Finding a welder for auto body and frame

More of an art than a science - discuss metalworking and welding here.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:37 am
Yeah, your probably right I'm having similar thoughts. Perhaps I'll stick with 3/16 inch bar and plate.

I'm looking at some TIG and stick welders that are rated for at least 1/4 inch. One Hobart welder that was recommended is Hobart Handler 210MPV however the price is around ~$800.00+.

I prefer working on vehicles with a body and frame such as pickup. However I have a Jeep Cherokee XJ with a uni-body that has rust issues. I'm uncertain exactly to what degree until I have a chance for a closer inspection and perhaps removing parts of the suspension and steering to get a better look to determine if it truly has what is termed as frame rot. From what I can see there is no frame rot, only some badly rusted mounts and brackets on the front and rear axles. The front axle being the worse, can be replaced for around $150.00 using a JY axle. At the same time replacing the axle(s) I can rebuild the steering and suspension replacing rusted parts where needed.

I would also like to sand blast the entire under belly and also pull the carpet and inspect the floors for any rust, then after preparing repaint the interior. Some people use similar products to reline truck beds and other products such as Por-15, Chassis Saver, Miracle Paint, etc.

As for uni-body repairs on a Jeep Cherokee XJ the sub-frame is thin around 16 gauge or 1/16" thick. I would probably need to use 3/16 inch plate if any repairs to the sub-frame are required.

The XJ was the or one of the first compact SUV to use a uni-body designs starting back in the 1980's to replace the larger full size Jeep SUVs It lasted 18 years of production. It's preferred over many other other SUVs as it's small and light weight for off-road use, has solid axles and a 4.0L cast iron engine that typically get 300,000+ miles when maintained. There are reports of XJ with the 4.0L engine getting over 400,00 miles (purchase new).

Frame stiffener kits for the Jeep XJ are usually from 1/8" to 3/16" steel. Square bar usually come in 3/16 and 1/4 inch thicknesses.

So if installing rock sliders to replace the stock rocker panels I would need to find 3/16 2 x 6 bar instead of 1/4 inch.

If using round tubing I would look for .188 WALL THICKNESS (3/16 inch).

Rusted rocker panels are a common problem with Cherokees as their enclosed and often rust out as there's no where for water and moisture to drain off and dissipate.

So if purchasing or building some rock sliders to replace the stock rocker panels, they're an open design exposing the sub-frame where water and moisture is able to easily drain off not causing rust issues.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:40 pm
the Hobart Handler 210MPV is a Flux core welder I would stay away from it.
You don't want a Flux core welder You want a Gas welder.

And it doesn't have a very good Duty cycle either. You need to understand DUTY CYCLE

3/16" still requires about 180 Amps
Check out a good Weld Calculator ... alculators

For the money your talking about and what you want to do welding 3/16" still requires about 180 Amps look at that weld calculator I posted play with it.
I would look at other welders such as an Everlast "imig 210" It has a 50% duty cycle at 210 Amps, that's Not bad for an $899.00 welder, It will weld 3/16" with ease.

Or look for a Good USED name brand machine over 200 Amps. Miller Lincoln and many many more.

If money is a Problem Get into Gas welding Its Old school yes BUT Its true welding you can weld ANYTHING with Gas even Aluminum. Plus it will make you a better welder when you get into the machines. plus Used Equipment is very affordable every where!

Stick welders are another good option for thick stuff too and also available used everywhere.
Dennis Barnett
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:00 pm
Yeah, you're probably right I need a higher amp welder to weld from 3/16+ in.

I do have a 240 Vac Sears Craftsman AC (230A)/DC (140A) welder. Where I reside I only have a 30 amp 110/120 VAC 30 amp service for an RV.


Link to pics of Hobart Pro Arc 130

I'm mainly going on what's in the Hobart Pro Arc Manual.

It has a Welding Guide for the Pro Arc 130's 115 Volt Wire Welding Package


Steel - Flux core .030 - 18 ga. 1/30 - 16 ga. 3/40 - 12 ga. 3/30 - 1/8 in 4/30 - 3/16 ---
Steel - Flux core .035 - 18 ga. 2/20 - 16 ga. 2/25 - 12 ga. 3/20 - 1/8 in. 4/20 - 3/16 4/25 (* max. 3/16)

Steel - solid gas .024 - 24 ga. 1/30 - 22 ga. 2/35 - 18 ga. 3/35 - 16 ga. 3/40 - 12 ga. 4/55 - 1/8 in. 4/60 - (* max. 1/8")
Steel - solid gas .030 - 24 ga. 1/30 - 22 ga. 2/30 - 18 ga. 3/30 - 16 ga. 3/40 - 12 ga. 4/35 - 1/8 in. 4/40 - (* max. 1/8")

Anyway it's Hobart manual has max. 3/16" steel when using flux wire and 1/8" when using solid wire with gas.

There are other settings for stainless using a tri-mix.

What I'll probably do is try to find a higher amp 110/120 Vac stick or tig welder however their prices aren't much less than mig. In the past I've used mainly heavy duty high amp industrial welders for tacking but nothing professionally.

I did have a buzz box one time I used for various welding jobs such as repairing an an older automobile frame, etc.

I worked in the shipyards as a fitter and was around and worked with welders every day. In those days there were mostly stick welders using industrial welders. These guys would weld steady 40 hours a week taking a half hour for lunch and a few short 10 min breaks. There were some very good welders all were certified and all their welds were inspected by an x-ray machine. If there was even a microscopic crack they would need to go back and re-weld, which sometimes required scarfing out the bad weld and starting over. Most welds passed inspection the first time.

In the shipyards I worked on Navy boats, commercial freighters, oil tankers, sub tenders, fishing boats etc.

In one yard I worked in for quite a while we built the Coast Guards Polar Sea and Polar Star. I remember working with 3 inch high 80 that was used to build parts of the hull.

I'm just hoping the Hobart 130 will be able to weld up the uni-body and sub-frame on the Jeep. Perhaps I'll need to use 1/8" instead of 3/16" plating to repair any areas of the sub-frame that require additional support.

As previously stated I only have a 110 30 amp service where I'm located so a 240 VAC welder is of no use. If going to a higher amp MIG, TIG or stick would need to run off of 110/120 30 amp service. The 110/120 service box has a 30 amp breaker that branches to smaller breakers between 10 and 20 amps. The Hobart 130 is rated for a 20 amp breaker, so there's no problem connecting a 30 amp service. Some welders require a min. of a 50 amp service.
Last edited by albert0001 on Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:57 am
I looked around at welding helmets and came across some Millers and Lincolns. However most were out of my price range of around ~$100.00 +/-. I looked at e.g. a MIller Elite that runs over $200.00.

I almost purchased an Eastwood XL View for $110.00. (has a wider field of view.) ... l9300.html

Some of the reviews stated the helmet cracked and easily broke. One reviewer stated from a waist high drop the helmet cracked and controls fell apart. For a $100.00+ helmet you would expect the shell to be rugged. The shell made from ABS plastic, for what ever reason potentially cracks from a short fall.

I started looking at other helmet shells and found the Jackson and Lincoln passive helmets made from a combination of materials were noted as fairly rugged.

Another things I remember reading is some welders keep a conventional passive helmet with glass lens around to use for certain welding jobs as glass lenses are suppose to have the best clarity in order to see what one is welding.

So I found a Lincoln passive helmet with #10 lens and then started looking around for an auto darkening lens to fit it's 4-1/2 in. x 5-1/4 in. lens holder.

After some more searching came across an aftermarket 4-1/2 in. x 5-1/4 in. auto darkening lens cartridge selling for around $100.00.

Has fairly good specs however I'm not certain it's comparative quality. Quality auto darkening lenses can run from $125.00 to over $500.00.

Anyway I plan on swapping out the glass lens in the passive helmet for the auto darkening lens to see if it's doable.

*** the ad lens has a good view size which may be important while trying to position for a good weld view.

Cartridge Lens Specifications: Optical Spec (1 / 1 / 1 / 1)

Digital Auto-Darkening Welding Replacement Filter Lens fits Lincoln Electric models.

The SAF780 largest viewing Auto Darkening Welding Helmet Filter Lens with solar powered with battery assist built to demanding specifications, and packed with adjustability. The lens has perfect optical clarity rating with optical spec of 1/1/1/1 and grind mode, shade 5-9/9-13 control, internal sensitivity and delay controls. The lens dimension (5.24" x 4.5" x 0.35") fits most of Lincoln Helmet models.

SHADE/CONTROL Digital 5-9 / 9-13
BATTERY REPLACEMENT TYPE 2 x CR2032 (Lithium 3 Volt) Included
CARTRIDGE SIZE 133mm x 114mm x 9mm/5.24" x 4.5" x 0.35"

*** VIEW SIZE - 98 x 82mm / 3.86" x 3.23"

Operating: -5°C - +55°C (23°F - 131°F)
Storage: -20°C - +70°C (-4°F - 158°F)
Light State - Shade DIN 4
Dark State - Digital 5~9/9~13
UV/IR Protection - Permanent Shade DIN 13
Standard Compliance - ANSI Z87.1-2010 & CSA Z94.3-2007 & CE EN379:2009-07
1 Year Manufacturer's Warranty

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:44 pm
i believe the Hobart Handler 210MPV uses either flux core or shielding gas and solid wire.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:52 pm
One thing with these welders is the higher amp ones are often dual voltage, meaning they can weld thicker metals up to e.g. 3/8 inch single pass. However you need to take closer look at the specification as those maximum amps and thickness metal are usually when set for 220/230/240. When set to 110/120 Volts input the specs become a different story

The Hobart Handler 210MPV specs @ 115 VAC
Input Power - 115V
Rated OUtput - 90A, 19 VDC @ 20% duty cycle on 60 Hz
Current range - 25 - 140 A
Max. Open-circuit Voltage - 28 V

So it becomes a 140A welding machine when connect to 115 VAC.

Amp range and metal thicknesses are only slightly little better than a Hobart 130.

Currently the Hobart Handler 210MPV is on sale for around $800.00 and my Hobart Pro Arc 130 I paid $250.00.

Hobart 210MPV is similar or the same as the Hobart handler 140 when set to 115 Vac and is capable of welding up to a maximum of 1/4 inch steel using flux core or solid wire with gas.

Hobart handler 140 new are going to run around $500.00

If I'm able to weld up to 3/16 single pass with good penetration using the Hobart 130 I'll be satisfied.

Most welders 160-180 amp+ I've looked are either 220/240 or dual voltage where the 115 VAC welding output is the same or similar to the lower amp 115 Vac welders up to 140 amps.

Show me some 110-120 Vac mig (or possibly stick and tig) welders capable of higher amps and welding up to around 3/8 inch. Are there any out there, are really expensive,? etc. I haven't really haven't looked around all that much.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:04 pm
200 amp Mig dual voltage $750 with a 35% duty cycle @125 amps ... -i-mig-200

Decent entry level Tig $850
Has AC/DC 185 amp dual voltage machine with Pulse and a 35% duty cycle on low 120v side ... rtig-185dv

Mig Tig and stick $ 1124 40% duty cycle 200 amp no AC no Pulse ... ig-package

MIg,Tig Stick machine 225 amp all bells whistles AC/DC /Pulse 40% duty cycle $2000 ... ig-package

All are dual voltage 120 or 240 volt single phase input machines all with 5 Year warranty

Its all in what you need to do and what you wanna do,
If you only want to weld on a Jeep frame your Hobart or the Craftsmen is fine.

But if you want to weld Aluminum, or really thin or thick stuff that's another story.
Dennis Barnett
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Line Maintenance A&P Mechanic and MOC Tech specialist.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:18 am
1/4" plate on a unibody? Seems excessive. I work on full frame cars, and use 1/8 for most things, Maybe some 3/116 for strong brackets.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2020 12:28 pm
Well if your customizing a 4x4 Jeep I admit 1/4 isn't out of the ordinary for Brackets, Bumpers, Skid plates and such.

I have seen the Rock Crawler crowd use thick stuff, I am planning some big heavy Custom winch Bumpers on a few of my 4x4s but I am looking at 3/16 and 1/8 materials myself.
Dennis Barnett
A&P Mechanic, FCC General radio Telephone Operator
Line Maintenance A&P Mechanic and MOC Tech specialist.

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