Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 15, 2012
Photos By: The Manufacturers

While the typical vintage Mustang still with us has been on this earth for 40 years or more, many are far from perfect. Years of abuse from less than perfect drivers, northern and coastal rusting, storage in damp locations, and more mean that the typical Mustang project you could be purchasing is going to need some metal work. The metal work needed is often the impetus as to whether a Mustang comes home with a new owner or not. We often recommend purchasing the most solid Mustang project you can find, as it will save you a lot of money in the long run with your project. However, in today’s economy we often have to do more with less, and that often means buying a less than perfect Mustang project, right? That doesn’t mean that you have to shell out more to fix your Mustang if you’re willing to invest a little time and effort to learn how to weld and repair your project yourself.

Often, we see a Mustang and think it’s too far gone or will take many thousands of dollars to fix the rusted and damaged metal, but with a small investment in your own welding equipment and some practice, you could bring a Mustang once ready for the scrap yard back to life and give it a second chance. Once you have a welder, you’ll wonder how you lived without one. From major sheetmetal repairs to fixing the neighbor kid’s bicycle, it will become another indispensable tool in your garage shop.

Where do you start with your welding training? First and foremost is knowing all of the dangers of using welding equipment and the safety aspects of using a welder. Second is actually choosing your welding equipment based on your budget, needs, and work space. Another thing to consider is whether you want to use flux core wire or MIG wire, which requires shielding gas to be added to your welder. You’ll also need to think about the available voltage in your work area. Finally, there’s the education and training needed to use the equipment properly. We only have so much room to delve into all of these areas, but we’ll give you the highlights and show you where you can learn more. Before you know it, you’ll be laying down a serious bead and bringing a once dead Mustang back to life for yet another generation to enjoy.

Safety First

Just like any other tool in your garage, welding equipment requires a certain amount of skill and training to use and has specific safety aspects to deal with. Welding equipment, and for the purpose of this article we’re focusing on the typical MIG (metal inert gas) process, uses high voltage electricity, creates intense heat and sparks, gives off fumes, produces arc rays (both ultraviolet and infrared), and produces electric and magnetic fields which can interfere with pacemakers. Let’s take a look at these safety issues and how best to protect yourself when using welding equipment.

You’ll find that enthusiast level MIG welders generally use 115-volt household current, though you’ll also find some that use 230-volt current. Like any electric power tool, the importance of grounding is imperative—properly grounding the welder, insulating yourself from the equipment, and using only in dry areas. You’ll also be dealing with the amperage of the wire-fed welder itself when you strike an arc between the welder’s feed wire and the work piece. Amperage is how a wire-fed welder works, by running a current through the feed wire that melts when it comes in contact with the work piece that is in contact with the ground electrode.