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View Full Version : Let's Talk Harbor Freight TIG Welders


gottarollwithit
10-20-2010, 6:22 PM
Dunno if this is the right area for this thread, but i know TIG welding plays a big part in gunsmithing. Most guys that build either have a TIG or have encountered a situation where they coulda used a TIG.

Anyhow, i'm thinkin about gettin a baby TIG - a cheapo one that i know is going to going to have a limited life span. That's why we're talkin Harbor Freight! I'm OK with Harbor Freight and accept the fact that after a few years the thing will likely turn to dust. I need a portable one to work on my car at places other than my house.

Anybody ever buy one of these Harbor Freight TIG's? How does the gas system have an automatic solenoid to shut it off?
Better yet, anybody ever figure out how to get a pedal to work with it?

I've been thinkin about this one:
http://www.harborfreight.com/220-volt-130-tig-90-arc-welder-inverter-91811.html

Anybody ever use any of the other Chinese TIG's, like those on Ebay?

I can go with out AC b/c i usually don't weld Alu, but i need a pedal and a decent gas system.

cactus
10-20-2010, 7:01 PM
I dont have one personally but there is a ton of information on them floating around. I good friend of mine got one that I have used and it worked great. You have to scratch start it and he did the electric guitar pedal ( I think that's what it was ) modification. But for small fab work it worked out. We have only used it on mild steel mostly roll cages but I plan on buying one myself in the near future.

gottarollwithit
10-20-2010, 7:29 PM
Yea, i can live without high freq, A/C, and a water cooled torch. I need a pedal and a gas solenoid valve though. I just want one of these for small jobs when away from home.

Can ya tell me more about this guitar pedal mod? And... what's that little valve for on the torch? I know it's for gas, but is it for shutting on/off the gas everytime you weld, or is it simply for flow adjustment?

valleyrat
10-20-2010, 7:33 PM
I have asked a few pro welders about this, all of them told me to avoid the HF tig like the plague.

gottarollwithit
10-20-2010, 7:49 PM
I fully understand that HF stuff is junk and that i'm askin for problems in the future. This is just a temporary tool for small jobs away from home. I have a giant Miller TIG for doing real welding, but it's kinda difficult to lug a 500lb welder to a buddy's house to lay a couple of small beads.....

I figure, i'm guaranteed at least a month or so of usage. If it doesn't work when brand new, i can just bring it back to HF and get a new one. No big deal there...

I got this exhaust system that's going to cost me at least a hundred bucks to repair if i send it to a shop. I might as well take that money that i'd be spending at the shop and buy a cheap welder to do it myself. At least that way i get to keep the welder.

jar15sp1
10-20-2010, 9:12 PM
I have the Chicago Electric 165a TIG Welder. Model#98233. I have done a couple builds with this welder already and I think its a great value. No problem with this welder yet. It comes with High frequecy start so no scratch start contamination. Only weird thing about it is the gas inlet fitting. Its not a standard sized fitting .
Here is what the folks over at 1919a4.com has to say about this welder.

http://1919a4.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32961&highlight=harbor+freight+welder


I have since purchased a foot pedal and plan on installing it soon.

SJgunguy24
10-20-2010, 11:20 PM
What's your budget? How portable are we talking. What kind of power requirments are you thinking?

My money would go for the Diversion 180 by Miller. You can plug into 110 or 230 and burn away. IIRC none of the HF TIG's allow this. The Miller has a HF start and comes with the pedel and auto post flow. It's AC/DC and is a badass little inverter that weighs 40 lbs and runs in the 1600$ range.

Thermal dynamics makes some good little machines for 500$ for DC only but they come with nothing and that's where they stick it to you.

The machine I have at the shop (gun shop) is a Linclon 175 square wave and it's a badassed machine but weighs 200lbs so I wouldn't call it portable at all. It is a transformer machine so the duty cycle is really good but you give up the light weight for the power. The thing I like about the Linclon packages is you get more for the money but give up the little features like a digital read out.

If I was dropping my own, I'd get the Diversion 180. It's not chep but has features that the more expensive machines have, but the inverter gives you light weight with reduced duty cycle.

gottarollwithit
10-21-2010, 4:20 AM
I'm tryin to keep this under 300 bucks. This welder will not be used often. I'm mainly looking into this b/c i don't want to pay someone to weld my exhaust system back together. It's requires like two time consuming welds....

I figure, if i can get a gas cylinder on Craigslist... i could probably nab one for $50, maybe a reg for $30, and spend the rest on the TIG with a pedal. I don't mind having some kinda home made pedal. This isn't a long term investment - if it was, i'd have a Miller already!

I'm not going to need much power. Any of the Harbor Freight TIGs will have more than enough, but portability is important. I gotta be able to pick the thing up by hand and put it in the back of my car. Under 50 lbs would be great.

Any of you guys know if the TIG i listed has auto post flow control or can take a pedal?

Also, what do you guys think of the other Chinese welders? If it ain't blue or red, it's never even pinged my radar before so....

Are companies like Everlast, Thermal Dynamics, and Longevity reputable? Some of those things look like Chinese machines.... but i have no idea what's under the hood.

enduro4fun
10-21-2010, 11:13 AM
Try one from Everlast or Longevity. You can rear all about them on the pirate 4x4 forums. I have one of the everlast combo plasma, Tig, and Stick units and it works very well.

SJgunguy24
10-21-2010, 2:06 PM
Thermal dynamics has a decent machine for 500$. The thing is you'll need to pay extra for the foot control. The limit for that machine is .125" or so. When I say power, I'm asking about what you have to plug into. That's where the miller has most of the others. Happy hunting, I went through this a month ago, it wasn't my money but I still want a good deal.

gottarollwithit
10-21-2010, 2:36 PM
I can go either way with 220v or regular 110v household.

Know anything about these cheap Rand welders?
http://cgi.ebay.com/Rand-TIG-Stick-Welder-100-amp-120V-Arc-MMA-110V-110-120-/400164142095?pt=BI_Welders&hash=item5d2ba43c0f#ht_5048wt_905

They're 110v TIG welders. I just find it a bit difficult to believe that something powered by household current will have enough juice to get any decent penetration.

As for a portable Miller... I'll leave that as something to dream about.... I'd love to have a baby Miller TIG with a little argon tank that all fits in a suitcase. Unfortunately those things cost big $$$.

SJgunguy24
10-21-2010, 3:45 PM
I can go either way with 220v or regular 110v household.

Know anything about these cheap Rand welders?
http://cgi.ebay.com/Rand-TIG-Stick-Welder-100-amp-120V-Arc-MMA-110V-110-120-/400164142095?pt=BI_Welders&hash=item5d2ba43c0f#ht_5048wt_905

They're 110v TIG welders. I just find it a bit difficult to believe that something powered by household current will have enough juice to get any decent penetration.

As for a portable Miller... I'll leave that as something to dream about.... I'd love to have a baby Miller TIG with a little argon tank that all fits in a suitcase. Unfortunately those things cost big $$$.

You can get into a maxstar dc for 1200 if you look, my miller passport is a suitcase MIG that was 1600. That is fully self contained even has on board co2 that will give me almost 30 minutes of weld time. Sometime it's worth saving up and getting the better machine.

gottarollwithit
10-21-2010, 4:04 PM
I agree that sometimes it's best to buy the right tool once, opposed to the cheap/wrong tool multiple times.
In this case, i'm OK with using an inferior tool. It won't be used often and after 2-3 uses, it will have essentially paid for itself. Any usage i get after that is just dandy. I figure, i'll use the cheapo portable TIG for welding headers and stuff at a buddy's place, and use the "Man sized" TIG for bigger projects that can remain at home.
I just can't get past buying a second TIG that does the same thing as my big one and spending a boatload on it. That baby Miller is definitely somethin to think about a few years down the road though.

thevic
10-21-2010, 4:08 PM
Oxy acetylene with a coat hanger and your gtg!

Jk. Thats the worst idea ever. I had a guy do this to complete a stainless steel countertop. The customer was freakin pissed from the ugly welds done with oxy acetelyn n coat hanger.

But hey, gotta do what yagotta do when its 3am and theres no welder

SJgunguy24
10-21-2010, 6:59 PM
Oxy acetylene with a coat hanger and your gtg!

Jk. Thats the worst idea ever. I had a guy do this to complete a stainless steel countertop. The customer was freakin pissed from the ugly welds done with oxy acetelyn n coat hanger.

But hey, gotta do what yagotta do when its 3am and theres no welder

Wow, if your gonna try to get away with that at least use some filler material of the same type as the work.

Seesm
10-22-2010, 2:46 AM
Dunno if this is the right area for this thread, but i know TIG welding plays a big part in gunsmithing. Most guys that build either have a TIG or have encountered a situation where they coulda used a TIG.

Anyhow, i'm thinkin about gettin a baby TIG - a cheapo one that i know is going to going to have a limited life span. That's why we're talkin Harbor Freight! I'm OK with Harbor Freight and accept the fact that after a few years the thing will likely turn to dust. I need a portable one to work on my car at places other than my house.

Anybody ever buy one of these Harbor Freight TIG's? How does the gas system have an automatic solenoid to shut it off?
Better yet, anybody ever figure out how to get a pedal to work with it?

I've been thinkin about this one:
http://www.harborfreight.com/220-volt-130-tig-90-arc-welder-inverter-91811.html

Anybody ever use any of the other Chinese TIG's, like those on Ebay?

I can go with out AC b/c i usually don't weld Alu, but i need a pedal and a decent gas system.

Just pay me to tig anything you may need help with... I have a high quality Miller and I have played with chinese junk welders and they ARE NOT worth your time... I am 30 minutes from you if your in Sac btw.

Roccobro
11-04-2010, 11:21 AM
Looks like I'm a little too late...

http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/tls/2042169868.html
BUY MY SUITCASE TIG WELDER, ESAB Miniarc 90i. It is one of the TIG welders I use only when doing TIG training at customer shops. I bought it from an old welder buddy about 7 years ago, he only used it on his home projects and bought it new. This is a high quality inverter based DC TIG welder. It welds steel, stainless steel, chrome-moly, 4130, and other ferris metals. 3 HOUR TIG SEMINAR INCLUDED IN PRICE. Price is $997 without the foot pedal, or $1,247 with the foot pedal. Learn TIG welding, learn MIG welding, learn welding.

teg767
11-04-2010, 7:21 PM
Anybody ever use any of the other Chinese TIG's, like those on Ebay?

I can go with out AC b/c i usually don't weld Alu, but i need a pedal and a decent gas system.

gottarollwithit,
I have not used this product but wanted to share this info. I've been reading post from another forum and there's a company located in South San Francisco, CA and they distribute and sell Everlast products. If you check out weaponsguild forum they have a group buy price for the I-Tig 200 model for $485 plus the foot pedal for $75. Ask Everlast if they could give you the same price since you are local Californian. Current MSRP for this particular unit is $650 on their website, or if you you need the next level tig ask for the corresponding discount price. Also if you need to check more info on Everlast tig, search them on Youtube plenty of users shared their experience and comments online. I hope this will help you narrow your search. Keep us posted on your search.

http://www.everlastgenerators.com/products-category-58.html

freonr22
11-04-2010, 7:31 PM
just a thought for you welders out there. I recently ran electrical service for a lincoln square wave tig. ( I know thats not what you are talking about, but bear with me). In their installation instructions, they made a big deal about driving a dedicated 10' ground rod @ the panel, and at the outlet, and also @ the table. will that help the less expensive ones perform better???

1. Keep the welder power supply lines as short as possible
and enclose as much of them as possible in
rigid metallic conduit or equivalent shielding for a
distance of 50 feet (15.2m). There should be good
electrical contact between this conduit and the
welder case ground. Both ends of the conduit
should be connected to a driven ground and the
entire length should be continuous.

http://content.lincolnelectric.com//pdfs/products/navigator/im/IM565.pdf

pg 9 and 10

5. The work piece must be connected to an earth
ground close to the work clamp, using one of the following
methods:
a) A metal underground water pipe in direct contact
with the earth for ten feet or more.
b) A 3/4 (19mm) galvanized pipe or a 5/8 (16mm)
solid galvanized iron, steel or copper rod driven
at least eight feet into the ground.
The ground should be securely made and the grounding
cable should be as short as possible using cable of
the same size as the work cable, or larger. Grounding
to the building frame electrical conduit or a long pipe
system can result in re-radiation, effectively making
these members radiating antennas.
6. Keep cover and all screws securely in place.
7. Electrical conductors within 50 ft (15.2m) of the
welder should be enclosed in grounded rigid metallic
conduit or equivalent shielding, wherever possible.
Flexible metallic conduit is generally not suitable.
8. When the welder is enclosed in a metal building, the
metal building should be connected to several good
earth driven electrical grounds (as in 5 (b) above)
around the periphery of the building.
Failure to observe these recommended installation
procedures can cause radio or TV and electronic
equipment interference problems and result in unsatisfactory
welding performance resulting from lost high
frequency power.

xibunkrlilkidsx
11-04-2010, 8:36 PM
POS. used them they dont hold a consistant weld for crap.


Buy a real welder. save up and buy something that will last. the materials used in(probably alum) it are going to break down and than your still going to end up buying a new machine.

AR MIKE
11-07-2010, 5:23 PM
I'm a welder by trade , I highly recommend purchasing a name brand (miller,lincoln,hobart,etc.) reason is internal parts are easier to get but never really had to purchase anything other then gas,wire,or sticks,because these brands are of quality and also very reliable.