Anybody well versed in Tig welding?

Bartman

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Hi all,

Just wondering if we have any Tig gurus here. When I've been practicing I can hold my own with an Oxy-Acetylene torch but don't give me a Tig torch! I'm shopping for a machine which got me wondering if anyone here is an accomplished Tig welder.
 

Bob Turner

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I am in the same boat, although a bit out of practice. One of my buddies is doing some research.
 

aftCG

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I had some done on my Kitfox recently. Found the guy on Craigslist and it turns out he's an A&P who teaches the A&P school, ground school etc at a local community college. I bought the welding rod from aircraft spruce and made the pieces required out of 4130, and took it all to him.

It cost me more to rent the damn Uhaul truck than it did to have the welding done. He had offered to teach me to do it and supervise me. I'm actually quite interested in buying some equipment myself. Unfortunately my daily use bifocals were not suitable for use with the welding helmet because the mask window lined up with my distance prescription. I tortured a couple of pieces of scrap enough to get the basic idea, but happily turned over the actual welding on my aircraft to him.

I typically loathe Harbor Freight but they have a multi process unit (TIG, MIG and stick) that has good reviews. About $700 and I can have something to play around with (on things that don't fly mostly).
 

Bob Turner

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Good info. The guy we use now has a $3000 portable setup that plugs into 120v single phase. We were thinking used at around a grand?

A lot of HF is crap, but there are some jewels in there. I have four of their small cast iron drill presses, and they are better for me than the old Pratt & Whitney sensitive drill press!
 

Bartman

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In shopping around I'm learning a lot. Mostly focusing on used Lincoln and Miller tig machines which are made in the US. Everlast is a US company whose machines are made in China and they seem to be one of the better Chinese machines.

If you're welding lighter gauge steel you can use a lower amperage 110V unit as steel doesn't require as much energy to weld. Aluminum, on the other hand, in addition to needing AC current when being welded, needs a lot more amperage to weld it so a 110V machine would be limited to thin aluminum sheet.

I'm planning on scratch building a fuselage frame, something I've already done with Oxy-acetylene but which I want to do with Tig this time. There are also a lot of fittings to weld and they come out so much better with Tig.

Anything you buy to be able to weld aluminum will also do steel but not the other way around. There are DC only machines that only weld steel.

Newer "inverter" machines use less electricity and are able to weld aluminum with a tighter, smaller bead due to their variable and higher frequency AC settings instead of just the fixed 60 hz household standard. The older transformer based machines were limited to a wider bead when welding aluminum so shops that do more aluminum like the inverter machines.

If I had to pick a machine tonight it would probably be this one

but there are good used machines like the Lincoln Precision or Square Wave or the Miller Syncrowave that cost less, deliver great value and reliability, but without the variable AC frequency feature. They'll still AC weld aluminum just not with the finer bead and control of the new machines. The older transformer machines are larger but super durable, the newer inverter machines can die without warning and can be expensive to fix.

That's all I've got!
 
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longez

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Worked my way through engineering school as a TIG welder - it beat flipping burgers or pumping gas. Now that I live in podunk Montana there isn't a competent TIG weld shop within 75 miles ...so I bought a new Miller Syncrowave 210 so I can fab a new 4-tube exhaust for my LongEZ. I'd never welded with an inverter machine before, and just love it! I have it in my home shop and run it on 220 VAC, but the Miller comes with fancy interchangeable plugs that will allow it to run on 110 VAC at the airport. So far I've fixed some cracked baffles (6061), futzed around on a NG casting off a Cessna that needed some love, and tacked up a new exhaust up for the EZ from 321 SS. I've welded with a buddies AHP alphaTIG, and it seemed to work great on on the Carbon Cub EX fuselage he wanted a few tabs relocated. If I were going into TIG on a budget, I'd look closely at the alphaTIG (yellow), as well as the Everlast (green) and Hobart EZ TIG (white) https://store.cyberweld.com Me - it's gotta be blue! :cool: The Hobart would likely handle anything you'd want weld on these old birds. Most local weld shops will match Cyberweld pricing on welders, and set you up with a bottle of argon, filler rod, TIG gloves, helmet, etc.

If you can gas weld okay you're in a really good situation to learn TIG - most people who start out from zero have a tough time coordinating both hands. I suggest you get a TIG torch with a foot pedal, and not the thumb wheel on the torch to control the arc. Watch YouTube videos; there are some pretty good ones out there - especially Jody Collier's videos.

Helmet technology has **really** changed - look into the 3M Speedglas 9100
 
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Bartman

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@longez thanks for sharing that!

Jody Collier is someone I've watched in the past, his site www.weldingtipsandtricks.com is awesome and, consistent with your recommendation, I'll be a frequent visitor in the months to come. :)

Still trying to buy US made so Everlast is out. Hobart is made in the US but they only make one 165A tig machine. ESAB is made in Sweden and they make a good machine (they also manufacture filler materials in the US) but they're as much as the US made machines although with more features.

If I were smart I'd buy the Miller you bought and mooch settings and advice from you!
 

longez

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Good morning Bartman! First, I applaud your resolve to buy products manufactured in the USA. This thread isn't the place for it, but in 1990 I transferred most of my commercial lock manufacturing to a green field PRC company, had a good ride for 20 years...but am now helping get the lock manufacturing out of China. Grrrr.

Miller makes a slightly less capable machine, the Diversion 180, that would likely be fine for anything I've seen on a rag & tube airplane. I don't know if the Diversion is of US manufacture, but the Miller workhorse Synchrowaves are. A feature of the Diversion is a simplified set-up (as are some of the other TIG you're looking at), you just need to set the material and thickness and begin to weld. Since I don't have my 7KCAB yet, am not sure what might need fixing, but you have to weigh the cost delta between machines against their features/benefits. I really wanted a Dynasty, but reminded myself I'm no longer a production welder (it was almost 50 years ago), and this was to be hobby welding for personal and airport buddies at this stage in my life. You can't go wrong with red or blue :)

I became aware of ESAB a few years ago when I went to buy some parts for my ancient Victor oxy/acetylene rig; ESAB now owns Victor, Sandvik, and a few other welding companies.

longez
 

Bartman

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A person out in PA has a Lincoln Precision 185 and I made him an offer this morning. It's fine for what I need to do but if I ever endeavor to do more aluminum work it might require an upgrade but it's highly unlikely. So we'll see. If he doesn't take my offer then maybe I go big with the ESAB Rebel 205 or the Miller MIG/TIG Syncrowave 200 package. I'd really like to be able to MIG bodywork in my next life.

If there is one thing that you'll need to weld on the 7KCAB it will be the step. If you look at and around the step, especially up at it from below, and there is any corrosion, be careful when you step on it and be on the lookout for cracking as failures aren't uncommon. I think it was @Bob Turner that mentioned it one time that it'll gash your leg if the step breaks off the bottom of the strut that it's welded to. Then it's either a matter or reattaching the step a little further up or at the longeron depending on how/where it failed.

exhaust systems crack (mine did), seat frames crack, there's the potential for corrosion in the aft fuselage tubes which can sometimes require repair, but that's about all I'm aware of. If something has sat outside long enough there's always the potential for more but you're chances of needing to repair something on a Citabria via welding are slim to none.

Back from China? That would be nice to hear about.
 

Bartman

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Does a current generation Syncrowave have variable AC frequency? The don't really list it in their online descriptions which I thought was weird.
 

longez

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Yep, my 2 year old Syncrowave 210 runs 60-150 Hz with wave balance configurable 60-80%. I fabricated the 321 SS exhaust system for EZ #1, and it has 2,600+ hours with zero cracks. Long EZ #2 has 1,100+ hours with two episodes of cracks. Same dynafocal mount, same fancy gel Lord isolators, just one is O-320 and the other is a 360. I suspect It won't be legal for me to weld on a Citabria exhaust, as my certifications expired decades ago. Or can an IA or AP/IA sign off my repair without a yellow tag? I have so much to learn :confused:
 

Bob Turner

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I believe the answer is yes. I have had a couple cracks in the Dec exhaust - I just find the best welder I can, let him do it, inspect, and re-install with a logbook entry. Never occurred to me to think in terms of yellow tags.
 

Bartman

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I believe if the exhaust is subject to an AD then the welds have to be by a certified shop. I had an Aztec at one point and that was the case when the exhaust developed cracks on one side. No AD, anyone can do it (I think), with a sign off as required to keep everyone covered.
 

Bob Turner

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I would think the AD would have to specify that.

I realize that A&Ps cannot overhaul instruments, but have not heard that there is a special designation for exhaust parts.

But I am guessing. Maybe my next IA renewal will have an exhaust repair segment?
 

aftCG

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My IA replaced my right side muffler assembly last year because it was more weld bead than original metal. My old dual exhaust is subject to an AD (requiring pressure testing for leaks). I won't be surprised if he tells me the left side needs replacing this year.
 

longez

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Not at all; most of that stuff was for exotic materials and X-ray inspection welds. Not very limited actually, just less switches than the old transformer machine I welded with for General Dynamics a million years ago. Miller has a lot of features hidden in the sub-menus accessible with the encoder. 4130 is easy to weld, thin SS 321 SS welds okay, SS 304 is easy, 6061 is easy - not much else on old airplanes except carbon steel. Nothing I'm going to weld these days is multi-pass. The SW 210 comes with a MIG spool gun that I haven't used but might try it out on my aluminum Seadoo trailer.

Start in Section 6 here: https://www.millerwelds.com/files/owners-manuals/o261726d_mil.pdf
 
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Bartman

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Just got back from the local welding supply shop, got my argon tank filled and bought a new Lincoln Square Wave 200. They had an old sign on it with a lower price and they honored that price. Need a cart now and I'm rolling. Thanks for the replies everyone. :)
 

longez

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Looks like a great choice, enjoy your new welder! You'll find lots of opportunities to weld with a portable 120/240 VAC inverter machine . Here's my TIG bench >
 

Bartman

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Nice set up you've got there, especially that filler rod rack. it's such a big help to be organized like that. :)