Buying Chinese or an Imported TIG

by Danny
(Clarkston, MI)

I must say that I had my reservations in regards to buying a tig welder manufactured in China. I did my homework, several hours spent researching forums, websites, blogs and YouTube trying to decide; save for a long time and shelf my current project or risk the cash on an import and hope that I don't get screwed.

I went to the airshow in Oshkosh this year AUG, 2011 put on by the Experimental Aircraft Association. I happened to bring a friend of mine who had several years welding experience in the area of nuclear process piping. We stopped by both the Blue and Red tents there and tried out a few machines from each. While these machines were very nice, they also came with a very hefty price. My buddy almost had me talked into buying a Red machine but a sudden storm blew threw and the tents went flying (COULD IT BE A SIGN?).

I waited until I returned home did some more research and soul searching (after all I'm going to be using the machine to fabricate the motor mount for my airplane); so I decided to put in an offer on an Everlast 250EX. I was able to purchase for what I thought was a very good price; however I would have to wait until the new units were imported. They told me 4 weeks and it only took 6. They were very good as far as communication goes as I called a few times to get updates on when I would receive the unit.

When it arrived my buddy came over and we set it up right away. Now my buddy has absolutely no experience with an inverter and does not know what all of the knobs do, fortunately I had previously watched all of Jody's YouTube videos and I have a photographic memory. So I did the set-up and he did the welding. He seemed very impressed at the power of that tiny little machine. He welded all kinds of materials including on pop cans (cause I watched that one too) and he couldn't believe it. So he asked me to give it a try. I only have experience with MIG and Gas welding (I am a field engineer in the HVAC industry, Hands On).

I was impressed at how easy it seemed after screwing up only a few times (mostly angle issues). I was also very impressed with the versatility of the TIG process (why have I not tried this process before? Probably cost!). Since my brief training session I have been laying down some impressive welds. I have used the machine for a couple of weeks now and here is my review of the Chinese manufactured machine. Waiting sucks!! I didn't like waiting for the unit, but it was worth it so far. I had an issue with the regulator, it worked fine for a week; and then it would work for an hour; and then, no gas. The bottle had 1000# left though.

I called Everlast and they sent a new one out the same day. Other than that I have not had any issues with the performance. My buddy said he wants to buy the one with the plasma cutter (I already have a Blue one). He was very impressed with the machine which gave me a little sigh of relief after taking what I thought was a big risk. A 5yr parts and labor warranty sounds good, but I hope I never need that. I would have to agree with Jody, the torch is too big (and I've only used it for a short time); so I'm shopping for a new smaller one that I can afford. The gas pedal works great and is comfortable (I'm only saying that cause someone said they didn't like it). I will be building my own Water Cooler because I can't afford to buy a built one.

Sorry for being long winded, I hope this helps

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Jul 22, 2013
Thermal Arc 181i - I'm think Victor owned but Chinese built machine NEW
by: Don

The only reason for 4 stars is that it can't be as good as a Miller. I have to have room to upgrade if I buy the Miller later... :)

I bought a Thermal Arc 181i

Home hobbyist use

I hadn't welded in 30 years and then only stick welded for a brief period then.

Pro . . .

- wonderful welds in all 3 modes (didn't try GMAW, only FCAW for the MIG process)

- surprisingly easy and short time period to get solid welds - not especially pretty welds, but solid

- pretty easy to switch to any welding mode (SMAW, GMAW, FCAW, and GTAW)

- lots of hoses, pieces and parts, but they seem to be ergonomic enough I guess

- the "lift TIG start" is OK after a short while of getting used to it

- instructions seemed very complete and clear

Con . . .

- 240 VAC only - I'd have liked to use either voltage level

- my fault, but I should have purchased the TIG kit and foot switch "WITH THE UNIT" (cost was higher later)

- with success at re-learning to weld, I kind of think I'd have liked to have "throttled (foot switch) TIG starts" and aluminum welding "cleaning action" (high frequency AC) - at the time I was welding aluminum with oxy/acetylene and still do - I have NOT tried the spool gun, that "they say," you can weld aluminum with, on this DC only welder

- I don't know that I like the manual gas control - I kinda' feel it should have a post weld timer then "shutoff" on it's own - BUT, so far I haven't forgot for even a moment to shut the gas off, but it is just one more thing to have to deal with

It's a very comfortable machine. This weekend was my 2nd attempt at TIG welding. The 1st attempt was a disaster in many ways. But this weekend, I could hardly do anything wrong. I watched various YouTube videos of Jody's and others, dealing with TIG welding, over and over "again." It helped. (a lot) This weekend was a real joy seeing the result. Very easy to control the puddle and add filler. Fortunately it was pretty heavy metal and it was an actual project. (so I'm especially glad "it" went well) (note: - I switched from thoriated to lanthanated tungsten and that made a heck of a difference for some reason)

Given my circumstances and reasoning at the time, I buy the same machine again. I do think other machines (brands) will do as well, but this is one heck of a fun machine. BUT, "Buy the foot switch!" :)

Bought it on-line from Cyberweld. Contacted the factory once with a question. I was shocked at the speed of the reply and the number of people who replied. Don't know what else to add...

Nov 21, 2011
Chinese welders NEW
by: Lee Abel

so most people forget a lot of tools are built in China anyway ,,LIKE my Thermal Arc 92S.My first one had bad switch after a week , local store Indiana Oxygen swapped it out after Thermal Arc sent new one out.
$378.99 intro price $405 out door, $168 more and I own a bottle, costs $21 to fill, wish they did helium but may buy a small bottle of UHP.
My only dislike is cant find local source of 2% lanthanated electrodes.

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