On the note, I picked up a diamond coated cut off wheel for a 4-1/4" angle grinder. We did a ton of cutting on everything from 1/4" wall tube to sheet metal while building a race car over the last few months. It lasted at least the same as 30-40 abrasive cut off wheels. And again, no stink and smoke and no busted wheels. Highly recommended if you use cut off wheels a lot.
A plasma is on my list. What is the difference between scratch start and HF start? Is it the same as the old scratch start tig welders?
I wonder if anyone makes one that can use a TIG/stick welder as a power source? I have an giant old L-Tec Heliarc 306 in great condition that I could use for a power source if someone makes such a beast.
EDIT: I just did some research, it could be done, maybe, but cheaper and easier to buy a plasma cutter...
Last edited by Rikk; 01-22-2020 at 12:16 PM.
I bought a thermal dynamics 40 amp plasma about 15 years ago and it has cut up several old trucks and car bodies besides the general cut out a shape quickly sort of deals. I cut out cardboard templates to trace with the plasma and they last through several cuts before thy get too burnt on the edges. Whatever you get, check the price of consumables. Mine are expensive compared to the off shore versions. I paid about 1600 for mine. It saves a LOT of gas expense for the torches. I still keep the O/A torch setup for heating and cutting bigger stuff. I use a 55 gallon drum with a drain grate on top for a cutting table outside the shop. I drilled a few holes about 6" from the bottom to keep it from filling with rain water. I permanently attached a ground lead to the table so I can just uncoil that and connect it to the ground. I have 3 water traps before my plasma connection and I have never found water in the second or third traps. My shop is plumbed for air with PEX and I made the water traps out of 2" square tube with ends welded on and tapped for into out of and drain. There is also a water trap/filter right on the machine. I have only had to change that filter once in all the years I have had it. That was from loaning it out to somebody with a dirty compressor and no water traps.
Scratch start vs HF start - same as TIG, which also eats electrodes pretty quick.
I forgot to mention that I've also got an Evolution 14" cold saw that does a pretty good job but I'm a little bit scared of it and so I don't use it often.
For angle grinder wheels, I like the Makita very thin cutoff wheels. They wear quickly but so does the steel that they're going through. I buy them by the box to get the cost down.
In a world in which I won the lotto I'd own every type of metal cutting solution mentioned in this thread.
If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.
Dont forget you can do your compressor maintenance. Dont forget to drain the water out of your compressor every now and then it ensures you arnt outputing as much moist air. Checking for leaks is always a good idea, it saves you money. dont forget to check you have oil in the compressor if it has an oil resovoir for lubricating the pump.
Citizen of the "New democratic" Republic of Britain, apart from Scotland who are still not very happy.
My first plasma cutter was a Hypertherm torch with a Linde power supply must have weighed 300 lbs and the size of a steamer trunk seams like it was around 4 grand it was so sensitive that it had a double toilet paper filter for the air about as portable as a forklift with square wheels. Then I bought a little Hobart 35 120/240v on 120v it would cut possibly 3/16" if you took your time but it would slice through gage metal up to 12ga like butter it too had a hypertherm torch and only around $1,800.00
the one I have now is a larger unit but not as bulky as the first one I had it is a Miller Spectrum 701 I have cut as thick as 3/4" with it but when cutting anything that thick there is just no substitute for a good old Victor contractor torch.
I've never owned a scratch start plasma but often drag the miller plasma torch on the surface I haven't noticed a lot of difference in the consumables doing this.
I used to use a lance to remove frozen pins from buckets and dozer blades by lancing through from 1 end to the other removing a large portion of the body of the pin then blasting liquid CO2 through the hole the sudden quick cooling of the hot pin would shrink it enough to be easily tapped out with a hammer. Pretty good considering a 300 ton pin press wouldn't budge it prior to lancing, but a 6 lb shop hammer would knock the pin right out afterwards
I use my Miller Spectrum all the time without even having a filter other than the small canister filter inside the machine with a little 120 volt 5 hp compressor
Thank you for all the advice.
i have taken on board that a pilot arc is the way forward and to check the availability and cost of consumable spares. Unfortunately like most items for the workshop it comes down to cost and how often the item will be used. At the present time I think I am a causal user but who knows what the future jobs that will turn up in the workshop.
I think I am going to take a chance on a cut 50 with pilot arc.
Great response to my question so thank you all
The Home Engineer
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