Tig Welder Selection

I realize this is probably asked often, but I will continue nonetheless.
I am in the market for a new TIG machine. I am not a newbie (about 10
years experience), so I understand what to look for in a machine. I found this old thread (which I have attached below) while doing some research, and it touched on several issues that are related to my upcoming acquisition.
Here's the deal: I learned on a 1981 Hobart 250HF. I never used it a single time in AC mode, as all of my work has been steel or stainless steel, with the majority being stainless steel (.050 through .5). This machine had the sweet old cast alumimium foot pedal and the three taps for power output (5-310 amps). This machine had gusto and good range and control. Keep in mind, I never had any other experience on any other machines. Why did I sell it? Good question... at the time, I was planning on picking up a small inverter and keeping with the times. I also thought that having a machine that could run on 110V would be pretty convenient for field work. Well, I still haven't picked up that inverter, but have been using my father's Hobart Tigmate (aka Miller Econotig) in the interim. Yes, it gets the job done, but the short leads and the air cooled torch and the limited range will not work out forever. I need a new machine.
My options: I have an opportunity to make a trade for a 1993 Syncrowave 351, purchase a used, recent model Maxstar 200DX, purchase a new Dynasty 200DX, and I've even seen a good price for a used Dynasty (and Maxstar) 300DX. I have heard great reviews on Thermal Arcs inverters, however, so I am considering one of these. Oh yeah, I can also pick up a circa 2000 Lincoln Invertec 200 AC/DC machine.
What I need: Programmable pulse. Good arc starting. Good low end DC.
What would be nice: 110V as optional input power, as I occasionally do field work. If I invest in a larger 220V machine, I would continue to rent a portable welder as needed however, and it is really no big deal. Bottom line, I'm tired of shopping around, I want a good machine, and am ready to make a purchase. I make my living making things out of metal, so the machine will be used often.
So, who's got some experience with any of these units? I'd love to hear it... soon.
Thanks in advance, Smyths
Here is the old thread for reference, (I'm willing to bet you guys are still around):
    Needing opinion on TIG welder. All 10 messages in topic - view as tree
From:        Limey - view profile Date:        Fri, Jan 28 2000 12:00 am Not yet rated
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Hi, I am hoping to get some advice or suggestions about what would be the best kind of TIG welder for my application, bearing in mind that I am a 'wannabe' at this point, not a 'weldor'. My plan is to build bicycle frames, using .035 wall 4130 tubing, so I don't need a machine that does stick or aluminum but I do need the machine to be able to weld some 3/16" material.
Cost is a consideration but it is not the bottom line. I'm 59, so I don't see as well as I used to and will need all the help I can get from the machine.
At this point the Miller Maxstar 91 is looking pretty good but I spoke to a couple of local dealers, neither of whom carried this model and one told me that what I really needed was the EconoTIG, the other said the Syncrowave 180. (I don't believe either of them)
In the 'options' for the Maxstar they list a 'TIG pulsing control' and a 'High frequency arc starter'. Since I am a newbie, that goes right over my head.
If anyone could offer me an opinion here, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks.
Lewis. "Benbrook's Best 'Bent Bicyclist"
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From:        Roger Duncan - view profile Date:        Fri, Jan 28 2000 12:00 am Not yet rated
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They are giving you good advice just not telling you why. You are talking about welding thin aluminum for that you need a machine that puts out square wave ac current or the equivalent term from that manufacture. From Miller Syncrowave machines put out square wave AC. The machines you wanted put out DC that doesn't have the desired cleaning effect when welding aluminum. You can weld aluminum with a dc welding machine but that process I believe is for thick material. In December aluminum welding was a big topic at this news group.
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From:        Limey - view profile Date:        Fri, Jan 28 2000 12:00 am Not yet rated
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Hi, Roger, I think you might have misread my post.

I don't need a machine that does stick or aluminum but I do need the machine to be able to weld some 3/16" material. <<<<< I want to weld 4130, only, NOT aluminum.
Thanks anyway.
Lewis. "Benbrook's Best 'Bent Bicyclist"
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From:        arch weldch lewch - view profile Date:        Fri, Jan 28 2000 12:00 am Not yet rated
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D-c straight polarity is what you should use.There are some parts on bicycles that are AL. so you should get a welder with high-frequency,you don`t need to be able to adjust the ac current (square-wave).A pulse welder should enable you to have better control of the heat,it is easy to tell when you don`t have enough heat but too much heat in a fillet weld and or lap joint,you probably will not make" but joints" is hard to recognise.The condition is called "suck back" and with tubbing you can`t see the inside to tell if it has happened or not.A "pulse" does what it
saids,The arc will turn off and on after the arc starts.Practice on short pieces so that you can see the effects of your heat. I would chose a "foot peddle" control first,then if you have the money get a pulse.You can tig weld with a typical dc welder,just buy a torch, flow meter and all the consumables.You will have to "scratch-start" your arc,you will not have the variable heat control,but if you all ready have a dc welder that will be the least expensive way to go.High frequency keeps your arc going on ac (from dc- to dc+) it also starts your arc.You should use back-up gas too. To "think" is to question,to observe is to answer..........Pgh. Pa. US.
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From:        erpblp - view profile Date:        Fri, Jan 28 2000 12:00 am Not yet rated
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Lewis, You are definitely on the right track with the Maxstar unit, but if I were you and had access to 220V power, I would tend to look more at the
Maxstar 152. The 91 is a nice unit for very light materials, but also very limited on the output. You would be much happier with the 152. The Maxstar 91 is rated at 90 amps with a 20% duty cycle, while the
Maxstar 152 is rated at 120 amps with a 100% duty cycle. It also has an
output range of 1 to 150 amps DC This makes the 152 a much more industrial unit. We have these units installed on tube mills where they run day in and day out, every day, all day. You can purchase the Maxstar 152 in a starter package that includes an HW 17 Style TIG Torch with a Gas Valve, Work Cable with Clamp, Gas Hose, Consumable Kit, Gas Regulator, Stick Electrode Holder and Cable, Remote
Current Control (Foot Pedal, or Fingertip Type), and a TIG Calculator.
Stock number for the kits are as follows: 903509 Miller Maxstar 152 Pak with RFCS-14 Foot Control Mfg. List Price: $2140.00 903510 Miller Maxstar 152 Pak with RCC-14 Finger Tip Control Mfg. List Price: $2140.00
The Maxstar 152 comes equipped with Lift-Arc capabilities. This allows you to touch the tungsten electrode to the work piece and then just lift it up to start the arc. In manual applications, this is usually sufficient. If you prefer high frequency arc starting, there is an optional Snap Start II that can be mounted to the bottom of the Maxstar and provide you with that capability. This will also provide you with a gas solenoid to turn the gas flow on and off automatically.
043218 Miller Snapstart II High Frequency Arc Starter. Mfg. List Price: $ 897.00
There is also an optional Pulser available, but I think that you are getting a little ahead of yourself.
042297 Miller PC-300 TIG Pulse Control Mfg. List Price $ 497.00
Also, the gentleman that suggested the Syncrowave 180SD was also offering good advice. For the money, you get a very nicely featured AC / DC Squarewave TIG unit. This would also be a good choice for the application that you have described. It comes as a complete package that includes the TIG Torch, Ground Cable with Clamp, Electrode Holder with Cable, RFCS-14 Foot Control, and a Regulator with Gas Hose. The unit is rated at 150 amps with a 40% duty cycle, and an output range of 10 - 180 amps DC and 15 - 180 amps AC. It doesn't have the low end capabilities of the Maxstar unit, but I doubt that you will be doing any welding under 10 amps. Pricing for the Syncrowave is as follows:
903600 Miller Syncrowave 180SD Mfg. List Price: $1675.00
Also, take note that this is LIST Price. Also note that these are the prices as of today. Miller pricing will be going up on Tuesday morning February 1st.
I hope that this helps you in your decision. Either one of these units would be perfect for your application.
Good Luck! Earl Pearson Pittsburgh, PA
wrote:

Well I would feel better about it if I had a slider, but mine is a thumbwheel and is less useful. I use it about 2 times a year, so it is unlikely I am going to shell out another $110 for a slider.

Well Ted I do have a tiny air-cooled 50 amp TIG torch that works great, but I do too much heavy aluminum to deal with an air cooled torch for most work. Aluminum really sucks the life out of a TIG and the AC arc puts half the heat back into the torch. That can make a torch get damn warm after a short while. My econotig came with an air-cooled 150 amp torch and I stuck with it for 2 years before figuring out how to hook up a water cooled torch. Air-cooled torches are better for low amperage and DC welding. I also occasionally hook up my 350 amp water-cooled torch and weld 1/2" aluminum plate, and I can't imagine doing that with an air-cooled torch.

Now if only they would jump into this small transformer TIG market. It's always nice to have options. -- STAGESMITH - Custom Metal Fabrication - Renton, WA, US
"Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind." William Shakespear
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I have used ALL of the machines you are looking at. You don't state that you NEED AC for aluminum
If you only need DC then a a Maxstar 200DX would be an excellent choice. I have had mine for 6 years now and still love it.
A Maxstar 300DX would get you more amps, but eliminates the 110v option.
The Dynasties are sweet machines, but have lower duty cycles than the Maxstars. If you want to do aluminum, then go for a Dynasty.
Syncrowave 351s are nice, but REALLY BIG, and they only have a rudimentary sequencer. We have one at South Seattle with that package, and it is kind of clunky as a sequencer.
For inverters stick with Miller. Better units, more features, made in the US.
The Thermal Arc I keep[ recommending is their low end 185TSW because of the low price for the features. Miller inverters are better but more money.

--
Welding Instructor - South Seattle Comm. Coll.
- Divers Institute of Technology
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    --Does the Maxstar come with a pulser, or is that only on the Dynasty?
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : What's not done by you
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is done *to* you..
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The Maxstar 200DX has the same pulser/sequencer as the Dynasty 200DX.
To add AC to the Dynasty they had to reduce the overall duty cycle.
--
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- Divers Institute of Technology
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

Thanks for the info, Ernie.
Well, the 351 never came through, so I think I'll roll with my original plan to pick up a Dynasty or Maxstar 200DX- whichever shows up first in used condition at the right price. I'm tempted to hold out for the 300 series, but I think I'll jump on a 200 series and see how far that takes me. You had me tempted with the TA185, but I figure my original intent was to have the 110V option for field work, so I'd rather spend the extra cash and pick up this option and have a few more amps to boot. Besides, I already have accessories (remotes) that are for the Miller, and I don't know if they fit the TA.
Thanks again.
Smyths
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