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Old 08-03-2005, 03:53 PM
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Harbor Freight TIG

I may be going out on a limb here but I just tried out a TIG welder and wanted to pass on what I found. A while back a buddy of mine bought a HF MIG welder and I was quite impressed with it(for the price anyway)and now he just bought the TIG outfit no.91811-1ake and we tried this thing today. First let me tell you what it is NOT! it is not for aluminum welding nor is it heavy duty it any way but for light steel, scratch start type TIG operation this thing worked darn good. I cannot vouch for quality or how long it will last but heck it is only $199.99 and the one I tried works a lot better than it should for 200 bucks! For someone on a tight budget this outfit may be just the ticket for hobby type body work,exhaust pipe or thin wall tubing, etc. As I said I have no way of knowing how this thing will hold up but most HF stuff usually does ok if you don't expect industrial duty service and I can't think of any TIG outfit for anywhere near the price.

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Old 08-15-2005, 10:53 PM
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im thinking about getting it, does it require an argon tank to tig?? (im new to welding)
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Old 08-16-2005, 01:36 PM
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Yep it needs gas. Like I said this thing is light duty but for the price it does a good job. Since you are new to welding I would suggest getting a good welding how-to book or much better yet get some instruction before you try welding since TIG can be a bit tricky especially on one of these cheaper machines with few features. The key word here is tricky not difficult and with a little practice and a nudge in the right direction you will catch on in no time.

Last edited by oldred; 08-16-2005 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 08-16-2005, 08:34 PM
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You might want to check on replacement parts such as torch cups/collets and stuff like that! your local welders supply will not have anything for your made in china welder!
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Old 08-16-2005, 08:40 PM
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A good welder will last for yrs. and yrs. Save your money and get a good one. I like Miller and Hobart best.
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Old 08-16-2005, 08:58 PM
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Word to the wise.

A TIG is not a welder one can just pickup and use. Years ago I worked for a company in the food industry. There was a TIG in the corner that no one could use.

I burned up a couple bottles of gas and a bunch of tungsten and started doing "OK". Couple dozen BIG bottles of gas later I was really good with it.

So not to discourage anyone, but we have all seen the welds a TIG makes and how cool it is. If you have some money to blow and are willing to invest the time to learn how to use it. HOURS.... Then go for it. But dont think its as simple as mig welding.

Back to the topic. I think I would stick with name brand as well. Nothing like have a piece of equipment in perfect condition wiht one little part you cant get !

I personally would not spend money on a TIG that you could not attach a finger/foot control to. If you want something really nice. Go liquid. The torch and cable is much nicer.

Rich
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Old 08-17-2005, 09:10 AM
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I expected a lot of negative feed-back on this one that's why I said I may be going out on a limb. I have in the past and still will steer someone away from no-name machines in most cases but for someone on a tight budget this thing could be a viable alternative. I have spent many years welding with a good part of that time bent over TIG machines of various types so I am not new to TIG. I was quite clear as to the limitations of this unit and I never meant for it to be a replacement for a good one for someone running a shop or welding on a regular basis. Comparing this outfit to a big name unit is comparing apples and oranges as the big names are light years ahead in both quality and features, so why buy this unit? If you don't have the ca$h outlay and just need a welder for HOBBY type body work,(as I already pointed out),welding small tubing, small brackets etc. then this thing works just fine. Gabby(my buddy who bought this outfit) has nearly finished his motorcycle frame and building the gas tank along with welding both rear cab corners in his 67 chevy truck and, like his MIG welder of the same brand, it is still working fine. I am making no claims as to quality since they are cheapo units they may not last long at all but they are holding up so far and BOTH welders only cost $400. So if you don't have or want to spend the big bucks for machines that will be used only occasionally these may be an option just don't expect industrial quality. High frequency start and thumb controls along with ability to weld aluminum would be nice but still it will do most small steel welding just fine. ANY kind of welding can be hard for a newbie so if you are not already an acomplished TIG welder then be prepared to go through the learning curve but if you can TIG weld then you will have no problem. Gabby had never used a TIG before but has a lot of torch time behind him so he caught on quickly.
BTW consumables are available from HF or mail order.
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Old 08-17-2005, 10:09 AM
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oldred:

That's more like my budget. I'm looking to replace my Lincoln Handycore (flux-core wire welder, no gas) to do body repair. Every time I try to use that thing where appearance matters, I end up shutting it off and grabbing my oxy-acetylene. Would that TIG or a Harbor Freight MIG (saw they advertise a reconditioned 30-120 amp MIG for $160) be a better replacement for, or complement to, that flux welder? I've never tried TIG before, so I'm kinda in the same boat as your friend. The closest I've been to either MIG or TIG is that flux-core wire welder.

I don't run a shop; it's all for fun.
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Old 08-17-2005, 11:40 AM
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For body work you just can't beat a MIG welder. I don't remember the model of MIG he got from HF(I posted the part# in another thread a while back) but I think it was $199.99 on sale but they always are it seems. If you use c/25 gas and JW Harris Twenty Guage brand gas shielded cored wire it is a combo that works better than anything I have ever used. A MIG is a lot easier to learn than TIG and IMO a lot more useful for all-around use. A MIG can also be used as a flux core welder just switch the leads to change polarity and shut off the gas and you are ready to load up some flux core wire, or for that matter you can switch the leads on your flux core, add a gas solenoid and proper welding lead(MIG type gun) and you are ready for a tank and some MIG wire. Now before I get jumped by someone saying that it would be better to just buy a good outfit in the begining let me say that I will be the first to agree BUT that depends on someones options and to some saving even a few dollars may make the diffrence between having a welder and doing without. There is no doubt that the higher priced outfits are a lot better but my point here is that these HF welders seem to work ok and are so cheap almost anyone can afford them but be warned I have no way yet of knowing how well they will hold up since I have only tried two and the oldest is only about 6 months old but they seem, at this point anyway, to be working well.

I have not seen that reconditioned unit, do you have a p/n?
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Old 08-17-2005, 11:55 AM
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Now I see why it rained me off the scaffold -- to come in here to see your reply.

HF item no. 55250-0VGA and a smaller one is 55247-1VGA.

I hadn't thought about adapting the HandyCore to be a MIG. It would be a gamble that the thing could even push .023 wire instead of the .035 flux-core. It would also be a gamble that I could do the conversion without ever having used a real MIG. This thing has soured me on Lincoln products, now. The trigger regularly sticks in "on" and wastes wire until I can get it to shut off. I've had it apart and it's not foreign material jamming it; it's just a bad design.
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Old 08-17-2005, 12:14 PM
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Oldred,

You are right. I have a tendancy to overspend on tools even though I dont make my living with most of them. Its something I get enjoyment out of and will for years.

I have lots of $1000 stuff -used once

Pretty smart huh

To each their own. You wont find a cheaper tig than that.

Rich
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Old 08-17-2005, 12:22 PM
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Grouch, Actually the gun is probably a Tweco or Bernard since that is what is most popular and even the little Lincolns usually hold up really well and are quite reliable. If you can locate a solenoid and the right gun cheap enough that is all you would need to convert it but if you have to tie up a lot in them then it would make more sense to just buy a new outfit. Check the gun you have, does it have a gas fitting? Probably not but it may be worth checking. If the right parts are to be had then the Twenty Gauge is .030 and should feed just fine and since it takes less current than the flux core it should even make the short duty cycle easier to live with. Regardless of which machine you end up with if you use MIG that Twenty Gauge is the best stuff to come along in years!

www.jwharris.com/images/twentygauge.pdf
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Old 08-17-2005, 12:29 PM
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Thanks for that link! I was just looking at http://www.jwharris.com/welref/techguide/steel_solid/ and trying to figure out which of those you had been talking about.

I will probably just pass this flux-core on to some young relative and buy a MIG.
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Old 08-17-2005, 10:24 PM
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lincoln 125 mig

Don't be soured on Lincoln. Maybe you got a lemon. I've had a 125 mig for about nine years and never had a bit of trouble. I use both solid and fllux core from 023 to .o35.
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Old 08-17-2005, 10:30 PM
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would this be a better choice, sorry i was not clear, i have used mig welders before, so im not entirely new to welding, its just for hobby, the image above is for a Ideal Arc Tig-300 /300 AC/DC Arc Welder
comes with
Bernard Coolant Unit
Foot Control
Gas Regulator
Tig Torch
Stick Torch

should i get this insted?? its Input power is 220v 104a / 440v 52a Single Phase and i could probly get it for arround 500 or so maybe cheeper is that a good deal?? it seems like it b/c tigs are pricy

i just plan to use the tig for hobby things, brackets, tubing, frame stuff, no production stuff, so would this welder be over kill?
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