TIG welder for bicycle frames.

  1. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    I am looking at buying a TIG machine to build bicycle frames as a hobby, but the more research I do, the more options seem to pop up...

    At the moment I'm doubting between a few options and hopefully people here can give me some advice on what would be the best choice.

    I'm doing a TIG course at the moment and there I use a Stahlwerk AC/DC, so that was obviously the first brand I looked at. Interesting machine at a very interesting price, but from what I gather no pulse on DC and I have the idea that for thin tubing that might be an interesting feature. Next to that buying something like this from abroad doesn't really appeal to me.

    Another option would be getting a Jasic, which is also a machine I'd have to buy online. I can get that one from a Dutch dealer, though, which is an an advantage, even though it's a company down South. The Jasic is a bit more than Stahlwerk and DC only, but with DC pulse and the possibility to add a footpedal.

    And this afternoon I paid a visit to the local welding shop and they offered me a new Weldkar WK1660 HF Pulse (re-branded Cebora) and two used EWM machines: a Picotig 180 and a Picotig 200 Puls. All three more expensive than the Stahlwerk and Jasic (obviously), but still under 1000€.

    Any ideas on what would be the best choice and what I would actually need? I don't see myself welding aluminium in my garage, so a DC machine seems enough to me. And what about pulse? The guy I spoke to this afternoon wasn't to sure about the need for it, but I've also spoken to people who said it was an absolute necessity for thin tubing.

    Any help would be highly appreciated!

    Many thanks,

    Erik
     
  2. Jim Davey

    Jim Davey RH Davey Welding Supplies

    Messages:
    5,320
    Location:
    Southampton
    If the EWM machines come with a warranty I’d go down that route. With tools I find it pays to buy the best you can afford.
     
    stuvy, eLuSiVeMiTe and Ruffian like this.
  3. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    I haven't asked about the terms of the warranty, but the guy said that the didn't give you a 'warranty until you walk out the door' and I could come back at any time if there was a problem. They are an official EWM dealer and a very reputable company, so that it something I don't worry about. And they are withing walking distance of where I live, which also makes me tend towards buying from them.

    Which of the two machines they offer would you recommend for what I am planning to do? The 180 without pulse, or the newer 200 with pulse?
     
  4. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    For something like a bike frame I would allow funds in the budget for a flexible lightweight tig torch and some form of grinder for getting a nice sharp point on the tungsten as well as the welder and probably some equipment for gas purge.

    I am not sure which cebora the weldkar is supposed to be the rebadged version of so I would want to find out exactly before considering that one.
    Personally I would rather buy a used ewm out of those choices, mainly because if it does not work out it will lose less money as the initial hit has gone.

    One reason I use pulse is to 'time' the gaps inbetween adding filler which helps my welds look a lot neater so it is something I would consider an advantage although most skilled welders will probably manage fine without it but it would be something I would use on a product uf I also wanted a nice cosmetic finish.

    In your position making bike frames I would also want to be sure I would only ever be making steel ones as I would not want to find that I wanted to use aluminium in the future as well and had to sell the welder to get to an a/c machine.
     
  5. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    I don't think the Weldkar is a specific Cebora, it's a brand from the Cebora distributor in the Netherlands and, as far as I know, made by Cebora. The EWMs come with an 8m WP17 torch and a flexible body was something we could talk about. A grinder is already there, gas purge is something I have to look into. I think I have some things for that with the jig I bought a couple of years ago, but I'd have to look them up as originally used brazing.

    Aluminium is not something I have really considered. I like steel better and the toxic fumes that you get with aluminium make it something I am not to keen on trying in the garage. If I would want to get an AC/DC machine then it would mean staying far away from the likes of EWM and even Weldkar and go Chinese. I am an absolute beginner when it comes to TIG, so at the moment steel is the only thing I am really considering.
     
  6. Jim Davey

    Jim Davey RH Davey Welding Supplies

    Messages:
    5,320
    Location:
    Southampton
    If it were me I’d want the pulse, even if it’s not something you use to begin with it can be really handy for controlling heat input on thin wall tubes.
     
    stuvy and ErikM like this.
  7. pedrobedro

    pedrobedro Man at Matalan

    Messages:
    9,669
    Location:
    CX Derbyshire
    Do you need to purge steel ? I never used it on mild tubing.
     
  8. Richard.

    Richard. Member

    Messages:
    18,009
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    Sound words there mate.
    A lot of people think they need acdc and stretch their budget to buy a cheap lower quality set when in reality they just like the idea of welding aluminium, never really get it past the practice stages and could of bought a really really nice high quality dc only set for the same brass. I’m not sure about the deadly aluminium fumes your referring too. Tig welding clean aluminium produces pretty much zero fume. It’s only when there is contamination or cast aluminium it can boil off some nasties. If in doubt use ppe or extraction.
    I agree with Jim buy a pulsed set.
     
  9. Munkul Member

    Messages:
    566
    Cumbria, UK
    +1 on pulse. It's just really handy, I managed for years without but my heat control on stainless is way better now that I've got it.

    Are there any Stel dealers in your area? They make top end machines that don't cost the earth. Or Rehm.

    I agree in principle about the DC only thing... but... there will always come a time where you think "I wish I could repair that alloy thing myself" and you'll have in mind that at some point, you might sell your machine to buy an AC/DC machine. If that's the case, then why not pony up some extra for an AC/DC machine to start with? Any half decent AC/DC machine will run DC smoothly that you'd never notice the difference between a midrange and a top end DC arc. And you've then got a usable AC arc as well.

    To me, DC machines are for when you already have at least one AC/DC machine in the workshop and you're after extra units for welding steels. You already have that AC functionality so you don't need it on every machine. I.e. our workshop has 1 300 amp AC/DC, and 5 other DC only machines.
     
  10. Hi Erik
    as a very keen cyclist we (EWM) have sold a number of machines to frame builders across the UK, my first contact was Dan Titchmarsh of Titchmarsh Cycles, he is quite well known among bespoke frame builders, and does an amazing job! (he built my pride and joy Titanium road bike! Adrian from Swarf Cycles also has the same machine as Dan (I bought a fantastic Enduro 29'er from Adrian too :laughing:!) Definitely advise to go for quality brand and definitely pulse for bicycle frames! Hope this is helpful, good luck
    6 Milli
     
    addjunkie, Jim Davey and ErikM like this.
  11. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    Pulse it definitely is then, thanks! :)

    @Munkul No Sell or Rehm around here, I am afraid... I have given thought to putting in extra cash for AC, but that would realistically mean paying over 2500€ ex. VAT for a new EWM Picotig 200 ACDC machine as I haven't seen them used and even then they would probably be too expensive. The offer I have for a young EWM DC Puls is less than 1000€ incl. VAT including a regulator, which is already quite a bit of cash. If I want AC for a budget that I can still defend for a hobby, I would probably look at Jasic (as a well thought of Chinese brand) and still pay over 1000€ incl. regulator etc. and not have local support.

    My initial thought was to just get a Stahlwerk as that is what my teacher uses for his classes, but that one (as far as I can see) only has AC Pulse and can't take a foot pedal. That one would set me back around 500€ incl. a regulator, which is a lot more attractive money-wise but my feeling is that the used EWM is a better investment. Bit like @Richard. said too.


    @6 milli billi Would you opt for DC or ACDC?
     
  12. Jim Davey

    Jim Davey RH Davey Welding Supplies

    Messages:
    5,320
    Location:
    Southampton
    It really depends if you think you will progress onto aluminium frames or not.
     
    ErikM likes this.
  13. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    To be honest the only reason I have ever thought of aluminium was the possibility to help someone with a damaged frame, not to build with it myself. I think I'd sooner look at titanium than aluminium, so the only reason for getting AC would really be "Well, you never know if it will come in useful".
     
  14. brockenhammer Member

    Messages:
    172
    Location:
    Freiburg, Germany
    Hi,
    if Dc only or Ac option I can´t really answer.
    As a framebuilder I would recommend a very comfortable setup with pedal and flexible size 9 torch.
    I can´t imagine welding chainstay bridges or seatstay seattube junctions without the possibility to hold the torch in a very uncommon way. Reaching a trigger on the torch would be very hard then.

    A high frequency pulse option helps on workpiece edges. They just don´t burn away as easily if there is pulse.
    A slow pulse helps creating the stack of dimes look, if you can follow the rythm. If not, it just confuses.

    You can slow pulse with the pedal also.

    EWM machines are great to work with, and they last usually. I had several ewm units and no problems at all.

    Purging steel is not really necessary. But I had the impression , that the arc is more stable and controlled, when you have full penetration and the Crmo tubing is purged.
    But that is not proved, just an impression.

    Kai
     
  15. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    Thanks very much for your reply from a framebuilder's perspective!

    I suppose you can't really answer DC or AC/DC because it's a matter of choice whether you want to build with aluminium? Personally, I don't know any framebuilder (apart from the big companies) who works with aluminium, so I can't really see myself doing it either. Can I ask what you use (DC or AC/DC) and what made you go for that machine?

    I am considering getting a WP9 flexible torch, definitely. The EWM machine comes with a WP17, but putting a flexible body on the torch was easy and getting a WP9 was also something we could discuss.

    A pedal is also a consideration, but I first want to learn to TIG properly before investing in that. Getting a good machine is already quite an investment for a hobby...

    Do you also TIG weld or TIG braze the braze-ons, by the way? I would prefer to do everything with the TIG machine as I have never felt confident using a flame and can't see what I'm doing when brazing due to my colour blindness. That last thing is why I've dedcided to start on a TIG course in the first place and now I can finally see the puddle.
     
  16. brockenhammer Member

    Messages:
    172
    Location:
    Freiburg, Germany
    Hi Erik,
    at the moment I do most of my welding with a 13 year old Jäckle Wig 301 AC/DC (which is in great condition).
    But I used many machines before from nearly all the common brands due to my little welder crazyness.
    Most machines I bought second hand and all over all I didn´t pay much for all of that. If you buy a good machine for a reasonable price or maybe less you can sell it without a great loss.

    I´m shure with EWM you will be allright. I think all over all I did most of my welding with EWM.

    I fix aluminum frames sometimes, and some other work on ally, but the main business is steel.

    For the brazeons I use a oxygen/acetylen flame and a very nice and handy Greggersen torch.
    I also fillet braze sometimes, but most customers choose tig for the better price. I build not for the gallery, and have no customers paying hundreds just for a paintjob. Most of the frames are in daily use, and just today a customer came asking for help because had had problems to change the Gates carbondrive by himself.
    His frame has 80000km now, he told me.

    I strongly recommend a oxy ace torch kit for the brazeons. Tig brazing bottle bosses for example or the little bottle boss reinforcements where you have to bring the solder into that gap might be a problem with tig.
    I don´t know how it looks when you braze with color blindness, but maybe you could get used to it and learn how manage the process.

    Regards
     
  17. ErikM New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Assen, The Netherlands
    Hi Kai,

    It's probably just going to be steel for me, then. I think what Richard said above also applies to me: I'll probably hardly use the machine for aluminium anyway.

    The offer I have for an EWM Picotig 200 DC Puls from 2017 is 900 euros and that includes the machine, 8m WP17 torch, earth clamp and regulator. I can get an older Picotig 180 for less, but that one doesn't have pulse. Would you say that that is a reasonable price for a used EWM bought from an official dealer, so not Ebay? I have also looked on the Dutch equivalent of Ebay and there I found a Picotig 200 for 800 and a Picotig 180 for 750, both without a regulator. So it seems to me that the price they asked me at the shop is not too bad. My other options would be a Jasic JT-200DS (ACDC) for roughly 1000 euros incl. regulator or a Jasic JT-200P-PFC (DC) for about 600 incl. regulator. Both availabe in the Netherlands, but online, while the EWM is at a local shop. I've moved away from the Stahlwerk I originally considered as it doesn't have pulse and buying online from a shop abroad doesn't feel good as I would have to send the machine to them in case of problems.

    I have an oxy/propane brazing set as I don't really want acetylene in my garage. It's attached to my house and I have a toddler running around and having acetylene just doesn't feel safe, even though I think it's allowed to have it at home. During my framebuilding course I worked with oxy/acy and a gasfluxer and I managed that because the flame was green, but getting that next to a TIG machine is going to get me into trouble with my wife, I fear. ;) So I might have to keep my oxy/propane and see if I can somehow get the hang of doing braze-ons with that or get very good a tig brazing...

    Regards,

    Erik
     
  18. Munkul Member

    Messages:
    566
    Cumbria, UK
    Definitely get the EWM rather than the Jasic, totally different level of quality.
    Definitely get the pulse model over the non pulsed model, you will use it now and again, if not regularly :)
     
    ErikM likes this.
  19. brockenhammer Member

    Messages:
    172
    Location:
    Freiburg, Germany
    Hi Erik,
    I agree with Muncul. The pulse option is worth some extra money. I´m not shure about the pulse range of the machine. But it would be good if you can set frequency, basecurrent and on time.
    Make shure that there is a remote socket on the machine. I once saw one without the 19pin Burndy remote socket offered somewhere.
    But you will need it if you want to install a pedal.
    Kai
     
  20. brockenhammer Member

    Messages:
    172
    Location:
    Freiburg, Germany
    Munkul! sorry!
     
Advertisements