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Engloid's TIG welder upgrade for stick welders

Subject:Convert a stick welder to a TIG welder By: Engloid on May 13 2004 10:45AM

Ok...here's how to convert your stick welder to a TIG. This does not make it such that you can't stick weld anymore. It will just allow you to have the equipment to do both. Many stick machines will not support AC welding, so any aluminum would have to be run on DC with different gas...which is not good for thin aluminum. In other words, this isn't going to let you weld thin aluminum. You can also use most of these parts to convert many MIG machines to TIG. If you have a small buzz box MIG, this likely won't work. You really would need a MIG setup that has power source and wire feeder separate.

Keep in mind that if you shop around, these are all pretty standard parts, and you can likely find better prices on them, or even find them locally. I will start with the bottle of gas and work my way towards the TIG torch. Click any image to order the displayed items from weldingdepot.com.


Flowmeter:

First, you will need a flowmeter. I prefer Victor brand flowmeters, but they're not the cheapest one. Aside from the brand loyalty, I prefer the kind with a ball that rises vertically, indicating the amount of flow. The kind that looks like 2 guages isn't as good. It's more of a pressure regulator, but will work if you want to get one.

Notice the vertical tube and the ball inside. As you turn up the gas flow, the ball rises. There's other kinds of flowmeters, but these are my favorite. I won't call them the best or somebody will probably want to argue the point. Also notice the hose. One end has a large male fitting. This end screws into the flowmeter. If the flowmeter you choose doesn't come with a hose, you will need one that's long enough to go from the location of your bottle to your work location (a bit shorter is ok though). The small end goes to your "power block."


Power Block:

The hose from your flowmeter goes to the big end, and the hose to your torch goes on the little end. The large hole, or 'lug' portion is where you will clamp your negative power from your welding machine. If your machine has a clamp on it for your rod holder (stick welding), just clamp it on here. For stick welding, you likely had this end hooked to the positive side of the macnine output...just switch them if you have to. TIG must be done with positive on your ground clamp and negative in your torch.


Torch:

You also need the actual torch. Here is a Weldcraft WP-17 torch. It's kinda the average size/shape torch. There are bigger ones, smaller ones, and some that are made to flex on the end, but this is pretty much the "standard" torch used in more places than others.

Verify that the torch comes with a hose, otherwise you can ask the supplier to get you one. The single hose design is more durable than the one with separate hoses.


TIG Welding Accessories:

You also need a tig accessory kit with collets, collet bodies, cups, and tails. Later down the road, you may buy different sizes or something, but this is a great starter kit. The money won't be wasted, as you'll use these occasionally, even if you buy more. The collets will work with any cups you may buy, and the collet bodies will work with any cups but the gas lens style. As you can see, it comes with tungsten also. You may want to buy a few pieces more if you've not done any tig welding before, as you'll stick it a lot and it will get used up more quickly than an experienced welder would use it. The most commonly used tungsten is 3/32" 2% thoriated. It will have a painted end, just like seen above in the accessory kit.


Wiretypes:

Generally speaking, wiretypes you will need for welding different materials:

  • Carbon steel: ER70S-2 (or 6)
  • 304 stainless steel: 308
  • 308 stainless steel: 309
  • 316 stainless steel: 316
  • any of above stainless: 316

  • aluminum: 4043
  • anodized aluminum: 5356
If you only buy one wire size, 3/32" is best to get.
Gloves:

These are pigskin. The long cuff is nice to keep from getting your wrist burned. I prefer the Tillman brand, but they're probably twice the money. It's a good idea to buy some nice gloves. Treat yourself right. Just don't use them for handling dirty and greasy stuff..just for welding.


You can reach Engloid at engloid at despammed.com.