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Old 11-24-2010, 08:35 PM   #1
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Seems as if fixing the frame will be a DYI job

Snow is flying and no welder in sight. The oil boom in ND has caused the welding shops to be backed up until...who knows when. I called around to all the shops in the area and got a lot of "Call us in a couple of months...maybe..." or "Don't call me; I'm way too busy!" Husband is considering buying a welder and figuring it out himself. He is looking at a Hobart Handler 140 MIOG Welder, 115 volt, 140 AMP to fix the very deteriorated frame. Does anyone have any thoughts on this welder?

He has all new outriggers sitting in the shop ready to be put on once the frame is repaired. I am not sure he has figured out how to cut off the back third of the frame and replacing it. Even the vocational instructor has said he would'nt be available until likely next year now. Any suggestions or hints welcomed....
Sandy
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Old 11-24-2010, 09:28 PM   #2
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Sandy, where did you get your outriggers?
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Old 11-24-2010, 09:35 PM   #3
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Outriggers

We ordered them from Out of Doors Mart. Now just to get to the point where we can get them on and the frame ready to go.
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Old 11-24-2010, 09:48 PM   #4
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Sandy,

How big a hurry is he in? Could he go to the local VoTech and take a class? You could stick weld the outriggers on just fine. As well, you could stick weld in new portions of frame just fine.

MIG is great, once you get some experience. But from what I've seen, when you're new at it, it's really easy to get a weld that looks good in MIG, but it won't hold. I took the class at my local VoTech and we did oxyfuel gas welding, stick welding, and MIG. Of the three, MIG was definitely the easiest. But, again, I made some pretty welds that didn't hold. My stick welds didn't look as pretty, but they held.

The machine you mention would probably be fine for the light gauge metal used in Airstream frames.

I wound up getting a Lincoln Precision TIG 225. It can TIG weld and stick weld. TIG is primarily used for race cars and airplane fuselages....it's surgically precise, but is very slow. I also find it more difficult than any of the other methods.

If you're in a big hurry, is the coach in good enough shape to tow? You might just tow it one state over and see if you can't get a professional welder to do it for you there.

best of luck!
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Old 11-24-2010, 09:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ND10CentCan View Post
Snow is flying and no welder in sight. The oil boom in ND has caused the welding shops to be backed up until...who knows when. I called around to all the shops in the area and got a lot of "Call us in a couple of months...maybe..." or "Don't call me; I'm way too busy!" Husband is considering buying a welder and figuring it out himself. He is looking at a Hobart Handler 140 MIOG Welder, 115 volt, 140 AMP to fix the very deteriorated frame. Does anyone have any thoughts on this welder?

He has all new outriggers sitting in the shop ready to be put on once the frame is repaired. I am not sure he has figured out how to cut off the back third of the frame and replacing it. Even the vocational instructor has said he would'nt be available until likely next year now. Any suggestions or hints welcomed....
Sandy
Hobart makes a nice unit but I would go for a 175 or 185 amp, 220 volt unit. The 115 volt unit might do the job but you will be working at it's upper limits while the 220 volt unit will be more versatile in the long run. Lincoln and Miller also make good welders in that size range. Also get the gas bottle and regulator and forget the flux core wire. Do lots of practicing before you start on your frame. Practice in unusual and overhead positions like you will be welding on your frame. Welding is a great skill to have but it does take a bit of learning to be proficient. A friend with welding experience would be a great asset.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:28 PM   #6
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Parts and Pieces at this point

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Originally Posted by JimGolden View Post
Sandy,

How big a hurry is he in? Could he go to the local VoTech and take a class? You could stick weld the outriggers on just fine. As well, you could stick weld in new portions of frame just fine.

MIG is great, once you get some experience. But from what I've seen, when you're new at it, it's really easy to get a weld that looks good in MIG, but it won't hold. I took the class at my local VoTech and we did oxyfuel gas welding, stick welding, and MIG. Of the three, MIG was definitely the easiest. But, again, I made some pretty welds that didn't hold. My stick welds didn't look as pretty, but they held.

The machine you mention would probably be fine for the light gauge metal used in Airstream frames.

I wound up getting a Lincoln Precision TIG 225. It can TIG weld and stick weld. TIG is primarily used for race cars and airplane fuselages....it's surgically precise, but is very slow. I also find it more difficult than any of the other methods.

If you're in a big hurry, is the coach in good enough shape to tow? You might just tow it one state over and see if you can't get a professional welder to do it for you there.

best of luck!
Thanks for that info. I think we are both anxious to get moving on the fix up. Unfortunately, the AS was in such poor shape that we ended up taking the entire shell off. We read a lot on the Air Forums (thanks everyone for the time you take to explain things and as a result, help many people!) and learned how to go about doing that.

So taking it anywhere at this point is not going to happen. Now that winter has arrived here it might not be long before we can't find the frame anymore under the snow There is another welding class starting in January at the local community college so perhaps that is what is going to have to be the ticket.

Seems like it will be forever until we actually get to go camping That is the main point right? Who was to guess welding was such a big deal around here when we finally need it. Murphy's Law but we will keep plugging along. Thanks for your suggestions!
Sandy
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:39 PM   #7
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Change in direction

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Originally Posted by Smartstream View Post
Hobart makes a nice unit but I would go for a 175 or 185 amp, 220 volt unit. The 115 volt unit might do the job but you will be working at it's upper limits while the 220 volt unit will be more versatile in the long run. Lincoln and Miller also make good welders in that size range. Also get the gas bottle and regulator and forget the flux core wire. Do lots of practicing before you start on your frame. Practice in unusual and overhead positions like you will be welding on your frame. Welding is a great skill to have but it does take a bit of learning to be proficient. A friend with welding experience would be a great asset.

Good luck, Dan
Thanks Dan,
That is good info that I will pass on to the man in charge. He asks me to post questions on the forums and then I tell him what I learn It is the long way around but it works fairly well most of the time. It is only when he asks for more details and I tell him "Seriously? Go ask for more info yourself...." Now I have to convince him to take the local welding class come January. It might turn out I'm taking the welding class and I can only guess what I am getting for my birthday....I see a shiny new welder in my future.
Sandy
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:58 PM   #8
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MIG welding (even out of position) is not difficult to learn if you have an experienced teacher. I absolutely agree with the 220V and gas suggestions; flux core is no fun. Do get a auto-darkening helmet; this will make dealing with awkward positions much easier. One trick that will make things easier is to get one of those inexpensive halogen work lights and illuminate your welding area. Don't try wearing bifocals under the welding helmet; grab a pair of inexpensive reading glasses instead since that makes orienting your head much easier.

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Old 11-24-2010, 11:04 PM   #9
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Thanks

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MIG welding (even out of position) is not difficult to learn if you have an experienced teacher. I absolutely agree with the 220V and gas suggestions; flux core is no fun. Do get a auto-darkening helmet; this will make dealing with awkward positions much easier. One trick that will make things easier is to get one of those inexpensive halogen work lights and illuminate your welding area. Don't try wearing bifocals under the welding helmet; grab a pair of inexpensive reading glasses instead since that makes orienting your head much easier.

- Bart
Thanks Bart for the info. Everything we gather here goes into our file for making decisions about the next step in the process. We were a little afraid when we saw the level of frame rot. We will keep trudging along...
Sandy
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Old 11-24-2010, 11:14 PM   #10
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I am experienced in tig and mig and stick. A decent stick welder will be the cheapest for you but will be very awkward welding if you are under the work area. that will definately take some practice. But, you can buy a decent used one or even a new one cheap. Tig is for experienced welders and would be the most difficult to learn , and really not necessary for regular steel welding like you are doing. Best for aluminum and stainless, but will require an expensive machine and lots of time practicing with an instructor. Mig is the easiest of all three to learn and to use. You can produce great welds with a minumum of practice. No flux is necessary as the welding gas does what flux on welding rod does, but you need gas tanks and usually you would need to rent them on an annual basis. and a decent machine that will produce good results will cost plenty, so you are not going to want to buy one for just one job.
I need to add, that I think you should go to a real welding supply shop, not a Tractor supply or similar store , and talk to some real welding experts. If you buy a machine from them, they will most likely have an area you can practice with demonstration equipment. They will also tell you what the minimum machine size is for the work you want to do.
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Old 11-24-2010, 11:36 PM   #11
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A good welder(miller,lincoln,etc) does not a frame make. You also need a fairly skilled person to keep the frame square,keep the outriggers square and not twisted. You also need the tools involved in keeping things square and flat. Good clamps,vise grips etc. Not to mention some engineering "sence". Where to weld,where not to weld. If you are not 100% confident in your husbands abilities i would get a professional to build your frame. I think it would cost you less in the long run. All that aside a miller would be my choice. Millermatic 220v 200 amp unit would be ideal. Keep in mind if and when you find a welder they usually dont come with guages,wire,gas. Thats all extra.
If the frame is rotten, and are repairing sections,there is a very good chance that even good sections that you think are in good condition will be severely compromised by rust and very difficult to weld. Also will be structurally unsound.
I would have a pro look at your project and get his/her opinion.
If you post some pictures i can probably tell you if you should tackle this yourself.
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Old 11-25-2010, 10:04 AM   #12
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I'm planning to learn MIG welding next spring to repair my Land Rover. What are the advantages and disadvantages of "gasless" MIG (gas produced from the wire) as opposed to MIG plus gas bottles? I'm probably never going to do any more welding, so sensibly I should pay a skilled person to do the jobs, but I'd just like to gain the skill. I have a pal who will teach me.
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:08 AM   #13
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Sandy,

Something to consider-- Check around for farmers in the area who weld. Some of the most innovative and talented people I've known in my 75 years on earth have been farmers. Surely it wouldn't be too hard to find a farmer around Bismarck who could meet your need.

Gene
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:56 AM   #14
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I'm planning to learn MIG welding next spring to repair my Land Rover. What are the advantages and disadvantages of "gasless" MIG (gas produced from the wire) as opposed to MIG plus gas bottles? I'm probably never going to do any more welding, so sensibly I should pay a skilled person to do the jobs, but I'd just like to gain the skill. I have a pal who will teach me.
Nick.
The flux core wire is an inexpensive method to provide a flux to wire feed welding without the expense of a gas bottle, regulator and the feed to get the gas to the weld point. You can weld with it but it is very limiting compared to a conventional MIG. Once you use the bottle gas you will never consider using flux core. By the way welding is a great skill to have. If you enjoy tinkering in the garage you will find lots of things to weld.

Cheers, Dan
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