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Replacement or supplement old Lincoln idealarc 300/300?

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  • Replacement or supplement old Lincoln idealarc 300/300?

    What TIG welder could I buy to replace or just supplement as a second machine?
    My existing machine is a 1970’s Lincoln idealarc TIG 300/300?
    I could use the existing gas and torches on a newer machine.
    Not sure about the the water cooling system.
    I would not need the new TIG to have the amp capacity the old Lincoln has (375).

    The reason I am thinking about this is that I have a large Aluminum project coming up, lots of .125 wall tubing.
    The old Lincoln is not the best on Aluminum. It is a “spark-gap” machine, no pulse or anything fancy, just key it up and go.
    A very skilled person can make it work on Aluminum, but I will mess up lots of material before reaching that level.

    I have read that newer machines can make Aluminum welding much easier, but am not sure if that is just marketing.


  • #2
    Check these out:
    Click image for larger version

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    • #3
      Thanks! That looks like a good one, and is available from my local Home Depot.

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      • #4
        What style torch/ground connector does the idealarc use? Most new TIG machines will have a Dinse style connector.

        What do you currently have for a water cooler? Most any stand alone unit will work with a newer welder.

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        • #5
          The manual says this about the connectors:
          Gas inlet: 5/8” right-hand female
          Gas to Electrode: 5/8” -18 right hand female
          Water inlet: 5/8”-18 left-hand female
          Water to electrode: 5/8”-18 left hand female

          Not sure if these connections work with modern attachments, but the new torch I bought connected fine.
          (RADNOR 18V)

          I don’t use a water cooler, I just take water from a well pump, filter it, run through the torch, dump in the yard.

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          • #6
            There might be some adapters you can use to get that torch to work but I doubt it will work as is on a newer TIG machine as is. Ground cable will be the same issue as the torch. You shouldn’t be needing the gas valve on the torch anymore though.

            Honestly, I would just buy a new 20 series water cooled torch and call it a day. They are a lot smaller and imho easier to use.


            You should be fine with your pump and dump method for the water cooled torch.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by kj4oll View Post
              The reason I am thinking about this is that I have a large Aluminum project coming up, lots of .125 wall tubing.
              The old Lincoln is not the best on Aluminum. It is a “spark-gap” machine, no pulse or anything fancy, just key it up and go.
              A very skilled person can make it work on Aluminum, but I will mess up lots of material before reaching that level.

              I have read that newer machines can make Aluminum welding much easier, but am not sure if that is just marketing.
              I think it's just marketing. Some of the best alu welding I ever did was with an old Westinghouse spark-gap machine. And I was doing it for a living. Looked like a robot had welded those fuel tanks, and *zero* finishing was required on my tanks.

              Where the new machines shine is, you can adjust every feature of the wave -- positive vs negative balance, duration, cleaning vs penetration, etc.. They also tend to be a lot lighter, easier to move, etc.

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              • #8
                Pretty hard to beat an AHP, except you usually have to wait for the next container load to come in from China. Next is Everlast. They have more options, keep some inventory, and cost more. An old welding instructor came by my shop last week. He is setting up a CNC program at the local community college and he wanted to feel me out on some manufacturing processes and asked me to be a guest speaker. (Boy is he going to regret that). Anyway we spent about 3 hrs chatting while he poked around my shop, and his comment when he saw my AHP setting in front of my Miller was most of the known import machines are as good as the big name equivalents as long as they survive the initial smoke test. I don't know if that's true, but the manager over at the local Praxair store seemed to think the same thing. If they run the way you want them to for the first few hours without blowing up they are good.
                Last edited by Bob La Londe; 02-28-2021, 08:58 PM.
                *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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                • #9
                  I have heard the same thing about passing the smoke test.

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                  • #10
                    Check out HTP, made in Italy by STEL. Great support and quality!
                    https://usaweld.com/collections/htp-america-tig-welders

                    I have a 221 that replaced my old Lincoln 275, but they now have bigger tig welders if you need a lot of amps

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nickel-city-fab View Post

                      I think it's just marketing. Some of the best alu welding I ever did was with an old Westinghouse spark-gap machine. And I was doing it for a living. Looked like a robot had welded those fuel tanks, and *zero* finishing was required on my tanks.

                      Where the new machines shine is, you can adjust every feature of the wave -- positive vs negative balance, duration, cleaning vs penetration, etc.. They also tend to be a lot lighter, easier to move, etc.
                      I kinda have to agree with Nickle. No reason that 300/300 can't do a good job on alu if it's working properly. Having all the power at your fingertips is handy.
                      21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                      1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Metal Butcher View Post

                        I kinda have to agree with Nickle. No reason that 300/300 can't do a good job on alu if it's working properly. Having all the power at your fingertips is handy.
                        On the spark gap, I had to (carefully) clean the spark electrodes with a small file between them. Then set the gap to something like .020 to .030. Just like setting the points on a car. Might want to have you local Lincoln dealer go through it, it should work just fine on alu.

                        I had to clean/adjust the spark gap monthly on a machine that was being used daily round the clock. Regarding the file, one of the Lady's diamond-covered nail files is the best. Looks like a thin strip of steel with grit in it.
                        Last edited by nickel-city-fab; 03-11-2021, 03:27 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nickel-city-fab View Post

                          On the spark gap, I had to (carefully) clean the spark electrodes with a small file between them. Then set the gap to something like .020 to .030. Just like setting the points on a car. Might want to have you local Lincoln dealer go through it, it should work just fine on alu.

                          I had to clean/adjust the spark gap monthly on a machine that was being used daily round the clock.
                          Miller says 0.008. I haven't had to adjust mine, but I don't use it much.
                          21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                          1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Metal Butcher View Post

                            Miller says 0.008. I haven't had to adjust mine, but I don't use it much.
                            Yep each manuf. will have an ideal range. I'm sure the newer machines can use less gap. Better technology (capacitors) these days. BTW I updated my post up there. Changing the spark gap changes the entire resonant frequency of the HF circuit. Electrically, a smaller gap increases the capacitance which should lower the freq. After a certain point the inductance (L, created by the transformer coils) takes over the characteristics.
                            Last edited by nickel-city-fab; 03-11-2021, 03:32 PM.

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                            • #15
                              My old Idealarc 300/300 TIG manual says .010 for the spark gap.
                              I looked at the electrode surface, not pitted yet, so I just leave it alone.
                              Still have a “feeler gauge” from setting distributor points in the 1960’s, glad I did not throw it out!
                              Click image for larger version

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