I have two very new Lincoln welders. The Precision Tig 185 I currently need the most just died. Also the next job requires purchasing something beefier than the Tig 185 and suddenly I am starting to look at Miller machines....
I am not too current on all the new offerings, but I will need something like a 250 Amp tig welder for intricate aluminum welding, about 1000 hours over the next 12 month, and with the trouble the dead Lincoln causes right now I wanted to ask, is there a preference/advantage of one company over the other???
I don't know what did the machine in. Nothing probably, the controller board died. Lincoln will replace it, the down time costs me more then the purchase price of the unit.
The machine is a 185A unit supplied with a 150 A torch, so the torch gets hot. Water cooled units are available, for a price, as an add on. I didn't know I was buying a machine which came with a less than ideal torch right from the factory!!!
Watch the duty cycle, it is something like 15% on aluminum on a ten minute basis (I hope I got this right). It means that you can weld 90 seconds out of ten minutes. I weld at less than full output, so the duty cycle increases, but I can't keep track of my seconds, I need a bigger machine not because I need 250 A but because I want 150A when I am ready to weld and not sit there and count the seconds until the machine is ready.
You really have to scrutinize the specs to separate the 'marketing from the true capabilities of the machine, it seems Lincoln, and probably the others, like to dress things up a whole lot.
I need one to do some very small TIGging of steel to get good looking small work on some small steel sculpture type of work. I doubt that I would ever hit the duty cycle limits. I know I wouldn't get into aluminum or stainless again, so cooling is not an issue. I have also learned never to say never. ;-)
As an aside, when a TIG went out, the first and most important question the owner wanted answered was:
"When can I get it back?"
I have always been an advocate of overbuying of tools, and have advocated it here often.
I believe I could use a 185 size/type/style) satisfactorily, but to be sure, I may just jump to the 250.
Nothing like ending up with a dead almost worthless machine, and having to go back and buy the right one.
Miller Dynasty 300DX or Syncrowave 250DX. Both put out 300 amps in AC. The Dynasty is about twice the price of the Syncrowave, but as an inverter it is much smaller.
Whenever I have questions about machine quality I ask my 2 good friends who have been repairing welding machines for about 15 years each.
They both agreed that Lincolns and Millers break down at about the same rate, but that Miller promises your parts within 3 days, while Lincoln is lucky to get them to you within 1-1/2 weeks. Also Miller machines are assembled more logically, and consistently which speeds up repairs.
Miller established some large distribution centers years ago, and it gives them the lead on speedy supply of parts and equipment. On the west coast, the Miller distribution center is in Portland.
As far as weld quality I feel that Miller has the lead in TIG, but Lincoln has smoother MIGs.
thank you for your remarks. I looked up both machines and I am intrigued by the inverter type. I accepted a project which involves about 40,000 small fillets welds (1" long max.) on 1/8" alu and the promise that a more focused arc (high AC frequency possible with inverter type machines) sounds good to me.
The size of the project calls for a second welder and possibly a beefier machine than my Lincoln 185 because of the duty cycle. And even though I like red better than blue, as colors go, I have no preference, I am relatively new in this business and not burdened by history or such things.
But the looming project and the recent breakdown of the Lincoln gets one thinking and I appreciate your remarks regarding repairability and such.
I know how the Lincoln welds, actually a nice machine, but if I can find a tig welder which helps making these very numerous small welds easier to do it is worth money to me.
Just to tell you guys what happened to the fried Precision Tig 185. Being only 14 month old the repair was on warranty, they changed the electronic board on the machine, which I didn't have to pay, but if I would have had to the bill would have been $1,000 (on a $1,650 machine!), $900 for the board plus labor.
The technician who did the repair confirmed what I have heard mentioned in this and some other threads, these welders have become throw away items and these specialized parts are sometimes no longer available as soon as the model is changed, after 3 to 5 years. The technician actually thought that Miller was better in keeping spare parts around, a bit cheaper too, that certainly influenced my decision from whom to buy the next machine.
But in the end welding is a bit like computers, use them fast to get your moneys worth, the machine might be junk after 3 years.
It's all relative. You have to add all costs, then divide by how long the unit lasts.
The 185 that kicked the bucket, I believe, was stated to have been rode hard and put away wet more than once. IOW, it got a lot of hours of use in its short life. Some guys buy welders, and weld two or four or eight hours a month. Even a cheapo welder will last a good while at that rate of use.
But, a welder that is run say 20 hours a week might not last as long, as 80 hours a month is 10x 8 hours a month.
When buying equipment for a real shop, the key is efficiency. Machines need to start up and run and last for a long time. Down time is a money leak.
Some guys buy cheapo welders and swear by them because they only use them a very little. A guy that welds a lot would burn one out or wear it out in a short time.
So, costs divided by hours welded gives real cost of operation. And even if a Miller or Lincoln is tossed or retired when it starts to wear out, it will last a lot longer than a cheapo. And by the time you buy two, three, or four cheapos, you are up to the cost of a good welder, and all you have is two, three, or four boat anchors.