TIG Newbie: Bad Machine, or My Error?

My neighbor got one of those cheap Harbor Freight TIG welders
recently. I've never TIG welded at all, but since I have more
experience welding than him (stick, MIG) he wanted me to see
if I could get the thing going for him.
If you're not familiar with these inverter TIG machines, they
are very stripped down. There are three LEDs on the front panel,
one each for "power," "welding," and "over heat." When I try to
get an arc going the "welding" LED comes on and stays on indefinitely.
You can hear the gas solenoid open up when the light comes on,
but it stays open indefinitely as well. According to the poorly
translated manual the "welding" LED should go off automatically
after the arc is broken and the gas solenoid should shut off.
The other problem is that I can't get an arc going. Bringing
the tungsten down to the work causes a tiny spark, and that's
all. No amount of scratching, tapping, or carefully lowering
the torch will start an arc at any power level setting.
Since I have absolutely zero experience with a TIG welder
it's hard to tell how much of this is my fault and/or
how much is the machine's.
Any enlightening comments you may have will be greatly appreciated!
Reply to
Artemia Salina
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Sounds like the High Frequency start is broke. Michelle
Artemia Sal>My neighbor got one of those cheap Harbor Freight TIG welders
Reply to
Michelle P
Harbor freight is the first thing to indicate it's not you.
The LED's should indicate: 1. Breaking. 2. Broken. 3. Your screwed.
I don't think it's you if you can't even scratch start it. swap out the machine with H.F. if possible. It really sounds like you covered all the bases to clear operator issues. One thing is what material were you welding? If it's steel vs. Al. I'd bet you have a bum machine.
All the best,
Fraser Competition Engines Chicago, IL. Long Beach, CA. ( Soon!)
Reply to
Is it wired correctly at the power plug? It is a 240 machine, I saw one acting this way hooked to 120.
Mine works fine for most work. Just needs a foot pedal added to make it easier.
Reply to
Steve W.
Sounds like you're doing the right things, I think I'd go over the machine once and ensure what could be wrong isn't (electrical supply and ground, anything that plugs into the front panel) and, if nothing works, take it for a ride back to the store.
Reply to
Thanks for the replies, everyone.
I'm feeling more and more sure that the unit is defective or miswired. It came without a power plug, so he wired one in the best he could. I say that because the color codes on the power cord wires are crazy. Green, brown, and green w/ yellow stripe! It was wired with green as ground/neutral. I may pull the case off and make sure that jibes with how it's wired inside (I didn't have time to dig into it today). He's got this machine plugged into his dryer outlet via my borrowed home-brew extension cord. I know my cord is good. Can't speak for his house wiring, though.
Reply to
Artemia Salina
Its wired wrong. The Ornimentals and Euros use the green/yellow as the "ground".
Use the solid green and brown as your power leads.
Reply to
The green with yellow stripe is also what is used in hospital type equipment as ground in the US.
Reply to
Thanks guys. I'll pass that along to the owner.
Reply to
Artemia Salina
If all else fails, I can mail you some .223 and .308 rifle ammo, It fixed my Harbor Freight MIG real well :)~
Rob Fraser
Fraser Competition Engines Chicago, IL. Long Beach, CA. ( Soon!)
Reply to
And other international spec machines. The Germans and French as well as the Brits have specs that all must be complied to if you want to ship to/from.
Been there had it done to me. 2.5M USD machines. Held up acceptance until a wire was changed due to the local power inspector. The rub - we made it, had it shipped (years and years ago) to a stateside user, then it is transfered to the French site. A change had been in effect for years, but not for the first few machines that were 'specials' - out early.
Mickey wrote:
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
HA! Wish I still had my Super 14 chambered in .35 Remington!
Actually, I rewired the plug according to Gunner's info and that fixed the problem. The neighbor spent the rest of the day burning up tungstens!
Reply to
Artemia Salina
Glad to have contributed afer having learned so much here.
Btw...I shoot the Contender in 357 Herrit..makes the .35 Rem look like a turtle. And makes you a repeat member of the Order of the Scarlet Cresent if you dont keep your elbows locked and the scope gets ya.
Sigh...I have clusters...last time was plinking ground squirrels in the desert off the top of a 5 gallon Igloo water jug.. He started out at 150 yrs, and started making tracks for the horizon..and I couldnt pass up a running shot at 250..and let the elbows relax a bit too much...
I woke up in just a few minutes to my hunting partner laughing his ass off because I had split the bridge of my nose and was leaking everywhere.
But I did get the varmint.
I shoot the 45-70 barrel with open sights....
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