Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?
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  1. #1

    Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    I have a small gunsmithing business and am looking for a decent tig welder. Anyone have any experience with the Thermal Arc 161stl or 201TS. Only difference I see between the the 2 are the amps and HF start on the 201TS. I have very limited tig experience other than a few classes at the local comm. college a few years back. but i look forward to learning. Should I be looking for a welder with pulse settings for thinner material (maxstar 150)? Any input would be helpful.

  2. #2
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    HF start=tig welder, the others are just dc power sources branded as tig welders.

    Pulse is not that important , but other settings are... up/down slope, pre/post flow digital amp reader (for repetability)
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  3. #3
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    That HF start is a huge thing, trying to be precise and use a scratch start is a pain. What is your budget for this machine?
    You could look at HTP, Esab, Lincoln or Miller for other machines.
    If you will only be doing steel a DC only machine will work, if you plan on doing any aluminum you will need a AC/DC machine in which case HF is mandatory.
    Pulse isnt really needed if you learn to use the foot pedal and watch the puddle, you can basically do the same thing.

  4. #4

    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Looking to spend around $1200 to $1300. It's not going to be used everyday, only on occasion when the need arises. I have been considering the miller maxstar 150 sth and the diversion 165. The diversion is more in my price range and AC/DC but looks like a pretty basic machine. That could be a good thing while learning but don't want to outgrow it to quickly. The thermal arc 201TS looks fairly similar to the maxstar but does not have any pulse settings. The 201 does have downslope control.

  5. #5
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    you might look around for a used lincoln squarewave 175..

  6. #6
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    You can get a used TA185 for around $1500. Dynasty 200's seem to be dropping a bit in price used as people await the 280.

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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    TA's are decent machines..
    I know the maxstar 150 is a bit more than your budget but it's a great machine for small stuff.
    I got one back in August, & love it. I'd recommend getting a pedal no matter what machine you end up with though.
    HiFreq is a must for small stuff, IMO.
    Buy American, or don't whine when you end up on the bread line.

  8. #8
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    I found a Lincoln Precision 185 close by for $1000 with all kinds of extras for my gunsmith work, on Craigslist.. I can weld pretty much anything I need to with it from 26 guage sheet metal upwards and it will handle 1/4 aluminum as well altho I don't do much that thick.

  9. #9
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    I have a 161stl and love it. It is ten times the machine a maxstar will ever dream to be. I am a miller fan so I am just stating that the machine is great. As far as tig it is similar but for stick welding it is awesome. You don't need high freq for anything but aluminum really. It is nice but I have never had an issue not having it. It is lift start, not scratch start. All you do is touch the tungsten, touch buttom or pedal and lift to desired arc length. There is no sticking or extra motions. The pedal from my 185 plugs right in and on 2t mode makes it just like my 185. For gunsmithing I would suggest buying a pedal since the slope method can be difficult on small parts to control. You can get used to it and do great things though. With the torch it comes with you can set it to 4t and push buttom to start and then roll the little dial to back off amps as you go then hold button again to slope down. I usually leave it on 2t and then when it gets a little hot I just let go of button, it starts ramping down then hit button again and it goes back to set amps. No matter what tig you get I would recommend getting one that you can at least control the amps on with slope or pedal other wise you might vaporize some small parts.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinacustom View Post
    I have a small gunsmithing business and am looking for a decent tig welder. Anyone have any experience with the Thermal Arc 161stl or 201TS. Only difference I see between the the 2 are the amps and HF start on the 201TS. I have very limited tig experience other than a few classes at the local comm. college a few years back. but i look forward to learning. Should I be looking for a welder with pulse settings for thinner material (maxstar 150)? Any input would be helpful.
    I believe neither of these tigs go below 10 amps output. That makes it a bit tough for small edges or such, and can leave crater cracks in high strength steels. Engaging a pulse can dampen the arc a great deal but these don't have that either. I do think they are remote capable though.

    I do medical instrument fabrication and repair on occasion, a lot of it 17-4, and I rely on my Dynasty200DX.
    I know this is a lot of machine, and takes a great deal of knowledge to operate, but I can go to 1 amp output and engage the pulser to dampen that even. The pulser takes out arc wandering on arc startup too. As far as slope control, you won't need that with a foot control, which I can't even imagine gunsmith welding without foot control.

    The new Miller 280DX tigs are coming out this spring. That will put some "Blue Lightning" 200dx Dynastys on the used market. If you can find one with at least a year of warranty left, you will have a winner.
    "Nothing welded, nothing gained."
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  11. #11

    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Any one have any input on this one? HTP Invertig 131 http://www.usaweld.com/ProductDetail...Code=70131DCHF

    The specs look pretty close to the maxstar with the exception of the duty cycle and 130 vs 150 amps. It also comes with a pedal. I am really looking for something small as space is pretty limited and it will only be used for the occasional job. I don't want to break the bank on a welder that will be idle most of the time but don't want to buy a piece of junk either.

  12. #12
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    I think this will work for you. Foot pedal with HF start is there, goes as low as 5 amps is very good. Seems to come with all the right stuff to get you going.

    I don't care for the 1 year warranty, but HTP seems honest. Maybe they offer an extended warranty, otherwise flog it the first year.

    Looks like the air cooled torch will accept standard parts, so getting them at your local weld supplier should be easy.

    Thumbs up from me.
    "Nothing welded, nothing gained."
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  13. #13
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    I just bought a HTP 221 and love it so far. It has a 3 year warranty (I think the duration is different based on the machine). I have been playing around with it the last couple nights and learning a lot. I plan on posting a review in a couple days. I need to get more scrap so I can show the beads in the hands of a newbie. It goes down to 4 amps and has a lot of adjustments. I know its a bit more than you want to spend. For the money you are looking at, best would be to hold out for a used Lincoln PT series.
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    I believe neither of these tigs go below 10 amps output. That makes it a bit tough for small edges or such, and can leave crater cracks in high strength steels. Engaging a pulse can dampen the arc a great deal but these don't have that either.
    Of the limited number of machines I have looked at, the low power setting on pulse is always limited to the lowest output the machine can normally put out. So if you are welding on a machine with 20 Amps as the floor, and you set it up for 25 Amps with pulse background at 20%, rather than getting 5 Amps during the low periods, you are actually getting 20 Amps.
    Bottom line, pulse is no crutch for that.

    If gunsmithing doesn't require aluminum welding, Maxstars are about 1/2 the price (actually less) than the equivalent Dynasty (ebay used pricing).
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  15. #15
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    guy selling a squarewave 175 on here in the for sale section..

    http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php...981#post738981

  16. #16

    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    I found a Maxstar 150 STL locally but no HF start. I would rather have an STH but I can get the STL for a good price and it's local. I have used an STL before and the lift-arc works great. What situations, if any would high frequency be a must?

  17. #17
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinacustom View Post
    I found a Maxstar 150 STL locally but no HF start. I would rather have an STH but I can get the STL for a good price and it's local. I have used an STL before and the lift-arc works great. What situations, if any would high frequency be a must?
    Don't even consider a machine that doesn't have high freq, seriously, it's worth it to just find an STH. Small portable machines really only exist without it HF because some job sites prohibit it's use due to radio/electrical interference, that's basically the only reason you'd ever choose scratchstart over it (or if you're welding heavy stuff and running at a set amperage with no pedal/thumbwheel remote). Up/downslope are completely useless if you using a foot pedal. For your application pulse will be extremely desirable, it definitely helps on thinner material and also can help the weld appearance. I have a maxstar 150 STH and it is one of the best welding DC TIG / stick welders I have ever used. You should be able to pick up a used one for under $1000 easy.
    Last edited by MikeGyver; 02-12-2012 at 07:17 PM.
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Quote Originally Posted by S obsessed View Post
    I have a 161stl and love it. It is ten times the machine a maxstar will ever dream to be.
    What a ridiculous statement, it looks to me like its less of a machine. It doesn't even have high freq?
    Welding/Fab Pics: www.UtahWeld.com

  19. #19
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/LINCOLN-INVE...item3a704f07b3

    You can pick up a WP17 air cooled torch for another $100.

    Joe
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    maxstar 200 is the way to go for what you will be doing they are a sweet little welder.I have used them on jobs where we were welding ss down to .025 and they were smooth and consistent.the 200 will give you all you will need and still have some left for the application you are looking at.i love these welders and would highly recommend them.
    After the arc has died the weld remains

  21. #21
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    The The Thermal-arc (Sanrex) TS160 is the model that was a full feature machine, It use to sell for more then a fully outfitted Thermal-arc 185. That was for the machine only. Pulse/repeat/ 1 amp low-end/high freq. That was a great DC tig unit. If you could find one used, then it would be the one I would get. Never was as good on power as a maxstar, but it was one sweet tig machine just the same. I do like the new 161s better on stick, and how it is excellent on 120 volt Stick welding. 110 amps on a 20 amp circuit without blowing breakers.

    There are a few guys that come into my friends welding store, and want these old Lincolns on DC. Not sure if it's this model or the older ones. I know they all have modern top of the line inverters too. I knew a gunsmith that just loved the old Lincoln machines too. He was comparing it to my Thermal-arc 300 TSW ac/dc but I got the feeling he liked his machine better.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/LINCOLN-IDEA...item3f12b9fe8b
    Last edited by Brand X; 02-13-2012 at 09:35 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    curious what a gunsmith does with a welder..i have heard of a torch and silver solder on some gun work..

  23. #23

    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    Quote Originally Posted by weldbead View Post
    curious what a gunsmith does with a welder..i have heard of a torch and silver solder on some gun work..
    Thanks for all your advice. I ended up buying a Miller Maxstar 150 STH today.

    I want to use it to attach Rem. 700 bolt handles and other small jobs as needed. I pay a guy to tig them now and want to learn to do it myself. Might take awhile before I'm there but I'll learn. He uses a Maxstar STH and does a real nice job. I just hate paying someone else to do it.


  24. #24
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    You are going to love it.

    Congrats!
    "Nothing welded, nothing gained."
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  25. #25
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    Re: Tig welder for gunsmithing? Thermal arc 161stl?

    You made a good choice, Maxstar is a helluva little machine.

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