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Thread: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

  1. #1
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    Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    I've been Oxy-Acet welding since '70's, MIG & stick since '80's... and I'm finally jumping in with both feet into TIG.

    I bought a 350A water cooled 18-25 torch. It looks like a gas lens collet body is the better way to go, but I haven't a clue as to sizes of electrodes, and type of cups, (pyrex v alumina). Here's a chance to wildly spend someone else's money, if they wanted to be able to weld SS, aluminum, at the least. Likely, once I get technique down, I'll weld steel, instead of using the MIG.

    Here's the deal, my wife works for a VERY large US industrial supplier, and I get to buy via their Employee Purchase program, (cost + 10%). At the prices I'm looking at for Gas Lens Collet bodies, collets, etc..., I was tempted to just buy one of each size, but that just seems wasteful, as I'll likely not use most of them.

    I've got a MIG/TIG/Stick box with a bad relay given to me; It kicks out when it turns on, I wanna say it's a 325A box. It's from that (Lincoln-based?) company Rent to Weld, or something like that. I also have a small MIG box, with a bad wire feed motor. I figured I could get it to make a small arc. I also have an Esab 250A box someone has gave me, last year, during my 'Covid & Cancer' period, (kinda like some European painter had their 'Blue Period'), 2020 was Covid in Jan, turning into HPV throat cancer in the Spring. But a couple of Summer surgeries & some experimental meds to give me a super-immune system against the cancer, and I'm just about 90%. That's pretty good for me, 'cause I normally only run about 80% duty cycle. I'm gettin' too old, and too cantankerous to kill off, yet; I got **** to do, still.

    So, look at the situation as if I got a box to push an arc off the electrode, because if I don't already have what will do the job, something will come my way. Just how it works. (If anyone in the NW wants a BIG MIG/Stick Lincoln 3 phase w/ a divorced Wire feed gun set up for 0.048", I'll give someone a 'too good to refuse' deal. It's big and heavy, but is on a real nice wheeled cart. I've got manuals I can send to you.)

    I don't see myself doing a bunch of thick SS, or even thick alum welding; last time I really had to weld some SS, I used my gas torches, flux and some old bicycle spokes. It was just roof flashing, anyway.

    I'm looking for some guidance and suggestions on what to buy so I'm prepared, without having to go to a local supply shop.

    If anyone has experience crimping welding type hoses, I'd love to pick your brain, since I have a crimper needing some dies, but I'm gonna have to make them.

    I appreciate anyone willing to share their TIG know how and experience. I'll do what I can to give back, as I can, to the community.

    Thanks, in advance,

    GeoD

  2. #2
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    While I don't know part numbers for your torch, I'll say 1/16, 3/32 (most) & 1/8 will put you in good stead. I'd skip the standard stuff & go with only gas lens. Depending how big your welder is, you might skip the 1/8".

    Cups: I don't have any Pyrex cups, but I'm tempted. Mine are all alumina. I use a #7 cup most of the time, having a #5 might come in handy, and a #12 for stainless.

    Tungsten: 2% lanthanated will meet almost all needs. Thoriated is arguably equal to lanthanated, but has very low level of radioactive content. If you have a sine wave welder, some pure for aluminum is nice. I'd order a ratio of 3 to 1 3/32".

    Don't forget collets. Again 3 to 1.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    While I don't know part numbers for your torch, I'll say 1/16, 3/32 (most) & 1/8 will put you in good stead. I'd skip the standard stuff & go with only gas lens. Depending how big your welder is, you might skip the 1/8".

    Cups: I don't have any Pyrex cups, but I'm tempted. Mine are all alumina. I use a #7 cup most of the time, having a #5 might come in handy, and a #12 for stainless.

    Tungsten: 2% lanthanated will meet almost all needs. Thoriated is arguably equal to lanthanated, but has very low level of radioactive content. If you have a sine wave welder, some pure for aluminum is nice. I'd order a ratio of 3 to 1 3/32".

    Don't forget collets. Again 3 to 1.
    In addition to that, DO NOT get the cheap, cheap gas lens collet bodies. Last year I spent 5 hours chasing a porosity issue, even going as far as changing the gas hose (directly to the tank), and even the torch, and it turned out to be the cheap gas lens collet body that when replaced with a regular collet body, the porosity issue went away! It wasn't damaged/compromised in any way that I could see, yet when it went in, porosity; when replaced with a standard collet body, clean welds (it was the same collet too, only the collet body was changed). Couldn't believe it. I threw out ALL my cheap gas lens collet bodies after that. Either CK, WeldTec, or Furick Kits (which looks like they use CK anyways), or just the regular non-gas lens stuff for me. Not worth the hassle with the cheap stuff.

    Just as important is the setup for the white teflon insulator. Make sure your kit comes with the appropriate one, or you could have a shielding gas leak/issue. Best to post up the actual picture of your torch with everything it came with.
    Last edited by Oscar; 07-07-2021 at 11:04 AM.
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    For my use 3/32" is the go to. I also have 1/16" and 1/8" for rare occasions, which are nice to have but you can get a lot of range with 3/32" unless you are doing tons of high amp work. Look up a chart on tungsten size vs amps, like the miller chart.
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    Wp 18 takes the same consumables as an aircooled "17" torch. Get s stubby gas lens kit for 3/32" 2% lanthanated tungsten, and a regular gas lens kit for 1/8" 2% lanthanated tungsten and you are good to go. TecTorch is high performance, made in USA, but only can get from your local weld supply special order. Worth it. http://www.tectorch.com/
    http://www.tectorch.com/PDF/Parts%20...%20OPTIONS.pdf
    http://www.tectorch.com/PDF/Parts%20...%20OPTIONS.pdf
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    Last edited by shovelon; 07-08-2021 at 01:40 AM.
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    Following. Good info.
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    Wp 18 takes the same consumables as an aircooled "17" torch. Get s stubby gas lens kit for 3/32" 2% lanthanated tungsten, and a regular gas lens kit for 1/8" 2% lanthanated tungsten and you are good to go. TecTorch is high performance, made in USA, but only can get from your local weld supply special order. Worth it. http://www.tectorch.com/
    http://www.tectorch.com/PDF/Parts%20...%20OPTIONS.pdf
    http://www.tectorch.com/PDF/Parts%20...%20OPTIONS.pdf
    https://midwesttungsten.com/tig-weld...rodes-10-pack/
    My LWS's have no idea about TecTorch products, so I special order from Weldfabulous.com
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    My LWS's have no idea about TecTorch products, so I special order from Weldfabulous.com
    That is good to know. If your LWS has a competing line like Airgas peddles Radnor, they turn a blind eye to your needs. I think Praxair peddles ProStar or something.
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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    TecTorch makes nice stuff. I use their WT-20H on my Sync250. I think the company was started by a guy who used to work for WeldCraft, who made improvements to the WeldCraft designs and incorporated those improvements into the WeldTec versions.

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    Re: Need guidance/suggestions on TIG collet & electrode sizes for getting started

    Thanks to everybody. I'll have to take some time to go through all of your helpful advice, in more detail, but in a quick read, it looks like just what I need, and most all of you are in the same ball park, which validates the recommendations, IMO.

    @Oscar
    I was reading about porosity in brass components, somewhere, just a few days ago, and it was not related to welding. It's a problem a with cheaper brass casting(s) process. I don't recall the details why, but it can be a by-product of cutting corners during the process.

    As far as the torch body, it is a bare Radnor 18, the only thing it came with IS the insulator.

    I'll try their gas lens collet bodies, but keep my eyes open for porosity problems. Should be a way to test for the problem, I'll have to give it some thought.

    ===

    My wife works for a large US industrial supplier, like I said. They sell Esab TIG torchs & components, and their private named line, (they have a couple dozen private lines, across the spectrum of products). What I found in the 10+ years she's worked there, is while their private named lines are sometimes the least expensive, some are hidden gems. One of the company's stated goals, internally, is to offer a range of price points in any given category of products. When they can't source an already produced brand to hit the price point, they outsource it, and give it a house label.

    They don't like to tell anyone who makes their house brands, but I've figured out a lot of them, just because of familiarity with the equipment, and because of Google's habit of flooding you with ads AFTER you've bought something. I bought a house brand set of simple wire crimpers, (uses the body of 6" diagonal cutters). I few days after I'd been looking at it on their site, I had an ad for it pop up at some other site. Then, right next to it was an ad for Kleins just like it. When I saw them side by side, I did a double take; they were identical. I checked the Klein website for specs, and the only difference was one was in fractional dimensions and the other was in decimal inch dimensions. I got the house brand for about a 1/3 of the Kleins. (This one I can tell, because they stopped selling the house brand crimper. Went to buy a pair for a friend, and they're gone.)

    So, when you see house brands at big suppliers, don't immediately reject them. Do a bit of research, and you might find a gem, in hiding.

    There are not THAT many US manufacturers of TIG torches, as I've come to discover. There are a LOT of brand names which say they are US manufactured. They probably are US made, but many are coming from the same place. Air Gas bought Radnor, Radnor was named after the town their plant was in, Radnor, PA. There's another brand I found which actually shows a manufacturing plant on their site, (WeldTec, I think). Not so for a lot of others.

    ====

    re: welding amp level
    That's still an uncertain factor. I've got a small 100amp DC box I'm gonna play with, since I can use it as soon as I get the torch assembled, and cooler built, (I have a small ice maker, (18 x 18 x 36" tall), that has a ice production problem, not related to the refrigeration portion, which is destined to be my cooler.

    I've fixed refrig & freezers for a long time; my step-dad was in the commercial side for decades, and I never had a chance to NOT learn about them. I've scrapped so damn many frig's and freezers in my life! Both commercial and residential. Ice machines can be a nightmare when their ice maker mechanicals go goofy. It should make a nice unit, once I breed in a pump.

    I have those other boxes I mentioned in my OP. My goal is to get the torch and cooler set up, so I can do light stuff with the little box, get a feel for it, and some 'helmet down' time in, then figure out just what where I want to/need to go.

    All of your input will get me going on that road much faster than if I tried to figure it out on my own.


    Thanks, again, to all.

    GeoD
    Last edited by GeoNOregon; 07-28-2021 at 05:18 PM. Reason: paragraph out of place

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