Wayne Cook
February 4, 2010

Welding Equipment Guide
Basic Welding Overview

The more you accomplish on your own in your home shop/garage the more satisfaction you get out of your classic Ford project. It's safe to say that most of you reading this magazine probably have enough handtools to get the job done. Specialty tools, on the other hand, usually only get purchased if there is a great bargain or if you know you'll be using the tool more than a few times. It's rare we see people buy a complete HVLP painting system just to paint their own car (though we have seen it). Now welding equipment, on the other hand, is something we feel is a sound investment for the home shop. Even if you only plan to build one classic Ford project, the labor involved in typical rust repairs (floors, fender apron, and so on) isn't overly complicated, but is time consuming, which turns into big labor bills. Handling these repairs yourself with a home MIG welder not only gives you that sense of satisfaction from working on it yourself, but will save you plenty of money in labor bills. Furthermore, the welding equipment will come in handy for many home projects (we've fixed trampoline frames, bicycle frames, patio furniture, exhaust systems, lawn tractors, and more over the years with our home welding equipment).

What we've compiled here for our readers is an overview of welding types, equipment, and more to get you started down the path of home welding projects. We encourage you to pick up reading materials on welding at your favorite book retailer. You can also find instructional videos from the major welding equipment manufacturers, online tips and FAQs, as well as newsletters you can sign up for that are delivered directly to your email inbox. Finally, local community colleges and technical/vocational schools offer welding classes where you can get hands-on training, often with similar home shop based equipment, which will give you the confidence you need to tackle most any project. So check out this welding equipment guide, do some research on your own, and even visit a local welding equipment retailer to try one out and see what's best for your project needs, budget, and shop size.

Welding Basics
Welding is a fabrication process that joins separate pieces of metals. This is accomplished by partially melting the juncture of the work pieces while adding metal to form a pool of molten material, which then cools and solidifies to become a very strong joint. In the types of welding we are interested in, electricity is used to create the heat. Other welding methods, such as brazing or soldering, use heat obtained from an external source such as a torch flame or an independently heated soldering gun tip. Brazing or soldering creates a joint where the bond is, to some extent, external to the pieces being joined and the joint is usually not as strong as the material being used. This is because during brazing or soldering the materials are not completely melted and mixed together. The three types of arc welding we are going to look at create a bond that is as strong as the material being joined. All three types of welders have a principal function in common. They transform high voltage, low amperage primary power into low voltage, high amperage secondary or welding power. They do this through two sets of windings or coils of copper wire inside the machine that are wrapped around steel plates.

On any type of arc welding, the molten joint must be protected from atmospheric contamination and this is accomplished either by a coating of flux contained on or in the electrode or by an inert gas such as Argon that is applied to the surface of the weld while it is being created. In stick and flux-cored wire, welding the flux leaves a coating of slag, which must be chipped off once the weld has cooled. All arc welding processes involve a welding power source and some means of completing an electric circuit between the electrode and the part being welded. While different welding processes share some things in common, each process creates the finished product in a unique manner.