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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Toronto, ON
    Massey Ferguson 65

    Default Suitcase welder vs. 3 in 1 - Thoughts?

    I'm in the market for a welder. I'm looking for something that I can run on 115v (as the shed at the cottage does not have 220v and the stove is a long way away). My immediate needs are for stick welding, I usually use 7018 1/8" rods (so something that will burn 110a without problems is a must).

    My research keeps bringing me back to:

    Thermal arc 201ts
    Thermal arc 211i 3 in 1

    I'm of the mindset that having all processes tied up in one machine could come back to bite me if it were to conk out, but the close pricing of the above two machines makes it difficult to disregard the 211i.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this that might help in this decision? Any other units that I should be considering in this calibre/price range? I'd love to hear any experience that anyone has had with either of these units.


  2. #2
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Re: Suitcase welder vs. 3 in 1 - Thoughts?

    My neighbor showed me a little miller, I think it was a stick, tig, and mig. It was real heavy for its size. He said his company used them a lot. IDK if it was a multimatic or not.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Suitcase welder vs. 3 in 1 - Thoughts?

    I have a 300 amp inverter that will do stick, MIG, TIG. My guess is that you will rarely use the stick as the MIG will give you faster, cleaner welds. Since the Thermal Arc is a DC machine, the use for TIG is limited. I used my DC inverter for TIG for awhile, but being DC only limits its use on aluminum. Also, starting the TIG as a lift-TIG is not nearly as easy as a TIG with an AC high frequency starter.

    I think you would like the machine as Thermal Arc makes quality welding equipment. The MIG gun will be a TWECO as Thermal Dynamics owns TWECO as part of their welding group. TWECO guns are nice MIG guns.

    I have a Miller MAXXStar 140 that I use for portable stick work and have used it on 110 VAC - I welded nearly 1000 feet of pipe fence with it. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't weld on 110 VAC because the inverters use a diode ring and add both halves of the AC together to get a higher DC output.

    I loaned my MAXXStar to a local aerospace machine shop because they needed to weld an overhead support for a 5 ton crane system to move parts. The weldor had to get on a 20 foot lift to do the welding and the shop had no way to get welding equipment into the area and to the working height. The weldor is highly trained and extremely skilled with aerospace welding certifications. He, of course, was skeptical that anything the size of a lunchbox and working on 110 VAC could provide enough output to weld the overhead beams. After practicing with it for about 1/2 hour, he declared "This thing is going to work." He spent about 5 hours welding with it and said it was the most surprising welder he had ever used - that was nearly 10 years ago - and the overhead crane is still in operation today moving parts onto the 5-axis machine tools.

    I have a Thermal Arc 185 TIG machine that I really like. Welded a lot of aluminum with it about a month ago, and have used it for stainless and some chrome moly tube work.

    My suggestion with the machine you're looking at is to get a bottle of pure argon as well as argon/CO2 or trimix. I have loaded up my MIG with stainless wire using pure argon on numerous projects as it is so much faster to do large stainless welds with MIG rather than using the TIG.

    If you can afford it - I'd say go for it as it looks like a nice machine.

  4. #4
    Bronze Member Sberry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Brethren, MI
    Mostly green

    Default Re: Suitcase welder vs. 3 in 1 - Thoughts?

    You give some good advice here. Thermal now makes a good all in one machine. The Miller multimatic is nice but heavy and expensive. I also have a Maxstar 150 and I will agree about being impressive, 1/8 6011 and 3/32 7018 toasty on common 120V circuits. I don't use field mig for a couple of reasons but the Max has about retired my engine drives. Its not really a 1/7018 on 120 machine, some circuits will tolerate it but you got to keep it turned down a pinch or will trip a 20. I have had it on 200 ft of 12 thru a barn, even with 3/32 will droop enough to trip if you have it hot. I welded up a bunch of mobile home beams in a storage building with one, not a problem.

    Did a field repair on a forklift, used supplied 120 and only weld that had to be heavy on the job was one vertical about 6 inches long, the added time to run another pass over it was moot.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Suitcase welder vs. 3 in 1 - Thoughts?-7018-vert-2p-jpg  

  5. #5
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Suitcase welder vs. 3 in 1 - Thoughts?

    I have had it on 200 ft of 12 thru a barn, even with 3/32 will droop enough to trip if you have it hot.
    I built a 300-foot, 10-gage extension cable and a custom cable reel. I have it setup so that I have pigtails for 110 or 220 VAC so I can run the MaxxStar from either power source. On 120 VAC the voltage drop over the cable is about 3 Volts.

    I loaned the extension cable to the machine shop along with the MaxxStar when they were welding the crane support system - that probably helped with the welder's performance.

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