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Old 04-28-2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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TJ fabricators/modders, I got a plasma cutter question for you.

Thanks Gents for considering my question.

I'm shopping best bang for buck and most reliable plasma cutter to be used primarilary on TJ's cause YJ's and JK's suc

LOL seriously, Let me put it this way...I've been beating this to death and I'm getting confused, so it's time I asked guys here who have hands on experience with all the different brands, not necessarliy one guy who has tried them all, but individuals who have good/bad experience with a particular brand.

I'm looking for as a minimum:

-50 amp minimum
-pilot arc/flame
-up front air regulator control with gauge
-universal/generic consumables
-110/220
-1/2" or better 1st pass cut
-100% duty cycle at or above 3/16" steel
-below $1,000, so don't say hypetherm

What ya think, Men? Which plasma cutter that can do all that should be at the top of my list?

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Old 04-28-2012, 06:21 AM   #2
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Not to Stir the Pot here but your not gonna find a new to Cut 1/2" steel for under $1k,Unless its Used,We Gotta a Thermodyne That Cuts 3/4" Steel and that was Like $3k"Plus",And that was 15 years Ago,I Can Imagine what it Cost's Now......

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Old 04-28-2012, 11:27 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 2002TJ View Post
Thanks Gents for considering my question.

I'm shopping best bang for buck and most reliable plasma cutter to be used primarilary on TJ's cause YJ's and JK's suc

LOL seriously, Let me put it this way...I've been beating this to death and I'm getting confused, so it's time I asked guys here who have hands on experience with all the different brands, not necessarliy one guy who has tried them all, but individuals who have good/bad experience with a particular brand.

I'm looking for as a minimum:

-50 amp minimum
-pilot arc/flame
-up front air regulator control with gauge
-universal/generic consumables
-110/220
-1/2" or better 1st pass cut
-100% duty cycle at or above 3/16" steel
-below $1,000, so don't say hypetherm

What ya think, Men? Which plasma cutter that can do all that should be at the top of my list?

You can put me in the anti-plasma camp quite firmly. I do a ton of fabrication and at one point in time had a pair of working, quality plasma cutters sitting on the floor. They are my last resort tool, not my go-to solution. In fact, I do a lot of shock outboarding, custom shock mounts and custom suspension work and never use the plasma for anything but removing the lower shock mounts on the rear axle. That's only because I've been too lazy to order a scarfing tip for the oxy-acetylene set-up at which point, I wouldn't even use the plasma.

For general fab, they are only okay. They still leave a lot of grinding and hand work if you are making tabs and stuff and if you are demo-ing something off the frame, the clean-up after is just as bad if not worse than a cutting torch due to the limitations of how close you can get the plasma tip to cut.

Now while I don't think I will convince you to reconsider, at least give it some thought as to whether or not a plasma cutter is really something you need based on how good you are with one, or if you can spend your money more wisely.

I'd trade my plasma for a quality 6 x 48" metal belt sander or metal cutting band saw in a heartbeat.
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:46 PM   #4
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Well, I've got an industrial 6X48 belt/disc sander I hardly ever use

Anyway......back to my question
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:20 PM   #5
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a friend of mine is a professional welder, and has enough tools to build a bridge...literally. No plasma though. I will say I've been amazed what a skilled person can do with oxygen-acetylene. I've used a Miller plasma before, but I'm with Blaine on this, I think you'd find a set of bottles and Victor torches/gauges more useful.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:02 PM   #6
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Hey thanks gents, but the question was WHICH plasma cutter.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:08 PM   #7
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Hey thanks gents, but the question was WHICH plasma cutter.
Well then, as was stated previous, you want too much for too little money. Change your parameters and at least get one that doesn't short circuit the arc when the tip touches.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:14 PM   #8
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Why don't you guys just work out a trade?
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:57 PM   #9
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I'll take my question to a welding forum, and just hang on to my old sander. It's ugly, but is a beast and comes in handy
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:56 PM   #10
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Everlast PowerPlasma 60 Plasma Cutter

I've decided to order the Everlast 60.

Yeah, I know it ain't what I need, and it can't do all I want for the money, and whatever else ya'll were saying, but geewiz, I bought it anyway.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:08 AM   #11
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Welding Machine, Welder, Welding Supplies, Welders, Welding Equipment

they post on pirate 4x4 under the vendor section.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:10 AM   #12
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30 yr fitter/welder here and my experence with plaz's, they are good on guage material and useful for stainless and alum. for carbon steel and/or thicker material, go with a torch. in the production shops w/heavy duty burn tables with both plaz/oxy, the oxy will be used 95% of the time unless everything they do is stainless/alum. a plaz has it's uses, but most every day mod/fab is not it.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:25 AM   #13
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With due respect to all here, please consider that I NEVER said I'm not getting an oxy/fuel rig....In fact, I'm picking one up today. After all, you can't heat/bend/solder/braze with plasma, can you?

I was asking IF anyone had good/bad things to say about any of the plasma rigs in the weight class I was shopping.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:53 AM   #14
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With due respect to all here, please consider that I NEVER said I'm not getting an oxy/fuel rig....In fact, I'm picking one up today. After all, you can't heat/bend/solder/braze with plasma, can you?

I was asking IF anyone had good/bad things to say about any of the plasma rigs in the weight class I was shopping.
I use a 380. It's supposedly good for 3/8" steel. It's slow on 1/4", the consumables don't last as long as I'd like, but I'm not really on top of my water elimination in the compressed air source, so that's my fault.

The arc short circuits when you ground the tip, so it's annoying to use at times.
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:10 AM   #15
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I used to have a big plasma that would cut 1/2" stainless but it kept shorting out, still had to grind, and the consumables were out of this world in price. I ended up burning up the transformer in it, sold it at a swap meet for 100 bucks and never looked back. A torch and a vertical bandsaw is what I would suggest.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:23 AM   #16
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See? LOL, guys

Hey, if you in the market for a decent gas rig, Hurry to HF...Get on web and print out their special web only coupons that expire tomorrow, then get down to the store by tomorrow and you can use the extra 20% off coupon they started today-the cashier used BOTH 20% off coupons for me just now%...That's their heavy duty gas rig there in the pic..it normally goes on sale for $199, but I walked out this morning with it for $103...in fact everything you see there was 260 bucks....including cart.

That's another one of their 4.5" angle grinders. I got 4 of them now cause I hate stoppin to change discs/wire wheels, so I just keep one of each type on another grinder...it was 11.99 today even tho it was already on sale for 14.99
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:30 AM   #17
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Mrblaine, I agree on the necessity of a good filter dryer for plasma..I'm pipin this one now to my old compressor. Probably shift it to the new freebie compressor I got last night.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:56 AM   #18
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^^^^be careful with those, I had two of them leak like a mofo after a week and one exploded in my paint booth
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:56 AM   #19
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Welding Machine, Welder, Welding Supplies, Welders, Welding Equipment

they post on pirate 4x4 under the vendor section.
Mortalis,

Nice find. That ForceCut 50D is really sweet. I am Definitely going to add that to my wish list. The only fab item I have is a small Lincoln SP-135 combo mig and it is perfect for the diy weekend wheeler and I am still looking for the right Gas Rig. I don't need 5' bottles sittin in my garage

PO,

Definitely check out his link and look at the 50D.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:03 PM   #20
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Welding Machine, Welder, Welding Supplies, Welders, Welding Equipment

they post on pirate 4x4 under the vendor section.
Yeah, I looked hard at the Longevity rigs. Almost pulled the trigger on one...Got to reading deeper and lots of dissatisfaction out there and many rigs failing riight out to the box. Longevity warrants them quick, but guys are out shipping and waiting....Might be as bad with the Everlast seeing how they are also imported, but I can't find much bad about them.

Black Magic, these new rigs don't short if you drag the tip across the work piece...the consumables don't last as long dragging, but they are becoming generic and lots cheaper now-a-days.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:08 PM   #21
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Mortalis,

I am still looking for the right Gas Rig. I don't need 5' bottles sittin in my garage
Fersure run down to Harbor Freight today or tomorrow and check out their heavy duty gas rig(without bottles)...I know MANY folks who run it and they would buy it again at full price...It's the one in the grey box, not black....you can do small bottles thru you gas supplier.
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Old 04-29-2012, 01:19 PM   #22
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^^^^be careful with those, I had two of them leak like a mofo after a week and one exploded in my paint booth
Oh, fersure it'll get it's input AFTER my compressors built-in regulator...it will never see more than 80 psi inlet pressure....I'm a NB commissioned boiler/pressure vessel inspector.....I always set my compressor cycle switches to 80 on/100 off psi....Yeah, they come set up to 200 PSI, but I've seen the damage an air compressor tank can do when it ruptures, besides if you buy a big nuff pump, who needs all that extra and the motor/pump lasts longer working against lower pressure.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:52 PM   #23
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Black Magic, these new rigs don't short if you drag the tip across the work piece...the consumables don't last as long dragging, but they are becoming generic and lots cheaper now-a-days.
Trust me I know. I had the smaller model of the same plasma cutter which I could drag and loved that aspect of it. I made a good friend a very good deal on it when I bought the larger one. I was sad when I discovered the arc short circuit which pretty much killed the drag it along the straight edge for making nicer cuts.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:51 PM   #24
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Trust me I know. I had the smaller model of the same plasma cutter which I could drag and loved that aspect of it. I made a good friend a very good deal on it when I bought the larger one. I was sad when I discovered the arc short circuit which pretty much killed the drag it along the straight edge for making nicer cuts.
LOL, then I'll keep that in mind like I do when using Oxy/Fuel rig to cut...Ok, don't touch the work surface to prevent popping and sputter out.

...I ain't yet a welder, but I got years using oxy/fuel to cut n braze and heat and bend.

Hey, I'ma 35+ year residential and industrial A/C Mech....Oxy/Fuel, propane and Mapp is second nature to me, just never owned my own rig....Now if I can just steal the gas, I'll be set

My whole reason for Plasma is I HATE the idea of running to town to refill gas bottles, especially when I work shifts and the rest of the world keeps banker's hours while I sleep...It's normal for me to be out in the shop@ 3am and deep into something while you sillyvillians sleep and screw....and besides, I live out in the woods and it's a long way to town, yaknow?

I wanna be able to cut pieces out with super sharp accuracy and minimize grinding and prep before fabrication.....I understand if cuttin off installed components due to torch head clearance, I'll be better served to use gas, but gas is expensive and a pain to get refilled most times for me...I'ma dark night troll shift worker
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:01 PM   #25
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If your just making brackets, a vertical bandsaw is the berries
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:08 PM   #26
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I used a torch for many many years, then FINALLY bought a plasma cutter. I use it more than my torches now. If you know what you are doing, it leaves very little Dross (burned dingleberries on the underside,) requiring very little or no dress-up grinding, cuts a smaller kerf (the width of the cut itself,) -- AND you can even use wood templates and guides to cut around - even cardboard if you don't linger. I've even used a double layer of masking tape as a guide! No way you can do that with a torch!

The cut is so clean it's almost weld ready! You don't have to grind the burned dross off - it all blew off into your shoe! LOL!

I love it, but it does not replace a GOOD torch or a good bandsaw or grinders. It has it's place, a big place!

Sheet metal does not warp like with a torch - you aren't there long enough to heat the surrounding area. And, after you cut, it's almost cool to the touch! - the hot part blew right off - gone! Floor panels become so easy.

Something I've found - the instructions say to use about 30 lbs of air pressure - I use about double that.

The air HAS TO BE DRY AIR! That's very important
Once you set the air pressure you don't have to touch it again - so a back panel regulator is fine.

And - don't linger, go fast for a nice cut.
Too high a power setting for the material makes the cut sloppy. keep it turned down.

Consumables are much cheaper than gas. There's all kinds of little goodies you can buy or make as guides to hold the tip away the right distance. If you don't drag the tip it doesn't clog up. The spacing and air pressure blows the junk away.

Aluminum, brass, most anything conductive cuts as good as steel. They say gold and silver too - but I've never tried it. LOL!

My only regret is I bought a 30 amp - it's does 3/16 easy, it can do 3/8 but it's not as clean. 1/2 you have to work at it. I should have gone bigger (isn't that always the case anyway?)

I should have got one years ago. My next dream tool - a laser cutter and table! I just missed a good one that went real cheap at an estate sale. Keep your eyes open, the deals are out there!
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:54 PM   #27
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BTW I think I paid about $1200 for it without shopping around. I built my own cart for it.
When I finally decided to get it I didn't shop for price - I just said "put it in my truck!" I could have saved a few bucks shopping around, but I had a job to do with it that afternoon (some corral fencing.) It took about 5 minutes to "get the hang of it."

It's a THERMO DYNAMICS. Made in USA!!!!!!!!!!! - Vermont I think

Use the same goggles you'd wear with a torch, dark green for steel, dark blue for aluminum. I love flip-ups. Overhead use a complete face shield - 45,000 degrees is HOT!
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:23 PM   #28
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i used a torch for many many years, then finally bought a plasma cutter. I use it more than my torches now. If you know what you are doing, it leaves very little dross (burned dingleberries on the underside,) requiring very little or no dress-up grinding, cuts a smaller kerf (the width of the cut itself,) -- and you can even use wood templates and guides to cut around - even cardboard if you don't linger. I've even used a double layer of masking tape as a guide! No way you can do that with a torch!

The cut is so clean it's almost weld ready! You don't have to grind the burned dross off - it all blew off into your shoe! Lol!

I love it, but it does not replace a good torch or a good bandsaw or grinders. It has it's place, a big place!

Sheet metal does not warp like with a torch - you aren't there long enough to heat the surrounding area. And, after you cut, it's almost cool to the touch! - the hot part blew right off - gone! Floor panels become so easy.

Something i've found - the instructions say to use about 30 lbs of air pressure - i use about double that.

The air has to be dry air! That's very important
once you set the air pressure you don't have to touch it again - so a back panel regulator is fine.

And - don't linger, go fast for a nice cut.
Too high a power setting for the material makes the cut sloppy. Keep it turned down.

Consumables are much cheaper than gas. There's all kinds of little goodies you can buy or make as guides to hold the tip away the right distance. If you don't drag the tip it doesn't clog up. The spacing and air pressure blows the junk away.

Aluminum, brass, most anything conductive cuts as good as steel. They say gold and silver too - but i've never tried it. Lol!

My only regret is i bought a 30 amp - it's does 3/16 easy, it can do 3/8 but it's not as clean. 1/2 you have to work at it. I should have gone bigger (isn't that always the case anyway?)

i should have got one years ago. My next dream tool - a laser cutter and table! I just missed a good one that went real cheap at an estate sale. Keep your eyes open, the deals are out there!
thank you!
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:00 PM   #29
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Well anyway, I went by the welding supply house today intending to lease bottles. Nope! they sold them to me for $140 each filled with gas. That's a 120CF 02, and an 80CF Ace...Told me to figure $60 total to have them both refilled..That's really good prices compared to what others pay elsewhere.

So for almost exactly $400 total, I got a decent oxy/fuel rig including cart.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:23 PM   #30
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Here's mine!! 10'x20' cutting area, 250 amp, and 2.5" stainless steel thickness cutting capacity!
But all jokes aside, we have Miller hand plasmas, but they are damn good but dam expensive
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