I always wanted my own tig welder. Not that the Hobart 210 doesn’t do a good job zapping things together. There are certain things that the mig does very well, such as those quick tacks or laying down blobs and blobs of metal (like fixing that muffer). However there comes time when one wants to weld aluminum (or stainless steel, magnesium, titanium, etc etc) together and mig won’t touch these. There are also those times when a little more control is needed in those welds, and tig really shines. The reality is at the end of the day, why should I let 2 years of tig welding experience (I’m still horrible at it) go to waste.
Onto the research. The good ol Syncrowave 351 back in school welded so well that I almost went out and got one myself – they are quite cheap! Things got a little complicated when I found out they pull an impressive >100A at 220V 1ph, and weigh over 500 pounds. That quickly extinguished that idea. Good thing welding technology has progressed quite a bit over the last 30 years, and we now have inverter based welders. Miller’s Dynasty 200DX, HTP’s Invertig 201 and Lincoln Electric’s Precision Tig 225 comes to mind. I don’t like red so that ruled out Lincoln. Since the Syncrowave was a Miller, and the Handler 210 is basically a Miller, I really want to stay in the family. The price of a running 200DX + torch + pedal + cooler is not every kimochi, however (try $5000+). The invertig does a little better (~$2000 out the door?), but one can’t stop asking for more. 200A is not a whole lot when doing 6061, and I just don’t want to get stuck. Endless nights of ebay and craigslist followed.
When people say good things happen to people that wait, they are right. I came across a dude selling his entire operation one day on craigslist. He lists his 300DX + cooler + bottle for sale for 1/2 of list on Miller – tempting! I had to give him a call. Soon I found myself in his storage unit full of nice goodies, looking at the stack of beautiful blue boxes. The serial number checked out to be 2005, and the arc counter only had 2 hours on it! Apparently they bought it for production, and aluminum tig simply takes too long. Dude used it once and put it back under covers. I walked right out with that machine. It now lives in my garage, literally in retirement. I think I rack up 1h of arc time / year 😀
Did I mention it welds like a dream? No more tungsten balling on AC tig! Not to mention the bragging rights of being a Miller owner. More projects to follow 😀