Suggestions for a welder at home?

Suggestions for a welder at home?

Joined: October 8th, 2014, 2:05 pm

July 3rd, 2018, 5:34 pm #1

I'd like to be able to do a little light welding at home (for example, I want to make a luggage rack for my motorcycle) but the little stick welder I bought pops a GFCI or circuit breaker when I try to use it. I live in a mobile home, and the electrical system isn't very robust.

I thought getting about a portable generator with enough power to run the welder, but that's a lot of money for something I won't use very often. What other options do I have?
If it ain't broke, I'll fix it!
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Joined: October 28th, 2014, 1:06 am

July 3rd, 2018, 6:44 pm #2

Offhand, the best option might be to track down a local maker-space, where they'll have welders, (humans and machines), that could help.  a box of pizza and a $20 donation usually goes a long way.  

This ad was not paid for by a maker-space, or committee controlled by a maker-space.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 3rd, 2018, 7:20 pm #3

Okay, first off, be very careful about heavy loads in mobile-home wiring, especially if it's an older unit. A lot of them used (may still use?) aluminum wiring which has issues with corrosion and low current-carrying capacity.

But even a modern trailer with proper copper wiring wasn't meant for heavy loads.

Your best bet would be to see if the park you're in (presumably it's a park) will let you put a 20-amp outlet, preferably a 220v, on the "power pole" or off of whatever box connects you to the grid. That is, pull directly from the mains, not the trailer wiring.

And by "letting you" I of course mean "have a professional come in and do it". 😁

A less-ideal but still workable alternative is to see if you have an outlet for an electric clothes dryer, or an electric stove. Either one of those should be a big 50-amp circuit, and should, theoretically, be able to safely carry enough current to run even a proper welder, not just a little portable suitcase unit.

Your welder would need to be able to take 220V in, and you'd have to make up an "adapter cable", but it'd work.

Lacking either of those options, however, I agree with the other poster- look for a Maker Space, a TechShop, or other DIY-oriented facility, where you can bring the parts in and have the work done with proper machines and safety equipment.

Doc.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 3rd, 2018, 7:22 pm #4

jr9999 wrote:[...] where they'll have welders, (humans and machines), that could help.
-Pedantically, the machine is a welder, the person is a weldor. 😋
Doc.
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Joined: March 8th, 2004, 11:48 pm

July 3rd, 2018, 8:11 pm #5

Unless they are a weldorette.
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Joined: October 8th, 2014, 2:05 pm

July 3rd, 2018, 8:46 pm #6

Mark-T wrote: Unless they are a weldorette.
Wouldn't that make them a weldrix? Or would it be a weldtrix?

Doc, thanks for the advice. I do have an electric dryer and stove, but their outlets are difficult to access without moving the appliances out of the way. That may still be my best option though. I don't mind making an adaptor cable.

We lived in a trailer with aluminum wiring when I was a kid. That thing was a real son of a hitch. The neutral opened up between the service entrance (on the pole) and the home itself. Fried our TV good. I made sure this trailer had copper wiring in it before we bought it.
If it ain't broke, I'll fix it!
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Joined: August 16th, 2016, 11:47 am

July 3rd, 2018, 11:46 pm #7

DocsMachine wrote:
jr9999 wrote:[...] where they'll have welders, (humans and machines), that could help.
-Pedantically, the machine is a welder, the person is a weldor. 😋
Doc.
Better than the weldee.
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Joined: September 16th, 2014, 7:01 am

July 7th, 2018, 8:49 pm #8

Go look at the power service pedestal on the back-door side of the coach - they will often have space for extra circuits in there.  You have the 100A - 125A - 200A feed into the coach, and space for one or two more breakers.  I often find the AC Condensing Unit sitting next to it and wired straight there, just to keep it out of the coach wiring. 

Only wrinkle is the meter pedestals are often cheaply (crappily with horrible ergonomics to make them small) built and use obsolete (Zinsco) and/or downright dangerous (FPE Stab-Lok) breakers and should be replaced, but that's Park Property and they have to do it - or approve of the contractor you get. But if it's got to be replaced they might pick up part or all the tab too. 

Milbank Manufacturing makes nice ones, they're bigger and a bit uglified, but far more practical.  The hard part is there's a dozen different ways to rig the power meter subject to the whims of the local utility - Ring or Ringless, Bypass or non, interior space required...  Or the park has one big power meter and owns the wiring and the watthour meter behind each coach, and then the utility can't say Boo about it - but the Park can say how it's done because they own the wiring, and you have to get it past them.

Best move if you have enough capacity is to max it out with a 50A or 100A Sub Feed in the pedestal, and get a little outdoor rated 4/8 or 6/12 sub-panel to break it down past that.  Because you often want to use an air compressor at the same time you're welding or plasma cutting, so the Sub has a 30A or 50A feed for the welder and another 30A for the 5-HP compressor. And a couple 120V 20A utility outlet circuits for drop lights and grinders.
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Joined: September 16th, 2014, 7:01 am

July 12th, 2018, 7:13 pm #9

Haven't heard back from @Hinermad - Here's another way to go for mobilehomes and renters that has merit: Find an engine-driven Welder/Generator, and a little utility trailer to keep it and the usual tools and supplies on...

... because they're usually a few hundred pounds and up (Waaaaay up) so you don't want to be hefting it too much.  Not to mention you can go out and earn money in your slack time with it. And it's a generator to keep the lights on and the fridge cold for the next power failure. 

https://www.millerwelds.com/equipment/w ... ine-driven   I don't say this often, but Buy New or from a reputable servicing dealer who's gone through their used ones first, because there's too much to go wrong and too many people trying to pawn off a busted unit - and you get to find out which function they blew out when it quits in the middle of a hurricane...   

The trailer you can do yourself - make that your first big project, go get an 8' Utility Bed at the wrecking yard and make a trailer chassis underneath it. Slice off the over-cab portion of the ladder rack, make a tall compartment and cargo clamps for the Oxy and Acetylene bottles and a little hoist to get them in and out.  Bonus Points for a powered dolly wheel so you steer and push a button & the trailer parks itself in the corner - you have plenty of 12V from the starter battery.

Reminder - You CAN NOT carry oxygen acetylene MAPP/propylene or propane bottles inside a car or van, the welding supply will run you out because when (not if) it blows up they are going to get sued and they know it.  Acetylene Deflagration is fun - Sometimes it just plain "decides to blow up..."  Trailer with racks in free air is fine though. (Or one of those hitch cargo platforms with a rack to tie down if you must.) 

The Miller Fusion looks interesting - it's engine driven OR 120/240V input, and a 6KW generator. 160A Stick only though. There are other "Small" engine-drive ones that have a 10KW AC Alternator and can do Stick and Mig with a wirefeeder unit - that can be extended away from the trailer.  Some can do TIG natively too with HF and easy start options (Scratch start is a pain.)  

Something bigger like the Trailblazer Air-Pak or an EnPak if you need a jackhammer & air tools in your portable work - or just a big Bead-Blast cabinet at home and are tired of waiting for the 2-HP compressor to catch up.  Big Blues are a bloody fortune, but if you need to do heavy work like pipeline it's the only way to go.  You need MIG it's a wirefeeder and gun seperate that plugs in. Plasma cutter or carbon-arc gouge, same thing.  Read the capabilities and accessory matrix.
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Joined: October 8th, 2014, 2:05 pm

July 12th, 2018, 7:20 pm #10

Bruce, I appreciate your input. Thank you! But I'm just looking for a hobby rig, not a new career. At least not right now. Depends on how my next review goes. (grin)
If it ain't broke, I'll fix it!
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