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Old 01-09-2016, 01:57 AM   #1
montanafordman
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Default My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Hello everyone,

I've not been around the barn much this year and my Model A project has somewhat stalled due to a major job change last summer and the temporary but drastic pay cut that ensued so here I am trying to get motivated and keep moving forward!

In case anyone is interested on an update (otherwise you can skip this paragraph!) I went from working as a cargo pilot flying small 10 passenger piston/prop twin engine airplanes around Washington and Oregon primarily to working as a pilot for a large "regional" (a misnomer for 3rd party) airline that operates flights for: Delta connection, United Express, American Eagle, US Airways Express, and Alaska flying jets all over North America. Its been a busy and stressful but adventurous shift. Training dominated the entire summer and since then I've been from Montreal to Albuquerque, from Guanajuato Mexico, to Ithaca New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and everywhere in between EXCEPT for my own garage... I'm hoping that my seniority will improve enough that I can be based at home in Seattle again rather than blow my few days off a month commuting back and forth to Minneapolis (my current domicile base). This will afford me more time to work on the car and also a little more sanity! The fact that "Regional Airline" pilots don't get paid more than a fast food managers salary doesn't help since we can't staff the flying we have forcing us all to work a lot of extra hours. I'm not sure how that almost turned into a rant - I've been blessed with a unique career and opportunity to see a lot of places but its still a job like any other. Enough about all of that - Today I found myself at home and decided to do SOMETHING!

I left off having my chassis/Mechanical work all done and needing to patch my firewall, lower cowl panels and fender wells due to some holes and rust areas. Before I took the big leap (and big paycut) I bought myself a Hobart Handler 140 MIG welder so I could accomplish as much (if not all) of the bodywork myself. I would have loved to drop 3Gs on a nice TIG setup but I have to come down to earth on this project at some point. I've already done more to the car than my grandfather would have ever considered or envisioned and I want to do it right but I still need to be practical for my age and income level. It might not be a 490 point fine point restoration but I want to make an honest go at the new restorers class and have a respectable looking car when I'm done and pay attention to a few of the details along the way.

I really planned to do a lot more practice MIG welding sheet metal before I go to town on my own car (and I still do) but I just had the itch to try it right out of the gate on one small area for curiosity sake. I figured if I made that big of a disaster I could cut that out and patch it again later. My prior welding experience was limited to ARC welding in high school some 17 years ago! I had an afternoon with a MIG machine then, and I used my new MIG welder with great success to extract some broken manifold studs on my 98 F150 last May. This was the first go with sheet metal.

I have done some limited reading on MIG welding sheet metal and have a basic/crude understanding of how the metal shrinks due to the heat, and to use a series of short or tack welds to distribute and limit the heat, and planish the welds to mitigate some of the shrinkage. I have several holes in my firewall that need patching and I had cut out a few pieces to fill those holes and figured that was an ideal place to start since the metal in the firewall is much thicker and more forgiving, and not as visible as the lower cowl for instance. I had to play around with my settings a little bit. Initially the welds were a bit porous. I dialed up my gas a little and turned the heat down some which seemed to help as I think I was blowing through the metal a little. What I accomplished was a good experiment and a confidence boost. I just got a welding table and will practice some more on scrap strips of sheet metal before I do much more and especially before I move to the thinner gauge stuff on the exterior (mainly just the lower cowl and inside fender well). I should have taken photos of my welds before I ground them down, but I had good penetration to the opposite side. There are a couple spots that might need zapping but it leveled out ok. At a minimum I plan to work the area with a hammer and dolly some more but this was an ok start for now. Its far better than all the drafts and whistles I had coming in before! If I can get it smooth and level - and clean enough to hold paint without rusting, bubbling, or getting fish eyes I'll really be ahead of the game!

Sorry that was a little long winded but thanks for looking at my first body work step so far! hopefully in the next few months I can do a little bit more! As a side note I got some rear sub rails and cowl patches for Christmas! - now for the pics...

Before:



After:



I'm going to take this book with me on my trips/overnights. When I don't have to read Jet Aircraft manuals hopefully I can learn something from this. The internet is also full of some great tutorials.



Shameless selfie. In my happy place. (not some random hotel)



My Hobart Handler 140 MIG.

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Old 01-09-2016, 02:17 AM   #2
Chuck Sea/Tac
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Hey Aaron , looks good . that metal bumping book is great. I had fun " bumping some minor dents out of various pieces. As you know, a little progress over time, adds up. Keep at it. Chuck
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Old 01-09-2016, 02:24 AM   #3
montanafordman
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

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Originally Posted by Chuck Sea/Tac View Post
Hey Aaron , looks good . that metal bumping book is great. I had fun " bumping some minor dents out of various pieces. As you know, a little progress over time, adds up. Keep at it. Chuck
Thanks Chuck! It looks like I'm going to miss this months meeting for an overnight in Fort Wayne, IN. I should be able to make a breakfast get together in the middle of this month though so hope to see ya there! I'm hoping for better luck with my schedule for the early bird swap meet, Feb. meeting, or shoot for our swap meet and general meeting in March. Might have to call in sick for our swap meet in march.
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Old 01-09-2016, 06:56 AM   #4
jw hash
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Aaron
keep up the good work. did you get enough patch material for your for your fire wall.
John
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Old 01-09-2016, 06:57 AM   #5
CWilson
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Awesome man, good for you! Keep at it!
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Old 01-09-2016, 08:26 AM   #6
My1930ModelA
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

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Aaron,
Keep up the good work on the A! My son is also a regional airline pilot, he worked for ExpressJet for two years and just started with Republic Airlines. I know all about the difficulties of commuting to a base far away, relatively low pay, etc.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:47 AM   #7
Terry, NJ
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Aaron, Excellent job! A hint though, I never grind or sand material off prior to welding. The thicker the metal, the better chance you have at welding it. IIRC Firewalls are 16 gauge and melting away isn't such a problem as it will be when you're welding the 19 ga of the body. For my firewall holes, I used 14 Ga "knock outs" from electrical boxes. I had to enlarge the holes slightly but they worked well. Also, the knock outs are a little heavier and I had a little extra meat for grinding.
Another tip, when you are patching the body always round the corners with a large radius. I saw this done in a local, high end, restoration shop (Brass era, 1930s Mercedes, etc.) and I inquired about it. It was explained to me that the rounded edges and circular patches give less distortion than a sharp, square corner.
Terry
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:30 AM   #8
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Good luck with your new job; lots of folk here I'm sure have taking pay cuts at some point, I have... Keep the faith and if you're happier that's something all the money in the world cannot buy.

Best wishes,
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:30 AM   #9
montanafordman
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

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Aaron
keep up the good work. did you get enough patch material for your for your fire wall.
John
Hi John I still need to find some more, specifically a couple pieces with the bead since the bead is incorrect on the patch plate that I purchased a while back. I'll have to touch base with you later if you still have some firewall scraps. Thanks for asking.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

Give this welding site a try. Lots of good information.
http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/
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Old 01-09-2016, 11:39 AM   #11
Kevin in NJ
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Default Re: My first attempt at MIG welding on my Model A

I suggest that you go to smartflix.com and get a couple of videos. Fender Arches and Shrinking Metal (or something like that) are the two that stand out in my memory.

Mig welding has some drawbacks that you need to learn to work around. The welds tend to be harder so when you planish the weld to correct shrinkage it acts strange. This is worse when you have an uneveness to the 'lump' in the middle. You will understand as you try to work the metal. The problem is this can introduce some distortion. Not much you can do about it.

Making sure you have full penetration is first. When you look at the backside of the weld it must be melted together there too.

Slight gaps in the metal or grinding a taper on the edge of the metal may help the weld smoothness. I have not practice this as I learned them after I switched to TIG.

Copper. It is your friend, put it behind the weld. It help control the heat. Not to prevent shrinkage!! It helps control the heat to prevent burnback of the edges. I even used copper wire inside the loop at the bottom of the hood sides so they stayed hollow.

I also highly recommend you buy some ER70-S6 (or what ever type of wire you are using in the MIG) TIG rod. When you are trying to fix small holes or burn back start the arc on the rod in the hole and keep feeding the wire into the puddle. You will like how that works. This also is a way to fix some deep pits that may be away from an area that you are replacing.

I made my own patch panels up from scratch. See the link to my website below. You want to use new 20 gauge metal if you go that route. As you make the panel you must think about how pulling the metal will affect the other areas of metal. You can do some complex stuff with a little bit on knowledge. Kind of fun.
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