I have been stick welding for about six months on an old AC/DC buzzbox that lived up to that moniker. Mark from Everlast asked, "Do the lights dim when that thing kicks on," when he heard it buzzing away in a video that I made. Once I was sure that welding was something I was going to stick with (ha! get it?) I decided to get an inverter welder and pass "old sparky" on to someone else.
I have been welding with an Everlast PA160-STH for about three months now, and I could not be happier. It's not saying much to say that the arc quality is a million times better than that buzzbox, but it is. I became a ten times better welder the minute I switched, just because you can see and control the puddle much better. But what I really love about the PA160-STH is the TIG functionality. No matter how you slice it, this is an incredible price point for a "real" TIG machine with HF start, gas solenoid, and pedal control. With this machine, I feel like I can weld anything, as long as it's made of steel and not aluminum. For big stuff or rough work, I use stick. For smaller, more delicate stuff, or just for fun, I break out the TIG torch. There's a whole class of projects that I would have had to pass up with just stick because they were too small or delicate. Now I don't have to.
Okay, it's not all flowers and kittens. The one thing that annoys me the most about the unit is that the gas connection on the back is a barb and not a quick-connect or screw-on fitting. This means that if I want to disconnect the machine from the gas cylinder, I have to un-screw the regulator and then leave the gas line and regulator hanging off the back of the unit. Also, it was a bit of a PITA to get the hose clamps on and tight, and there is still a small leak somewhere in the line. It doesn't affect my weld quality, but it does mean that i'm constantly losing a small amount of gas any time the cylinder is open. If I could change one thing about the unit, it would be to put a screw-on connection on the back instead of a barb.
First off congratulations on the new welder and a big thumbs up to you for passing your old one on to someone else.
As for you problem with your hose, you may want to buy a hose repair kit they cost somewhere between $40 & &100 depending on the size kit you get. That kit should solve both problems, a tight ring clamp for the barbed end and a set of male and female couplers to make a short whip end out of the hose attached to the barb.
In fact if you wanted to get really fancy you could probably go to your local welding supply store (which would also have the hose repair kit) and ask about a set of quick coupler hose ends rather the threaded female/male couplers, they use them on cutting torched all the time.
I'm not a 100% sure if it would work but if it did it'd be slick, the one problem they do have though is over time the o-ring inside of them do start to leak were the thread ones if taken care of will last a long time.
Funny you should ask! Just did some practice today on lap joints. I don't seem to be able to attach pics, but here is a link to a post I made about them. I don't know how low an output it'll light up at, because I'm never looking at the front panel when I'm lighting up!
For the gas outlet, I think the only workaround is to do a small pigtail of hose with screw-on fittings. I poked around inside the welder, and I'm not 100% sure, but it looks to me like I'd have to change out the solenoid in order to change the fitting on the back. Maybe one day if my solenoid dies, I'll do that.
Josh, the easiest way to attach an image is to go to the "attachments" tab to the left of the submit button. If they don't upload it is because they are too large of a file size. The other way is to copy the images location and use the "picture" button in the toolbar.