View Full Version : Tig torch : air cooled or water cooled?

11-14-2007, 02:28 PM
I'm thinking of bidding on e-bay for a tig torch for doing very light work. There's a water cooled one for a very good price, but I'll only be doing light duty work. Can I use water cool torch without actually using water or will I damage it?

If I do have to use water can I use a closed system with a small reservior and perhaps use automotive coolant fluid+water (just so that it won't freeze when I keep it in my garage over winter)?

Mike W
11-14-2007, 02:38 PM
You must use coolant if the torch is made for it. Miller sells a special coolant for the torches. You are not supposed to use regular anti-freeze. The water cooled torches are smaller and are nicer to use. Some guys have made their own coolant pumps with a small radiator to keep the fluid cool.

Jim Caudill
11-14-2007, 05:04 PM
To expand on what Mike said. The current carrying wire in a water-cooled torch is significantly lighter gage and is braided around the coolant carrying tube similar to shielding on a coaxial cable. I would think it possible to melt the tube and/or damage the wire if there was no coolant in the tube while welding.

For these very reasons, I prefer a water-cooled system as the cables are lighter and more flexible.

11-14-2007, 05:17 PM
The water cooled torches I've used, like the Miller Syncrowave 250/350, vary the coolant flow depending on the temperature at the torch. You can watch the little blue spinning pinwheel on the coolant pump at the bottom of the power supply: it will stop spinning when you haven't been welding for awhile, and it'll spin like crazy when you're laying beads.

The coolant is also cooling the torch, which would mean a catastrophic failure if you shut the coolant pump off, but I'd think you'd burn the Hell out of your torch hand (even through the glove) before the torch destroyed itself.

11-14-2007, 08:33 PM
Yup...you'll fry your torch and you might blow a big gob of melted tungsten into your weld at the same time.
I don't like cooled torches for the technique I use. I find them too stiff. Some I've tried use the short little cups. I don't like them either...your knuckles get too hot as the torch is that much closer to the weld.
If you are only using the torch for light stuff you don't need it. I can weld 1/2" carbon easily with a 3/32" tungsten from a small torch. Aluminum is a different animal. Pure tungsten will only take 170 Amps or so in that size. I can go up about 15 more with Zir-tung before the ball deforms. That'll usually weld 1/2" thick alu if it's new and clean. Old, dirty alu(as in very hard to clean properly)...I can only do 3/8".

11-14-2007, 09:40 PM
They are all right. You should not use the coolant torch without coolant.. That being said it took me a year to finally make my cooler for my Weldcraft torch. I dry welded with it the whole time. Not production and no aluminum. Stainless and carbon steel. No noticeable damage. The torch handle would get warm and it only takes one too hot a session to open the wire inside the leads. Then its three hundred bucks GONE...

When I finally got the cooler up and running with Miller coolant she worked great. I can pump some heavy current and the handle stays cool. But... Shes heavy. I am having to always drape the lead over my shoulder to take the strain off my hand. I see they have 300amp air cooled torches. Hmmm, that would be my preference at this point.. JRouche

Oh yeah.. The tungsten cools immediately too with the coolant. I can grab it right after post flow if I need to, and I always need to. Ya know, to grind off that blob after I dunked, which I regularly do.

And on a side note. If Torker gives advice on any TIG welding, you listen. He is, IMO our resident EXPERT. Be proud to have him onboard!!