Are any of the cheap welders worth their money? Need temporary replacement for Airco DIP-PAK 300 MTS

xtal_01

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Location
Jeircho, VT
Welder
AIRCO (ESAB), Sears (Miller), Victor
Long story but I am a machinist who works out of my house. I literally use my welder once a week for something (last week I made roofing tools ... the week before that, I was welding the exhaust on my truck ...). I got my first welder (Sears AC buzz box ... that I still have) when I was 14 (took a night school coarse in welding) ... still have that welder.

I am in the middle of building a new shop .. probably a year from completion.

I moved my welder into my house just so I can use it.

Eventually I want a "real" welder. Something like a used Miller Syncrowave (my Airco was only DC ... I loved being able to use his when I needed).

Problem my welder died!

It was a 1993 Airco (made by Esab) DIP-PAK 300 MTS. Does not owe me anything. I got it free when it was a year old because the company I worked for said it had a bad computer and it was cheaper to just buy a new unit. In the end, I tore it apart and found a bad power resistor (broken right in half) .... put a new one in ... worked great ever since.

I did a quick search for a cheap welder ... MIG (gas not flux) .... TIG ... stick .... heck, for a few hundred more, some had HF TIG for aluminum.

Again, this is to just get me by for a year or so ... just so I can do these little odd jobs that pop up.

All were under $1000

I am worried all are just toys and really won't live up to all they promise.

Has anyone had an luck with any of these cheap units?

Thanks .... Mike

PS ... here is a link to my FaceBook page ... you can see the workshop build ... put every nail in myself so far: https://www.facebook.com/michael.csele
 

SidecarFlip

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Location
SE Michigan
Welder
Hobart Handler 210, Lincoln Square Wave TIG, Vulcan 205 stand alone TIG, Hyper Therm CIC Plasma cutter, Titanium 45 amp Plasma Cutter, Lincoln Ranger gas driven ac/dc welder, Harris oxy-acetelyne cutting torch and welding torch, varuous owned shielding gas bottles and a bunch of other stuff....
I have (own) my own machine and fabricating shop and have 2 full time employees as well. A few months ago, I sold my Lincoln Square Wave TIG / SMAW capable machine and my Hyper Therm computer driven plasma unit and purchased a Harbor Freight 45 and 60 amp plasma cutter(s), the 45 amp unit interfaces with my Shop Saber CNC production plasma table and the 65 Amp machine is for hand cutting only. I also purchased the Harbor Freight Pro-TIG TIG and SMAW capable welder. I put the 3 year extended warranty on all of them. HF's warranty is a 100% replacement guarantee btw.

All 3 of the new machines are IGBT machines and IGBT machines are 110 volt and 220 volt capable and IGBT machines are very efficient as far as electricity use is concerned and all of them are 'fan on demand' as well. I did add an Everlast water cooler that runs well with the series 17 water cooled torch (I add as I weld TIG) and I require a water cooled torch for high amperage which is necessary when welding aluminum. I purchased the CK World Wide water cooled torch with 20 foot super flex torch leads and it interfaces perfectly with the Everlast water cooler. Got the torch as well as the adapters (CK World Wide) from Weld Fabulous online. Great folks to deal with btw. I also buy filled bottles of inert gas required for TIG welding and shielded gas MIG welding from them as well. They ship promptly with Fed-Ex and their bottles are 100% refillable.

Anyway, I recommend the HF IGBT machines as they are all efficient IGBT machines and are very reasonable priced as well and all of them are 220 and 110 capable and HF supplies with the machines, both 110 and 220 cords but be apprised that on 110, your output amperage will be less than on 220. I run my machines hard every day and so far no issues.

I recommend them and HF has stores everywhere and they all honor the warranty, both base warranty (1 year) as well as the extended warranty (3 years). No questions asked, they will ju8st replace the machines and if HF for some reason upgrades any of them or deletes a particular model that I own, they will replace the defective machine with the upgraded machine tit for tat.

The issue I have with any of the name brand (Lincoln, ESAB, Miller or even Hobart) is, if the machine has issues, you have to take it to an 'authorized repair center' instead of just returning it to HF for replacement and I don't want to play that game when I can take any of the machines to my local HF store and get it replaced on the spot, no dealing with a service center and waiting for how long to have it repaired.

The Pro TIG is a very capable unit, 100% digital readout and even 'remembers' you last settings when you power it up and the CK Worldwide water torch is fantastic as well as the water cooler. If you ever buy any water cooler, remember that you must fill it with special TIG coolant, not tap water and especially not with automotive anti freeze as automotive antifreeze will destroy the coolant passages in the torch head. Weld Fabulous also sells TIG torch coolant in 1 gallon plastic jugs. Take around 2 gallons of TIG coolant to fill the water cooler and the torch lines.

The water cooler has a level indicator built into the front of the cooler cabinet as well.

When I sold the Lincoln Square Wave machine, the Lincoln water cooler went with it. The Lincoln water cooler mounted to the top of the machine and was not capable of interfacing with the Pro-TIG so it went with the machine when I sold it as well as the Lincoln water cooled torch.

I sold the HT plasma cutter simply because the consumables are getting stupid in price and the HF consumables are very reasonable and of course are available at any HF store.

I realize this is a long post but I recommend looking at the HF welding and cutting machines All are very capable IGBT machines and their 4 year (at additional but reasonable cost) makes their guarantee heads above any of the other brands, that and the fact that if any of them become unuseable for any reason, HF will replace them, no questions asked.

Very happy with all 3 of them and the CK Worldwide torch is heads and shoulders above the Weld craft torch I had on the Lincoln. All of the machines come complete with everything including the 110 volt and the 220 leads plus air cooled torches and ground clamps. Of course in my case I require a water cooled torch on the Pro-TIG. The plasma cutters, not so much.
 

xtal_01

New member
Messages
4
Good Post Points
0
Location
Jeircho, VT
Welder
AIRCO (ESAB), Sears (Miller), Victor
I have (own) my own machine and fabricating shop and have 2 full time employees as well. A few months ago, I sold my Lincoln Square Wave TIG / SMAW capable machine and my Hyper Therm computer driven plasma unit and purchased a Harbor Freight 45 and 60 amp plasma cutter(s), the 45 amp unit interfaces with my Shop Saber CNC production plasma table and the 65 Amp machine is for hand cutting only. I also purchased the Harbor Freight Pro-TIG TIG and SMAW capable welder. I put the 3 year extended warranty on all of them. HF's warranty is a 100% replacement guarantee btw.

All 3 of the new machines are IGBT machines and IGBT machines are 110 volt and 220 volt capable and IGBT machines are very efficient as far as electricity use is concerned and all of them are 'fan on demand' as well. I did add an Everlast water cooler that runs well with the series 17 water cooled torch (I add as I weld TIG) and I require a water cooled torch for high amperage which is necessary when welding aluminum. I purchased the CK World Wide water cooled torch with 20 foot super flex torch leads and it interfaces perfectly with the Everlast water cooler. Got the torch as well as the adapters (CK World Wide) from Weld Fabulous online. Great folks to deal with btw. I also buy filled bottles of inert gas required for TIG welding and shielded gas MIG welding from them as well. They ship promptly with Fed-Ex and their bottles are 100% refillable.

Anyway, I recommend the HF IGBT machines as they are all efficient IGBT machines and are very reasonable priced as well and all of them are 220 and 110 capable and HF supplies with the machines, both 110 and 220 cords but be apprised that on 110, your output amperage will be less than on 220. I run my machines hard every day and so far no issues.

I recommend them and HF has stores everywhere and they all honor the warranty, both base warranty (1 year) as well as the extended warranty (3 years). No questions asked, they will ju8st replace the machines and if HF for some reason upgrades any of them or deletes a particular model that I own, they will replace the defective machine with the upgraded machine tit for tat.

The issue I have with any of the name brand (Lincoln, ESAB, Miller or even Hobart) is, if the machine has issues, you have to take it to an 'authorized repair center' instead of just returning it to HF for replacement and I don't want to play that game when I can take any of the machines to my local HF store and get it replaced on the spot, no dealing with a service center and waiting for how long to have it repaired.

The Pro TIG is a very capable unit, 100% digital readout and even 'remembers' you last settings when you power it up and the CK Worldwide water torch is fantastic as well as the water cooler. If you ever buy any water cooler, remember that you must fill it with special TIG coolant, not tap water and especially not with automotive anti freeze as automotive antifreeze will destroy the coolant passages in the torch head. Weld Fabulous also sells TIG torch coolant in 1 gallon plastic jugs. Take around 2 gallons of TIG coolant to fill the water cooler and the torch lines.

The water cooler has a level indicator built into the front of the cooler cabinet as well.

When I sold the Lincoln Square Wave machine, the Lincoln water cooler went with it. The Lincoln water cooler mounted to the top of the machine and was not capable of interfacing with the Pro-TIG so it went with the machine when I sold it as well as the Lincoln water cooled torch.

I sold the HT plasma cutter simply because the consumables are getting stupid in price and the HF consumables are very reasonable and of course are available at any HF store.

I realize this is a long post but I recommend looking at the HF welding and cutting machines All are very capable IGBT machines and their 4 year (at additional but reasonable cost) makes their guarantee heads above any of the other brands, that and the fact that if any of them become unuseable for any reason, HF will replace them, no questions asked.

Very happy with all 3 of them and the CK Worldwide torch is heads and shoulders above the Weld craft torch I had on the Lincoln. All of the machines come complete with everything including the 110 volt and the 220 leads plus air cooled torches and ground clamps. Of course in my case I require a water cooled torch on the Pro-TIG. The plasma cutters, not so much.
Awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to go into depth. We do have a local HF store (finally ... had one in SC 20 years ago). I go there often so I will take a good look at the machines next time I am there.

Thanks so much again !
 

SidecarFlip

Active member
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
31
Good Post Points
5
Location
SE Michigan
Welder
Hobart Handler 210, Lincoln Square Wave TIG, Vulcan 205 stand alone TIG, Hyper Therm CIC Plasma cutter, Titanium 45 amp Plasma Cutter, Lincoln Ranger gas driven ac/dc welder, Harris oxy-acetelyne cutting torch and welding torch, varuous owned shielding gas bottles and a bunch of other stuff....
Awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to go into depth. We do have a local HF store (finally ... had one in SC 20 years ago). I go there often so I will take a good look at the machines next time I am there.

Thanks so much again !
Hard to beat ANY IGBT machine today. They are very efficient with electricity usage and most of them are 100% digital readout as well. You really cannot go wrong with any of the HF welders in the mid price range, Titanium or Vulcan. Lots of them online (Amazon) as well but, if you ever have an issue and you buy one online, you are basically screwed. Not so with the HF welders, especially if you put the extended warranty on them (like I did). If it pukes, you take it back to ANY HF store with your warranty papers and they give you a NEW one.
 

California

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Location
Sonoma County
online (Amazon) as well but, if you ever have an issue and you buy one online, you are basically screwed.
No! If you can wait a few days for a replacement to be shipped, the 3 or 4 year warranty advertised alongside welders on Amazon doesn't cost much, I think a lot less than HF's add-on warranties.

Over the counter exchange at HF is valuable for the tradesman who needs to get back to work the same day. But at least you aren't out your purchase cost with the Amazon replacement warranty.

Sounds like either of these alternatives will get you back to work faster than shipping a pro welder in for warranty service.
 
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