What is an Airco 250 Heliwelder and what is it worth?

One of my tenants is closing shop and holding an auction Saturday. Among other things is an Airco 250 AC/DC Heliwelder. Looks like an
older TIG unit but seems to be in really good shape.
What I really want is an Econotig but the budget will not allow that. Will this thing work for aluminum and stainless sheet? What is it worth?
--
Glenn Ashmore

I'm building a 45' cutter in strip/composite. Watch my progress (or lack
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yes it is an AC/DC TIG so it will weld aluminum, stainless steel, and it will have a lower low end and much higher high end than an Econotig.
It is worth about $600 on the used machine circuit, because it is BIG, HEAVY and requires about 90 amps of 220 single phase power to feed it.
They are good machines, and are built like tanks. The high frequency unit may need some routine maintenance.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

Well it went for $75.00 at this auction. Had to force my hands in my pocket because I don't have the power to run it. Even worse an almost brand new Geka Hydrocrop 80 ironworker went for $2K. That thing had to have cost $30K just two years ago.
--
Glenn Ashmore

I'm building a 45' cutter in strip/composite. Watch my progress (or lack
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com says...

They'll run just fine on a 50 or 60A circuit as long as you don't try to crank the current up, to TIG heavy aluminum for example.
Ned Simmons
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Glenn Ashmore wrote:

Ooooh. Ironworkers are *awesome*. I bet the reason that one went so cheap is the seller kept the tooling. It costs quite a bit to tool one of those up. I bought a little 35 ton ironworker a year or so ago, paid $1800, and it has already literally paid for itself.
I'm such a snob now I hardly ever drill small holes. Lay out hole center, carefully center punch it, find punch mark with big punch and hit it hard with a 4 pound hammer to enlarge the mark, take it to the ironworker, feel the tit on the punch with your centerpunch and step on that pedal and *click* you have a perfect hole just about where you want it.
Grant Erwin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
replying to Grant Erwin, Toolmaker51 wrote: "...about where you want it." Might be sufficient for one-off's. Far better; fabricate a fixturing table with adjustable stops. Then each will be identical without repetitive laying out. With indexing marks, the fixture can alleviate most layouts.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 11 Dec 2003 18:31:09 -0500, Glenn Ashmore

This brings up a question I have been intending to ask here:
I am somewhat familiar with the features of the latest product offerings, but they are beyond my budget. What are good older TIG machines to watch for at auctions? What limitations do they have? Are there any you would advise us to avoid?
I am looking for an AC/DC machine in the 250 AMP range, to weld stainless and aluminum. I am sure that readers with other needs also attend auctions and would appreciate a few sage comments by the more experienced contributers.
Rob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have an older (1960's) lincoln Idealarc, it works well with stainless but is not as great with aluminium as the newer machines I've used. I get black specks contaminating the welds. It may be a question of the high frequency part of the machine not working as well as it should (it uses some sort of spark gap device that makes a lot of noise.) I paid $150 CDN for mine although it came without a pedal or a torch.
stan
Rob wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have a shop full of old machines at school. The machines that have proved to be good in spite of age are: Lincoln Idealarc 300/300 TIG Miller Syncrowave 300 Linde Heliarc 300 Hobart Cybertig 120.
The Cybertigs are just too damn big for any small shop.
The Lincoln Idealarcs are the best antique machines we have. I am constantly amazed by how well their high freq. units just keep going. Mind you we had one detonate it's reactance coil 3 years ago. Splattered the inside of the machine with molten copper. Hopeless to repair.
That is the major problem with really old machines, parts are scarce, and repairs can be costly. The best era of machines to look for are ones from the 80's. Try to stick with a machine that outputs Squarewave AC. The Syncrowave 250's and 300's are excellent machines. Later Hobart machines like Cyberwaves are OK, but not great. Lincoln Squarewaves are also good machines. Be careful of Aircos, some of them are Millers, but some are Midstates machines. We have a Midstates built Airco at school. It has the weirdest wandering arc I have ever seen. Wednesday I am trading it to a scrap dealer for some torches. You can go for a Miller 330ABP, but they are not great for aluminum since they have a sinewave AC. We have 2 at school. My boss loves them, but he is a shipyard stick welder, not a TIG guy. There are lots of Miller 330ABP's out there though.
The most you should pay for an older machine is around $600 to $1000 depending on condition, and accessories. Be really careful about machines without foot pedals. Adding one to an older machine is a pain. Torches are throw aways. I recommend getting a new one anyway. Old TIG torches tend to leak High Frequency like a sieve. Water coolers are also an important accessory. Make sure they are not clogged or have a tank full of algae. They can be cleaned out but it is tedious.
Mind you an old TIG/Stick welder sells for about 60 cents/lb to a scrap yard, just for the copper content.
So a 600 lb. machine is worth about $360 in copper. Why did you think those guys buy all the really old machines at auctions for $100 a piece?
If you were in the Seattle area I would offer you a Lincoln Idealarc 300/300 TIG we have in an outside storage container. You can have it for trade for a new Millermatic 135.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
replying to Grant Erwin, Toolmaker51 wrote: "...about where you want it." Might be sufficient for one-off's. Far better; fabricate a fixturing table with adjustable stops. Then each will be identical without repetitive laying out. With indexing marks, the fixture can alleviate most layouts.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.