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First Welding Project from a Newbie

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  • First Welding Project from a Newbie

    I've always wanted a welder and to learn to weld. I've been in manufacturing for 22 years and been around welding but never learned. A friend of mine and I bought a small factory and our Plant Manager told me that he'd teach me to weld. One of our suppliers allowed us to go "shopping" in their surplus equipment. I picked up a rough looking/well used Millermatic 200. I took it back to the shop and went to work rehabbing it. In the end, it didn't really need much mechanical work to get it going. A good cleaning of the years of dust, new rollers in the feeder, cleaning the liner, tightening up some loose wiring and fittings and a ton of bodywork and it looks like the first picture on this post. I wired up an outlet in my barn and was in business.

    My first project is to build a fire pit for my patio. I got an old LP tank and some pipe from my neighbor's junk heap and went to work. After opening up the tank and letting it sit with the opening down for a few weeks, I threw it in a bonfire. I was still a little nervous when I started to cut it with the plasma cutter at work even though I knew there couldn't be anything left in it. I started the first cut with the tank on the forktruck while I was standing behind the mast anyway. I will post pictures of my progress.

    Please let me know what I'm doing wrong as you view my pics.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Images 987 and 989 are the LP tank in the bonfire. I was fairly certain that all combustibles were gone at this point, but still kept my distance while it was burning.

    Images 1023 and 1024 are the tank sitting on our forktruck at work. As I mentioned, I was still nervous to shoot the plasma through this steel. 99.9% sure that there is no gas that will blow up still left me a little leery.

    Image 1025, I used a die grinder to cut the guard off the top of the tank.
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Image 1026, used our plasma cutter to cut out all of the valve, gauge fittings etc.

      Image 1028, tack welded a straight piece of steel to the side to serve as a cutting guide for the plasma cutter. After both straight parts were cut, I stood back and thought "how the **** do I cut around the bell and keep it straight. I tried a couple short pieces of steel for cutting guides and had mixed results. Ended up doing a combo of straight edges and free-hand cuts (which I'm not good at.)

      Image 1029, both sides and one end cut.

      Image 1030, the tank is finally split.

      Image 1031, looking at the tank and thinking "how the **** am I going to fill those holes with my limited welding skills/experience." I ended up just diving in and cutting some blanks out of the guard that I cut off in the beginning.
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Image 1032 and 1034, holes are patched up and ready to clean up with grinder.

        Images 1090, 1091 and 1092, finally got back to working on the project today. It was a challenge to get the legs cut close enough to weld to the curve of the body and get everything sitting flat on the floor/square etc. I set the tank on my truck tailgate and propped it up with scrap wood. I cut the bottoms of the legs on the horizontal bandsaw at work then used a sawzall to rough cut the curve. I had to touch them all up with my grinder to get them close. Once I felt like I had them close enough to weld, I placed them under the tank and tack welded two legs to a piece of scrap iron to keep them in the position that I desired. After the other two legs were tacked to another piece of iron, I place both sets of legs under the tank and tack welded them. After they were tack welded, I turned it over and finished welding. I was pretty happy when I finished and sat it on the ground. All four legs hit the floor squarely and there is no wobble.
        Attached Files

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        • #5
          The fire pit looks as if it is coming along nicely. Might I suggest that you clean your metal prior to welding. Good luck.
          Nick

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          • #6
            It's nice to see yet another MM200 put back to useful service...

            what a great old machine,,!!

            if you did a search on "MM200" you will gind several threads on it...

            Little known secret......the MM200 has an output and duty cycle equiv to the new 250 amp machines..

            BTW... Great project...
            .

            *******************************************
            The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

            “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

            Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

            My Blue Stuff:
            Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
            Dynasty 200DX
            Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
            Millermatic 200

            TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

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            • #7
              Originally posted by kiwi View Post
              The fire pit looks as if it is coming along nicely. Might I suggest that you clean your metal prior to welding. Good luck.
              Nick
              Yeah, I got a little excited about having the welder hooked up and running and neglected the metal prep. I used a wire brush but not enough to get down to the bare metal. I'll do better next time.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by H80N View Post
                It's nice to see yet another MM200 put back to useful service...

                what a great old machine,,!!

                if you did a search on "MM200" you will gind several threads on it...

                Little known secret......the MM200 has an output and duty cycle equiv to the new 250 amp machines..

                BTW... Great project...
                I didn't know that about the output and duty cycle. It's more of a welder than I had ever anticipated having at my house, but the price was right. I love it so far. I had a lot of fun getting it cleaned up and back in working order.

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                • #9
                  Now you can do it all again with the remaining half of the tank. Then give it to a friend or sell it, or keep it as a spare for when the first one eventually rusts out. You might want to consider making a small hole in the bottom, to drain accumulated rain water so your not running a mosquito maternity ward though.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bistineau View Post
                    Now you can do it all again with the remaining half of the tank. Then give it to a friend or sell it, or keep it as a spare for when the first one eventually rusts out. You might want to consider making a small hole in the bottom, to drain accumulated rain water so your not running a mosquito maternity ward though.
                    My father-in-law had his eye on the other half of the tank. I'm hoping he forgets about it :-)

                    I plan on drilling a hole or two in it for drainage...thanks for the suggestion.

                    I bought rod, flat bar and expanded metal to build a hinged dome over the top. It may work or it may not. I figured since it's my first project, I may as well overthink it and go all out. My issue at the present is that I only get an hour or two to work on it every couple weeks due to business demands, wife demands and kid demands. I'll post some pics when I get a little further.

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                    • #11
                      Rainy afternoon so the kids didn't have softball or baseball games and I finally got a chance to play metal shop for a couple hours. I'm going to try to build a domed lid for the fire pit. I will be using 1/8" x 2" flat steel for the frame and lining it with expanded metal. I build a jig using 3/4" plywood cut to the approximate shape that I want the base to be. I then bent some of the flat steel around the frame. Since steel has a memory, I used a piece of C channel as an "anvil" of sorts to round the steel into the shape that I wanted.
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        After getting the ends bent to my satisfaction, I had to cut a few filler pieces to make the hoop the overall length that I needed. I welded the four pieces of steel together and had my hoop. A bit of tweaking/stretching with my hands and feet got the hoop adjusted to fit around the pit.
                        Attached Files

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                        • #13
                          After I had the hoop welded up and looking ok, I went back to the bending jig and bent a couple more piece to be the arch of the lid. Once those were bent and pretty similar in shape, I welded them to the hoop. Then it was dinner time and time to get the kids to bed so I'll be revisiting this project as soon as I can.

                          Once again, if anyone has suggestions to improve what I'm doing, please throw them out there.
                          Attached Files

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                          • #14
                            I got a couple hours yesterday and today to work on my fire pit. I ground the welds on the dome and installed a couple pieces of 9 gauge expanded metal. It was a bit of a challenge to form. I cut the pieces with an angle grinder and cutoff wheel. I then clamped one edge to the side of one of the propane tank halves. I beat the metal with a sledge hammer and ball peen hammer to the approximate curve of the tank which wasn't quite enough for the dome. To get the metal closer to the shape of the dome, I used a piece of scrap C channel and beat the metal between the edges of that to gradually get the curve closer to the dome shape.

                            After I got close, I used vise grips and welding clamps to hold the expanded metal to the dome and welded. It was more of a challenge than I thought it would be to weld the expanded metal. It was kind of tedious.

                            Lesson of the weekend came from my aching back...first project should have been to build a tall welding table/workbench. I'm about 6'2" so I typically build all of my workbenches higher than normal to save my back.
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              i would never put a unknown propane tank in a fire. the safest way to make sure you can cut a propane tank is to shoot it from a distance. ive done it before. and no it wont explode.... if you want it to explode you have to cover it in gas, light it on fire and then shoot it from a distance.

                              cool project btw

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