Tips For Choosing A Good Welder For Your Classic Car Rebuild

Posted on: 7 April 2015

If you're restoring an old car and want to do the body work yourself, you may find that you need a welder for the sheet metal work. To ensure a quality weld and a restoration that will stand up to the tests of time, you'll need to be selective about your welder and the work. For most automotive work, a wire-feed welder is sufficient, and it's easier to use if you're just starting out. Here's a look at some of the things that you'll need to know when you start shopping for your welder.

Solving The Power Struggle

It's easy to get confused over the volt readings and the power supply needs of welders when you're unfamiliar with the equipment. Most wire welders are marketed as either 115-volt or 230-volt, while most households are rated as either 120 or 240-volt circuits. Just because the numbers don't match up doesn't mean that you can't use the machine. The welders are designed to tolerate some minor power input fluctuations, so the difference of a few volts between the rating and the wall circuit won't affect the operation.

Before you invest in a welder, make sure that you know what kind of outlets you have available in the area where you're going to work. If you don't have a 220-volt outlet accessible in your work area, it isn't going to do you any good to buy a welder that requires a 220-volt power supply. Look at the outlets in the space. If you see one that's round and large in diameter, that's a 220-volt outlet.

In addition to the outlet power, you'll also need to be sure that your power supply is rated high enough in amps. You'll have to look at your circuit breaker to determine the amp rating for the area where you're going to work. The amp ratings are usually listed as 15, 20 or higher numbers. If you have a welder that requires a 40-amp circuit, don't plug it into a circuit that's rated for 20 amps, because it will overload the circuit, blow the breaker and potentially burn out the welder.

Defining The Duty Cycle

You'll also need to consider the duty cycle when you're shopping for welders. The duty cycle refers to the period of time that the welder can run continuously before it has to cool down. Most welders are rated with a percentage for the duty cycle. Unfortunately, the rating can be confusing, because each manufacturer may rate their welder based on a different timeframe.

So, make sure you know what the basis is for the rating. This is important, because a 70-percent duty cycle based on a ten-minute power cycle is a longer period of time than a 70-percent cycle based on five minutes. In these cases, a 70 percent duty cycle for a ten minute process means that you will have to shut down the welder for at least three minutes after every seven minutes of active use. In the case of a five minute cycle, you'll be limited to three and a half minutes of use in each five minute process.

When you're working in auto body repair, the duty cycle shouldn't have to be too long, because most auto body welding is spot work. Look for a welder with a moderate rating. If the cycle is too short, you might not be able to complete tasks. At the same time, you shouldn't have to invest money into an extra-long duty cycle for small projects.

As you can see, there are a few important things to think about when you're shopping for a welder. With the tips presented here, you can find a welder that will be a good fit for your home's power grid as well as your auto restoration project. For more information, contact a company like Suburban Welding & Steel LLC.