We all draw lines for ourselves and I knew that I was crossing one when I bought a welder. It seems to be an unspoken code among enthusiasts but an untrained welder and a project car do not a match make. And quite quickly, I realized that I was in way over my head. But as with pretty much everything in life, we can choose to sink or swim. I chose the latter.
The decision to start welding was an easy one considering my surroundings. I have dealt with so many shady machine and performance shops in my area that the expression, “if you want something done right, do it yourself” has taken on a whole new meaning. Furthermore, I have known for a while that learning to weld will complete my skill set as a tuner and really allow me to take things to the next level. More specifically, I decided to pick up welding at this time because:
- I refuse to pay $1000 for intercooler piping (yeah I know, I said shady didn’t I)
- The word “no” means you haven’t tried hard enough. (And I am not talking about taking this to the point of insanity but the fabricators around here refuse to do any work that (a) isn’t on a domestic or (b) hasn’t been shown in the latest car magazines.)
- I like knowing the full process of things so naturally, learning to weld is a logical next step.
- I have found over the counter solutions for things like manifolds and exhausts for the CA18DET motor to be lacking, to say the least.
Once I decided to learn, I spent many hours researching and I came up with some pretty good guidelines to get started.
Guideline #1: Decide what type of welding you need to do. My needs required the ability to weld exhausts, exhaust manifolds and intercooler piping. As such, I bought a 110v-120v wire feed arc welder that can be upgraded to mig. The ability to upgrade to mig is something that I found of utmost importance as all of my attempts to weld piping using simple flux wire proved an exercise in futility. Additionally, the ability to mig weld will allow you to weld stainless steel, plain steel, mild steel, aluminized steel and cast iron. Cast iron, mild steel and sometimes stainless steel being the only 3 metals I will ever concern myself with.
Guideline #2: Don’t buy the cheapest welder you can get your hands on. In my experience anything less that $300 will be a paper weight so don’t waste your time. When it was all said and done, I purchased a Lincoln Electric Weld Pak 3200HD Wire Feed Welder Model K2190-1 ($459.00), a gas tank with argon/co2 mix ($170), welding gloves ($25) and an auto dimming welders helmet($90) for a grand total of $744.00. For those with more to spend, a 220v welder will offer better performance than a 110v welder but all things considered, especially price, the 110v model will meet any gearhead’s needs.
Lincoln Electric Weld Pak 3200HD Wire Feed Welder Model K2190-1
Guideline #3: Buy nice safety equipment. Get an auto dimming helmet and a good set of gloves. Always make sure your skin is covered when welding to avoid skin damage. Welding can cause skin cancer so make sure to always wear long sleeves that cover your skin. Just like riding a motorcycle, I don’t care how hot it is outside, wear your safety gear. (that one is for you Brent)
I will add many articles to this section that coincide with project CA18DET 240sx. In the meantime, I recommend reading the book “How to Weld Damn Near Anything” by the guys at Monster Garage.