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Thread: To Weld Myself ... or Pay Someone to do it for me?

  1. #1
    Owners Register Admin & Euro-Nova Supporter BlueNova's Avatar
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    To Weld Myself ... or Pay Someone to do it for me?

    Hi all,

    I suspect I know what you'll say, but please hear me out ......

    My chassis needs a lot of welding. New floorpans and drops for the seats, Napolean's Hat, front frame bottom plate with perhaps a small repair to the main part of the front frame where it meets the bottom plate.

    I'm really keen to keep the chassis because the V5 has it as 'Nova' and I happen to like the reg number (not that it's got any value). I've had the car since 1987 and it would be a shame if I had to change the reg number.

    Anyway, I've a little experience of arc welding with my own welder, but it's not suitable of course. I'm therefore investigating options for a mig welder. Top of my list is a Clarke 135TE Turbo MIG Welder which is currently on sale from machine mart for a VAT free price of £250. The information on this welder suggests that it's easy to use for beginners and will weld anything up to 5mm.

    I'm a very practical person (I'm self employed doing property maintenance, have renovated and extended my house myself, and have restored a classic sailing catamaran) so have wide experience of tackling problems and dealing with materials, etc.

    The nagging doubt I have is the safety of the vehicle. Will my welds be strong enough?

    Anyway, I'm looking for your experiences of tackling welding and your recommendations on whether or not I should just pay someone to do it for me. I know that there are companies out there who will do a fantastic job, but for me the whole thing is .... it's a kit car, and the owner should be the one who builds/restores it. Maybe I'm just feeling guilty because I bought her from the guy who actually built her?

    Anyway, I'd welcome your thoughts and advice.

    Cheers, Alistair

  2. #2
    Senior Member MicksRedNova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueNova View Post
    but for me the whole thing is .... it's a kit car, and the owner should be the one who builds/restores it. Maybe I'm just feeling guilty because I bought her from the guy who actually built her?

    Anyway, I'd welcome your thoughts and advice.

    Cheers, Alistair
    Good man, that's the spirit

    Best £100 I spent during my build was a welding course at the local college. You can't beat loads of practice and critical review from an expert teacher.
    I bought a Mig welder from eBay for £120 and did all the welding on MicksRedNova myself. One complete floorpan replacement, repairs to the other and seat pan drops plus seat belt mounts and front and rear flipper a stoppers, stainless exhaust etc. My welding passed 9 MOT's and held up until the Armco rearranged the front suspension.

    My advice would be get some training, buy a 150 amp Mig, lots of gas and have a go yourself.

    Mick
    Club Nova Member (F-036)

    MicksRedNova2 may take as long as the original!!

  3. #3
    I had a clarke mig but always had problems with it (probably a bad workman blaming his tools!), so I got a SIP MIG in the end and was much happier with that. I've did my frame head and dropped floor pans, plus numerous other bits. My welding is far from great but has held up over the last 28 years of ownership.


    I have never done a course but think Mick's advice to do one is spot on, even now if I could find a course I may even do one just to learn what I have been doing wrong all these years. Like most things practice is the key.

    Ideally get a big bottle of gas rather than the small ones

  4. #4
    Mig welder you have picked will be fine for all but the heaviest of welding and a very popular welder. Get an auto darkening helmet as well, this will help you weld better. Boc have a hobby welding bottle that is good value. Much cheaper than those hire free bottles that cost a fortune for a refill although much cheaper doon sooth. You need good eye sight for welding, if that is ok, go for it.

  5. #5
    It's a skill that's invaluable, and once learned, you'll wonder how you managed without it - (and how some garages justify the price they charge...)

    I used a pro 3-phase set-up at work which was a joy, then had a Sip mig that instantly made most of my welds look like rook-s**t (google Sip welders and you'll find loads of whinges about the quality of the wire drive, cable guide tubes etc....) The worst thing was the unpredictability - randomly I could get perfect welds effortlessly, then absolute rubbish. Duty cycle is another thing to watch - if it's short, you'll spend time waiting for a shut down welder to cut back in.
    Eventually I bought a second hand Sealey proffessional set-up off Ebay (for less than the Sip cost) and never looked back. (if you go for a quality welder you can sell it on for no loss when you've finished with it - I wouldn't sell the Sip to my worst enemy!)
    Forget about the disposable gas bottles (and don't even consider gasless migs - you might as well stick-weld) if you're doing much with a good welder the disposables don't last long and always run out when you can't get a spare - renting a bottle can be a saving very quickly. Go for a CO2/Argon mix for preference with mild steel, it makes a better weld.
    Get a good angle-grinder, and make sure wherever you weld is ground back to shiny clean steel - you can't make a good weld if there is rust. The welding instructor at Uni considered that welds should be ground smooth, because the grinding heat 'normalised' the metal, lessening the heat-affected-zone. Right or wrong, if you grind the weld back to shiny metal it's impossible to diguise any faults!
    Finally, as the last poster said, get an auto mask, they've become very cheap, and are so much better than a dark bit of glass!
    It's a 50 year old car and everything works, just not always at the same time.......and it's probably about to get jealous!
    *Donate to Euro-Nova today!*

  6. #6
    Senior Member bushboy's Avatar
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    I can only reiterate Micks advice, give a man a fish & he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish & he will eat for a life time.

    Welding is a skill that improves exponentially with practice.

    You can get a good welder & a lesson for much less than paying someone to do it for you and have a nice warm fuzzy feeling in side when you know you have done it your self.

    Oh & have I mentioned to practice a lot on lots of different things of different thicknesses, including welding thin plate to thick plate, up-side down, vertically.

    With your other practical skills you will walk it.

    Bushboy
    "Always do what you are afraid to do"
    "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying"

  7. #7
    Re the sip welder, a plate over the drive roller fixes the problem, i use a sip topmig 150 that is ancient. Just done the lr 90 and it never slipped once. Good welder when fixed, useless without the fix.

  8. #8
    Owners Register Admin & Euro-Nova Supporter BlueNova's Avatar
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    Hi guys,

    Heartfelt thanks to all of you for taking the time to give me such comprehensive replies. I'm going to give it a go, but will look for a welding course nearby first, and take some more time to research welders based on your tips. In the meantime I'll start cutting off the floor pans etc, in preparation.

    Thanks again, Alistair

  9. #9
    Alex,

    Is this the sort of MIG welder you are referring to?

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sealey-Sup...MAAOSw-3FZCHZ6

  10. #10
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    Good question and good advice guys
    I originally learned to weld when my old 68 bug needed a lot of work on it, because the cost of getting someone else to do it was prohibitive.
    Chris, my best friend at the time's dad taught me with this gods awful thing that was pitifully weak and prone to over-heating, his only rule was "if I can jump up and down on it, and it doesn't break"...
    In all honesty, my original welding attempts looked like cans of worms, which is no surprise considering both my lack of experience and the junk box.
    Now, I have both the "junk box" and another, newer machine that's much more reliable. I can get a fair weld with either of them and for most of what I do, I grind the finished product down to "stabilize" the metal, but in many cases, I don't need to because I seem to get lucky and get nice clean seams.

    My opinion: Do it yourself if you can. Find something to practice on, and practice, practice, practice. Either get some training, or look online for welding advice, both are good idea's, and, have at it!

    The sense of satisfaction and knowledge YOU have it right is something you can only experience when you do it yourself

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