When it comes to welding on a vehicle frame, most workshops and garages have only a few options for tackling this challenge. You might be able to weld on an old car that’s being scrapped, but you won’t find many used vehicles falling apart in the field these days. That means you will need to find another way to tackle the task of welding on a new vehicle. Fortunately, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. All it takes is some foresight and planning. Here are some useful hints and tricks for getting it right the first time.
Have a clear plan before you start welding on a vehicle frame
It might sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. You can’t just grab a welder and start melting metal. First, you need to get a sense of what you are going to try to do. Is it just a small patch on the outside of a rear quarter panel? Or are you trying to repair a whole side panel?
Once you know what you are aiming to achieve, it’s time to start planning how you are going to go about it. Are you going to weld part of the frame, or the whole thing? Are you going to try to do your welding with a gas torch, or a MIG welder? You will find that these considerations will affect a lot of other things, including how you’re going to get there, how you are going to set up the welding station, and how you are going to hold the torch.
Get some idea of the frame’s shape
Before you start welding on a vehicle frame, you should get a general idea of what the shape of it is going to be. It might be obvious from the vehicle’s exterior, but you will be able to get a more accurate sense of the interior through the frame if you know where the major panels are. Are you about to weld on the outside of the front panel? Or the rear?
Once you have a rough idea of the shape of the frame, it’s time to start looking for spots where you might be able to weld on it. Welding on the inside of the frame can require a different set of considerations, since you are dealing with a different type of metal. You may be able to weld on the side of the rear panel, but you will need to make sure that any power lines running along there don’t get in the way of your welding.
Consider welding from above and below
If you are welding on a new vehicle, you might want to consider trying to weld from above and below. This doesn’t just make practical sense, it also has a lot of historical precedent. Many early vehicles used sheet metal frames that were supported by cast iron sills. Welding from above and below can help to reinforce these sills, which can be a weak point in the frame. This is particularly important on older vehicles, when the frame can be a mix of different materials. On a modern car, you are almost always dealing with a single material, but welding on a frame from above and below can help to strengthen an older frame.
Look for spots to weld on the outside and inside of the frame
Outside of the frame is simple. You can weld on the outside of the frame, but you should be mindful of things like air intakes, exhaust pipes, and other components that might get in the way. If you want to weld near the outside of the frame, you will almost certainly want to weld below it. This gets around the issue of power lines by putting you well out of the way, out of sight.
Inside the vehicle, things become a little more complicated. All of the controls and harnesses that run through the vehicle should be out of the way. If they are not, they should at least be out of the way enough to not get in the way of your welding.
Know the basics of metalworking
Before you start welding on a vehicle frame, you should make sure you are familiar with the basics of metalworking. This might seem like a basic step, but it can go a long way towards ensuring that your welding job goes smoothly. You need to know what you are doing, and it’s a good idea to go over the basics again at least once before you start welding on a vehicle frame. This will help to refresh your memory and keep you on track.
Use the right tools for welding on a vehicle frame
If you are going to weld on a new vehicle, you are going to need to use a MIG welder. This is because you are likely to be working on a mild steel frame, which can be welded with a mild steel MIG welder. If you have access to a suitable welder, and you are comfortable using it, welding on a vehicle frame can be a relatively straightforward task. Having said that, you should make sure that you are ready for the job, and that you are well equipped for it. You should also make sure that you are working in a safe and well-ventilated area.
Don’t skip any steps – no matter how small they may seem
If you are going to weld on a vehicle frame, you are going to be welding on a lot of different places. You need to do this, but you should make sure that you are not skipping over any basic steps, just because they seem insignificant on the surface. For example, welding on a new car has a few critical components that need to be set up properly for the job. These include a good grounding procedure and a ground anchor. If you are not using one of these, or if you are not setting it up properly, you should make sure to correct these mistakes before you get started.
Take a break, confirm all is well, and inspect your work.
You should also take the opportunity to inspect your work. You might find that you have welded on the wrong spot, or that you have worked on the wrong spot entirely. It’s easy to get sucked into the moment, and forget to double-check your work. This final step is more important than you might think. It doesn’t take long to inspect your work, but it can be a real confidence boost. It’s also a good idea to do this, before you head back to the car and begin removing the welds. This can help to reduce the amount of grinding you need to do to get the job done.