Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-01-2020, 06:43 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Central PA
Posts: 24
Year: 2002
Chassis: AmTran RE
Engine: T444E
The Welding and Fabrication Thread

Iím new to the skoolie forums and noticed that there were a lot of questions regarding welding/fabrication. There are, what seems like, a couple skilled welders on the forum and I wanted to create a thread to help answer questions for people that are unfamiliar with welding, sheet metal, grinding, and other fabrication topics. Hopefully this can become sticky-worthy and can help spread some knowledge to the skoolie community.

We just bought our first bus and, while Iím experienced with cars/trucks as well as welding and fabrication (Iím a mechanical engineer and I run a custom metal fab shop), this forum has been a great source of knowledge for me and my wife. Not only pre-purchase, but going forward as we design and build out our bus.

Hoping to return the favor by providing what knowledge I have and creating a knowledge pool for others who are skilled in this area to contribute.

Ask away!
RamRod4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2020, 06:50 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Ohio
Posts: 39
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American
Engine: Cummins 8.3
I've heard a few people mention the hobart 140 was the welder to go with if all your doing is working on the bus, i found this review video where the guy didn't use gas but goes through the settings and his idea why. Obviously a good looking weld is ideal but will an ugly weld hold just as well? I'm looking to do rust repair on my floor, fabricate under bay storage boxes, then when I'm a little more confident do my roof raise. If i can keep the welder in one of the bays and not deal with gas that would be ideal. Any tips or input would be much appreciated.

https://youtu.be/kt7lsC1TDEQ
aswallie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2020, 06:56 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Central PA
Posts: 24
Year: 2002
Chassis: AmTran RE
Engine: T444E
Quote:
Originally Posted by aswallie View Post
I've heard a few people mention the hobart 140 was the welder to go with if all your doing is working on the bus, i found this review video where the guy didn't use gas but goes through the settings and his idea why. Obviously a good looking weld is ideal but will an ugly weld hold just as well? I'm looking to do rust repair on my floor, fabricate under bay storage boxes, then when I'm a little more confident do my roof raise. If i can keep the welder in one of the bays and not deal with gas that would be ideal. Any tips or input would be much appreciated.

https://youtu.be/kt7lsC1TDEQ
Gasless MIG welding AKA "Flux core" or "Self-shielding" wire will be fine. The welds will not look like a shiny gas-shielded MIG weld but flux core welding inherently penetrates better. Personally, I prefer a gas-shielded MIG weld but that's because I already have the tank and equipment. In your case, flux core will be fine.

My first welder was a Hobart 140 and I still use it at home frequently. I would not hesitate to use it with your roof raise or rust repair. It will easily weld 1/8" thick material and up to 1/4" in some instances.

Feel free to post up a couple pics of your weld joint and welds. The prep will be important, just like painting, especially for a rookie welder. The more clean and tight the joint is, the better off you will be.
RamRod4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2020, 08:50 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 1,816
Beginner, want equipment reco learning to do structural aluminum, plate minimum 1/4" tubing / i-beams in the 3" - 8" range.

Ideally outdoors & field portable, gas torch better than electric, DC alternator powered better than shore power, can do 28V at 200A even 400A if needed.
john61ct is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2020, 09:09 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Central PA
Posts: 24
Year: 2002
Chassis: AmTran RE
Engine: T444E
Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Beginner, want equipment reco learning to do structural aluminum, plate minimum 1/4" tubing / i-beams in the 3" - 8" range.

Ideally outdoors & field portable, gas torch better than electric, DC alternator powered better than shore power, can do 28V at 200A even 400A if needed.
Hard to determine what you're asking but I'll give it a go. Let me know if I misunderstood.

Welder recommendation for 1/4"+ aluminum plate and 3"-8" Aluminum I-Beams: You'll need a pretty decently sized AC/DC TIG machine with watercooled torch. You could use a spoolgun setup on a MIG welder as well but my preference would be to TIG it in structural applications. I also recommend a good oxyfuel torch setup to preheat the structural members or your poor welder will suffer trying to get a puddle started. The structural aluminum is what I can assume to be in large lengths and will act like a giant heatsink. Machine I'd recommend is a Miller Dynasty 280. Thats a high end professional-level machine but it sounds like your projects aren't for a bus and are for a day job or income-related work. See link below.

https://www.millerwelds.com/equipmen...welders-m00389

AFAIK, there are no welders that operate off DC input voltage. There are suitcase welders setup for aluminum spoolgun/push-pull gun welding that are designed to operate off of engine drive welder/generators that you may be able to make work. See link below.

https://www.millerwelds.com/accessor...-feeder-m00338

Either of these machine will require a significant amount of power that you likely dont have currently. It seems like an engine drive welder will be a requirement either way, based upon your initial description. I'm referring to a Miller Bobcat or Trailblazer or any of the similar Lincoln products available.
RamRod4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2020, 09:32 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Southeast Georgia
Posts: 23
Year: 1992
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72 passengers
Welding and Fabrication

I have been in the Welding field for over 30 years and I believe those Hobart 140 and the like MIG Welders are very handy for many tasks you will face building your bus conversion.


You will want a decent 4 1/2" angle grinder with cut and grinding blades.


With those two items you can accomplish many tasks but I did find at times my oxyacetylene torch and Tig and stick welder were handy to have also.


Looking back I could not have completed my bus without my MIG Welder or any welder for that matter.


The blue flame speed wrench (oxyacetylene torch) was handy to cut those bolt heads off to remove those seats so at times it was needed also but a grinder with cut blades would also work.
WLDNWALT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2020, 09:37 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Central PA
Posts: 24
Year: 2002
Chassis: AmTran RE
Engine: T444E
Quote:
Originally Posted by WLDNWALT View Post
I have been in the Welding field for over 30 years and I believe those Hobart 140 and the like MIG Welders are very handy for many tasks you will face building your bus conversion.


You will want a decent 4 1/2" angle grinder with cut and grinding blades.


With those two items you can accomplish many tasks but I did find at times my oxyacetylene torch and Tig and stick welder were handy to have also.


Looking back I could not have completed my bus without my MIG Welder or any welder for that matter.


The blue flame speed wrench (oxyacetylene torch) was handy to cut those bolt heads off to remove those seats so at times it was needed also but a grinder with cut blades would also work.
Great input. Glad to have another welder chiming in.
RamRod4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 12:23 AM   #8
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,483
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
How about using an oxyacetylene torch for all of the welding on a skoolie?


What limitations might someone bear in mind in such a case?


What benefits might be had over arc?
Native is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 05:06 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Central PA
Posts: 24
Year: 2002
Chassis: AmTran RE
Engine: T444E
The upside to oxy fuel is that it requires no source of power. Just a cart with 2 bottles. The downside is that it will be quite hard to weld the sheet metal on a bus this way. Most of the welding on a Skoolie will be thin gauge. Admittedly, I have zero experience with oxy fuel welding but I know that it’s all but extinct and usually reserved for jobs that are remotely located or you just don’t have access to a MIG machine. Additionally, unless you already have the torch setup, a new mig machine can be had for less than a small oxy outfit.
RamRod4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 06:52 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Southeast Georgia
Posts: 23
Year: 1992
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72 passengers
Oxyfuel Welding

Oxyfuel Welding is great for many applications and was used for years at Muffler Shops and Body Shops.
But that was when automotive sheet metal was much thicker like in the 50's and 60's.


In today's bodywork needs it is much thinner than yesterday's so the large Heat Zone it makes causes a lot of distortion of metals that are too thin.



It is still used in Maintenance Applications which it is great for due to no electricity is needed very portable.


That is why Body Shops adopted MIG Welding because of less heat input in metals.
WLDNWALT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 08:59 AM   #11
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: West Ohio
Posts: 1,884
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 1753
Engine: 6.9 International
Rated Cap: 65
The neat thing about oxy welding though is that you're typically only doing it in structural situations that require the strength of welding.

If you were doing skin stuff, you could likely get by with brazing, which is much cooler and way less apt to blow through. And I feel brazing would be strong enough in attaching pieces for a skin situation. You'll just have to be judicious in your cleaning of the flux.

If you were doing a roof raise in the backwoods of alaska, and oxy-acetylene is what you had available, use it. But most roof raises will likely occur in some sort of shop situation with a mig machine present.

Truthfully, one could buy a used bobcat welder, fab their bus, and then resell the welder for what they paid for it. There is a gas powered one on my local craigslist right now for 800 bucks with a trailer. You'll have close to that in a decent sized oxy-fuel kit and tanks.
__________________
The Silver Bullet https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/p...llet-9266.html
Booyah45828 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 09:21 AM   #12
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 1,816
Alternator welders!

Delco CS-144 mods
Zena apparently even better

also great charge source for your House bank living off grid, especially if LFP, fully top up in an hour or two per week, no need for an AC genset unless running aircon or S&B style galley, appliances

Do you think that would work better for structural aluminum than oxy/stick while off grid?
john61ct is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 10:04 AM   #13
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 1,516
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
I don’t weld. With all the other skills that I’ve learned why haven’t I learned how to weld? I don’t know!

But I know how to braze. The glue gun of welding!

Gas equipment applies too much heat to sheet metal and can cause warpage. But with some practice it’s possible to do joins with brass filler rod. I used braze to modify the rub rails.
Danjo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2020, 10:22 AM   #14
Bus Nut
 
TJones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Rapid City, SD
Posts: 588
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: CS RE
Engine: ISC 8.3 L 260 hp
Rated Cap: 36
Keep in mind that most of the metal in the bus body is galvanized and will off gas toxic fumes when heated. Good ventilation and the correct respirator are needed.

Ted
TJones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2020, 12:24 AM   #15
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,483
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Thanks all for the replies on Oxyfuel welding.


I have a torch and use it all the time. I just wanted to know from those that do arc all the time if there are any advantages and/or disadvantages of either.


I have done very little arc welding. However, I have done extensive work on the bus with the oxaycetylene setup. I have used it to repair bodywork as well. With the bus skins, the metal is MUCH thicker than automotive skins and oxyacetylene can be effectively used. Yes, it can cause warping, but it is also used to remove same said warping once the welding is done. I am still learning the quenching methods to straighten out a panel. That is an art.
Native is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
aluminum, fabrication, metal, steel, welding

Thread Tools
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


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:24 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×