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Discussion Starter #1
I bought an old trailer off an old feller a couple weeks back. The deck is below the wheel wells and I want to create one above. So my raft sits nice and flat. I did this on an older harbor freight trailer with my average carpentry skills, some concepts I remember from my engineering degree, and a strong DIY spirit.

This time I wondered the feasibility of doing it out of metal. Specifically using angle iron, and a welder and then creating a wood deck platform. I've got a couple for the local hardware store and thinking about pulling the trigger on a welder. Having done some welding in college I think I could pull it off.

I'll add some pictures but wondering if anyone has any experience with doing this and can lend an ear to run some questions by you. Otherwise, I'm just gonna hack a wood frame together and spar varnish the shit out of it and see how long it lasts.

Thanks all
 
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Adding rollers is another way.
 

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If you are gonna buy a welder....I highly recommend a "buy once cry once" mentality and to NOT buy it from a hardware store or big box Home Depot kind of place. Their stuff is kind wimpy and you'll grow out of it pretty quick...even the name brand ones. Its worth spending the money now and get something that you can grow into rather then having to buy a whole new setup if you outgrow a smaller weaker one.

I've actually had really good luck with Everlast Welders. They are definitely China made....but the guys who run the company seem to do pretty good job of specifying good hardware and provide good QC. I have a multi-process Plasma/TIG from them and it works well. They have some pretty neat TIG/MIG/Stick welders that are pretty slick too.

You could go to a Welding supply place and see what they have for used stuff. Plenty of shops out there that like to upgrade often and you can find a decent deal. Industrial auctions can come up with decent deals too.

I have a Miller 211 MIG welder(Edit: Imistakinely said 210...its actually a 211) which is great for hobbyist level stuff and can plug into either 220 or 110v plugs. I bought it in 2007 or so and its held up great, even when I let friends borrow and abuse it. The version they make now is half the size...looks like a super cool little welder for the home hobbyist type. Its powerful enough where you won't grow out of it, but still pretty economical. Most companies make a similar unit now too.

I'm sure you can come up with something that will work. As long as you take your time, clean your weld joints, and keep it simple it should be fine modifying it to your liking.
 

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I second the Miller 210, it's a center tap welder, 6 heat ranges, and you can buy a spoolgun for welding aluminum as well, MIG aluminum is a spray arc process, and the spoolgun isn't ideal, but for repairs and such it's better than nothing. It's currently discontinued, but you can find them on ebay, craigslist, and other outlets.

This is what they replaced it with, it has 7 heat ranges and the same compatibility
MILLER MILLERMATIC 212 AUTOSET 200/230V 60 - MIG Welders - MLW907-405 | 907405 - Grainger, Canada. Likely you can buy it elsewhere for less.

I'll second the idea of looking to a welding supply house, when I had my fab shop, I traded in welders when I needed a new one, they often have used gear, or can point you in the right direction. Don't waste your time with cheap garbage freight / hardware store / ranch supply stuff,

FWIW, 110vac welders are mainly meant for sheet metal, the don't have the heat to make a solid weld on anything thicker than .125 metal.

EM, love the buy once, Cry once saying. It sums things up well !!

210 is not a bad machine, I have one in my garage, however I just picked up a Miller Multimatic 255 to run a XR push pull MIG gun for aluminum, (I'm building a snout boat currently) it does DC MIG for steel, DC Stick and DC TIG, a very versatile unit, and it's an inverter welder. I really like the pulsed MIG feature, and the instant "Auto Set Elite" function, you can even save 8 settings to recall with the push of a button for frequent tasks. It's cost is comparable to a 210, and it's an inverter, sucks up a lot less electricity than a transformer welder, is lighter too. The auto set takes the guesswork out of heat and wire speed making it easier for a beginner to get started, and faster for a professional. It senses what gun you have plugged in, so you don't even have to worry about that.


My shop was all Miller, and I've never had an issue with the company or it's units. I think they have a much more stable arc than anyone else, but that's my subjective opinion, based on nothing more than my experience.
 
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Spend the money on blue or red. I have a buddy with an everlast setup and it feels like a kids toy in comparison and no one will want to work on it if you have any issues. I’m running a Miller 252 and love that machine.
 

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I second the Miller 210, it's a center tap welder, 6 heat ranges, and you can buy a spoolgun for welding aluminum as well, MIG aluminum is a spray arc process, and the spoolgun isn't ideal, but for repairs and such it's better than nothing. It's currently discontinued, but you can find them on ebay, craigslist, and other outlets.

This is what they replaced it with, it has 7 heat ranges and the same compatibility
MILLER MILLERMATIC 212 AUTOSET 200/230V 60 - MIG Welders - MLW907-405 | 907405 - Grainger, Canada. Likely you can buy it elsewhere for less.

I'll second the idea of looking to a welding supply house, when I had my fab shop, I traded in welders when I needed a new one, they often have used gear, or can point you in the right direction. Don't waste your time with cheap garbage freight / hardware store / ranch supply stuff,

FWIW, 110vac welders are mainly meant for sheet metal, the don't have the heat to make a solid weld on anything thicker than .125 metal.

EM, love the buy once, Cry once saying. It sums things up well !!

210 is not a bad machine, I have one in my garage, however I just picked up a Miller Multimatic 255 to run a XR push pull MIG gun for aluminum, (I'm building a snout boat currently) it does DC MIG for steel, DC Stick and DC TIG, a very versatile unit, and it's an inverter welder. I really like the pulsed MIG feature, and the instant "Auto Set Elite" function, you can even save 8 settings to recall with the push of a button for frequent tasks. It's cost is comparable to a 210, and it's an inverter, sucks up a lot less electricity than a transformer welder, is lighter too. The auto set takes the guesswork out of heat and wire speed making it easier for a beginner to get started, and faster for a professional. It senses what gun you have plugged in, so you don't even have to worry about that.


My shop was all Miller, and I've never had an issue with the company or it's units. I think they have a much more stable arc than anyone else, but that's my subjective opinion, based on nothing more than my experience.
The one I'm talking about is actually the Miller 211. 110 or 220v and small form factor. The one I have is about twice the size of the current one. The main difference with it is it will need a cart and its only 30% duty cycle at max settings. It has a variable voltage and speed knob so you can make small adjustments. I think MSRP is ~$1300-1400. The 212 or 252 are amazing machines too...but twice the price. I like the 211 because you can take it anywhere and have the option to plug it in to 110v if you can't find 220v.


If you want other name brand companies ESAB and Hobart (same parent company as Miller) are other options too. I agree that Everlast and Longevity and some of the other chinese made ones have their trade offs...but if you are looking for one machine that can a lot of stuff its pretty amazing bang for buck.
 

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Ahhh, ok, that makes a lot more sense.. Hobart is a very low line welder, but a buddy has one he hated it until he replaced the mig gun with a Tweco [a worthy upgrade for any welder using a oem gun] and now he thinks its not too bad. I have an ESAB powertcut 875 plasma cutter, cuts 1.5 inch steel and severs 1.750... has worked well for years, no problems at all, but im not too fond of their wire feed units, the 2 I have used didn't have a consistent wire feed speed, as the machine got hot, the wire speeded up.. I doubt this would bother a garage shop kinda guy but its annoying, even piss offing on a larger job.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sounds like I may go the wood frame route... spending $1k plus on a welder wasn't exactly the plan. It does take one of that caliber though? Excuse my ignorance
 

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Well, from MY perspective, yes. You can buy a stick welder for a couple hundred and do the job, but the learning curve is much steeper than with a mig machine. I've been welding most of my life and am comfortable with all the forms of welding, but a newbie to welding would be more comfortable with a mig IMHO
 

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Here's a thought, get your metal, cut it for assembly, mark all the joints and take it to a local fab shop and let them weld it.. best of both worlds, metal and you dont have to buy a welder....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Gotcha. Based off of that and my much higher level of carpentry confidence I think that’s the move. I’m stacked with Milwaukee power tools.

didn’t know if driving a wood framed trailer was gonna make me look like a Jerry 😂 not that I give a shit anyway. I’ve come a long way in my rafting days.
 

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Here's a thought, get your metal, cut it for assembly, mark all the joints and take it to a local fab shop and let them weld it.. best of both worlds, metal and you dont have to buy a welder....
Ballpark.. what’s an estimate of cost look like for the labor at the shop?
 
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$50-100/hr
 
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Just to keep nagging on the welder. Hobart welders are a cheaper alternative. The miller replacement parts work with them. Myself i use what my local welding shop carries so parts are available.
 

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I think buying a welder, gas, mask, gloves, maybe some cool leather sleeves, and then buying the steel, and then potentially buying a new grinder and a couple sleeves of cutting disks and flappy wheels and a couple vice grips, and then after all that learning a new hobby the hard way... all seems insane when you could probably sell the trailer you've got, not buy all that stuff, and just purchase a trailer that's already the way you want and wind up spending less money.
I always seem to go with the first option.
 

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I think buying a welder, gas, mask, gloves, maybe some cool leather sleeves, and then buying the steel, and then potentially buying a new grinder and a couple sleeves of cutting disks and flappy wheels and a couple vice grips, and then after all that learning a new hobby the hard way... all seems insane when you could probably sell the trailer you've got, not buy all that stuff, and just purchase a trailer that's already the way you want and wind up spending less money.
I always seem to go with the first option.
Geez...stop bringing logic into it. Tools man....Tools.

I usually go with the first option too. I justify it by saying its something I've always wanted to get into and that if you buy the right stuff its durable goods that will last a really long time. I bought my MIG in 2007 or 2008 and its been mostly good. The only thing I had to buy was a new gas regulator and consumables. I've had a few helmets and you go through other PPE. Sure...you could buy a new trailer...but then you'd just have a new trailer. If you buy all the welding stuff and learn how to weld.... you have a trailer and a bunch of cool welding stuff that you can use for a decade or more. You gotta have the desire to learn and use it though...otherwise option 2 is probably better.

As for making a wood frame to add to your trailer....as long as its attached reasonably well I'd say that its fine. I did a "temporary" "upgrade" of my current raft trailer with 2x4's and some plywood I had lying around intending to build something more permanent but its been on for over a year now and I've used it a ton as it sits. Its just a 5x10 utility trailer...



So a hybrid trailer is completely ok in my book. Eventually I'll pull all that wood off and do a metal platform that can swing up so I can still use it as a utility trailer...but so far haven't needed it enough to do that.
 

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Ballpark.. what’s an estimate of cost look like for the labor at the shop?
Most shops run around $75.00 a hour, some more, some less, I can't imagine what you describe taking much longer than an hour if you had everything cut and ready to weld. Of course, there's prep work to do, but what you're asking for isn't rocket science.
Geez...stop bringing logic into it. Tools man....Tools.
I concur, and don't forget "More Power" !!!!

AN investment into tools will pay you back time and time again, enrich your life thru new experiences and provide you with skills that will be with you as long as you live. Lot in common with boating there as well LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Geez...stop bringing logic into it. Tools man....Tools.

I usually go with the first option too. I justify it by saying its something I've always wanted to get into and that if you buy the right stuff its durable goods that will last a really long time. I bought my MIG in 2007 or 2008 and its been mostly good. The only thing I had to buy was a new gas regulator and consumables. I've had a few helmets and you go through other PPE. Sure...you could buy a new trailer...but then you'd just have a new trailer. If you buy all the welding stuff and learn how to weld.... you have a trailer and a bunch of cool welding stuff that you can use for a decade or more. You gotta have the desire to learn and use it though...otherwise option 2 is probably better.

As for making a wood frame to add to your trailer....as long as its attached reasonably well I'd say that its fine. I did a "temporary" "upgrade" of my current raft trailer with 2x4's and some plywood I had lying around intending to build something more permanent but its been on for over a year now and I've used it a ton as it sits. Its just a 5x10 utility trailer...



So a hybrid trailer is completely ok in my book. Eventually I'll pull all that wood off and do a metal platform that can swing up so I can still use it as a utility trailer...but so far haven't needed it enough to do that.
Hahah I’m with ya here. I’m young, no kids, etc and recently moved to Montana so I’ll have plenty of time to piss around in my garage this winter hacking something together.

I did what you’re describing with my old trailer. Utility trailer I made a box on and honestly it did fine. Dozens and dozens and dozens of trips up and down 70 from the front range to the CO andall the way toUtah.

reason I’m looking into this so much is because I was able to get a big boy trailer. Not a garbage freight toy trailer. Things got wheels almost the same size as my Colorado and it tows like a dream.
 

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If you are gonna buy a welder....I highly recommend a "buy once cry once" mentality and to NOT buy it from a hardware store or big box Home Depot kind of place. Their stuff is kind wimpy and you'll grow out of it pretty quick...even the name brand ones. Its worth spending the money now and get something that you can grow into rather then having to buy a whole new setup if you outgrow a smaller weaker one.

I have a Miller 210 MIG welder which is great for hobbyist level stuff and can plug into either 220 or 110v plugs. I bought it in 2007 or so and its held up great, even when I let friends borrow and abuse it. The version they make now is half the size...looks like a super cool little welder for the home hobbyist type. Its powerful enough where you won't grow out of it, but still pretty economical. Most companies make a similar unit now too.
MM210 here as well, but Lincoln's equivalent ~200A welder is also good.
Bought mine used in 2008 for ~$900 and have absolutely LOVED IT. Run 0.023" wire for sheet metal and 0.030" for everything else. Recently tried 0.035" wire and am likely to go that direction for most uses...less spray and less spatter, even for thinner stuff.

I second the Miller 210, it's a center tap welder, 6 heat ranges

This is what they replaced it with, it has 7 heat ranges and the same compatibility
MILLER MILLERMATIC 212 AUTOSET 200/230V 60 - MIG Welders - MLW907-405 | 907405 - Grainger, Canada. Likely you can buy it elsewhere for less.

I'll second the idea of looking to a welding supply house, when I had my fab shop, I traded in welders when I needed a new one, they often have used gear, or can point you in the right direction. Don't waste your time with cheap garbage freight / hardware store / ranch supply stuff,
The Millermatic 211 with auto set is another successor to the 210; like Electric-Mayhem mentioned, it's half the size and runs 110V/220V. Use mostly 220V for fabrication, but it's awesome to be able to grab the suitcase and go weld something off a 110V plug instead of trying to move a distant project to the welder.

the MM210 has 7 heat ranges, but 95% of what I do is on 3. I use 2 to tack lighter materials, and 4 to really burn in thicker materials. You'll also learn what wire speeds match each heat range for the wire size you're using....but the MM211/212 with auto set take the guesswork/learning out of matching heat range to wire speed.

210 is not a bad machine, I have one in my garage, however I just picked up a Miller Multimatic 255 .... It's cost is comparable to a 210,
Had no idea it's a similar price point. Might be worth talking to my LWS about a trade-in.


Most shops run around $75.00 a hour, some more, some less, I can't imagine what you describe taking much longer than an hour if you had everything cut and ready to weld. Of course, there's prep work to do, but what you're asking for isn't rocket science.
Agree, or a neighbor with a welder and a couple cases of beer.

Hahah I’m with ya here. I’m young, no kids, etc and recently moved to Montana so I’ll have plenty of time to piss around in my garage this winter hacking something together.
I don't know what you've heard, but Montanans are assholes. (where in MT?)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
MM210 here as well, but Lincoln's equivalent ~200A welder is also good.
Bought mine used in 2008 for ~$900 and have absolutely LOVED IT. Run 0.023" wire for sheet metal and 0.030" for everything else. Recently tried 0.035" wire and am likely to go that direction for most uses...less spray and less spatter, even for thinner stuff.



The Millermatic 211 with auto set is another successor to the 210; like Electric-Mayhem mentioned, it's half the size and runs 110V/220V. Use mostly 220V for fabrication, but it's awesome to be able to grab the suitcase and go weld something off a 110V plug instead of trying to move a distant project to the welder.

the MM210 has 7 heat ranges, but 95% of what I do is on 3. I use 2 to tack lighter materials, and 4 to really burn in thicker materials. You'll also learn what wire speeds match each heat range for the wire size you're using....but the MM211/212 with auto set take the guesswork/learning out of matching heat range to wire speed.

Had no idea it's a similar price point. Might be worth talking to my LWS about a trade-in.




Agree, or a neighbor with a welder and a couple cases of beer.



I don't know what you've heard, but Montanans are assholes. (where in MT?)
Bozeman (of course I know right?) been here for a little over a month and like it a lot more. I’ve experienced otherwise (maybe sarcasm from you?) but so far loving it. Was laid off for 6 months due to rona and finally found a job so it feels good.
 
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