opinions on Lincoln Precision TIG?

Greetings all, I have been toying with the idea of upgrading my welding capabilities with one of the Licoln Precision TIG welders for a while. I currently do a fair
amount of stick welding and oxyacetylene welding, cutting and brazing. I saw these machines being demonstrated at the last EAA Oshkosh show I attended and was suitably impressed.
My needs are primarily hobby-based, not production. I'm not really planning on earning a living with this thing. The kind of stuff I do have included in the past: - wood-fired hot water boiler for shop heating, fabricated out of 1/4" steel plate - homebuilt aircraft construction - tractor restoration - fabrication of components for high vacuum systems and plasma systems for my research at the university
Materials of interest are aluminum alloys, stainless steel, and the occasional copper components. Generally, fine control is likely to be more important than brute force welding of heavy materials...I am thinking aircraft welding, body work, stainless vacuum components with flanges (1/8" wall or so), etc. I can always fall back to stick and O/A to join the big stuff.
I know the basic concepts behind TIG processes, but have little experience. The Precicion TIG 185 systems look like a nice compact unit (http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalog/equipmentdatasheet.asp?p813), but the 275 is also nice (http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalog/equipmentdatasheet.asp?pT08).
I have 100 amps of 208 available in my shop. Maybe the 275 unit is too beefy? At what point does a water-cooled torch become important versus the air cooled torch? Is the "advanced control panel" (w/adjustable pulse frequency, on time, background current controls, downslope timer, and other stuff) likely to be useful, or wasted on a TIG neophyte? And what are the typical upper limits of material that can be handled by such units (5-185A DC for the 185 vs 2-340A DC for the 275), for the odd job where a substantial aluminum or stainless weldment must be joined?
Thank you for any replies, Al
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm looking at them too. My question is whether or not I should go to a good MIG machine and duck the TIG learning curve (for now). Its a real bummer for a hobbyist, want/need all the flexibility to do whatever might turn up, but want to keep the cost and skill requirements minimal... (-: Maybe the PowerMIG 350P with push/pull ?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Aluminum, stainless, high-quality (vacuum/pressure grade) welds, and fine control? You just described some of TIG's biggest strengths :)
The "advanced control panel" features are nice to have, though certainly optional. Also consider the ThermalArc 185TSW (~$1700 with TIG kit) as a similarly-featured welder for less cash.
Alan Raisanen wrote:

more
(1/8"
big
experience.
(http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalog/equipmentdatasheet.asp?p813),
(http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalog/equipmentdatasheet.asp?pT08).
too
versus the

other
the
(5-185A
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They look like good machines. The pulser is a bonus for thin metals.
I think the Thermal Arc Prowave 185TSW is a better deal, but some people really like Red machines.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've had my Lincoln Precision TIG 185 for about three months now and have been very happy with it. Lincoln has made it a very straight forward and intuitive machine to learn on. The pulser tipped it in favor of the Lincoln 185 instead of the Miller 180 unit. Praxair sold it to me for $1645 including the cart package. Unlike the Miller Syncrowave package, it does not include an electrode holder for stick welding. That's separate and costs another $55 from Lincoln if you want it.
To me it seemed more familiar to move from O/A to TIG. -Don't know what to do with my left hand without a rod in it ;) - Once I stopped lifting the torch to control the puddle ala O/A and used the foot control things got familiar again. Ernie comes up with some pearls of wisdom that have shortened the learning curve. Most of the welders I have met in my area have been more than willing to point me in the right direction with real world experience which has helped immeasurably. From lurking on this site, it appears that's the case with most welders across the country.
Since purchasing my TIG unit, I've had the opportunity to try a couple of different MIG machines and while I will definitely get one in the future, I'm much happier I chose to go with the TIG unit first. Most of the projects I'm doing is steel and aluminum tubing on custom bicycles, thin aluminum sheet and stainless. TIG seemed to be a better fit for me right now.
Like other newbies, I've accumulated a stack of welding books and videos. Some are more project oriented and some in the too general 'nice to know' catagory. Lincoln has a book called "New Lessons in Arc Welding" which covers all facets of arc welding in individual lesson form on both theory and technique. This book and "Welding Essentials" by William Galvery and Frank Marlow (Industrial Press, ISBN 0-8311-3151-9) have so far been the most helpful knowledgewise.
Just choose what would be a better overall machine for you, jump in and practice, ask questions, and practice some more. The learning curve will flatten out. Just about every day I learn something that I didn't know I could do yesterday.
Mike H.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thank you for the information, gentlemen. Looks like I will be ordering one of the Lincoln 275's. My local welding supply guys have been good to me over the years.
Thanks again, Al
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.