Arc to TIG conversion
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  1. #1
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    Is it possible to buy an add-on unit that will convert a stick welder to TIG ?
    We have a big Miller Dialarc that doesn't see nearly as much use as the Hobart MIG next to it. At the same time, I'd like to get into TIG welding for small, neat jobs. (Last time I ran TIG was in school 12 years ago, but would like to do more.) I hear that the transformer-type TIG machines use the same basic constant-current design as an arc welder, but with lots of extra wave shaping. It seems that those are ofetn extra boxes that add on anyway.

    So, is it possible? Is it worth it? Can I get HF and all that?

    If this has been answered (or beat to death) somwhere else, a link would be appreciated. I couldn't find anything.

  2. #2
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    If you have an AC/DC unit, you can do scratch start DC tig. For AC you need a HF box. I added one to my Linde arc welder. I don't see any difference in the arc compared to a Syncrowave. I also added a foot control and vary the 220 input with scrs. It took some time to do it but it was a cheap way for me to be able to do tig.

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    Actually, just adding a High Frequency box will not turn a DC welder into an AC welder.
    High Freq is for ease of starting, for longer life between sharpening tungstens, on DC.

    You need AC for aluminum. And you usually use a High Freq box on "continuous" with the AC.

    For steel and non-aluminum non-ferrous, you can just do scratch start air cooled- you just need a tank of argon, a torch, and a flow meter or regulator.

    Once you get into adding a HF box, a water cooled torch, a foot pedal, and so on, its usually cheaper just to buy one with all the bells and whistles already on it.

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    Here's one setup for under $200:

    HF box and TIG torch on Craigslist

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    My dad has setup with a DialArc and a Lincoln HF box.

    He is selling it too. The lincoln HF box has gas postflow controls as well so you can use a generic tig torch. Has start/cont HF switch. Has a little push button remote to start the hf as well. Very good shape, he alway keeps things covered when they are not being used.

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    Craftsman used to make an add on tig for their AC/DC welders. I got one in a trade but am missing the instructions. Any one ever seen one?

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    I have seen em- they are simple, cheap, and work fine for small stuff.

    Basically, for DC welders, all you need is a torch- the machine is already quite capable of tig welding.

    The add on units are High Frequency boxes, and usually have "start" and "continuous" settings.
    Start is for DC work on steel, stainless, copper, and cast iron, and just uses the HF to intitiate the arc, so the tungsten doesnt touch the base metal and get polluted.
    Continuous is for AC welding of aluminum.

    Beyond that, some HF boxes have solenoids for gas flow, turning on and off the sheilding gas, and some dont.
    Some fancy ones even have preflow and postflow timers on the gas solenoids.

    For higher amps, and continuous work, the little Sears boxes will probably puke pretty quickly- then you get into the rig I have, the Miller add on HF box- its not cheap, at about $800.
    Add on a water cooled torch, hoses, and a flow meter, maybe $400, a radiator at $500 and up, and a foot pedal for $250 or so, and pretty soon you are talking real money.

    I bought all this stuff for my XMT 304 inverter welder, and all in all it cost me over $1500 to get it running- but now its the nicest tig in my shop.

    But for a measly $150 for an air cooled scratch start tig torch, you can be tig welding on everything but aluminum with any DC welder, including gas drive machines.
    Its kinda cludgy, compared to the elegance of the pile of stuff I describe above, but the job gets done- I have done plenty of it, on jobsites and as a second or third backup torch on a big job, and it works.

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    Jeabezkin -- What you have is probably similar to my Craiglist link noted above. They go on Ebay for around $130 - 170; and are still available new for around $250 up at Graingers etc. last time I looked.

    There's not much to it, if yours is the same. Plug your AC welder into the HF unit. It basically passes the current right on through, but adds a high frequency voltage to stablize the arc. Even helps in some stick welding apps.

    Meant for AC welders and allow you to TIG aluminum, thin stainless, etc. You'll need to add a torch, an argon tank, and regulator -- figure $60 up for the torch (get a gas lens), $50 up for an import regulator off Ebay, and $20 - 150 for a small tank to get started depending on if you rent or buy.

    You have to scratch start and will have to twiddle at your welder (hopefully continuously variable and not tapped) to get the amps right, but it's a fairly inexpensive way to add aluminum welding capability or to try TIG, especially since you already have the HF box.

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    Oops, Ries beat me to a lot of what you needed. One slight clarification - the problem with higher amps with the add-on HF boxes isn't so much the limit of the box itself but the air-cooled torch you'll be using. I don't have a manual either, but it looks to me that the two HF boxes I happen to have would pass through the full 225 to 295 amps of the welders they originally went with.

    The problem with air-cooled torches is that these are only rated up to 150 amps or so and get hot pretty quickly, especially in continuous use. I suppose you could rig a water cooled torch and go a bit higher. However, if you're starting out TIG welding on aluminum it's likely to be thinner sheets and tubes than heavy structural stuff.

    One more thing. The $1000 HF boxes have the gas timers and solenoid. For your box, get a torch with a gas knob on the torch. YOU get to be the gas pre-flow, on, post-flow, and off timer.

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    Do a Google search for 'high frequency arc' "stabilizer" or "starter" and you'll get links to the Century, Lincoln, and other units. But as others have said, after you've picked up all of the other paraphanalia, you probably could have picked up a tig welder of similar vintage, complete with cables, pedal, torch, and cooler, for same or less.

    Jeff

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    i have a 200 amp air cooled torch, it gets hot with continuous duty at higher amps, but its not a killer. i paid over 800$ for my HF box, it has the pre, post flow built in, has an input for a foot pedal and doesn't require scratch starting. it definitely doesn't turn DC into AC put it works fine with either AC or DC. i've never done it, but you can DC tig aluminum, think its only for really thick work.
    i bought one of those craftsman HF units off ebay a few years ago, it made a buzzing sound for about three seconds and that was the most it ever did. didn't have a manual with it, so i guess it's possible this was all it was supposed to do,it didn't appear to still be cutting edge technology, and i have no idea what the capabilities of cutting edge HF units circa 1953 were.

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    I'm looking mostly at small stuff right now, so it sounds like I can start by getting an air-cooled torch and regulator. I have an extra argon tank, so that's not a problem.

    At some point, I'd like to do aluminum too, so it sounds like that's when I'd need a HF add-on box. My Dialarc is AC/DC continuously variable, so I'm OK there, I think. This is not for production work, so I don't think I'll ever see a need for the fancy gas controls, etc.

    Thanks for the ideas. It sounds like I could be running a simple setup pretty soon, without even having to spend much cash.

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    What about amperage? If the Dialarc only goes down to 35A, is that going to be a problem?

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    Not usually. 35 is not a whole lot.

    A Dialarc and Dialarc HF tig machine are the same machines internally. The only difference is a hf unit and gas valves/timers.

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    You might be better off to hang around the auctions, I picked up a 70's vintage hobart TIG for A$80, it has some minor electrical problems but it had all the desirable features (other than square wave) and it is a single phase unit, currently running off 415V but from memory it had 220/240V tappings.

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    415V?!?

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    Never done any tig welding but i am interested in what has been said here, i have a old oil cooled Oxford arc welder its 200amp.
    Are you sujesting i can fit a tig air cooled torch an argon botle and guage to it and tig weld?
    Sorry i am ignorant of such things but i am very interested, a detailed explanation of how to go about this aimed at the amatur whould be brilliant.
    If i have got this all wrong sorry (he says glowing with embarasment).

  18. #18
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    ricky, you can do that if your welder has DC output. If it is only AC, you need a high freq box to keep the arc going during the zero transition. You need AC for welding aluminum.

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    The 415 was most likely a typo. the 4 is just abpve the 1 on the numerical pad.
    wendell

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    415V is not unusual once you're outside the US of A. 415 is a standard tap on machine tool transformers made for worldwide use.


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