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Thread: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

  1. #1
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    1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    I decided to make another thread specific to my welder progress.

    After some researching on stick welders I decided it was a very smart idea to have an old-school transformer-based machine, at the very least as a back-up machine. My last project requiring heavier welds than what I could do with my light flux core machine lead me on to my researching. I was able to do that project at a friend's shop, but I don't want the inconvenience of driving over there every time I need to do heavier welding. So I finally decided to get a heavier welder.

    There were a lot of thoughts I had on machines. I know someone that works at Lowes and was able to get me a better price on a new AC/DC 225 tombstone, but it was still going to be over $500. After browsing the local used market for one of those tombstones I wasn't having much luck. They were 90% just AC machines. I wanted DC also. A friend of mine told me to check out Facebook Market Place also. Thats where I found this one listed - not too far away, in the grand scheme of things, but still a decent drive. I wasn't too sure on the older machine so I did some research in to them. In that research I came across the following thread here:
    https://weldingweb.com/vbb/showthrea...larc-250-AC-DC

    There were also a few YouTube videos I found, one on a restoration here:


    The consensus was it was a great machine and hard to pass up. So I bought it!

    The initial pictures I saw of the sale listing showed it to be in very good condition. Considering the stories behind a lot of these welders they don't always get the best treatment or care and end up in much worse shape. So I was pretty excited.

    The original listing was for $150 and it was dropped to $100. Again, based on the pictures, if you look past the dirt, grime, and some worn paint - the machine looked to be in spectacular condition so it was a no-brainer to buy it.

    After picking it up and getting it home it is actually in better cosmetic shape than the pictures showed.

    I picked the machine up Saturday (2 days ago). Today was unloading day. When I picked it up the machine didn't seem as heavy as I was expecting. However, I pulled it up ramps and in to the truck with a winch so the winch did all the heavy lifting. Once I got it out of the truck and wheeled it around it was a totally different beast. Trying to get it back up the hill on the driveway and in to the garage was a reality check. I almost needed the winch to get it up the splash guard channel in the concrete where the garage door seal sits. And that is only a 1/2-3/4" bump. There was not much of a running start because I had all my weight in to it (all 150lbs) just to get it to roll back up the driveway.

    The back story to this welder:
    It was owned by a trucking company in rural Ohio. The guy I bought the machine from was a tech for the trucking company for some time. He acquired the machine after the shop upgraded equipment. There was an older tech that left or retired and no one wanted the old relic to weld with so they bought some more modern Miller equipment. This Idealarc 250 got rolled out the shop and the tech I bought it from took it home. The older tech that used this machine took excellent care of it and it was a well-loved machine. As best the tech I bought it from knew - the trucking company was the original owner of the welder. I don't doubt it - that is common in that part of the state. It is very much Amish country and lots of places you go to is like a trip back in time. The other thing to think about is the machine doesn't have a dent in the case anywhere. If it had been moved around much I doubt it would have fared so well. So that is another reason I believe the trucking company was the original home of the machine.

    Ideas to come:
    The first thing is I want to check over the electrical components and make sure the transformer isn't shorted out or there are any suspect diodes. I'll also give it a preliminary cleaning.

    Second - I am hoping to restore this machine. As to how deep of a restoration - I am not quite sure. I would at least like to get the cabinet sanded down and re-painted. I am not sure what the inside of the cabinet looks like so I am unsure what condition the inside is in. We'll see.

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    The ramps aren't very stable if you load them on the sides so I used ratchet straps and aluminum military tent poles/mast pipe sections to stabilize them. I also put blocks of wood between the ramps to space them out a bit.


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    Pulling power was my trusty Superwinch Terra 45SR.


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    The anchor for the winch was a 3/4" x 3" bar I had from another old project (folding tower base). There are 2x 1.5" yellow ratchet straps - one on each end - that anchors the bar to the forward bed anchors.

  2. #2
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

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    The mount the winch is on was the last project I did. This is part of it - there is a double jointed hinge I made for it also for using with various 2" receivers.

    The water bottle has diesel in it for starting fires. It's not trucker tea... I use it to drain my water separator and instead of tossing it I use it for fire starter.


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    I tried to use gravity to my advantage by parking nose up hill. That helped - but trying to rock the welder past the tailgate joint and getting it up on to the ramps was still a chore.


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    Ground clamp and electrode holder. They are not in too bad of shape, I've welded with worse.



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    I will have to see how clean the tag gets. It doesn't look like there are too many scratches on it, either. The arrow is still in perfect mechanical shape.

  3. #3
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Let me suggest you check with powder coaters in your area. The ones we restore are baked on zinc primed and powder coated. Very durable finish and much quicker and easier for us. Front and back panels and hood sections. If the nameplate doesn't clean up enough, replacements are available at Stumpf's Welding or Lincoln Control plates. Stumpf's will stamp your numbers in the replacement as well. Here is one of our restored units




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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    I think the first thing to do is take the cover off, blow it out and plug it in to see how it welds. After you figure out how to weld 7018 grind out and redo the welds on your winch mount. They look a little suspect. $100 is a steal though. Might want to change to a Bernard twist style stinger but depends on your preference. Most people prefer them while pipe welders prefer the Tweco tong style stinger.

  6. #5
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Absolutely, make sure itís working properly before any cosmetics. I would bet itís ok but you never know


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparkie1957 View Post
    Let me suggest you check with powder coaters in your area. The ones we restore are baked on zinc primed and powder coated. Very durable finish and much quicker and easier for us. Front and back panels and hood sections. If the nameplate doesn't clean up enough, replacements are available at Stumpf's Welding or Lincoln Control plates. Stumpf's will stamp your numbers in the replacement as well.
    Good info.

    Some years ago I used a local powder coat company for another project of mine. If you noticed on the left side of the bed inside there is the base of a ham radio antenna called a screwdriver (it is a Tarheel Model 400). The mount for that was one of my welding projects back in 2011 (I've had that style antenna on 2-3 trucks now and made the mounts for each one). The current mount went to the powder coat company. It is not faring any better, rust wise than the OEM hitch on the truck (was bought new and the antenna mount went on it when it was new). Though, a machine in a garage isn't exposed to the elements and road salt so I would imagine the machine would be fine for years.

  8. #7
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Cool beans Fly. Iím a ham operator also.
    73
    de WA9SWW


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

  9. #8
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Update on today's work:

    First off - the welder welds. The diodes appear to be OK as it works in DC and it sounds fine.

    I did check over the electrical system before plugging it in. This included verifying the voltage setting (it was on 230/240), continuity check through the power lead/connector, and power switch. I also checked to see if there was any leakage/shorting between the primary and secondary windings. I didn't find anything obvious.

    I rocked the polarity switch for a few cycles to get the contacts wiping a bit.

    Then I plugged it in and put power to it. No smoke.

    However, the blower fan isn't working too well. I checked the voltage at the input to the fan and it was correct. I disassembled the fan and spun the shaft with a drill for a bit to try and loosen it up. Then I put it back together. It was working somewhat, but it is still stiff and is hard to spin up.

    The motor doesn't have any screws holding it together - it is rivited together = can't easily disassemble to clean/lube.

    What thoughts does everyone have on the blower motor? Is it worth taking apart? Or should I try to source a replacement?

    The pictures in this set here are from before "cleaning". Cleaning included blowing out with compressed air and scrubbing down with a wicker broom to knock some of the grime loose. I also swept out the bit of crap in the bottom of the cabinet that didn't get blown out with a shop vac. I have not washed it to really clean it, just an initial dust cleaning and inspection.

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  10. #9
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Pictures after the partial dusting/grime clean up with compressed air and broom:



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    Fan details:

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  11. #10
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Info on the blower motor:


    Blower motor
    Universal Electric Co
    Ser 3RF 10343R
    Mod AB2R013
    M 8895-3. Lincoln part number
    115V
    60HZ
    1550 RPM
    Ball Bearings

    Front bearing is dry.
    KOYO 83A449


    Fasco makes replacement blower motor D1164. Available from Wal Mart online $68.6l


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

  12. #11
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Hereís another motor they used. Your Emerson. The Fasco will replace both according to my notes


    Emerson
    F33HXHMC-3404 model
    1/20 HP
    M8895-5


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    A few other pictures:



    Quick test beads - 1/8" 6011 at about 112a . 1 AC, one DC+, one DC-. Steel is 3/4" thick.

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  15. #13
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Update for today -

    Blower motor has been resurrected. It works great now.


    First step was trying to figure out how the case opened up. The mounting bolts go all the way through both halves of the case. The long bolt pins were easy to get out with the nuts off. Getting the case apart was another matter. I used a small rotary tool with a cut off wheel to make a slot in the halves. Then I pried the halves apart with a screwdriver. I worked around the opening and then once it was about 1/8" I could get the blade of the screwdriver on one edge and tap it with a hammer. It took a while but it came apart.

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    There is a cord lock on the power cord - sort of like a grommet, but it locks the cord in place to keep it from pulling tension inside. It was a pain to get out and is what is holding the one half of the case here.

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    Cord lock grommet once removed.

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  16. #14
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Looks good. Iíve never replaced a motor or bearings. If you get them apart and spin in a drill you can work oil into those scratchy bearings.


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

  17. #15
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Once the motor was apart I put some lube (FluidFilm) around the bearings and let it soak in. The rotor didn't want to separate from the shaft end of the case. I suspect the crud on the shaft locked the bearing on. I didnt want to go working it too hard, so I just added lube to that one from the shaft end then spun the rotor a bit to get the lube worked through the bearing.

    The rear bearing is the one that was locked up. It wasn't even able to spin at first. I left the lube alone to soak for a bit. Then I used a punch that was just about perfect sized for the shaft hole in the bearing as a tool to rotate it. It rotated and took about 2 turns to free up. When it did the lube around the center ring of the bearing turned red. I assume thats a mix of rust and dry/old lube. In any event, the bearing is free-spinning now. The down side right now is the bearing balls don't appear to be rolling very smooth (they are bumpy). We'll see what happens - they may round up over time.

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    Once the bearings were spinning free I wiped up the excess lube and put things back together. I tapped the cases closed a bit at first then I put the threaded pins back in and used the nuts to suck the cases together. Yes, they are backwards in this picture - I took them out and spun them back around to mount the motor.

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    While I was at it I put insulated spade connectors on the leads for the motor. There were some cheesy crimp connectors on there originally. The spades will make future work on it that much easier.
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    That's all for today. I am not too worried about the motor at this point. For as much as the welder will be used I may never have to work on it again. Though, if the lube dries up again then I know what to do. Replacing the bearings wouldn't be overly difficult, I don't think. The rivets would have to be removed to get things all the way apart, bearings replaced, then things riveted back together. That should be possible if anyone is reading this with a similar issue on their blower motor. I am not going to go that far with mine right now because it works with the original bearings fine after being lubed up. You just can't get to the rear bearing without cracking it all the way open as I did.
    Last edited by FlyFishn; 07-29-2020 at 07:26 PM.

  18. #16
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Very cool project. Looks like she'll be back to building America in no time soon.

    One tip about those types of truck (or high vehicle) ramps - Ratchet them down from the bottom side of the ramp to the bumper/trailer hitch. This will put them in compression between the vehicle/trailer and ground, should prevent them from slipping and being so unstable/kicking out - especially if loading a powered vehicle.

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  20. #17
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Today's progress:

    I tested different abrasive disks for a 4.5" angle grinder from Harbor Freight. I have not used any of the sand paper type attachments (flap wheels or disk variants) before so I got a bunch to try. I also got some polycarbide disks (link below) to try. Grit much below 80 was taking off too much metal so I stopped there with the sand paper types and went to a 120 grit flap wheel for a while. That worked somewhat for a bit. Then I swapped to a polycarbide wheel. This works much better than anything else I have tried so far. It leaves a shiny finish on the metal underneath the rust and paint. The flap wheel leaves a smear on the metal in comparison.

    https://www.harborfreight.com/power-...eel-94017.html

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    I did find a couple dings on the top of the cabinet. I will try to tap those out also. I am not overly concerned with them, but if I am repainting it anyway then now is the time. Plus that will help to get the metal clean in the spots where the dings are by leveling those spots back out.

    This evening I got a jug of Acetone. I was using brake cleaner to get the grime off the panels but I was already low and killed the bottle. I am hoping Acetone does pretty much the same thing. Though, what I don't like about that type of cleaner is that it evaporates very quickly. That is the task for tomorrow - to do some more cleaning. We'll see about sanding off paint.

    I do think I want to open up the entire inside to clean the components at least. When I pull the transformer and choke (the lifting ring bar is welded to both) that will give me access to the bottom panel. It only makes sense to go through the whole thing at this point. As to how to go about a new paint job - I haven't crossed that bridge yet. I have had some suggestions for having things powder coated. I think that is a good idea. However, what I don't think I want to do is have the inside of the panels and interior parts painted. There are 2 information panels/schematic on the door to the wiring access that I want to preserve. I am not sure if that is possible during powder coating.
    Last edited by FlyFishn; 07-30-2020 at 08:41 PM.

  21. #18
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    If you go with powder coat the paper schematics will have to go. I think itís a good trade off but thatís your call. Is the transformer bolted or welded to the bottom panel. Older ones were bolted, newer ones welded


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

  22. #19
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparkie1957 View Post
    If you go with powder coat the paper schematics will have to go. I think it’s a good trade off but that’s your call. Is the transformer bolted or welded to the bottom panel. Older ones were bolted, newer ones welded
    OK on the powder coating. I wonder if there is a way to lift the paper and preserve it without destroying it trying to remove it?

    As to the bolting or welding of the transformer - it is bolted to the bottom panel from what I saw. Al that appears to be welded is the lifting bar to the transformer and choke. The two are too heavy to lift by hand so I'll use my ladder and winch hoist to separate them. I need to look at the "wiring" (they used solid straps for the heavy internal connections, not wires) to see how best to separate things. I have some masking tape to mark everything so I may get to that tomorrow. Saturday is going to be a 0 work day as I have some other things going on and sunday is going to be a short day if I do get any work time on the project.

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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Sounds like a plan. Not sure on those schematics. If you can find another copy stick it on. Or take a picture of it and print a copy. Take your time on pulling the transformer off the base. Not sure how the fan housing all ties it. Iíve never pulled one that far down


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

  24. #21
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Last picture in post 15 with the fan - the stand the fan motor is mounted to is welded to the bottom of the cabinet. By the way, the bottom of the cabinet is a lot thicker than the sides. The panel that the fan spins inside the hole in is not held in by much. It is sitting in finger slots on the bottom case and the cowl that ducts the blower through the transformer is about all that is holding that panel.

    I imagine once the straps are disconnected for the "wiring" and the bolts are out for the transformer to the base all of that will lift right out. I am not sure if I want to pull the panel off the transformer before or after pulling the transformer assembly from the base. We'll see.

  25. #22
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    You could always get it painted with urethane paint like Endura if you want to save the labels on the inside. I think an automotive paint would be a good option too. Maybe even clear coat the labels. I'd try to keep the labels if it was mine. Keep in mind you bought it to use not as a show piece but it could be a show piece too.

  26. #23
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    Keep in mind you bought it to use not as a show piece but it could be a show piece too.
    Ha! A friend of mine criticized me and said it wasn't a rare muscle car - blow it out with compressed air and put it to work. I like the idea of cleaning this up and breathing new fresh life in to it, though. You are correct - I most certainly got it to use. That doesn't mean it can't look good doing it.

  27. #24
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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    I agree. I want them to work good but also it doesnít hurt they look as good as possible as well. They are worth the effort.


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    Steve

    Miller Dialarc 250 (1990)
    Miller Maxstar 140 STR (2003)
    Lincoln SA200 Redface Pipeliner (1966)
    Lincoln MP210 (2015)
    Victor and MECO torches

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    Re: 1966 Round Top Idealarc 250

    Paint in blue and you'll really mess with everyone.

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