TIG Welders - any advice?

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
I'm thinking of getting into TIG welding - both as 'something to learn' and as a sideline in Aluminium / alloy welding & repairs.
Looking to spend ~ £1000 - 1200 on the welder (the Argon, filler rods, helmet etc. will be about another £1k) and there's a few options:-
Parweld XTT212P - made in China but UK spec, good sales pitch but not keen to show weld quality on their videos - around £1080
R-Tech TIG170EXT - again, Chinese made but with Siemens semiconductors, 3 year warranty, seem to get negative vibes on welding forums due to the amount of use the warranty gets.... around £1200
YesWelder TIG 250p - Chinese again, good reviews in USA, would have to import but only US$720 inc shipping, even if I got spanked for VAT & import duties, still on budget

Or should I go for a Lorch Handy TIG 200 - roughly double what I want to spend at £2100 but a much better welder in terms of power control, pulse and AC curve?

Looked at the Paton TIG's - not a fan of eastern European electrics and the control panel looks fiddly....

Any advice welcome - especially if it's something i've not thought of!

I've done a lot of stick & gas welding in the past so not a complete novice in the metal-melting arts, never got on with MIG though!
 
Not anything about the choice of welders, about learning.

I did the C&G mig welding in Hinckley college, as was, took me a year, tuesday and thursday evenings for a couple, or three hours each evening. Never having done any metal work at skool I loved it, burning metal with fire, using machinery that could cut your hand/arm/foot/leg/head off. The chap in the cubicle next to mine for the year was learning TIG. His day job was working at a place where they made specialist, and prototype automotive bodies. He was allegedly the best, most promising MIG welder in the firm, and yes he could lay a far king magnificent weld with MIG - the instructor used to get him to demo stuff to us as he was even better than the instructor. It took him the best part of three or four months to get to grips with TIG, and the rest of the year to get to the standard that the major client of his firm wanted to see in prototype bodies - VW/Bentley.

So may I suggest nipping along to your local college for a while to get it down perfick.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
That is part of the plan - I'd like to think the gas / stick experience gives me a bit of a head start and I'd like to have my own gear I can use to develop the muscle memory between night school sessions, not to be 'top of the class' but to work on any the many weak points I will have!
 

Whining Civvy

War Hero
I'm a welder by trade, and despite what people may say it is generally NOT like riding a bike, TIG in particular is something which requires a lot of practice and if the skills are not used they will be lost. It isn't rocket science though, if you put the time in and apply a bit of self criticism to the results you'll get good at it.

With welding sets, you get what you pay for. Avoid Chinese like the plague, the quality of the kit varies wildly even within the same factory. We tend to stick with known Western brands, although I've never used a BOC set which I didn't consider s**t. Have a think about the thickness of the materials you want to weld professionally and tailor your set to that - there's no point paying out for more powerful sets if you aren't going to need it. Migatronic is my favourite brand, WIA is a nothing fancy but a solid reliable workhorse, UNIMIG have good word of mouth reviews in the trade although I've never used them personally. Ebay is filled with absolute sh**e, avoid buying new online and go through reputable dealers if you can. If you're getting second hand just to have a crack, AVOID CHINESE there are thousand brands out there, all of which are made in the same bunch of crappy factories so walk around a brick and mortar store and talk to reps just to get a handle on what's in common trade use (bearing in mind they're trying to flog it to you while you do). No comment on Eastern European stuff, never used it.

Good luck!

{edit} I've never heard of the brands you're mentioning, personally I think it's better to get a good quality second hand set with a recognisable brand privately through FB buy swap and sell or something than brand new Chinese crap, many sets have seen light use then gathered dust in the shed for a year.

Did I say to avoid Chinese made crap? Yeah, avoid that. Even if sold in the West. The seller doesn't know the quality either, and have fun with the warranty back and forths.
 
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Re choice of equipment, don't Lidl have one on offer at the moment?
 

Polyester

War Hero
Second hand or refurbed Kemppi would be my advice. Fantastic welders.
 
I’ve got an old Land Rover discovery which I used to use to tow my mini digger around with when I was running a groundwork business. Then my legs got knackered with arthritis and I had to stop working. Co-incidentally, the Land Rover was starting to become a rust bucket and I’d gone out and brought a Clarke mig welder. The plan was to learn to weld and fix the Land Rover. Still not done it yet because of my legs but I did come across this site on the internet which seems a useful place for would be welders.


They cover tig welding as well. I haven’t looked at it for some time now but when I did, it seemed to be a useful place.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
I'm a welder by trade, and despite what people may say it is generally NOT like riding a bike, TIG in particular is something which requires a lot of practice and if the skills are not used they will be lost. It isn't rocket science though, if you put the time in and apply a bit of self criticism to the results you'll get good at it.

With welding sets, you get what you pay for. Avoid Chinese like the plague, the quality of the kit varies wildly even within the same factory. We tend to stick with known Western brands, although I've never used a BOC set which I didn't consider s**t. Have a think about the thickness of the materials you want to weld professionally and tailor your set to that - there's no point paying out for more powerful sets if you aren't going to need it. Migatronic is my favourite brand, WIA is a nothing fancy but a solid reliable workhorse, UNIMIG have good word of mouth reviews in the trade although I've never used them personally. Ebay is filled with absolute sh**e, avoid buying new online and go through reputable dealers if you can. If you're getting second hand just to have a crack, AVOID CHINESE there are thousand brands out there, all of which are made in the same bunch of crappy factories so walk around a brick and mortar store and talk to reps just to get a handle on what's in common trade use (bearing in mind they're trying to flog it to you while you do). No comment on Eastern European stuff, never used it.

Good luck!

{edit} I've never heard of the brands you're mentioning, personally I think it's better to get a good quality second hand set with a recognisable brand privately through FB buy swap and sell or something than brand new Chinese crap, many sets have seen light use then gathered dust in the shed for a year.

Did I say to avoid Chinese made crap? Yeah, avoid that. Even if sold in the West. The seller doesn't know the quality either, and have fun with the warranty back and forths.
Cheers for that - Eng-Weld sell Migatronic (and Parweld) so I'll nip down and have a look, fully agree with the generic Chinese stuff - and not just welders. Lorch are German, unsure where they manufacture though.
Parweld & R-Tech are UK companies that have their manufacturing done in China, both offer decent warranties and sell through UK dealers as well as direct.
I'm looking to be working up to 6mm Alu / alloy so something in the ~180A range with pulse seems to be optimum from what I've read, I take your point on second hand stuff, the downside is these would be unlikely to have any warranty
Thanks for your reply, very informative!
 

Whining Civvy

War Hero
You're welcome. UK warranties on Chinese goods are ok I suppose, especially if the company is within driving and plonking faulty set on the reception desk distance.

Edit - I had a quick look at EngWeld's website, Lincoln Electric, ESAB and Kemppi are all good, parweld looks like generic Chinese to me but have a go if you think the company is reputable enough.
 
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Whining Civvy

War Hero
Completely random, but while we're here: buy plenty of consumables as you'll spend a lot of time accidentally dipping your tip into the weld pool and having to knock the end off and regrind it. Get a new wheel for your bench grinder and only use it for the tungsten tips because it does make a difference if you introduce impurities into it when regrinding, and try to get the right angle when you grind as it affects the arc.

It doesn't take too much practice, I had it nailed when I was 18 and I was as thick an apprentice as they come.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
I was thinking of something like this
Expert TIG 'Ready to Weld' Package - Combo
With the addition of some Alu rods (and Argon etc. Of course!) are the diamond wheels any good? Or just another sales gimmick....

The problem now is the usual mission creep, I was looking around £1k for a machine, could stretch to £1200 for the R-Tech, but with the Lorch and Migatronic being circa £1500, its not that much more than the R-Tech, is it ;)
 
I was thinking of something like this
Expert TIG 'Ready to Weld' Package - Combo
With the addition of some Alu rods (and Argon etc. Of course!) are the diamond wheels any good? Or just another sales gimmick....

The problem now is the usual mission creep, I was looking around £1k for a machine, could stretch to £1200 for the R-Tech, but with the Lorch and Migatronic being circa £1500, its not that much more than the R-Tech, is it ;)


I saw something similar to this mask a while back and it made me smile.

iu
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Just been reading up on the Migatronic Focus 200 AC/DC (pretty much the only one in my extended price range) and it seems to have a fixed AC frequency of 70Hz, from what i've read, higher frequencies 'focus' the pool better for thinner materials - is it that important?
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Another one for consideration - was recommended through gritted teeth due to it's Frenchness....

The guy that recommended it to me works six or so days a month, tapping & welding gas pipes, mainly for Transco but also for large factories that cannot shut off the supply easily or cheaply - yup, he welds live gas pipes..... (although most of them are plastic these days)
Oh, he's 74 now, and was once 'blown up' due to Transco changing the pressure in the wrong pipe!
 

Whining Civvy

War Hero
Another one for consideration - was recommended through gritted teeth due to it's Frenchness....

The guy that recommended it to me works six or so days a month, tapping & welding gas pipes, mainly for Transco but also for large factories that cannot shut off the supply easily or cheaply - yup, he welds live gas pipes..... (although most of them are plastic these days)
Oh, he's 74 now, and was once 'blown up' due to Transco changing the pressure in the wrong pipe!
I've never heard of GYS, tbh I expect it's just another Chinese power source with a brand sticker slapped on the side. They are ALL much of a muchness at the budget end regardless of the brand. If you can afford it go with recognisable trade brands, if you're going for the budget end then most definitely go to EngWeld or another brick and mortar store and buy through them, I really can't stress that enough. If there's a fault then it's a million times faster and easier to get rectified than sorting it out online and mailing things back and forth, take it from someone who knows.

I'd say yes to the ready to weld package, it's a plug in and go set up kit, I would recommend buying more tungsten tips though as you'll do a fair bit of swearing and regrinding and will go through them quite quickly to start with (you'll want to keep the tip close to the weld pool and a slight tremor in your hand will see you dip it in and stuff it :D ) Definitely get an automatic helmet, trying to flip your lens down with an old style one and then try to get your electrode and filler rod in the right spot while effectively blind is a non starter.

With regards to frequencies etc I wouldn't worry too much about it at the beginner level, you are over thinking it when you start taking these things into consideration. What you want to focus on is technique, the rest can come later. If you've done gas welding you have a head start but all the same, don't bother worrying about that yet. Diamond wheels can't hurt, but a regular grinding wheel that's new and uncontaminated by other materials will do the job just as well.

Edit: If you're planning to earn money down the line working with mild steel then start your practicing with that, if ali then get the correct filler materials etc for that, there's quite a difference when welding them. The reps in store would be the best people to ask about what to buy with the welding set - and make sure you have a supply of bits of scrap to play with. Aluminium can be trickier to get hold of that bog standard mild steel.
 
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OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Thanks for that, I didn't think >£1k would really be 'budget' territory given the price of some of the tat on fleabay etc.
GYS are French designed & manufactured (my mate, a proud Lancastrian, considers having one and it being his preferred small welder his 'dirty little secret').
I'm off to Eng-Weld today for a couple of hours I'm still looking at other options though. The R-Tech one looks good with a three year warranty, at that point I can decide to upgrade to a better marque if the sideline is bearing fruit
Boys and their toys eh?
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Well had an interesting hour or so at Eng-Weld.... it might be because it was month's end but the salesman was really pushing me to buy something today - even though I told him the models and price point I was interested in he was pushing higher (even to the point of a Lincoln three-phase, which was about three times my budget and pointless as I have no access to three phase at home...) I did like the Migatronic, the Parweld was a good looker but....
There was a guy who had come in to pick up some consumables, munching the remains of an egg banjo, who was earwigging the conversation, he asked the salesman if he could try the welders as he was after a new TIG, after a bit of bluster and faffing he was able to fire up three machines 'out the back' Parweld XTT212, Migatronic Focus 200 and Lincoln Aspect 200 The difference seeing and hearing the three was astounding. The guy was clearly an experienced TIG welder and the test runs he did looked perfect to me although he turned his nose up at the Parweld.
The salesman had clearly switched his attention to the experienced guy so I snuck out, glad of the break TBH!
Had a quick search for 'welding supplies' close by, which lead me to a welder/fabricator that also sells consumables, one man band type of place but persuaded him to have a chat about TIG welders over a brew and a bacon butty at the cafe next door... asked about GYS welders, which he wholeheartedly recommended for my expected use and budget, he doesn't sell equipment himself but suggested a place in Jockistan that is much cheaper than the traditional sellers
So i'm giving myself a couple of days to think about it, although I suspect at the price / function point, that's what i'll end up buying. I'm not too concerned about the 160A limit on DC as I envisage most of the work / practice will be on AC (there's plenty of scrap Alu / alloy in the metal skip at work!) now for all the 'accessories' and consumables!
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
I've decided on the GYS 201 TIG

Reasons- made in France not China, GYS have a UK presence, good feedback from a couple of users of GYS equipment, price was reasonable - and crucially, it seems beginner friendly in Alu (AC) mode.
The hardest thing to sort out is the Argon, sent out a few emails, a couple haven't bothered to reply (Energas & SDL {SDL are motor factors & Hobbyweld resellers}) BOC charge annual rental, SGS reseller wants well over the odds - vat on top of what most others are charging inc. of vat...
I found a Tungsten grinder to fit my Dremel, £25 from Amazon - not expecting it to last forever but I don't want to be changing grinding wheels at work every time I need to re-grind a Tungsten rod!

Once everything arrives, I'll stick up some pics of my welds for critique / bore anyone daft enough to read the thread, hell, I might even get myself some 7018's and re-introduce myself to stick welding!
 

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