Why We Prefer My (Passive) Fibre Metal Tigerhood Classic
The first welding helmet I ever owned was a blue Air-Liquide passive helmet. It had a 2”x4” flip-up window, a very boxy shell, and the most uncomfortable carriage possible. It was probably the best helmet for a beginner because literally, anything else is going to be better.
I was fortunate enough to be a broke-ass college student and unable to afford a fancy ADF Miller Elite because, in all honesty, learning to weld with a passive helmet made me grow confidence and skill when striking an arc; you develop an individual awareness of the joint and electrode, almost a 3rd eye. If you use and have only ever used an ADF (auto-Darkening Filter), you just don’t have the same experience or that particular skill. If you can overcome being blind from the very beginning, you will be doing yourself a massive favor once you are in the workforce (more on this further down).
Over the last decade, I have worked as a welder on military contracts, every level of government, almost every major industry from mining to oil to aerospace. I’ve stood buildings, and welded on bridges. In this time I have owned a dozen or so helmets and used that many three-fold. All sorts of brands including Lincoln, Miller, Optrel, Princess Auto El-Cheapo, and my personal favorite, Fibre-Metal.
Auto Darkening vs. Passive Welding Helmets, Which Is Better?
Each helmet has its pros and its cons, and when somebody asks me what I would recommend as a professional, my first response is “What are you going to be doing?” I can’t stress it enough that the helmet best suited for you depends on what you will be using it for. If you’re welding trailer frames in your garage, you probably don’t need to buy a $3000 ADF with a built-in air supply. But, on the other hand, if you’re doing Aluminum TIG on an aircraft assembly, maybe you shouldn’t buy that $9.99 passive helmet from The Home Depot. With everything else in life, there’s going to be a nice middle ground when it comes to welding helmets.
Before my current helmet, I was using a passive Optrel P-250 and an ADF Optrel P-250. The ass-backward thing is, I had the ADF version and liked the shell so much I opted for the passive model later on down the road. Optrel makes some severe helmets, but the P-250 is low on their scale, even though it boasts a Sperian filter assembly. The most noteworthy is probably the Optrel e680; not only is a beautiful piece of PPE, but the filter assembly is also probably the best out there for the price you’re paying (roughly $500). If I were to go with an ADF helmet for field welding, it would probably be the e680; the shell is designed for overhead welding. The only brain fart Optrel had with this was putting external shade controls on it, which runs the risk of burning the powers when doing overhead or grinding (but you don’t have to take the helmet off to adjust the shade, so it’s given and takes). However, if you like the look of the shell and want a quality product at the same time, but don’t like the price-tag, the e650 runs for about $100 less.
The downside to the high-end Optrels, other than the external controls, is that the replacement ADFs are about 80-90% of the cost of the entire helmet. It’s almost better to replace the whole damn thing if the ADF goes on you. The worst part though is that the front cover lenses are $6.00. Each.
The Fibre-Metal Tigerhood Classic: Simple, But Gets The Job Done.
The best helmet I have ever owned, however – hands down – is my Fibre-Metal Tigerhood Classic. It’s a very simple helmet; passive, flip-up window, no interior carriage, and flat grey. I love it. If you recognize the Fibre-Metal brand, I’m not surprised. It’s made by Honeywell and is probably the biggest name in hardhats. My Fibre-Metal welding helmet snaps onto my Fibre-Metal hardhat, and away I go. Now you’re probably thinking it’s only useful in an outdoor setting. Not true. I work inside, for the most part, these days; welding structural steel columns, beams, and misc. Steel. I do GMAW, FCAW, MCAW, GTAW, and SMAW when I’m outdoors with this hood. I opted for the 2”x4” window because I like to use a cheater lens, and I also added a gold shade 10 filter which works wonders outdoors. The flip up window makes a separate face shield for grinding totally obsolete, and this helmet is built like a brick. Once it’s attached to a hard hat, you gain that added protection as well; no more burns to your scalp or neck, and you can feel confident that you’re not going to crack your head on that overhead wire-feeder.
Outside of the Optrel e-series, these Tigerhoods are the most popular I’ve seen used by Iron Workers and general field welders. They are burly, hardy, manly; whatever word you want to use to describe it. And for $70.00 (CAD) it will pay for itself in a day, last a lifetime, and, unlike the Optrels, the cover lenses run you about $0.50 a piece making it a very economical choice.
The only downsides I’ve personally seen to the Tigerhood is since it’s made out of rigid plastic, they can crack when frozen, and if you want an ADF, you have to opt for the Tigerhood Futura; even although it offers a larger viewing window, it doesn’t have the flip-up window for grinding. Lame.
To wrap things up, it boils down to this: Passive helmets are incredibly reliable and inexpensive. They will never stop working for you. An ADF needs batteries for the shade and sensitivity controls as well as the digital display (if it offers one). This sucks when you’re in the field and don’t have a spare battery when it dies on you. Also, extreme cold will give an ADF issues, whereas passive helmets will never fail you.
This is not to say ADF doesn’t have its distinct advantages; it’s excellent for GTAW and SMAW when you have to have good hand control when starting the arc. Remember that an inspector can and will fail a weld for excessive arc strikes, so if you don’t have the hand control, SMAW requires at the time, get an ADF. And if you do decide to go that route, consider it an investment and don’t be afraid to splurge on a quality hood. If you’re considering production welding and speed is a factor, an ADF is the only way to go. You don’t have to flip your hood every time you move around or set something in a jig.
What to consider when purchasing a MIG Welding Torch
Not all MIG Welding Torches are created equal.
When it comes to purchasing a MIG Welding Torch and the on-going consumables, it can often not be a great deal of thought. However, the wrong choice could have a profound effect on your welding process and could affect the welding equipment’s performance. MIG Welding Torches are the most handled piece of equipment during the MIG welding process, and they are exposed to the worst working environments and abuse. This can often have a significant impact on the weld quality, productivity and increase the operator’s downtime. It is often thought that all MIG Welding Torches are the same, so price often becomes a deciding factor when welders considering purchasing a new MIG Welding Torch.what to consider when buying a MIG welding torch
Should I compare prices on MIG Welding Torches?
MIG Welding Torches can differ considerably in quality between each manufacturer, the difference can have a profound effect on the performance and total life cost of the MIG torch. Premium quality MIG Welding Torches have been designed to minimize downtime, help eliminate poor weld quality and premature torch failures. All these benefits can deliver significant long-term savings. Generally, if the only advantage a MIG Welding Torch has to offer is the low price, it generally means it has been manufactured using low-cost components. This means the MIG Welding Torch will not last when compared to higher quality components. Usually, cheap consumables eventually need replacing, these often can be harder to replace and regularly damage secondary parts in the process. Based on the price only and with the absence of any other facts to help customers consider, it is understandable that most companies would look at reducing their costs by buying a less expensive product.
Arguably the best MIG Welding Torch on the market?
Bernard Semi-Automatic Air-Cooled Q Type MIG Welding Torches are at the quality end of the market and are manufactured with heavy-duty power cables, which have a 60% duty cycle in mixed gases. Built into these heavy-duty power cables are four switch leads, should the two being used to get damaged than the other two can be utilized. The Bernard Q MIG Welding Torches are available from 200A to 600A torch. The Q Type MIG Welding Torches are fully industrial-duty and will carry on welding even in the harshest and most demanding working environments.
Features that make a Bernard MIG torch stand out above the rest
The C handle
Bernard Q MIG Welding Torches now come fitted with the new C handle. This handle gives all the benefits of the Bernard T series handle, plus additional ergonomic benefits. The handle has an over mold and cable strain relief, this provides the welder with extra comfort at no extra cost. The other strain relief also helps to protect the power cable by preventing it from kinking and helps to improve the wire feed ability. The triggers on the C handle are designed and built to last and will deliver in excesses of more than one million cycles.
QT torch neck
The Bernard Q MIG Welding Torches necks are aluminum armored and are designed to withstand that day to day environments while offering outstanding heat dissipation for longer service life. They are available as either a fixed or rotatable neck. An additional neck grip accessory is also available which is designed to reduce heat exposure for operators who prefer to support the torch by the neck during the welding process.
Quik tip consumables
Bernard consumables are of a much higher quality than most other brands on the market. They are designed to provide a much more stable arc and greater shielding gas coverage of the weld pool to ensure no porosity. We tested Bernard consumables against many other low-cost brands. On-site tests have shown Bernard consumables have given three to four times longer contact tip and increased nozzle life. This feature helps to reduce poor weld quality problems caused by inconsistent electrical transfer, which helps eliminate contact tip burn backs, which can be a significant source of lost welding hours. The Bernard replacement consumables are designed to eliminate downtime during the welding process, maximize productivity and help reduce operating costs. All these features contribute to a higher return on your investment.
Quik contact tip
Contact tips play a significant role in the MIG welding process since these are responsible for transferring the welding current across to the wire as it passes through the bore of the tip and the welding arc. Bernard Quik Tips are designed with a threaded taper lock, giving a large contact area between the contact tip and the gas diffuser. This drastically increases tip life by providing reduced resistance, excellent heat transfer, and electrical conductivity. No tools are required, just a quick twist is all it takes to the install and remove the Bernard Quik Tip contact tips! The same quality contact tip is used on a 200A to 600A torch and is available for wire diameters from 0.6mm to 3.2mm.
Quik gas diffuses
Bernard Quik Tip gas diffusers have a positive stop which secures the Quik Tip contact tips in a fix position for superior repeatability and consistent quality welds. The location of the contact tip within the nozzle, commonly referred to as the contact tip recess, can also play a crucial factor. The correct contact tip recess position helps to reduce excess spatter, porosity, insufficient penetration, burn-through or distortion when welding on thinner materials. While the ideal contact tip recess position varies according to the application, a general rule of thumb is that as the welding current increases, then the recess should also increase.
Quik Thread system
With the Bernard Quik thread system, removing the nozzles from the diffuser could not be simpler. Just a quick twist is all it takes to remove them for either cleaning or replacing them. They have a more substantial wall thickness and insulating material used in the manufacturer of the nozzle. This helps to reduce heat degradation giving the vents greater service life. The Bernard Quik Nozzles are available in two orifice diameters for optimal shielding gas coverage – 16mm (5/8”) and 19mm (3/4”).
Quik load liners
Bernard liners are made from high carbon music wire which resists gapping when the coating is bent, helping to eliminate wire feed issues and ensures an exceptionally long service life. Each Bernard liner is 100% tested before them being despatched. This provides it to be the smoothest wire feed in the industry. With the liner retainer being installed inside the torch’s power pin on the first installation, the innovative Bernard ‘Quick Load’ liners eliminate the need to remove the MIG welding torch from the wire feed unit. This saves you from cutting and wasting the welding wire. These liners are installed from the front of the MIG gun by removing the torches front-end consumables. Changing a liner can now be achieved in less than half the time required to install conventional liners, increasing production times and reducing labor cost with increased safety. The need to climb up and a change a liner in a semi-automatic MIG Welding Torch connected to a boom mounted feeder, is now eliminated. The ‘Quick Load’ liner also helps avoid climbing over robotic tooling or transfer systems to remove the torch from the wire feeder. The coating can also be changed from a safe zone in the robotic work cell.
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