TIG Purchase Advice
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  1. #1

    TIG Purchase Advice

    I’m older and have been welding for an awful lot of years. I started stick welding with an AC buzz box long ago. Mostly MIG and a little TIG since then. I’m not primarily a welder, but do some welding as part of my job.

    At the office, I have an Esab Power Cut 650, a Millermatic 251, and a Miller Synchrowave 200.

    At home, I have a Hobart Handler 175 and a Parker Cut 40.

    I bought the Cut 40 new at only $200. I’ve had it many years and although I don’t use it much, I’ve had zero problems. I do wish it had a pilot arc. It is my only experience with a Chinese machine.

    I’m looking to add a TIG machine to my home shop. I want to do steel and aluminum up to around 3/16. I don’t really want a used transformer machine that takes up a lot of space. I was looking at the Vulcan 200 at Harbor Freight. It appears well made and is inexpensive. Chucke2009 on YouTube gave a review and said he had trouble with the high frequency on AC. Other reviewers have said they have had zero issues. There are also good reviews on the AHP and Everlast from Chucke2009 and Welding Tips and Tricks. Chucke2009 is a young guy and he has shifty eyes. Notice how his eyes keep looking into the camera and then looking away. Amazon reviews on the Chinese machines run from great buy to total nightmare. Again, I’ve had zero problems with my Chinese Cut 40 plasma.

    With that said, I am cautious of spending the money on a Chinese machine and am leaning heavily toward a Hobart Ez TIG 165. My Hobart Handler 175 has been great.

    Advice please...

  2. #2
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    HTP if available, got a great review on YouTube. One of those reviews where he took the cover off and checked the components, build, and circuits. He seemed to know what he was looking at. On advice, I bought a ESAB 186 clone. It's made either in the same factory or across the street in Shanghai.
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  3. #3
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    i have the AHP 200SX and love it. far exceeded my expatations.

  4. #4
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    No issues with my SW200 but it will run you more than some alternatives and has less adjustable options. I had the AHP older version and replaced it with the SW200. The new harbor freight unit is worth looking at from what I hear.
    www.FirehouseFabricators.com



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  5. #5
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    No issues with my SW200 but it will run you more than some alternatives and has less adjustable options.
    I admit I lust for a Dynasty, but my LWS sells a lot of SW200s and really likes them, no to mentioned they will service and support it. The SW200 is about 1/2 the cost of a Dynasty 210DX. My LWS also says that despite them being assembled in Mexico, they seem to be reliable and they have only had a single bad one and it was right after Lincoln brought them to market. I'm thinking about them.

    I currently have an Everlast DC tig/stick machine, and I will be replacing that with some type of better unit, I'm replacing my accessories in the meantime as I can always use them on other machines...I can only speak of the welder I own (i-Tig 201), and it does lack a bit of quality and craftsmanship, not to mention that whoever assembled it just didn't take pride in their work. The plus is it was cheap...

  6. #6
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Miller has current rebates on a couple. I believe their Diversion is being phased out.

    https://www.millerwelds.com/build-with-blue-rebate

  7. #7
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    I just bought an AHP and after drilling out the gas hose fitting so it would flow Argon I am very happy with it. I was very skeptical, I bought it through Home Depot so if needed I can return it, up to 90 days at the local store. The pedal is a little weird but works fine and there are some good work arounds out there to improve it, or you can get a Nova pedal for about $160.. I even read someone converted the Harbor Freight pedal($79) to run on the AHP

    By the way my first welder was an AoSmith A/c 300lbs Buzz Box, more years ago than I like to admit
    Last edited by JPS; 04-12-2018 at 08:30 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Here is the review I found
    Man of foolish pursuits
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  9. #9
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    This is a good read about the history of the Vulcan brand. http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php...tig-200-thread

  10. #10
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    I bought a clearance machine, made by unitweld, it's been nothing less than great for mig & stick, it's lift start tig & have not used that function,. It's DC only so no tig aluminum.
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  11. #11
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    The Harbor Freight Vulcan has worked great for me with minimal start issues. Like any tig machine arc starting is a little easier on AC with the balled tungsten if you rub it on the alum before you start. And I don't attach the ground clamp to the work, just the table. With steel it is never an issue at all, and nothing like young Lance says he had.

    Anyway the Vulcan has a one year satisfaction return policy, no questions asked. But you have to purchase the 3 year warranty for some $75, and you don't get it back. It was designed around the LincolnSW200 and actually uses some of the same components and the pulse is much more useful at 200pps instead of 20pps. The 115volt side of the dual voltage feature is incredible. To illustrate we have been tacking 3/16" alum brackets with argon/helium, and filling holes on 1/4" stainless plates on 115volts. That is both the Vulcan and Lincoln.

    The AHP and Razorweld units are more adjustable but I would only buy from our member dealers. SouthPaw and Gamble.
    Last edited by shovelon; 04-13-2018 at 01:38 AM.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  12. #12
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    Anyway the Vulcan has a one year satisfaction return policy, no questions asked. But you have to purchase the 3 year warranty for some $75, and you don't get it back. It was designed around the LincolnSW200 and actually uses some of the same components and the pulse is much more useful at 200pps instead of 20pps. The 115volt side of the dual voltage feature is incredible. To illustrate we have been tacking 3/16" alum brackets with argon/helium, and filling holes on 1/4" stainless plates on 115volts. That is both the Vulcan and Lincoln.
    I understand where you are coming from, but wanted to give my view. I am considering the SW200, but wanted to give a couple thoughts on the Vulcan.

    Honestly, I've looked at it pretty close at my local HF, and while I agree that the pulse is a more useful "range", the unit itself just feels cheap. The plastic trim is kind of crappy and feels brittle, as does the machine in general to me. The knobs didn't seem too smooth, not sure if that was because it was a floor model, but the SW200 was also at my LWS. In credit to Vulcan, they do have the wiring diagrams in the manual. The accessories are also pretty cheap, and I thought my Everlast electrode holder and grounding clamp where better than the Vulcan supplied.

    Both units have a similar crappy argon regulator. This sells for $900, I guess you can get a discount coupon, that I'm not certain.

    In comparison, the SW200 has pretty nice trim on it, it is not as brittle and more durable. The accessories are better quality and while not the top of the line stuff, it's not too bad, IMO. I think the Lincoln accessories are nicer than what I got from Everlast. The knob is really smooth and feels really nice on the SW200. Pedal looked pretty nice on the SW200, not sure about the Vulcan.

    But another thing to think about is parts. I have to believe that Lincoln will stock and have parts for a long time. Will Vulcan supply parts? How will that work?

    The street price on the SW200 is about $1500 which is close to the MSRP.

    As a customer my LWS will service and take care of any problems for me during the warranty period, and it might only be 2 years...but with Vulcan I would need to take it back to HF and deal with their knowledgeable staff.

    At the end of the day, aside from the pulse and possibly a couple other minor things...the differences in the construction and the accessories are worth some, as-is local service and durability of the unit in general. I would think seriously about the SW200 before plunking down my $$$s to HF. (and I am! )

    NOTE: I know you will say, "we have all of our own accessories we use, our electrode holders, torches, grounding clamps, etc...so those might be a non-issue for a person like you. But you still get the cheap feeling machine at the end of the day. Is my description of the actual machine remotely close to what you see between them?

  13. #13
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post
    I understand where you are coming from, but wanted to give my view. I am considering the SW200, but wanted to give a couple thoughts on the Vulcan.

    Honestly, I've looked at it pretty close at my local HF, and while I agree that the pulse is a more useful "range", the unit itself just feels cheap. The plastic trim is kind of crappy and feels brittle, as does the machine in general to me. The knobs didn't seem too smooth, not sure if that was because it was a floor model, but the SW200 was also at my LWS. In credit to Vulcan, they do have the wiring diagrams in the manual. The accessories are also pretty cheap, and I thought my Everlast electrode holder and grounding clamp where better than the Vulcan supplied.

    Both units have a similar crappy argon regulator. This sells for $900, I guess you can get a discount coupon, that I'm not certain.

    In comparison, the SW200 has pretty nice trim on it, it is not as brittle and more durable. The accessories are better quality and while not the top of the line stuff, it's not too bad, IMO. I think the Lincoln accessories are nicer than what I got from Everlast. The knob is really smooth and feels really nice on the SW200. Pedal looked pretty nice on the SW200, not sure about the Vulcan.

    But another thing to think about is parts. I have to believe that Lincoln will stock and have parts for a long time. Will Vulcan supply parts? How will that work?

    The street price on the SW200 is about $1500 which is close to the MSRP.

    As a customer my LWS will service and take care of any problems for me during the warranty period, and it might only be 2 years...but with Vulcan I would need to take it back to HF and deal with their knowledgeable staff.

    At the end of the day, aside from the pulse and possibly a couple other minor things...the differences in the construction and the accessories are worth some, as-is local service and durability of the unit in general. I would think seriously about the SW200 before plunking down my $$$s to HF. (and I am! )

    NOTE: I know you will say, "we have all of our own accessories we use, our electrode holders, torches, grounding clamps, etc...so those might be a non-issue for a person like you. But you still get the cheap feeling machine at the end of the day. Is my description of the actual machine remotely close to what you see between them?
    And here is the reverse side of this.....from a true blue guy.
    You buy the better brand from the LWS, expecting all the good service. Then when a board fails, everyone is making money so it costs as much (or way more) than the HF.
    If you forgot to bring your HF machine in and exchange it for a new one, and then was out of warranty, it's still cheaper to toss it in the trash and get a new one.
    Big machines....get name brand. Little ones....not so much IMO
    I think the name brand machines (esp. Miller) have got themselves stuck where they are having a lot of trouble in the hobby level market.
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  14. #14
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    #1, I wouldn't buy a welder from anyone who doesn't have a local presence. You don't want to have to get into mailing the unit back and forth for warranty support. To me that is just illogical. When I had an AHP welder it cost me around $100 each way for shipping to send it from Connecticut to California. With most of the mail order companies, after the first 30 days, that shipping cost is your financial responsibility. You can mitigate that some: If you buy from Home Depot, and use your Home Depot credit card to pay for the unit, then Home Depot allows you to return the unit for a full refund for us to 1 year, for ANY REASON. Probably the only exception to this rule would be HTP. The Invertig 221 gets such good ratings, I think it would be worth the risk. Plus they offer a 90 day risk free trial period and their customer service is absolutely top notch.

    Personally, I think the Harbor Freight unit is a "can't lose" deal right now. You buy it, and you can return it at any time for up to 1 year. I have to disagree with Shovelon on the warranty though. They did refund the full 3 year warranty on my Omnipro that I returned to them. Go buy the Harbor Freight unit and try it. If it doesn't suit your needs, bring it back. You don't have to prove any defect in the unit to return it. You can simply bring it back and say "I didn't like it". They will refund 100% of your money. Where is the risk in that? If it is a POS then that's what it is and back it goes. But based on Terry's reviews it sounds like a decent unit. The Omnipro I bought was damaged in the box which is why I brought it back. I would have bought another, but they were sold out.
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  15. #15
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    The SW200 torch is a flex head which i really enjoy. The foot pedal is also great. The AHP pedal was horrid to use.

    You will go through more argon at times with the SW200 because you can’t control post flow. The machine automatically sets post flow based on welding amperage but often times you need it to cool the torch off anyway at the higher end.

    I believe the 17 torch is rated for 150 but I’ve taken it up to 200 in small doses and had no issue. The torch parts are pretty irrelevant when you can swap to a Gas lens kit on the cheap anyway. And you will need to buy tungsten for any machine even if it comes with one rod, so that’s a non factor.

    I believe the Lincoln comes with a 3 year warranty that you can extend to 5 for a couple bucks. I never bothered to extend it but many have.

    AHP you will have almost non existent customer service. It is near impossible in my experience to get someone on the phone.

    Harbor freight will be the same thing with the exception of you will get someone on the phone but they won’t have a clue what a TIG welder is. Also Harbor freight you could honestly buy a new one and return it if it ever went bad prematurely.

    Jasic (Razerweld) has great customer service.

    $1500 is steep for the SW200. I was fortunate enough to pay $2000 when they had the combo promotion a couple years back for the MIG and TIG pair.

    After reading Shovelons review, I think if I had to do it right now without the deal I got, I would buy the Vulcan.
    Last edited by BrooklynBravest; 04-13-2018 at 09:20 AM.
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  16. #16
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Its going to be hard to beat the Vulcan with the extra warranty. I am not a Vulcan fan but it is a lot of machine for the money and would give a novice about as worry free an ownership as possible. shovelton has tested them better than most will ever do and is happy with them for what they are , that is good enough for me.

  17. #17
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    mmmm, it won't link to YouTube , look for Matt Pratt HTP welder review. His and another reviewer doing a super cheap Chinese TIG welder are the only reviews I put any stock in. Certainly none of the "they gave me a welder so it must be great" types. The simple truth with these electronic marvels,, a computer building nerd is a better reviewer. And your repair depot, too.
    Man of foolish pursuits
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  18. #18
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by TraditionalToolworks View Post
    Is my description of the actual machine remotely close to what you see between them?
    I think you are pretty close to what I see too. Fit and finish are slightly better with the LincolnSW200, as is the flexhead torch and a nice Smith flowgauge. The SSC pedal on the Lincoln is also better. The electurd holder is a mute point cause I would never stick weld with a tig. Did it once with my Dynasty200 for a city job and never again. The ground clamps are exactly the same with good copper contacts. The Vulcan has a wider pulse rate. Each has a 10% two year warranty upgrade where the Lincoln will cost you $150 to get you up to 5 years(I did this on the 2 I bought). The Vulcan costs about $75 to get you up to 3 years warranty. Final comparison is that the Lincoln will get put you back about $1500 where the Vulcan will put you back about $1000. That 5 years on the Lincoln though would sway me back if the pulse would go beyond 20pps to 200pps. 60pps is minimum for production work. For field work the pulse only kills the amp average when plugged into house-current 115volts, so it stays off on the Lincoln anyway.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  19. #19
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    That 5 years on the Lincoln though would sway me back if the pulse would go beyond 20pps to 200pps.
    I have to say that's the one feature lacking on the SW200 that has me on the fence to put it on my short list. I have up to 250pps on my current DC inverter. I have used it how Jody Collier recommends, 1-1.5pps, 33pps and 133 pps. 133pps helps a lot on outside miters with thinner wall tube. Given the SW200 is limited to 20 is a tad of a disappointment.

    That said, Lincoln seems to have a gap in their product line, where the SW200 seems intended for a hobbyist, but the v205 was aimed at pros, but not made anymore. They have the Precision Tig 225, but that is a heavy shop type machine (200lb), opposed to a higher quality portable machine (50-60 lbs). Makes me wonder if Lincoln will come out with something to fill that gap, surely they must know about it as they don't make the v205 anymore (I don't think), and the v160 is not in the same class...they really need a 250 amp high quality portable tig/stick unit at around the $2k price.

    I do use my DC only machine for stick also...
    Last edited by TraditionalToolworks; 04-13-2018 at 08:59 PM. Reason: s/Invertig 225/Precision 225/g (before nomenclature police gig me)

  20. #20

    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I think you all have helped me make a decision.

    I was leaning heavily toward the Hobart Ez TIG 165 to get a USA made machine at a more reasonable price. I understand it is the same machine as the Miller Diversion 165. It comes up short on adjustments and features.

    The HTP Invertig looks like a quality machine that is made in Italy. The price is out of my budget at about $2500.

    I hadn't considered the Lincoln Square Wave 200. I would definitely choose it over the Hobart Ez TIG. It's about $100 more.

    I don't want to get an Everlast or AHP machine mainly because of no local presence.

    I decided on the Harbor Freight Vulcan 200. The 1 year risk free trial is hard to beat in my opinion. I will also purchase the extra 3 year warranty. If it gives me any trouble during the first year, I will return it and buy the Lincoln Square Wave 200. I plan to pick it up today.

  21. #21
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Let us know what you think in the HF section after using it awhile. Everyone who buys one seems to like it.
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  22. #22

    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    I picked up a Vulcan TIG 200 on sale for $899.99. The 20% off coupons are not usable for welders, which I already knew. I joined the Harbor Freight Inside Track Club, which got me $50 off, but the membership cost $30, so it was effectively $20 off. It comes with a 1 year warranty/risk free trial. A one year extension was 89.99. I purchased the two year extension for $119.99. With tax, out the door total, $1070.46.

    I've got a 20 CF CO2 cylinder and an 80 CF C25 cylinder at home. I need to buy an argon cylinder before I can set it up and test it out. It seems an 80 CF is the largest cylinder you can buy. I think I was told a 125 CF and larger is lease only, but it was many years ago when I purchased mine.

  23. #23
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephenw View Post
    It seems an 80 CF is the largest cylinder you can buy. I think I was told a 125 CF and larger is lease only, but it was many years ago when I purchased mine.
    At both of my local suppliers 80CF and down are purchases only, they don't lease anything 80 and down. Anything above that can be leased. I know the one place will let me buy the larger cylinders if I prefer to buy over a lease, but I don't think the other place does. I believe that place is lease only above 80 CF.

    Concrats on the welder.

  24. #24
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    Congrats! Use it well.

    I would definitely recommend a larger cylinder. 330s are too big for me, I have a 180 I think or 125. But the 80 you will go through fast especially with uncontrollable post flow.
    www.FirehouseFabricators.com



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  25. #25
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    Re: TIG Purchase Advice

    A couple of things to check on the Vulcan parts. Make sure the leads as tight, and the copper braided web is secure under the copper contacts. Also look into the left side dinse reciever and confirm the rubber o-ring is there. I am sure all will be fine but I am anal that way. The post flow is synergic exactly like the Lincoln so try to weld where your foot pedal is maxed out or a tad less. Setting amps to 200 and welding at 80 amps will have 18 seconds post flow which you don't need.

    Let us know how it is going.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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