Tips for Setting Up a Mobile Welding Rig and Choosing Equipment for Field Fabrication | MillerWelds

Tips for Setting Up a Mobile Welding Rig and Choosing Equipment for Field Fabrication

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See what equipment and technologies can help save you time and money on your mobile welding rig — so you can tackle any job.
Weld truck setup with crane and equipment

How to set up a welding rig

Mobile welders need to be prepared to do a little bit of everything in the field, so outfitting your welding rig for the variety of jobs you’ll encounter in field fabrication is crucial to the success of your business.

Get some tips for setting up your mobile welding truck and see what types of equipment and technologies can help save you time and money.

How to set up a welding rig

When you’re setting up a welding truck for a field fabrication business, there are a few questions to consider that influence your truck and equipment purchases.

  • What type of work will you do? For example, will you focus mostly on heavy equipment repair or will you also take on jobs that involve structural work with high-quality and non-destructive testing requirements? The wider the range of jobs you plan to take on, the more versatility and capabilities you’ll need from the equipment on your truck.
  • What processes will you need? If you want to be able to gouge, run air tools and weld with a range of processes, consider that when purchasing a welder/generator for your truck. A machine with multi-process capabilities can provide a good return on investment as your business grows and you take on different work. Is it a CC-only machine or does it have CV? Is it compatible with wire feeders or accessories you might need later? Know the goals for your business and size your machine purchase based on those goals.
  • What is your budget? Perhaps you want to start small and upgrade your truck and equipment as your business grows. In that case, a used truck with a bed that you build and customize yourself may be the way to go. When purchasing your truck, consider that you may want to eventually add a crane or have the ability to haul a trailer with equipment. Be sure to give yourself flexibility to take on a variety of jobs.

Choosing equipment for mobile welding

The big three: 

The must-haves on your truck are a welder, a generator and an air compressor. These pieces of equipment help operators tackle welding and carbon-arc gouging — processes that many field fabricators use daily. A truck with a crane also comes in handy to move heavy equipment or pieces.

Weld truck setup with crane and equipment 

Image courtesy of @icweld

The truck:

Choosing a heavy-duty work truck versus a half-ton truck makes a big difference for equipment capacity. Plan ahead and choose a truck that provides the ability to grow as the business grows. You may need more space and weight capabilities to haul more tools and equipment later.

 Weld truck with a Miller® welder/generator parked in the field

Image courtesy of @bezatesn

The features: 

Your mobile welding truck and welder/generator are two of the largest investments you’ll make in your business. It’s important to get the most bang for your buck with some key features and additions that can streamline your operation and help save you time and money.

  • Spools and reels: These truck additions allow you to easily roll your welding leads in and out on the jobsite — a task you may do every day. They are especially handy when you need to quickly roll the leads in when bad weather hits.
Weld truck with spools and reels for the weld cables
Image courtesy of @rnjweld

  • Gas racks or double racks: These help organize bottles for your oxy-acetylene setups as well as any welding that requires a shielding gas — minimizing clutter on your truck.
  • Filler metal storage: Proper storage for your filler metals keeps them from taking on moisture and being contaminated. Welding wire comes in 5-gallon buckets that can easily be sealed with lids, but you may want to invest in field containers to store stick and TIG rods.
Weld truck with color-coordinated filler metal storage containers on the back
Image courtesy of @schofieldwelding  

  • Battery charge: A welder/generator with battery charge and jump-start capabilities may be important if you’re taking on a lot of heavy equipment maintenance and repair jobs.
  • Remote solutions: Welder/generators with remote solutions make it easier to access the machine, so you don’t have to climb in and out of the truck every time you want to access the output panels, turn the machine on or off or adjust parameters.
    • The Remote Output Panel Kit is compatible with Bobcat™, Trailblazer® and Big Blue® welder/generators, providing access to the auxiliary power and weld output panels anywhere on the truck — including where they are accessible from the ground.
    • Remote Start/Stop on Bobcat welder/generators allows you to easily turn your machine on and off remotely, so it only runs when you need it.
    Wireless Interface Control on select Trailblazer 325 and Big Blue models provides full front panel control in the palm of your hand so you can easily change welding processes, adjust parameters, select and save preset programs and more from wherever you are on the jobsite.
  • Fuel-saving and noise-reducing technologies: When you’re frequently using your welder/generator to make repairs and power jobsite tools, it’s important to choose a machine that delivers fuel efficiency and reduces noise for operator comfort. Miller® Auto-Speed™ technology on Trailblazer 325 welder/generators helps reduce fuel costs and noise. The machines respond to weld requirements by automatically adjusting engine speed to load, so the engine never works harder than necessary. In addition, Miller-exclusive Excel™ power makes machines up to 68% more fuel-efficient when using auxiliary power. This optional technology on Trailblazer 325 machines delivers a full 2,400 watts of 120-volt, inverter-based, pure sine wave power at all speeds, including idle.
  • Wire feeders: These can be a great investment because of the efficiency that wire welding can deliver over stick welding. Wire welding can save hours or even days of time on big repair jobs compared to stick welding. If your machine is equipped with ArcReach® technology, using an ArcReach-enabled feeder provides parameter control at the weld joint for even more productivity
Weld truck with a Miller® wire feeder on the back
Image courtesy of @mike_rideyourbike

Optimizing your welding rig

Your welding rig is the heart of your field fabrication business. Choosing reliable, versatile tools and equipment can help you succeed and take on more jobs. Check out the lineup of Miller solutions and the industry-leading technologies they offer that can help save you time and money.

Real-World Welding Rigs

What do three experienced field fabricators recommend for setting up a welding rig? Outfit your truck with the tools and equipment you actually need for the type of work you’ll do.

Truck setup: Trailblazer® 302 Air Pak™ and Miller® 12 VS SuitCase® feeder with ArcReach® technology. Portable equipment is key since he doesn’t have a proper shop. Everything he purchased needed to be portable and lightweight enough to move on and off his truck. He also carries 200 feet of welding lead on his truck so he can weld in areas where his truck can’t go.

“I love reels for my welding leads. They’re not necessary, but they were the one luxury I put on my truck,” McAllister says. “To be able to just roll up my leads is amazing.”

Truck setup: Big Blue® 700 Duo Pro welder/generator on his truck, and a Trailblazer 302 welder/generator mounted on a skid that he can take on and off the truck as needed. He moves the Trailblazer around a jobsite with a forklift to get into tighter spots.

“If you don’t have enough air or auxiliary power, your life will be miserable. Having plenty of auxiliary power gives you a lot of options for the future,” DeMoise says. “All of these tools end up getting heavy fast, so if you have a truck that’s barely adequate, you end up working it to death and will spend a lot of time on maintenance and repairs.”

Truck setup: A 5,000-pound capacity crane and a Trailblazer 302 Air Pak welder/generator. He wanted to make sure his truck had space for his wire feeder, oxygen bottles, jack stand and other items he uses daily. The welder/generator was an important space saver.

“I designed my truck bed for everything I need, and I cannot fit another compressor on there, so I really rely on that space-saving combination,” Carrion says.