Brust Reader
4/30/09 12:14 a.m.

I've been looking at the Miller Diversion 165 as a budget solution for auto-related hobbyist needs. I've seen them about $1300- $700 cheaper than a "real" tig. Seems like this would be a great addition for a small garage owning- constantly moving military guy. Then I looked at the Summit Racing tools catalog who seem to have a pretty equivalent unit for $850. Seems that they differ in the torch category (miller getting a pretty solid nod for the LS17 torch). Summit gets an SR26 and a pad controlling power, slope, wave, freq, ignition, and gas timing. No note of high freq start, although the miller seems to have this as a feature but not many other controls.

Anyway, there seems to be a lot of brand loyalty, but no real evidence on the internet as to whether these are decent machines. Seriously, in the GRM way, I'd like to get the best for my money, space, and time. Inverter units seem to fit the second of those, but I worry for the first and third. They would be used for projects well within the parameters of their specs (.030-.375 aluminum and steel).

Thanks for the info. I'll likely be looking seriously in the next year. On another note, it'd be interesting to have a "grassroots" tools issue- where can you skimp and where should you splurge? Expert advice would be most welcome.


rl48mini New Reader
4/30/09 7:18 a.m.

If you have a stick welder you might try this conversion to tig: it looks to be pretty low buck for occasional tig use.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/30/09 7:46 a.m.

You can weld Alu with my MIG unit. I have never done it so I dont know how good / bad it may be.

I have the Lincoln Weld-Pak 3200 HD 120/1/60 Is it as good as a 208 unit? No, but it is the most power you can get for 110V and it is portable. Just the other day I had to weld in the mount for my drivers seat in my porsche. It was so handy to just carry the welder to the car instead of trying to get the car near the welder. (This was the deciding criteria for me when I went welder shopping.)

It has served its purpose very well. What I would do is research, ask around as you have done here and come up with a couple of units that would serve your needs. I would then watch craigslist and ebay. In this market people are selling these things. There are good deals to be had. I got my unit from a guy that purchased it to fix a railing and a lawn chair. He used it for all of 10 minutes. He told me it was cheaper for him to purchase this new then pay a welder to come do it. I got it for less than half of retail along with the auto darkening mask and a coupe extra spools of wire.

Another thing to consider is where can you get supplies for the unit you purchase. I found that sears carries the consumables for Lincoln. This was another selling point on the Lincoln unit. Welding supply places seem to keep bankers hours around where I am. Sears is much more flexible with there hours making getting supplies that much easier.

Other than that try to get some seat time with various units. There is nothing like test driving something before you purchase. Just because I like Lincoln does not mean you will. You may hate the feel or the balance may be all off.

On a side note no mater what unit you end up with spend the extra $$$ and get an auto-darkening mask. It makes welding positively enjoyable as opposed to just fun. It takes one thing out of the "learning curve" when you are getting started.

Paul_VR6 Reader
4/30/09 1:14 p.m.

The Diversion is a nice machine for the money, I would have bought it if it was out when I got my ThermalArc 185. Not that the TA is a bad machine I just don't use many of the advanced features anyway.

I've played around with the Ebay/HF/China Tig's before and if you know how to weld you can weld with them but the scratch start and lack of control makes them quite a pain if you don't know what you're doing already.

YaNi Reader
4/30/09 1:17 p.m.

Is HF start a must have when buying a TIG? I've been looking for a low cost TIG (DC only) for mild steel and stainless.

Brust Reader
4/30/09 2:11 p.m.

Yeah, I have had a Miller SP 135+ for several years, but want the TIG for it's precision (building headers, intakes etc). I've tried to weld AL with MIG and not had much luck, nor seen or heard of many who have. This is really looking to expand my tool collection. And I'll second that buying an auto-dark is the way to go. Have two helmets- one auto dark and one "big screen".

I welded the entire front suspension (the first time) of my Midget using the Tig process and find it's actually more user friendly for beginners than Mig, because you are almost guaranteed adequate penetration if you can make a weld with tig, while with mig, you're pulling the trigger and hoping for the best (for a beginner of course).

4/30/09 2:54 p.m.

I bought HTP ( about a year ago and absolutely love it. Mine is the 130 amp unit and it ran about $1200. It is a DC only but the next step up is a AC/DC unit. The nice thing about HTP's is they include all the extras that Miller charges extra for. While I am not familiar with the Diversion and what it comes with the HTP's come w/ the foot pedal, torch, and regulator. Last year when I was pricing Millers all the welders only came w/ the torch, foot pedals were extra ($160 extra....) They also have a 90 return policy and 1 year warranty. Plus they advertise in GRM, always a plus. Oh, customer service is A+

BTW HF start is a must!!! Scratch start is a PITA and can contaminate the tungsten leading to crappy welds. Pulsers though I can live without them. Working the pedal for me achieves better results.

44Dwarf Reader
5/1/09 6:32 a.m.

To mig salum it must be cleaner then clean...Tig's use high freq pluses to break the alum oxcide layers down. Alum oxide melts at ~ 2400c where as the base metal melts much lower @ 660c so with out the power to blast through the oxide layer you just pudle on top.


Paul_VR6 Reader
5/1/09 7:43 a.m.

You still need to clean the #($&*@# out of alum if you want to tig it and have it not look like a pile of doo.

The Diversion package is pretty complete, even comes with a "Dummies" book.

I agree scratch start sucks!!

DILYSI Dave SuperDork
5/1/09 12:15 p.m.

Scratch start aint glamorous, but it will get the job done if you don't have the budget for a real TIG. I taught myself TIG on an old DC buzz box with a TIG torch. It worked until I needed an AC machine to do Aluminum. That's when I got my Lincoln Precision 185. Love it.

ww SuperDork
5/3/09 7:35 p.m.

I picked up my Miller EconoTIG for all of $700 on craiglist and that was before the economy started to go in the toilet and all the fab/repair shops started going bankrupt with it.

Now, I see good stuff come up on there more frequently. The key is to know what you want and check regularly. Sooner or later, it'll pop up. I replied to the guy literally 10 minutes after he posted it and picked it up an hour later with cash. When I got there, he told me he had a dozen replies come in just after my call.

It was all in the timing.

cwh Dork
5/4/09 8:37 a.m.

+1 on the Econotig. Old school, but will last forever, so a used one that has not been beat to E36 M3 should be fine. Does not have the bells and whistles that the newer inverter rigs do, but do you need that? My welding instructor had one, did beautiful work in stainless with it. OK , he WAS an instructer, but still....

kreb GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/4/09 8:51 a.m.

I thought that the Econotig was an inverter unit.? It's probably OK for most of us shadetree types, but many pros seem to think it's a POS. (EDIT: The Econotig is NOT an inverter unit. Sorry for the misinformation)

Even in this economy, good inverter units hold their value where I live (Northern California). Every third person fancies himself the next Jessie James, and the pros like them for their portability and (on the high-end) programmable features. If you meet the electrical requirements, you can get great deal on old-school transformer units, but they weigh a ton and are pretty feature sparse.

oldtin New Reader
5/4/09 4:32 p.m.

In the GRM spirit - here's a link for building a junkyard tig - 3g alternator and old compressor motor.

Our Preferred Partners