Published in The April 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source
Article By: Vincent Stemp Photos By: Sean Fraser
Last time, me and the rest of the guys at the shop took some time to get familiar with our Lincoln Electric Power MIG 216 welder. Despite the learning curve, we got pretty comfortable with it and were ready to try sticking together something fun. JJ wanted to make an exhaust for his Ironhead chop, so we put that on the docket, only to have life knock us down a peg.
No shop is perfect, but ours was really giving us hell last week. The belt on the big upright sander was coming apart at the seams, an air hose blew a fitting off without warning, and then the bead blasting cabinet stopped L blasting beads. Jared had a big stack of tins that needed to be blasted, and sure wasn’t looking forward to having to clean all those parts with a wire wheel. I traced the problem to a cracked joint on the pickup tube that draws sand into the gun inside the cabinet, hidden by a big wad of electrical tape. Oh man, things get worse before they get better I guess. Well, problems are just opportunities in disguise if you’ve got the right point of view.
Sure, the belt sander just needed a new belt, and the air hose was past its prime. Besides, you can’t weld rubber or paper anyway! To me, this looked like a chance to break out the Power MIG 216 and fix something. Easy enough, right? The hole in the pickup tube wasn’t any bigger than the end of a valve stem, so with the MIG on its lowest voltage setting and the wire feed medium-low, I went to fill the hole.
More trouble! The steel of the pickup tube, very thin and filled with voids and impurities, burned away as soon as the arc started. After a few minutes of trying, all I had done was make the hole twice as big and a lot uglier. I got a hold of Joe, who’s been MIG welding longer than I’ve been riding, and asked him to take a whack at it. No dice! “You can’t do good welding with crappy materials,” Joe pointed out, laying down the torch.
I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right, and it got me thinking. Instead of busting tail to fix something that was poorly made in the first place, why not make a better one? I found some quality German steel tubing from an old VW shift rod, and decided to start over.
With the old rotted pickup tube in hand, it was easy to duplicate the part with better materials. The chop saw quickly made the old shift rod into two nice lengths of tubing, which I cleaned up and propped together with magnets. I tacked them together easily enough, then went back to fill in one of the ends to duplicate the original design.
I gave it a quick coat of red spray paint to match the blasting cabinet (aesthetics count too, you know) and put it all back together. As you can see, it worked better than new, and we could all get back to cleaning up old parts quickly and easily. It’s not the most fun I’ve had welding, but it had to be done. And when I looked back, Joe and I spent about as much time trying to hack the old part back together as it took to make a new one that’ll last for years and years. A shop is no place for half measures, and it was surprisingly easy to get the problem fixed once I realized that I could use the Lincoln welder to do the whole job right, not a half job half-assed. Practical knowledge, if you ask me. See you next issue for some fun!
Cycle-Resources: Lincoln Electric Cleveland, OH 216-481-8100 www.lincolnelectric.com