Ok , lets say you just recently ordered a tig welding machine.
Now you need to decide what kind of tig torch to get...and you might even need to get more than one.
There are so many choices out there...air cooled , water cooled, air cooled with gas valve, flex head, rigid head, 100amp vs 250 amp ...you get the picture... so you need to know a few things before you buy.
If you are accustomed to using a small style torch whether water or air cooled, I can almost guarantee you will not be happy with a big one...
unless of course, you get a stubby gas lens kit to make it smaller, better, and more maneuverable.
But lets talk about numbers for a minute so you will know how to order your torch...and lets separate tig welding torches into 2 categories just to simplify things....
And then lets divide air cooled and water cooled into 2 categories...like this:
Air Cooled Tig Welding Torches
Big Air Cooled tig welding torches
- look for model numbers 17, 17v, or 26, 26v.
17 tig torches are usually rated for 150 amps and some brands have even changed up the numbering system to read 150 instead of 17.
the 26 torches are usually 200 amp and the 17 is usually 150 amp.
These are pretty big torches , like almost as big as a chipping hammer.
Try to imagine welding a set of headers and getting in and around the tubes in tight quarters with a chipping hammer.
But....If you are going to be welding a lot of aluminum and you are dead set on an air cooled torch, you are going to have to use a 17 or 26 just to be able to handle the heat without it getting smokin hot before you are done with your welds.
going with water cooled solves that problem.
Little Air Cooled tig welding torches
- look for model numbers with a #9 like wp9, wp9v, wp9p. these are small air cooled torches that accept the small collets and collet bodies and tig cups...and are usually rated for 125 amps.
#9 tig torches use hardware that looks like ...
Water cooled tig torches
Little water cooled tig torches
look for a model number 20.
, the little model 20 water cooled torches usually are rated for 250 amps and will typically handle every bit of 250 as long as your coolant pump is working good.
Big Water cooled tig welding torches
for big water cooled tig welding torches - look for model number 18. rated for 350 amps and more..
You are going to have to be welding with some serious heat before you want a 18 style water cooled torch.
Like long runs of 1/4" aluminum tread.
When It comes to tig torches, smaller is usually better.
Remember the chipping hammer and header example?
More Tips for Ordering your Tig Torch
A letter V usually means a gas valve on the torch body. This is usually only available in air cooled torches and is used for when you are rigging up a scratch start or lift arc setup with no solenoid valve for your shielding gas.
A letter F usually indicates a flex head torch.
Useful sometimes... but flex head torches typically dont last as long as rigid head tig torches because copper in the neck eventually cracks from repeated flexing.
The main thing you need know when buying cups and hardware for your tig torch is is what type you have.
TIG torches that use consumables like these... are known as 17,18, and 26, and also 300 series tig torches
And little tig torches use numbers like 9, 20, and 200 series and use consumables that look like these