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Miller 161 STL or STH?

rimcanyon

Diamond
Joined
Sep 28, 2002
Location
Salinas, CA USA
I’ve not done a lot of sheetmetal welding, but I am repairing an old Porsche with some rusted body panels and I need to get a welder that will butt weld 18ga. Steel and do a nice job. I’ve owned a Miller Syncrowave 250 for about 25 years and it has never failed me until I tried butt welding thin sheetmetal at 10 amps. It just can’t give a consistent arc; one minute it is too low in amps and the next it is burning through the sheet metal. Maybe it needs a rebuild. But for the same price I can buy a small inverter tig welder. So I am looking at the Maxstar 161 STL, or for a few more bucks, the STH. Would appreciate some feedback on those machines, keeping in mind that I have zero experience with an inverter welder; every welder I have owned has been a big transformer machine. I was a bit disappointed to find out that I cannot use any of my water cooled torches or 14 pin remotes with the 161, it seems to be a whole new ballgame.
 

dkmc

Diamond
3 years ago I bought an AHP Alpha Tig 200x to replace my 1973 Airco 300 Heliwelder that's always had crappy high freq. and other inconsistent issues with arc. The AHP has been fantastic, I've butt welded razor blades with it, sharp edge to sharp edge.
 

rimcanyon

Diamond
Joined
Sep 28, 2002
Location
Salinas, CA USA
Dkmc, does the AHP welder have high frequency start? That is the only difference between the two Miller tig welders, one has only “lift arc” start, the other has both. I’m used to high frequency start, but if lift arc start works as well or better then I will go with the cheaper model, the 161 STL. What I can’t get over is the small size of the 161, I think it weighs 13 pounds.
 

Bondo

Hot Rolled
Joined
May 14, 2011
Location
Bridgeton NJ
I have been running maxstar 150s (baby welder) for 15 years now. I prefer the high freq for all the misc stuff I do. Welding stainless sheets together is so much easier with a remote, I like the foot pedal.

Dont let the small size fool you. It has the guts, just not the duty cycle on 110.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

rimcanyon

Diamond
Joined
Sep 28, 2002
Location
Salinas, CA USA
I have been running maxstar 150s (baby welder) for 15 years now. I prefer the high freq for all the misc stuff I do. Welding stainless sheets together is so much easier with a remote, I like the foot pedal.

Dont let the small size fool you. It has the guts, just not the duty cycle on 110.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

I agree about the remote, I have a hand remote on the Syncrowave machine’s torch. Unfortunately it is a 14 wire, and the 161 uses a 6 wire remote.
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
I would spring for the STH, myself. I have its ancestor, the 150STH, with pulse, and its a really nice machine. Well worth the price, and it will hold its value pretty well. I have actually checked mine on airplanes for site work, and carried it onto all kinds of job sites.
Butt welding sheet is tricky even with the best machine.
If you dont have it already, I would pick up a copy of Ron Fournier's book, Metal Fabricators Handbook.
Ron, now deceased, was one of the masters of this kind of work, a true genius with bodywork.
The book is usually findable online for under 10 bucks, and it is full of information you need to know.
 

dkmc

Diamond
Yes, Hi Freq start, and continuous for Alu.along with pulse, and other features for around $800.
The Alpha TIG weighs 50lbs I think. Mine came with the "sewing machine" pedal (now they come with a nicer 'normal' pedal). Not a problem, I bought the Vulcan pedal at Harbor Freight, had a look at the schematic diagrams, (one has a 5 pin plug, the other has a 7 pin plug) and connected the Vulcan pedal to the AHP plug, works sweet. Totally satisfied. And I didn't have to pay $2500 or more for a very capable TIG-Stick welder.

Dkmc, does the AHP welder have high frequency start? That is the only difference between the two Miller tig welders, one has only “lift arc” start, the other has both. I’m used to high frequency start, but if lift arc start works as well or better then I will go with the cheaper model, the 161 STL. What I can’t get over is the small size of the 161, I think it weighs 13 pounds.
 

Rob F.

Diamond
Joined
Aug 5, 2012
Location
California, Central Coast
The next size up machine - maxstar 200, should have a 14 pin remote and more bells and whistles with the pulse settings. I have sth? with high freq and all the pulse settings. I like that machine because I also have some XMT304's and the leads are the same, as is the remote control. It will also run on 110v to 575v.
I bought it used several years ago and it has been great.
I see no reason to not be able to use your existing water cooled torch. Sure it wont plug right in but it would be easy to adapt it.
 

rimcanyon

Diamond
Joined
Sep 28, 2002
Location
Salinas, CA USA
The next size up machine - maxstar 200, should have a 14 pin remote and more bells and whistles with the pulse settings. I have sth? with high freq and all the pulse settings. I like that machine because I also have some XMT304's and the leads are the same, as is the remote control. It will also run on 110v to 575v.
I bought it used several years ago and it has been great.
I see no reason to not be able to use your existing water cooled torch. Sure it wont plug right in but it would be easy to adapt it.

I don't see how to adapt it... the air cooled torch feeds the argon through the power lead. I will check on the 200, thanks for the info.
 

rimcanyon

Diamond
Joined
Sep 28, 2002
Location
Salinas, CA USA
I would spring for the STH, myself. I have its ancestor, the 150STH, with pulse, and its a really nice machine. Well worth the price, and it will hold its value pretty well. I have actually checked mine on airplanes for site work, and carried it onto all kinds of job sites.
Butt welding sheet is tricky even with the best machine.
If you dont have it already, I would pick up a copy of Ron Fournier's book, Metal Fabricators Handbook.
Ron, now deceased, was one of the masters of this kind of work, a true genius with bodywork.
The book is usually findable online for under 10 bucks, and it is full of information you need to know.

Ries, thanks for the reply. I could swear I have a copy of Ron Fournier's book, but a quick search didn't turn it up. Do you use both high freq start and the lift arc start, and which do you like better?
 

Rob F.

Diamond
Joined
Aug 5, 2012
Location
California, Central Coast
I don't see how to adapt it... the air cooled torch feeds the argon through the power lead. I will check on the 200, thanks for the info.

Yes but doesnt the argon comes out a separate port on the machine front? Just a plug into the machine with a short lead to a standard water cooled power block. The simplist way to do that is grab the power block with a stick stinger.

Water will be flowing all the time the cooler is on since you have no water solenoid in machine.
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
No experience with these exact machines but I have a cst280 that has just the lift arc. It’s fine for heavier stuff but I think for light gage welding you want the hf as others have said.
 








 
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