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Best welder for bodywork?
#1418467 Wed Jul 28 2021 04:12 AM
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 93
F
'Bolter
I am going to need to put in a couple patch panels when I get that far on my 58. There is an old body guy that lives down the road that has been giving me some advice and he insists that a stick welder is the only way to put patch panels in.

I have always had better success with a mig than with a stick welder, but I don't have any experience welding bodywork.

Is there a compelling reason to use a stick welder that I don't understand? My intention is to use a flanging tool so the panel and the patch overlap, then weld the pieces together.

If I do really need a stick, I can keep an eye out for a good deal on one.


58 Apache, long bed fleetside, V8 w/SM420
Drivable but the rear axle needs work.

59 Apache, long bed fleetside, half of an L6, 3 on the tree
Bought by my dad out of a field for $100 to build with my brother. He never touched it, so now it is mine if I can figure out how to get it down from Alaska.
Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1418471 Wed Jul 28 2021 04:51 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 4,162
Housekeeping (Moderator) Making a Stovebolt Bed & Paint and Body Shop Forums
I would use MIG over stick any day. I have welded up some tanks out of 16 gauge steel with stick, but since I got a MIG welder, it's my go-to for anything under 1/8 thickness.

There's an excellent how-to sheet metal welding thread up at the top of this forum. LINK Definitely check that out before you get started. Flanging has it's drawbacks, and you might want to reconsider that and use butt welds instead.

Last edited by klhansen; Wed Jul 28 2021 04:53 AM. Reason: added link

Kevin
First car '29 Ford Special Coupe
#2 - '29 Ford pickup restored from the ground up.
Newest Project - 51 Chevy 3100 work truck. Photos [flickr.com]
Busting rust since the mid-60's
Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1418473 Wed Jul 28 2021 05:07 AM
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 93
F
'Bolter
I was actually just reading through that thread. I am getting my hip rebuilt, so that part of the project is not going to happen until spring. I am doing a lot of planning and scheming at the moment.

I bought a replacement grill off the guy down the street today. That was a good time.


58 Apache, long bed fleetside, V8 w/SM420
Drivable but the rear axle needs work.

59 Apache, long bed fleetside, half of an L6, 3 on the tree
Bought by my dad out of a field for $100 to build with my brother. He never touched it, so now it is mine if I can figure out how to get it down from Alaska.
Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1418520 Wed Jul 28 2021 05:19 PM
Joined: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,465
J
'Bolter
Flanging and brazing or using silver-bearing solder is a good choice in many cases. There may be some odd curves and angles for you to deal with, but you can work around them and they will be the same no matter which direction you go. The best thing about brazing and especially silver-bearing solder is that they work at much lower temperatures, so you avoid warping and burn-through. You can use a MAPP torch with silver-bearing solder, in fact and it definitely will join ferrous metals if you use the Harris acid flux. If you make a mistake or need to re-position, doing so is not difficult.

One other possibility if you're flanging is J-B Weld. Advantages: no heat, flexible assembly time and plenty strong. Plus it is cheap. Over 40 years ago the roof pan separated from the upright pillar on my truck (very common problem in AD trucks) and I repaired it with J-B Weld. All this time later it hasn't gone anywhere.

Attached Files
roof to pillar.jpg (17.15 KB, 184 downloads)

Jon

1952 1/2 ton with 1959 235
T5 with 3.07 rear end
Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1418525 Wed Jul 28 2021 05:36 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,300
"Hey! I sound like Darth Vader!!
My vote is for GMAW. No sticks to run out of and change. Although, with either, a continuous bead will be nothing but trouble on sheet metal.

Re: Best welder for bodywork?
MNSmith #1418529 Wed Jul 28 2021 05:45 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 4,162
Housekeeping (Moderator) Making a Stovebolt Bed & Paint and Body Shop Forums
Originally Posted by MNSmith
My vote is for GMAW. No sticks to run out of and change. Although, with either, a continuous bead will be nothing but trouble on sheet metal.
Striking an arc is much harder with stick than with MIG as well. So making a proper joint without running a continuous bead would be much more difficult with stick.


Kevin
First car '29 Ford Special Coupe
#2 - '29 Ford pickup restored from the ground up.
Newest Project - 51 Chevy 3100 work truck. Photos [flickr.com]
Busting rust since the mid-60's
Re: Best welder for bodywork?
klhansen #1418564 Thu Jul 29 2021 01:50 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 159
T
'Bolter
Originally Posted by klhansen
I would use MIG over stick any day

I didn't mean to confuse folks yesterday when I mentioned stick. Pretty much the only reason I mentioned it is because it's probably one of the simplistic processes for welding, all you need is a rod, no gasses to worry, and you can find stick welders inexpensive, nice ones tend to fall off the turnip truck regularly as nobody wants them. I tend to use stick for heavy and/or outdoor work where it's rusted and/or has paint as cellulose stick can burn through that. For all else I can clean I would use 7018. I bought a small stick welder that burns any rod I have thrown at it. Great machine, but cost $600. Will do lift-tig also, and uses a pedal, but no HF start, so all you have is lift-tig, not bad for auto work as HF messes with modern computers in the cars. I have a 2nd tig machine with HF that I use for most everything tig.

That said, they did use stick welding on body panels for a number of years, and I think it would work just fine once you got used to it. As I said, I would use the smallest fast-freeze rod like 6010/6011 (the later runs on most any welder, AC or DC), or low amps with 6013, originally developed for thin sheet work. I like to run stick though, so that's me. Anything clean would be tig'd. You could find a stick welder on craigslist for like $50, get some 1/16" 6013 (not hard to start an arc, actually very easy) and you could do whatever you needed. I wouldn't underestimate the power of stick for the cost. And it's used on most heavy industrial machinery and trailers.

I would be surprised if you found anyone stick welding in a body shop these days, maybe 1 in 500, if that. I would guess the majority would be using mig, some would be using tig, but tig would b in the minority being used by specialty shops. Those 2 processes would pretty much dominate the body shop sector.

If I had mig, I would use it before stick, and if someone else has it and can use it competently, mig is faaaasssssst.

On any body work I would do, I would most likely clean the metal really well and tig it. quiet, smokeless for the most part, and just an awesome process. I don't have to weld this stuff for a living though, so as a hobbyist, my time and choice is more flexible. The majority of body shops will be using mig, you can bet on it.

Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1418580 Thu Jul 29 2021 03:14 AM
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 93
F
'Bolter
For me, I have a nice miller mig and I am reasonably competent with it. I have been trying to convince myself to buy a decent tig for years, but can't bring myself to spend enough money to get a decent one.

It sounds like I should be fine with my mig as long as I go slow, be careful, and jeed the abundance of tips available here.

Thanks for the help and info!


58 Apache, long bed fleetside, V8 w/SM420
Drivable but the rear axle needs work.

59 Apache, long bed fleetside, half of an L6, 3 on the tree
Bought by my dad out of a field for $100 to build with my brother. He never touched it, so now it is mine if I can figure out how to get it down from Alaska.
Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1420889 Tue Aug 17 2021 02:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 20
R
'Bolter
I originally bought a Hobart flux core welder it did nothing but blow holes thru. When I called Hobart they suggested holding the tip about 1/2 inch away, I don't have that kind of control. I sold that and went out and bought a Miller 140 with auto-set. They don't make that model anymore but I'm happy with it... It wasn't until I read a bunch and watched a lot of videos that I realized that you don't want to do long beads on butted sheet metal. If you are lucky enough to run a bead it will warp the metal. For my purposes doing many many tack welds jumping around from one point to another has kept the metal from too much warping. or at the link above calls it "Welding sheet metal with a Mig involves what I refer to as "dot" welding. One zap at a time." You end up having to do a lot of grinding... I generally use my 4 inch angle grinder and do touch-ups with my Dremel grinding wheel. I don't know why they only sell 2 Dremel grinding wheels at a time.

Re: Best welder for bodywork?
Fibonachu #1420937 Tue Aug 17 2021 03:39 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 80
K
'Bolter
IMO TIG is the way to go with thin sheet metal, but expense and skills involved is more that a good sized MIG unit. I have a Hobart 190 220v MIG and use .025 wire for sheet metal. Then tack every inch then fill in the dots, works well. I use a cutoff wheel to smooth out the weld dots (works better then grinding wheel) before the next pass of dots.

Attached Files
IMG_0662.jpg (173.94 KB, 80 downloads)

51 Chevy 3100 Jigsaw puzzle
69 Camaro SS350 convertible
69 Camaro 327 convertible
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