New tool – mig welder!

I decided to get myself a MIG welder after recently having some trouble welding some light gauge metal with the arc welder. The real catalyst is that I am painting the woods truck (sand camo) since rust is really starting to be visible (the hood and roof have more rust than paint). Well, the fenders and door bottoms are rusted out, so I am going to want to take care of that (the right way, not just with bondo or fiberglass) and for that I’ll need to be able to weld light gauge sheet metal. I am not real sure how to form the metal, but I guess I’ll figure that out as I go (and like most repairs these days, youtube research will be a key starting point).

While I do want to buy quality, most of the recommendations on the welding websites are for $1000+ welders. I am surely not going to get that much use out of it! And if I do, I can sell my starter unit and move to that high end one later. In the mean time, there isn’t a lot out there between the $90 flux core harbor freight special and the $500 or so Hobart Handler. There are a couple options, for instance Menards has a Campbell Hausfeld for $200-300. I ended up going with an Eastwood welder that was $280 on sale, then 10% off making it around $260 or so shipped. I am by no means an expert, but in my hour or so welding thus far it is performing well. My flux core welding turned out terrible (yes, I had the polarity correct, though the wire was not high end wire), but once I got my CO2 tank hooked up and swapped to MIG wire from Amazon my welds started coming out nicely with minimal splatter! Sweet!.

My first project was going to be a trailer of some sort, but part way through I decided to turn it in to a carry all for the tractor. For metal I am using some 54″ pallet racking beams that I have an excess of. I won an auction for 80 of them at 30 cents each. I only needed 4 or so, but for the same price I got 80. I also got a few uprights for a good price, so I have a few more shelving units to put up. Even when I do that though, I will have a lot of the beams left. So, I am putting them to use. My carryall is 54″ wide and is now completed. I did have a couple oopses that added a lot of work and frustration (like welding one upright beam on 90″ from what I mean to because it was hard to tell which way the L was). But, it is mostly finished now. I’ll likely weld a cap on the ends of the tubes so they don’t rust out (or have mice/chipmunks nest in them), and I need to add decking, but the structural part is done. I’ll paint it in the next day or two and then get the boards added on. Its approximately 24-30″ high and probably 20-24″ deep. At the small side of those dimensions, that gives me 15 cubic feet or .11 cords. At the large side its 22.5 cubic feet or .17 cords. With green oak weighing about 5500 lbs per cord that would be 550 lbs on the small side or 970 lbs on the high side, plus the weight of the carry all. While my tractor is rated to lift 2000lbs, its only rated to carry / transport about 800 lbs. That means its about perfect! While it won’t hold nearly as much as a trailer, it will be much easier to load and much more flexible in where it can go. It’ll also be nicer to carry equipment around in the carry all rather than the tractor bucket!

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