Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-29-2012, 07:46 AM   #1
Rivet Master
Roadrunner's Avatar

1978 29' Ambassador
1974 25' Tradewind
1974 27' Overlander
Indiana , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 667
Blog Entries: 7
Who Does Their Own Welding?

Welding is one skill I have not attempted to learn...until now. The local vocational school does not have continuing ed courses and I can't take time off work to attend full-time. I did see a link to a week long class at the Lincoln facility in Cleveland. How many forum members do their own welding? What is the preferred method of welding the frames on our Airstreams...TIG, MIG... Thanks for the input/advice...

Indiana, PA
WBCCI 4871

Roadrunner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 08:12 AM   #2
Maniacal Engineer
barts's Avatar
1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,210
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 4
I do whatever welding is needed on our Airstream. So far it has been all MIG, but if I ever replace the coupler I'd do that with a stick since the thicker material needs more penetration and my MIG unit is only 180 amps. Since most of the frame is quite thin MIG works nice and fast for welding new outriggers, etc.

Note that MIG is easiest to learn and works well on thin materials... Stick has the cheapest equipment. TIG let's you weld any weldable metal...but is slowest and most expensive and most difficult to learn.

- Bart

Bart Smaalders
Menlo Park, CA
barts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 08:21 AM   #3
3 Rivet Member
2003 25' Safari
Riverside , California
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 230
Agreed Mig will be the easiest to learn the technique but to understand metal joining I would recomend oxy/acetalyin course first.
Tig is amazing in what you can do with great precision and is much easier to take up after knowing how to gas weld.
2003 25' Safari
2005 Ram 2500 4x4
1994 Ram 2500 4x4
2015 Toyota Tacoma trd 4x4
2000 Jeep Wrangler 4x4
Bob4x4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 08:34 AM   #4
Rivet Master
SteveH's Avatar
2005 39' Land Yacht 390 XL 396
Common Sense , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 5,282
I have a Mig, and used to have a stick welder. Not very good at it, but usually good enough to get done what I want done. If it's a critical strength area of a hitch, for instance, I take it to a professional because of my abilities and the limitations of the Mig as explained above.

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."-- Thomas Jefferson
SteveH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 08:56 AM   #5
Rivet Master
DFlores's Avatar
1968 22' Safari
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 529
Images: 3
I use a Millermatic 180, it is not the newest, but I have welded as thin as Jeep door panels to as thick as drill stem posts for fencing. I took a continuing education class at a local high school which allowed us the opportunity to work with all but TIG. Then I went out and bought a used Miller MIG welder, once I was familiar with the equipment and the expected performance. I will warn you about the home depot class of MIG welders that are built with plastic gears, they feed inconsistently and make the development of your abilities more difficult.
Good luck, you can teach an old dog new tricks.....
David & Diana
DFlores is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 09:21 AM   #6
Rivet Master
AWCHIEF's Avatar
2006 23' Safari SE
Biloxi , Mississippi
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 6,697
Images: 54
I have a Home Depot MIG welder. It works in a pinch but as David says they are inconsistent in wire feed. Also voltage/heat control is not very precise which can lead to problems, specially trying to weld thin metals. I would not use it for anything that would be life threatening if the weld failed. Several years ago I took a course at the local JC that covered most forms of common welding.
WBCCI 10656 Southeastern Camping Unit
Associate European Unit
2006 Safari LS 23 ft
Formerly 1964 Bambi II

"I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell"
AWCHIEF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 09:52 AM   #7
Rivet Master
Splitrock's Avatar
Currently Looking...
Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,395
Blog Entries: 20
I learned to weld when I was 14 in high school shop class on a Lincoln 180 stick welder. When I got out of high school in 1962 I bought my own Lincoln 180. I still have it today. I also use a 220 AC/CD. I have a carbon arc torch and for thin metal and cutting I use an acetylene welder. For farm welding and trailer frame jig welding my stick welders work fine. For my welding class test in high school, I made a three carburetor manifold out of a single carb manifold for my 1953 Ford 8BA flathead V8. It was used on race cars at local tracks for the next two decades.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
Splitrock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 12:14 PM   #8
4 Rivet Member
crisen's Avatar
2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Fairbanks , Alaska
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 262
Images: 5
Originally Posted by Roadrunner View Post
Welding is one skill I have not attempted to learn...until now. The local vocational school does not have continuing ed courses and I can't take time off work to attend full-time. I did see a link to a week long class at the Lincoln facility in Cleveland. How many forum members do their own welding? What is the preferred method of welding the frames on our Airstreams...TIG, MIG... Thanks for the input/advice...

Indiana, PA
WBCCI 4871

I'll preface my response with the comment that 90% of my welding is TIG with a little MIG. My first question is what (thickness and materials) you want to weld and how much welding will you do. If it is just to fix your AS, pay for it and forget it.

If it is skill you want to learn and are going to fix/make things from steel either stick or MIG. I haven't stick welded in years but think the MIG will be more versital if we want to weld sheet metal, like body work and up to something around 3/8" thick. If you doing just thinner materials (you can do thicker but most suitable for under 3/16")don't rule out oxy-acetylene.

In any event buy decent equipment, I use Miller (Dynasty TIG and 212 MIG) anymore but Lincoln is about the same, blue or red your choice of color. For most home work the recommendations on a 180 amp or thereabouts is fine. I have repaired a CAT frame with a Miller 175 because that is all that was available and it is still ticking years later. If you prepare your joints correct a 180 amp is fine for up to 5/16 or so.

If you want to do a little aluminum you can get spool guns for the 180 to 212 size MIG units but they are touchy, can't do thin material and require a different gas than the mix you use with steel. If aluminum or stainless is in your future go right to TIG. Many TIG machines also will do stick welding for those occasional frame/farm jobs. Also be aware that there are some cheaper model TIG machines that don't have the high-frequency required to do aluminum welding so check the specs carefully.

I would say that MIG is relatively easy to get a decent looking bead but with poor penatration so practice a lot and cut your practice pieces apart to see what you have. Do this regardless of the process you choose.

If you can't get to local instruction, look into some of the instructional videos available. I can recommend the Ron Covell DVD's on MIG and TIG available on the Miller welding site. Get the appropriate one(s) for the process you choose and start burning up wire before you do anything that counts.
"When you find yourself in a hole - quit digging!"

2012 1/2 Eddie Bauer, Dodge 3500 SWB 4x4 6.7L Cummins 6 spd manual
crisen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 01:33 PM   #9
4 Rivet Member
2005 28' Safari
saline , Michigan
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 407
Mig is easiest to learn. You can get pretty decent quickly. Tig is best for aluminum and stainless, but you need a really really good machine (expensive) to do good work and lots of practice.
Kosm1o is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 01:45 PM   #10
4 Rivet Member
1987 25' Sovereign
Oregon , Ohio
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 483
Welding is the one thing I can not do. To put a new coupler on the AS my brother-in-law is willing, he has been state certified and was a trainer for the local electric company.
msmcv51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 07:38 PM   #11
3 Rivet Member
SStar's Avatar
2004 28' Classic
Midland , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 182
I do all of my own welding and have for many years. I have a portable welder and a wire welder but seldom use them. A 180 amp crackerbox electric welder will do about everything I need to do these days. Occasionally I will do a little brazing or silver solder. My last project was a 14' x 31' cover for my AS, built from perling, oilfield pipe, & U-panel . With a stick welder it is just a matter of the right rod selection and correct amperage. It will weld anything from thin-wall perling to hi-tensile steel. If you could get a friend or acquaintance that is a welder to give you some one on one instruction you might pick it up pretty quick. It's just not that difficult once you get past the basics, then practice, practice, practice. Good luck!
SStar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2012, 11:31 PM   #12
2 Rivet Member
alumascoupe's Avatar
1966 26' Overlander
Frozen , Tundra
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 85
If you already have access to a welder I'd recommend playing around with some scraps that are close to the same thickness you plan to weld. This will give you some time to figure the process out and fine tune your welders settings for Amps (too high, weld will boil or burn through, too low and the weld will pile up on top and not penetrate) If using a MIG (wire feed) your wire speed is also adjustable and works inversely from amps (too high/fast and weld will not penetrate well, too slow and wire may boil off or burn through) If you change either setting you may need to fine tune the other. MIG is as easy as pulling the trigger and is usually most forgiving for beginners. Stick requires a delicate touch and schlage removal between passes, and TIG is an art in itself but a must have for Aluminum unless you grew up shipbuilding with torches in the 40's!
If you don't have a welder and this is the only thing you ever plan to weld, you may be better of hiring a skilled welder. My frame had several bad spots and I had them all repaired in just a few hours. On the other hand you may be able to buy a entry level welder for a bit more than the labor, and wonder how you ever went without, welding is a very useful skill to have. In the end practice makes perfect, its a hard skill to teach online.
alumascoupe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2012, 12:38 PM   #13
Rivet Master
Roadrunner's Avatar

1978 29' Ambassador
1974 25' Tradewind
1974 27' Overlander
Indiana , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 667
Blog Entries: 7
Thank you all for your very informative comments. It is evident that we have some very talented forum members. I look at this much like I did when I bought my first is a challenge. Having spent $$$ on frame repairs, I am determined to learn how to weld. I am trying to find someone in our area willing to do some training on the side. Also sounds like MIG is the method of choice. Keep you posted...

Indiana, PA
WBCCI 4871
Roadrunner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2012, 04:19 PM   #14
Rivet Master
Wabbiteer's Avatar
1973 27' Overlander
1972 29' Ambassador
St. Paul , Minnesota
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,886
Images: 2
Blog Entries: 2
MIG huh? Present yourself humbly to a good Oxygen supply house, the ones that service the welding trade, they can clue you into classes and maybe discounts on equipment.

For me its gasoline powered miller welder here; something about being able to weld anywhere at anytime and be able to piggyback MIG/TIG on the generator output somewhere in the future...

The 40 year old outriggers and stringers love to melt & burn through - just when you think youre laying up a nice bead it falls through. Worst cases I went with a 1/16" rod and kept grinding away the lacey iron until I was welding welds together. The tack-button welds the factory did make good sense as they are somewhat breakaway, snag something and one or three outriggers crumple away without too much trauma - I'd hate to see the heavied up iron I put on welded up to its teeth strike something, tear off chunks of mainframe or something...

Stick Tips - factory fresh rods kept in hyper-dry storage, not even one overnight left non-airtight. A drying session in a toaster oven at 225F overnight may help with old rods but when flux coating gets damp the rods may act better as a cutting torch. Honest.

Don't accept welding as it seemingly presents itself, keep adjusting the amps to find the sweet spot even if it means jumping up seven times. Just because a chart gives a number don't mean its so on your end of the stick. Adjust the ground lead for close to weld w/ perfect conduction. Never compromise, cutting disc or grinder and re-work it.


Wabbiteer is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:09 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.