Father-son boat repair and fabrication shop finds flexibility with TIG welder
“He was helping me from the time he was 11,” Garry says.
The father and son welding business based in Sunrise Beach, Missouri, is known for pontoon and aluminum boat repair and part fabrication in the Lake of the Ozarks resort region.
When Garry launched the business in 1997, he started by going from marina to marina with one Miller® welder in the back of his dad’s pickup truck, handing out business cards and looking for boat repair jobs. The business slowly grew, and Darryll moved back to the area after attending Tulsa Welding School to join his dad in the business, which moved into its current location in 2011.
Getting the job done right the first time is part of the Out Back philosophy. Garry and Darryll look for the cause of the problem, with the belief that fixing the root cause will help prevent future repairs. As part of that approach, they’ve also started fabricating their own parts, focusing on welding strength and durability in each one.
“We like to get to the root of why it [the part] broke. All these boats have a similarity in the way they break, so we can incorporate our repair methods throughout,” Garry says. “We will do it for nothing before we’ll do it wrong. We have this passion for what we do, for the welding, for doing things right.”
That commitment to quality in their work has contributed to the steady growth of Out Back Aluminum Welding in the years since Garry started the business.
“The customers are all starting to file in, and they’re actually bypassing the marinas a lot and coming straight to us,” Garry says.
With TIG welding on aluminum boats or pontoons, a big challenge is often accessibility to the part or spot of repair. It might be on the underside of the boat or in an area that requires them to crawl between the pontoon logs, which can make it more difficult to feed the TIG rod.
“You have to have a lot of dexterity to be able to reach in there and weld and get your head where you can see in a confined space, and be able to lay down consistently nice work,” Garry says.
A versatile solution
To better deal with the challenges of the business, Out Back acquired a Dynasty® 280 DX TIG/Stick welder from Miller. The power source provides the company with the flexibility and portability they need for TIG welding on boats — in the shop or at the marina — while still offering the arc performance and power capabilities to tackle a wide variety of repair jobs and produce the high quality work for which they’re known.
“The Dynasty 280 has really stepped up our game here at Out Back,” Darryll says. “The quality of weld that it lays down exceeds what we see anywhere. We almost can’t fail because we have such an awesome machine to work with.”
The Dynasty 280 joins several other Miller welders used by Out Back, including the Millermatic® 350P, Dynasty 200 DX, Dynasty 350 and Dynasty 700. The Out Back team also uses the Weldcraft™ W-225 Modular flex torch and a wireless remote foot pedal. The W-225 torch features easily interchangeable head options to help Garry and Darryll get the exact torch configuration they need to access hard-to-reach joints, while the wireless remote foot pedal helps reduce trip-and-fall hazards in the shop by eliminating cords. Out Back does mostly TIG welding on aluminum, steel and stainless steel — ranging from very thin to up to 3/8-inch thick.
“The Dynasty 280 has features that no other welders have,” Garry says. “It’s extremely versatile. We use it for everything we do.”
They can adjust the settings on the power source to set the balance and frequency to their preferences. A wide range of balance control is helpful for more effectively removing aluminum oxides and reducing the heat on the tungsten, which is essential for creating the highest quality welds on aluminum.
“If I’m on some old dirty casting or an oxidized pontoon log, no matter how much I clean it, I can’t seem to get all the impurities out,” Darryll says. “With the Dynasty, I can continue to turn the balance down until I can get the impurities to move out. The machine’s helping me do that.”
Garry and Darryll can also easily adjust the frequency with the Dynasty 280, allowing them to alter the width of the arc cone to improve directional control of the arc. That comes in handy in different types of welds, such as a corner weld or a fillet weld.
“There’s nothing as tunable in the world as a Dynasty that I know of,” Garry says. “It will just keep the quality of the weld where the bead is aesthetically as good as it can be.”
Designed to provide high quality
In addition to the range of adjustable settings, the Dynasty 280 DX offers numerous advanced AC waveforms, which result in greater arc control for Out Back and helps them produce high quality welds. The machine offers advanced square, soft square, sine and triangular waveforms, so Out Back can tailor the arc to the job.
“You can always use your standard settings, but you can also break in and customize the arc, just for the specific needs of the job that you’re on,” Garry says.
That adjustability and versatility provides high quality and consistent welds — results that Out Back customers notice.
“In our business, weld quality is everything, and the Dynasty 280 allows us to make welds that are absolutely stellar,” Garry says. “When people come, all they really want is whatever it is they brought in to be fixed. But when they leave, you can tell that even the people who don’t know anything about welding are impressed, and you can only do that with good equipment.”
Warping of the components being welded can be a big issue when working with aluminum boats — the power source helps Out Back address that concern by allowing Garry and Darryll to tailor the arc to adjust how much heat is spreading out into the workpiece.
“I can get way more work done that way because I don’t spend so much time waiting on the workpiece to cool down. I can keep welding and welding, and I’m not warping the heck out of anything,” Darryll says. “All the different features allow me to keep making my weld look better and better and better as I go.”
Out Back pairs their welders with Hobart® filler metals, including MaxalTig 4943 and 5356 rods, to help increase the strength of the weld deposits.
“The 4943 that just came out recently — we’re in love with it,” Darryll says. “It’s got a little better tensile strength. It’s awesome that we can give our customers a better product, because somebody’s offering us a better product. We can send that back to the customer.”
Capabilities coupled with portability
Because some jobs require Out Back to squeeze into tight spaces or to take the power source to the site of a repair, a compact machine that offers portability is also important for the shop.
The smaller footprint of the Dynasty 280 helps save space in the shop, but Out Back can also place the 52-pound power source in the back of a pickup truck and perform a weld repair on a boat in a customer’s back yard, for example.
“I didn’t think that we would ever have a welder of its size with the power that it has available,” Darryll says. “The portability is amazing. We can take it anywhere we want.”
The machine features Auto-Line™ power management technology, which allows Out Back to hookup to either single-phase or three-phase electrical input from 208 to 575 volts with no manual linking, which adds convenience for jobs that aren’t welded in the Out Back shop.
“I can plug into somebody’s dryer plugin and be welding on their pontoon in their yard, so that helps me a lot,” Darryll says.
That also provides cost savings for Out Back by eliminating the need to power the machine off of a welder/generator that requires fuel.
“We can run it off whatever power that’s available, and it doesn’t use that much electricity because of the inverter technology,” Garry says. “So your electric bill is actually substantially less for your arc time.”
“The inverter welders are very good on electricity,” Darryll says. “It’s very good on the pocketbook.”
A torch for many jobs
In addition to having flexible power sources for a wide variety of jobs, Out Back also looks for flexible accessories. Garry and Darryll use the Weldcraft W-225 Modular torch. For welding jobs where they can’t quite reach the spot or get the right angle on the weld pool, the flexible torch helps them get into tight areas and weld on multiple joint configurations.
“You can change the heads and it’s flexible, so we can change the angle of the torch,” Garry says. “I don’t think I could live without a flexible-type torch and do the kind of work that we do.”
When the Out Back team is not using the wireless foot control, they use a remote controller that allows operators easy east/west rotary motion fingertip control, via an accessory that fastens to the TIG torch. This controller is ideal for welding out of position or when both feet are needed for stability.
“The stroke is minimized, to where I can just use my thumb and I can go full up or down in one flick,” Garry says.
The power to do it all
Producing top quality welds and boat repairs — and gaining the versatility to get the job done right whether it’s in their shop or in a customer’s yard — has helped make Out Back Aluminum Welding a thriving shop that’s sought out by customers.
The Dynasty 280 DX enhances the quality and productivity of Out Back’s work, with its power capabilities and the versatility of the portable package.
“I almost can’t imagine not using it,” Garry says. “It has the power I need to do everything we do, but yet it’s versatile and it’s light. I can carry it anywhere, but yet it’s a perfect shop machine.”
For an experienced welding shop with nearly 20 years in the boat repair industry, a machine that offers that combination coupled with consistent high arc quality is a game-changer.
“The Dynasty 280 has a quality that sets it apart from other welding machines,” Darryll says. “I’ve welded with many other welding machines in my lifetime, and I thought that I was doing really well with those. But the day that I laid an arc with a Dynasty, it changed everything.”