So, You want to buy a welding machine...?

Steel and aluminum boatbuilding. See: "Boatbuilding Methods", in left-hand column of the Home page, for information about alloys.

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Kevin Morin
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:36 am
Location: Kenai, Alaska

Re: So, You want to buy a welding machine...?

Postby Kevin Morin » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:19 pm

Since this thread was bumped up a little, and has had at least some views over the years, I'm going to help those asking and those attempting to post useful answers - a little.

Replies would most often come from those who have welded for a while and perhaps owned a variety of equipment to do variety of different welding. Not only are alloys, steel, aluminum or SS, different welding types important to consider, but entire welded hulls (steel or aluminum) are different from the needs to weld tanks, brackets and hardware for boats made of non-metal materials.

Next, it would help those considering learning to weld, and therefore to acquire a power supply and torch assembly, to rank for themselves the amount of effort this hardware or tooling will be used? Are you planning one each 22' welded aluminum run-a-bout on your bucket list or are you planning to offer Glen-L designed steel tugs as your new business venture? Will you weld a few hours a month or 30 hours a week? Do you plan to evolve into commercial welding service or remain in your garage and weld once in a dozen week ends?

So for anyone reading the thread that is considering buying a welding power supply, I'd like to suggest your realistically evaluate and state your intended use- one or more boats- week end welding or full time welding; and even go so far as to quantify the hours per calendar you're planning. For example "I'm going to take a vacation for two months, and build a 30 steel sail boat and I will work full time (12 hours per day) the thickest metal in the plans is 1/2" keel."

Or someone else may state " I'm planning to build a Chinook in welded aluminum over a period of 2 years, in my garage," Two very informative but different statements - in case anyone had advice they'd be able to see how the overall question applies- which welding power supply is most appropriate?

The effective time of the effort helps understand if your power supply has to be 'bullet proof' and work 12 hour days running 10 hours? Those power supplies are more expensive due to their parts being more reliable and heat tolerant- but represent a higher value investment. On the other hand if you plan to work for 30 days on your boat- and the power supply gives up the ghost on day 3- due to welding 10 hours a day? That implies the higher duty cycle, higher capacity and much more expensive tool was the better choice- in hindsight.

As regards the power supplies' ratings- the total amperage rating (MAX A) is a rating to help you understand how thick a material that power supply will weld in a single pass? Duty cycle is the amount of minutes per hour the power supply can be at max rating and still not shut it self down to cool? Combining the two ratings allows you to buy wisely- if you plan to build a small boat from thin metal over a longer time- smaller range of output and at a lower duty cycle are very acceptable. On the other hand if you plan to build a larger boat with thicker scantlings, and do the work in long hour days- you'll need both the heavier amperage power supply and one with a greater duty cycle.

Last grouping remark is a mention I've already posted several times so just a reminder here- there are countless good deals on older but fully functional power supplies where your 2017 dollar can buy you a high amperage, large duty cycle power supply for MUCH less as compared to the new cost of power supplies with similar ratings. So, shopping used is a very wise choice IF... IFFF you can find someone to help evaluate the buy. In the same sense, you can waste your dollars if you can't correctly evaluate the power supply- so while used can be a wise choice- that course requires a wise buyer to make sure the steps to verify the power supply's value.

Hoped to help readers understand that the a realistic description of your use for a welding power supply will help you to get more informed answers.

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
Kevin Morin

sbeausol
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:23 pm

Re: So, You want to buy a welding machine...?

Postby sbeausol » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:01 pm

I know this is a difficult question to answer, but I'll throw it out there anyway. I'm a hobbyist/DIYer with an interest in building boats. I've read a lot about stitch and glue and aluminum boat building. I keep coming back around that aluminum would be the best material for the type of boats I'm interested in. Specifically, I'm looking to build a 10-12' Drift Pram, and maybe eventually a drift boat/ power drifter around 15'. I'm not in a rush, and I don't intend on making welding a source of income for myself. I understand welding aluminum is considered difficult, and I know I will waste time and money learning, but that's ok with me. I'm comfortable with a $2000 or less investment on equipment. I'm fine trolling craigslist until the right equipment comes up and buying used. I will consider taking a class locally, but in general I will take my time learning the process. I'm curious if there is a recommendation on the type of equipment to start out with that would suit my needs? I've read about the lincoln square wave tig 200 but I realize TIG my not be best for welding plate together to build a hull.

Input is greatly appreciated!

Kevin Morin
Posts: 608
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:36 am
Location: Kenai, Alaska

Re: So, You want to buy a welding machine...?

Postby Kevin Morin » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:18 pm

sbeausol,
I have not personally explored in any detail the Oriental Import power supplies of Longevity, Everlast and some other names? I do know however, there is a real price point difference from Miller and Lincoln. Further, these power supplies can't be completely and uniformly failing (some complaints online about durability and reliability) right out of the box- or they couldn't continue to sell?

So regardless of MIG or TIG welding processes- if you're not planning to invest heavily? it may be worth while to find a dealer in your area for these imported power supplies and see what they can offer in long term support- repair? replacement for stock? mean time between failure? cost comparisons? and guarantee period? Other forums, focused more exclusively on welding as whole -n o t boat building like Glen-L's site and Forum- have mixed reviews but admittedly a strong following of import welding power supply users.

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
Kevin Morin


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