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Thread: Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

  1. #1
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    Jul 2015
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    Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

    A couple days back I was doing an early morning rush job and was setting up my new Dynasty 200DX. I was all excited to run my new machine and forgot to switch on the coolant pump (Coolmate 1, for reference), and after about 2" of welding up at 180-190 amps the smoke was streaming pretty good out of the cable jacket. Needless to say I killed the power and got out of there in a hurry. I came back in with a respirator and opened up the garage doors and got some fans going to air out the shop. For some stupid reason, before I ran for the hills I thought "hey, my cable is practically on fire, maybe the coolant will still save it." That may have actually been a good call, the cable might have caught on fire otherwise, but as soon as the coolant hit the cable it produced the most foul-smelling concoction I've ever been exposed to in my life, and I now have a gallon of said concoction sitting in the tank on the Coolmate.

    I did some searching and couldn't find anything (no technical data, no forum posts -- heck, not even any internet horror stories) about health issues from this kind of event happening, so I'm hoping someone can shed some light on this:
    •How hazardous was the smoke that was initially produced by this event? Like I said, it was a few days ago and besides feeling nauseous for about an hour after, I seem to be just fine now... are my kids going to have any extra toes or anything? (The coolant was Miller's ethylene-glycol-based "Low Conductivity Antifreeze" product code 43810, running through Miller's ck20 style torch that came with the Dynasty. Not sure what the hoses are made of on that torch i.e. what sort of rubber or composite was being burnt but any info in that regard would be helpful as well.)
    •The nasty brew that resulted put me about a second away from vomiting if I wasn't running for fresh air; does anyone have experience with best practices for disposing of this kind of stuff? Do you think the stench can be washed out of the Coolmate system with just deionized water, or are there any supplemental cleaning products that could be run through as well?
    •This one isn't so much safety related, and I only just thought of it as I typed this post but does this affect any warranty on the Coolmate? I'm guessing in my best-case scenario it's just not covered under warranty, but worst case I voided the warranty (in which case the real fun begins and I can gut the thing to deep clean and rebuild it... yay.).

    Any info or leads to info would be much appreciated. Like I said I can't really find anything out there, which actually what pushed me to finally make an account and post this. Seems like it would be good to compile some information for what I would imagine is a somewhat common screw-up (or maybe it's totally uncommon and I'm just a bone-head!)
    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

    You should be able to flush out cooler with clean water. If your shop never freezes you can use distilled
    water instead of coolant. If your Dynasty has a 115 volt plug on the back plug cooler in there and leave switch on. That way cooler is on when welder is on. Don't have to remember to turn it on.
    See if CK has a torch fuse that works with Dinze plugs. I have seen the one used with stud terminals. You can try calling Miller and ask them about the toxic level of the coolant as steam.
    I you have access to a MSDS service call and ask them.

  3. #3
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    Re: Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

    I have never heard of this happening before. I'm sure it has, but I've never heard of it. My guess is that the torch and cable probably were not actually smoking but steaming. Not running the cooler probably caused whatever coolant was in the lines to boil and a hose in the torch handle melted. The nasty smelling coolant steam escaped and when you turned the pump on it pushed more coolant in that then flashed to steam. I'd just replace the torch and cable flush out the cooler and go back to welding. One tip, most tig welders have a plug in the back that the cooler plugs into so you can leave the cooler switch on and it will come on whenever the welder is switched on.
    My "collection":

    Homemade Stick Welder
    Victor O/A Torch
    AC 225
    Ideal Arc 250

    HF 90 Amp Flux Core
    HF Mig 170
    Solar 2020 Plasma Cutter
    Power i-Mig 140E
    Harris O/A torch
    HF Dual Mig 131
    140ST
    Alpha Tig 200x

  4. #4
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    Re: Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

    ccawgc: I flushed the system out repeatedly with distilled water and put some more in as my new coolant. The smell is far from gone but it's a lot less overpowering. I would have thought my machine would have a 115v plug in the back but it doesn't! CK sells those fuse blocks, but for now I've stuck the Coolmate and water-cooled torch outside to hopefully air out and am waiting until my better-smelling gas cooled torch is delivered.

    Iain: It was a brand new torch, fresh out of the box minutes before this happened. Possibly the manufacturer runs something through at the plant to test for leaks, but I would assume it was bone dry at the time. There were a few sections of it with holes melted through the hose and the fabric liner, so I cut it open for a closer look and the hose definitely melted to the wire.

    I went through all my manuals and can't find any info or MSDS on the torch hose composition, but ethylene glycol coolant is very well-documented and is quite hazardous as a liquid and vapor (MSDS if interested). My replacement torch smelled quite similar to the nasty brew, so from that and my other experience with burning plastics/rubbers I think it is the hose rather than any "burnt"/vaporized coolant giving off the odor. I'll post back with any information from the torch manufacturer (or a doctor )

  5. #5
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    Re: Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

    they make non toxic antifreeze used in building sprinkler systems, I would think the manufactures for the tig coolers would use this knowing that something like that could happen..and then mabe not....I would guess its the melted rubber that smells and smoked more than the antifreeze..but just a guess...call miller to verify what they use for coolant...
    Of all the things I lost I miss my mind the most...
    I know just enough about everything to be dangerous......
    You cant cure stupid..only kill it...

  6. #6
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    Re: Burning Up a Water-Cooled TIG Torch

    Ck fusible link adapt it to fit saves money in the long run ,don't do rush jobs they always cost you money or/and grief, heard a couplable horror stories about aux. 110 power outlets on machines frying machines not willing to test the waters myself on a 3k investment, I use distilled h2o because I have dogs and won't take the extra risk should some thing happen Lincoln always recommend distilled h20 until they learned to repackaged coolant under there name reasently

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