I am in the middle of taking a welding course at my community college, and we have used the aluminum rods with the stick welder which I didn't even know was possible, but I am looking for cleaner welds on much finer, thinner material, both stainless and Aluminum...
I think that you were referring to the Syncrowave 180, but actually, it didn't replace the Econotig, they still sell both. I am finding that a used Syncrowave would cost me about twice what a used Econotig would cost...

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Indeed, syncrowave starts getting into bucks. But I coulda sworn that the econotig was swapped years ago for an improved model, that didn't really cost a whole lot more!! But, if you've been checking around, you would know better than I would. But run it by the welding NG--maybe Miller did discontinue the econo, but brought it back, at least the name.
Good move to take a welding course. Funny, tho, my really bad burn occured early in class, w/ that alzheimered derelict instructor.
What setting was that alum rod used at? Was it DC reverse?? It's a really handy thing to have, just in case a big hunk of alum comes in that needs welding. As you may already know from your class, depressed center grinding wheels are available for alum, that do a super job of removal--proly good for cleaning up those alum stick welds!
ITO brands, I think you might not have much of a choice but Miller for affordable multipurpose machines. I've seen tig "kits" that you can add on to stick welders, and had I had an existing welder I mighta gone this route, but since I didn't, I went w/ the miller. I think the welding NG people were wary of these kits.
I myself might be getting back into my econotig, for .030 SS project, buttwelded, maybe overlapped. Haven't used it for this, but have seen this mat'l tigged, and the welds are gorgeous. You can tig both alum and SS "autogenously" (IIRC!!?? means no filler rod), but the SS comes out really nice, and is stronger than auto alum welds--no bead, in case you need a very flush surface. And is easier/quicker than alum. Looks like I'll be back on the welding NG, to find out how to use my machine again--it's been that long!
Best, ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll

at
Lincoln
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I will go look at the welding NG, do you know if there is an FAQ?
I have finished the first of the 3 welding courses I am taking this semester, (at Austin Community College, btw), and found the whole place to be great.
Yes, the Al rod is DC +, (Hi-Alloy brand, iirc),and is why I stopped looking at the Lincoln AC-only tombstone welders, which generally go for $200 on eBay. Actually, after we went through the stick classes of 6010 thru 7018, I mentioned that I was considering an AC only box and the instructor had me go back through all the rods in all positions with AC only - a great way to learn why DC is worth it!
But once I considered my specific needs, I started looking at Tig, and since my suppliers sell Miller, I got the Miller catalog and have been looking closely at the line.
A fellow classmate has a Syncrowave 180, virtually new, full setup for sale for $1400. Otoh, I have a lead on an Econotig for $750. My major question is if the Econotig at the lowest AC setting of 20 amps (30 for DC Tig) is low enough to not destroy the small brackets and 1/4" rod I am welding, both stainless and Aluminum. The Syncrowave goes down to 10 amps...
As an example of the immediate need, I need to make brackets to hold books and pictures for display on a gallery wall. How thin can I go without blowing through it. I have heard all the stories about welding coke cans and foil, and I don't need to get to that point, but can I weld 3/4" .035 AL tubing with 20 amps??? Actually, I am going to open a new thread with just that question, and see if some more smart people have opinions???

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The lowest setting on an Econotig is "0". The control determines the max setting and the foot pedal controls how much.
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Clif

"Emmo" < snipped-for-privacy@austin.rr.com> wrote in message
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OK, I understand. That's great, I appreciate the response.

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$750 doesn't sound bad for an econotig; mine was about 1300 over 5 years ago, so the 1400 for the syncrowave is about what new econo or its equiv. would be today. I'm still surprised Miller is offering the econo. Make sure you have recent lit!! My econo has an tig/stick switch, another selector knob for AC high, AClow, DC+, DC-, and a continuously variable amp dial, which supposedly goes down to zero. I believe this dial is active on all AC/DC settings. It is deactivated, tho, when you switch to tig, in which case the foot pedal takes over. Some welders have a torch-mounted dial, in place of the foot pedal. You can also get water-cooled torches. I believe the econo lets you tig in all switch settings (AC/DC). I believe nuclear welders tig in a peculiar DC mode, for reasons which I forgot, but which the cats in the welding NG know all about. It's very interesting. ( I do believe one of them maintains an FAQ, just ask.) Your problem is not going to be welding thin mat'l, but thick material. You can get by w/ steel w/ multiple passes, but Alum just draws so much heat away you can't quite do this. Preheating would then definitely help. You'll find that even during the course of a single weld, the technique at the end of the weld differs from that in the beginning due to heat build up. I believe these welders have a thermostatic cut out, and there was talk on the NG about installing a sep. fan on particular components, or to increase duty cycle. A cheap enough modification, but there was a reason why I didn't do it--forgot that too!! Laziness??
Proly the biggest debate in tig is the type of tungsten to use. I bought all of'em, spent a goddamm fortune, and was starting to settle in on ones that I liked. The biggest difference I found was the ability to maintain a nice tip/spark path. Some seemed to wander much more than others, lose their tip real fast. I found it helpful to have small amounts of a wide array of tungsten and filler rod, in both alloy and in diameter. You will likely be using 1/16 or 3/32 tungsten, but the type might vary from alum to SS. Takes quite a while to really grok all of this in practice. You are definitely going to need to acquire skill to weld .035 alum tube. I don't have much contact w/ my 'spert tigger guy anymore, but I think he would say that the econotig *can* do it, but not as well as dedicated machines. You'll proly just have to practice longer, and be cognizant of a wide array of variables. I would take advantage of the school, and bring some of that tubing in NOW, to practice and get hands on advice. Lite-wall tube welding in general is up there in skill level. My tigging guy was in fact a high-end cycle frame builder. The main difficulty w/ this is how heat builds up/dissipates in different tube cross sections being welded together. There is little forgiveness in thin-walled tubing!
Yeah, everybody talks about welding goddamm coke cans. Ernie over in welding calls that "parlor tricks", having no bearing on the skill involved in "real" aluminum welds. Good examples of super-strong alum welding is on the box frames of japanese motorbikes. wow... And finesse in high end cycle frames. I still remember my glassy-smooth mirror welds, feet and feet and feet of them. I was so proud, but was semi-crushed when the 'spert I brought over sniffed and said, Yeah, nice, but dat's not real welding.....
Best, ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll

looking
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I spent three hours this morning looking at the welding newsgroup and FAQ, so thanx again for that pointer. From there I found the forum on the Millerwelds site, which I had missed before in all the times I had been there. This forum, in the motorsports section, is helpful in understanding how Miller positions their machines against each other, which, if I were buying new, would lead me straight to the Econotig...
The used Econotig I was looking at got sold out from under me for $800, so I am back looking again. Appreciate all comments and insight!

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Nothing wrong w/ buying new, either. Figger, for another $500, you got peace of mind, later technology, blah blah. One repair bill and there went yer savings... Remember, the Miller ain't a buzzbox; you got goddamm chips and IC's and circuitry in there! You know, at one time "used" meant paying 1/3 the new price. Now it means getting 1/3 *off* the new price--much less of a bargain. ebay and channel 13's innovative Antique Road Show has eliminated almost all bargains. We have become a collective of barter-ers. Anyway.... Most often the places that sell these millers are full-service welding houses, w/ acetylene and the whole 9 yards, so you can maybe shop hard (I got prices varying by a few hundred bucks!), and work out a deal on OA, tanks, as well. Plus some freebies, ito tungsten and filler rod assortments, gloves, the whole shebang. When I was hot and heavy into tig, I used to keep the big tank of argon, and run it dry, and keep a little B tank just in case the big tank was out for a day or two. Ditto O/A. Plus, when you buy new, sometimes you can get VIP treatment toward future stuff. O'course, sometimes they just try to screw you both coming and going. A lot depends on how Viagra'd up business peeple are.
Best,
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There's a reason for that, actually several reasons. The first one is that the Econotig has been on the market a *whole* lot longer than the 180SD, so there are more used and abused Econotigs on the swapmeet circuit. More importantly, the 180SD is just a much nicer machine to use, so there's less reason for someone to be "trading up" to a better machine.
Gary Satisfied 180SD owner.
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Thanx for your response.
I have located two machines locally (Austin, TX) - an Econotig for $850 and a nearly new Synchrowave 180 (digital gauges, etc) for $1400. I'm afraid that the $550 difference is significant to me, it will cover the cost of my plasma cutter, so I think I am going to go against nearly everyone's advice and get the Econotig...
Worst case, I'll sell it and move up, but at least I will be welding in the meantime...
Thanx again.
wrote:

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Gary Coffman wrote:

I used my 180SD a month ago or whatever on stick for the first time and it did fantastic for me. I had never welded with stick before and was able to do what I wanted and dial what current worked best for each stick type. Martin
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Martin Eastburn, Barbara Eastburn
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wrote:

And here's a tip, the pedal (if connected) still works in stick mode. I don't know of another welder which works this way. It allows you to do some things with stick electrodes that you'd normally only be able to do with TIG.
Gary
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Gary Coffman wrote:

Thanks, going to have to keep a booklet on hints for he SD.
Martin
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I have had one of these for years now and it is what I started learning with as I am sure many others before me have. it is a good machine; but I really think there are better machines out there (mainly ac/dc).
I too had to replace the fan once.
also had to replace the spring behind the amperage switch twice.

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