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Fired up the TIG for the first time...


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What an adventure that was on a machine where all the knobs are helpfully labelled "S", with only vaguely discernable values to give clues. Its a Butters/AMT/JAVAC machine that wouldn't have been my choice, but got sent to me on extended loan by a mate who's never used it in the five years he's owned it. 

I have a JAVAC Plasma too, for which I only have myself to blame. Its OK if you don't mind swearing at the HF failing to initiate an arc most times you pull the trigger, then producing a 45 degree bevel cut when it does finally spring into action. I truly hate that machine, but hoping the welder is somewhat more cooperative. 

Anyway, I digress. What I've learned so far:

Unless you're doing really, really thin stuff, 1.6mm tungsten is a total waste of time. 

TIG torches with a button make it very hard to hold the torch in a way you can get the required control. Get a foot pedal or don't bother (I now have one on order) 

Red tungsten (thoriated) doesn't like AC much and glows so bright even the welding helmet struggles if you mix up the indecipherable AC balance control and use the gas connector that came with the machine that doesn't let any gas through. Yes, really.. I've ordered some other (2.4mm) tungstens to try. 

Once you do have a working setup, running accurate beads isn't terribly hard. Adding filler while doing so is! That's the bit that will need practice. 

There doesn't seem to be a discernable, defacto standard for foot pedal wiring. I've ordered a three pin pedal which at least sports the correct connector in blind hope. I expect to be disappointed, then frustrated I spent money on a box with a cheap potentiometer in it, then to spend a few hours reverse engineering how the machine expects the pedal to be wired up. 

The moral of the story here: don't buy cheap. I'll update as things move on.

On the bright side, I've got my EN9606 welding course (this one for MIG) booked in next week at Trainsafe in Windsor. Most excited about that! 

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Pretty sure I use the gray 2% ceriated tungstens and seem to get along fine with them on aluminium and a foot pedal is definately the way to go I bought a Stahlwerk tig and very happy with it obviously not classed as an expensive one but its weighing up usage against cost for me, anyway the pedal came with it and I'm sure it is only £35 to replace, the potentiometer gave me issues as was jumping the teeth on what looks like a piece of ribbed fan belt I added a spring to give tension to stop it jumping and has been fine since. I have only tried the 1.6 mm rods so far and have welded up to 5mm aluminium ok also the filler rod adding is a pain in the A*** but gratifying when it does come together all good fun enjoy the welding course regards Stephen

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I think the only time I've put a 1.6mm tungsten in was when I was welding some perforated stainless together into a cylinder at about 25-30A.

As for the holding, it depends really on the torch/button. My torch (Tweko) has a great button that takes no effort to push so even if you're holding the torch at a funny angle you don't dunk the tungsten as you press it. It also helps having a flexi head as you can position it however you need. What I normally do is torch against my thumb and hold with my middle finger, then my index is free for the button.

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Thanks chaps

I really like the grip that Justin from TFS uses, gripping the very end of the torch between fore and middle finger and thumb round the side. The torch fits the hand really well like that and gives maximum control. Trouble is, you can't push a button :rofl: I have a flexi torch that ideal for this, just need to get the practice in! 

Found a few great videos that have really helped, so for future ref:



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