ShopTalk Sunday: Hot Rod Welding Carts!

If you have ever tinkered with any kind of serious welding gear, there’s one simple – inescapable fact – that we can’t get around.  Stuff’s heavy!  You need a cart.

Now, not everyone has a poured and polished leveled concrete shop floor in their home.  Out here in the woods, my shop is a “redneck special.”  A 40 X 40 building.  Put up more than 25-years ago, the treated wood from “back in them days” will not only foil any insect or pest of modern times. It will also break or dull anything you throw at it; saws, knives, flame throwers…

Thing is, though:  They did not put in a concrete pad. Budgets matter.  It was a hell of a lot cheaper to find a road crew with some time and hustle-up a 2-3″ thick (or more) layer of asphalt for a floor.

(Now we come to the good part…)  Fast-forward those 25-years and it all still works – great – a testament to red-neck engineering skills – BUT there is one small problem.

Casters Rated

(Go ahead, say it out loud 5-times fast, lol…)

Small casters (1 1/2-inch or smaller) don’t roll on worn asphalt for shit.

From trials and tribulations, I have tested and found nothing short of a 4-inch wheel size works here.  5-inch is better. And if it goes outside (You mean like where the welding table is?) there is an ugly door lip to lift things over.

First step, therefore in hot-rodding welding carts here, was to get several caulking tubes of the best concrete filler I could find and get to work on making the doorway less of an obstacle.

tubes of concrete patch fill the gap
Tubes of concrete patch were used to build a workable though still steep gradient

I decided to set the plasma cutter and TIG cart right first.

Notice that the big casters on the front now make the angle of the welder deck more acute Well see how that creates problems in a sec

The wheels I chose were vastly more than what I needed BUT the “5-inch Swivel Casters Wheels with Screw Safety Dual Locking and Polyurethane Foam No Noise Wheels, Heavy Duty-550 Lbs Per Caster” was only $31 bucks for four of ’em. Came with hardware, too.

Putting all the gear back on the cart, it all rolled smooth and only one-tenth the effort as the (damn, miserable) small stock casters.  I’ve seen “Texas hoopties” with less stylish paws:

Anything worth doing is worth OVERDOING

Now, I ask you, does the first rig look “work-ready” or what?

Plasma cutter top and TIG rig on the bottom

The “hot rodding” of the MIG rig cart went twice as fast. The only thing taking time was punching in the holes for the new casters.  One existing hole was used, though.

Now, remember the “steep angle of the welder deck?”

Well, it was high enough that (with the machine on) it wouldn’t quite fit under the bench where I wanted it:

The fix was very quick and easy:  Lift off the MIG rig, and drop the front support attach point by an inch and a half.  Now the welder deck still has a tiny angle to it.

While I was lowering the deck, I also decided to move the left side wire hook bracket over to the right.  It was attached to the rear post.  Now, the ground wire can be “wound-on” in a more workmanlike manner.  And the large MIG feed winds (though not as tightly!) like so:

This “narrows up” the overall width of this cart by almost 3-inches – which means a much nicer fit under the 3D printer and CNC bench:

The wire cart (far left) is the chainsaw rack.  Very efficient use of space.

Lessons for Newbies

No ShopTalk adventure would be complete without an Axiom, a Process, and a Shop Trick.

First the Axiom:  Any really worthwhile project always involves a little bloodshed.  Strangely, the shop “bloodshed” this week was from a sharp tree limb that drew blood during lawn mowing. Then I went after this project.

Next, the Process:  There is a simple trick to drilling steel and not everyone has heard of it.  You begin your drilling (there were six holes on one cart and 12 on the other for the two carts) with a small hole.  Something on the order of 3/32nds or 1/8th.  Not too small, or you will break bits.

Two things happen:  The small hole acts like a pilot hole, so the bigger hole actually ends up where you want it.   Secondly, the small holes are very fast to drill.  You save time and that’s always a good thing.

If you want some “bonus points” put a drop or two of cutting oil on the holes while drilling.

Last is the Shop Tip:  We have a big bag of what are sold as “finger cots” on Amazon.  Have $7-bucks ready and click over to the “Jeembay Disposable Finger cots Pack of 220 – Anti Static, and Durable Rubber fingertip Protectors for Cleaning, Repairing and Painting.

These are the “disposables” you use in lieu of the (higher cost) nitrile gloves.  I use them on my index finger when spray-painting.  And look how well they work to cover up all those air hose and argon lines for welding! Keeps the mud daubers out.

While I was putting this one on the argon regulator for the MIG rig, I noticed Zeus the Cat eyeing me.

“Yes. the Cat, what is it?”

Could I use something like that as a condom?”

“YOU IDIOT!” I thundered.  “You’re fixed!”

Could Elon?

He glared for a while.

Chill fatso…marketing ploy, safe sex, all that crap…”

“No! No rubber dams, either!”

Elaine and I aren’t sure why Zeus and the new outdoor Siamese are getting along so well, but we do have some suspicions, now.

Over the Toilet Printer Farm Shelf

Worked great over one of the 3D printers!

One of the things that building out a dream shop with a number of “workstations” has taught me is that when you buy something, go ahead and buy the storage for it at the same time.

There are a ton of easy ways to find storage – I like to give Craigslist “Free” a once-over when I need cheap storage.

People will throw out really interesting goods and often you can snag real wood products pretty inexpensively.

All it takes to make things useful again is often just a little bit of elbow grease.  If you’re not lazy and put in a little time on things, you can really do well for yourself.  Not just fixing up chests and tables into near custom workspaces, but also restoring tools.  We still have that Radial Arm saw restoration project on the agenda ahead.

Next Week is a Holiday Weekend

And Ure’s got a special treat for you – a little commentary and a directory to many of the classic power tool companies that have keep the home handybastards happy for almost a century, for some.  Very useful when eBaying.

Work smart, safe, but not too hard.  Get a machine to do your work. (Or keep the spouse hapoy to be involved!)

Write when you get rich,

28 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Hot Rod Welding Carts!”

  1. What! No GPS on the cart! What if you get lost wheeling it around? I know from personal experience that “senior moments” can happen anytime.

  2. I have never seen an asphalt floor in a shop building before. Interesting, I wonder how they got a roller in to do the close edges? Without freeze/thaw and highway traffic I bet it would last a long time. How hard is it to sweep?

    • I use one of those “bulldozer” brooms. If
      is coming over, whatever is not gotten in the broom pass goes into the shopvac

      So not bad

      You DON’T want to spill petroleum products on it, though. Can soften it if you don’t hit it with kitty litter or sawdust right away

      • Tractor mounted PTO blower. Dandy on leaves, cleans the shop out in seconds and stokes a bonfire like nothing else…

      • Other Scott, you just gave me an idea for a project(not that I need another one)! A large swamp cooler was recently tossed off the roof when relatives replaced it with refrigerated air. The blower section seems to be intact and would make a great blower(or sucker) for tractor mounting. Could such a unit could be adapted as a vacuum excavator too? It’s an interesting thought.

    • I once worked with someone that did industrial maintenance and we used asphalt to repair a broken concrete area. It never survived the first attack by small forklift wheels. They sank right in! Concrete is far superior for a shop, though it’s probably more expensive than the cost of everything else. For some of my enclosed space, I just leave the dirt. It’s not great, but it’s cheap.

  3. Home handy bastard is to Shop Projects as Shade Tree gardener is to Farming – T/F?
    Why Eull Gibbons underwear purple ?

    Yo Farmer G-jeans – have been remiss in reporting on things Gardening. Lettuces and Radishs busting out – harvesting. Regular annual crops are in general kicking it so far this season.
    Been remiss in Not talking about the Perennials – you know the herpes of the garden..the gifts that keep giving!
    Number one on the perennial hit list – Sunchokes..when the zombie apocalypse comes- this will be the most reliable vegetable in the garden. They will spread like bamboo, so install root blocks – Harvest Ure tubers in October , cover patch with hay/mulch for winter.
    Rasberries, Blue Berries, Strawberries, Asspergrass, Rhubarb – all keep giving year after year just like herpes.

    Got Perennial Vege/Fruit Garden ? got purple underwear/

    • Today I planted 3 grape vines, 4 blueberry bushes, 2 raspberry bushes, 2 fig bushes, 2 apple trees, and 2 mulberry trees. Almost nothing came up in my raised beds so I’m going to replant. Did the ants steal the seeds? I decided to try a new approach. Hopefully the bushes and trees will be fruitful.

    • Sunchokes are interesting. A friend gave me some to plant and I did, and every last one of them died! These are things that are supposed to survive anywhere and they’re all gone. Yes, I watered them and nothing ever came up. I’d love to have a patch of them as emergency food, though I’m told that they induce massive flatulence. Better to be the fartiste than starving, I suppose.

  4. Apologies for slipping in an economic shop talk item on ShopTalk Sunday, but this item is a significant recession indicator:

    Record consumer credit with delinquencies trending up and personal savings rate tanking (again) looks about right for the leading edge of a recession. This usually signals a thinning of greater fools on debt binges as interest rates rise and lenders begin to tighten up. This would be the sequence I would expect to see to set the stage for chilling of the real-estate hyper-inflation.

    I am also curious as to how much of that wild growth in consumer credit was flushed down the crypto pipes into dark cesspools of illiquid crypto waste product. The number of underwater morons who bought crypto on unconventional leverage like credit card debt may be astronomically higher than previously publicized. I seem to remember Ure stories that one of your advisors told you that cryptos were sent hear to teach the ape investors a lesson.

    Back on topic, one of the ways to get a cart with wheels large enough for indoor/outdoor use is a bicycle cargo cart:

    Prices have gone way up on these things. Main operating and maintenance issue for this one is the tires and wheels, which aren’t particularly high quality. There are better bicycle carts for the money, but, this one doubles pretty well as a hand cart, which is how I use mine, mostly. It can be used to ferry tools to remote locations, when it is too wet to operate a tractor. I have fencing tools piled in mine most of the time, so it doubles as a tool disorganizer.

  5. Kinda on topic. Earlier last week, I told my husband I’d really like to take the tall side panels from the weather-wrecked gazebo and create a welded “wall” for a wisteria growing beside the garage to vine around. We gathered the pieces, and he showed the basics of welding to our teens. The younger grabbed the helmet and proceeded to finish it. It’s intimidating at first, but once you figure out to avoid touching what you’ve worked on, it wasn’t so scary. I think, despite my kids love of all technology, they still appreciate making things without it, which I’m hoping will interest them into making me some recycled metal art to put around our pond in the future. But the end goal, of course, is a skill that could be useful down the road. Really wished my own parents had given me the skills, but I think alot of us latchkey kids had to figure things out without that helping hand, and most of us never got around to exploring this side of creative critical thinking. I’m forever grateful that my husbands father was quite the hands on type guy who knew mechanical things inside and out and passed along this gift to my husband.

  6. I bought a mixed lot of (junk, surplus) kids’ bicycles for this a few years back. 7 bikes, 14 16″ and 20″ wheels with axles for $5. I bought these specifically to replace the 4.5″ wheels on my gas welding rigs with wheels that’d handle my gravel driveway.

    • Ray, you are up for STS Nobel Thinking award. Anymore, you can get a new (sale, cheap) 26″ bike out of China cheaper than individ components cost new…

      • You can, but you can get ’em a lot cheaper, buying used surplus, and often get Timken bearings and forged bits. Every city in the nation sells or surpluses off the bicycles which accumulate in their “lost & found,” at least once per year. Every college town accrues many, because kids don’t care, when stuff costs them nothing. Traverse City, Michigan (pop. 15k) does this 2x/year, and is doing it as I type (although not recommended because they’re actually selling them.) ‘Bought 316 bikes a few years back from a ‘burb in greater Cleveland, for $300. Ross, Trek, Specialized, etc., mixed in with the junk — completely filled a trailer. It was worth the trip. It was after I did this that I realized I should’ve kept a few of the smaller, junk bikes, which is what prompted my (couple years later) purchase of the seven.

        You can do amazing things with a set of old bicycle wheels and a piece of all-thread…

  7. Your “over the (toilet) stacking shelf looks like you took a storage tip from the ‘warehouse markets’. I note it is the only tall one in view in the shop. So the clue is: You have a LOT of unused storage volume in your shop. All you need to do is go vertical hi-rise with warehouse shelving! Not for stuff frequently used, of course, but supplies, parts, storage.

      • Edsal commercial shelving (2x6x8 feet) was on sale a year ago at Menards for $129 and Lowe’s for $149 (regularly $149 & $169, respectively.)

        I noticed the other day that Menards had it on sale for $279.

        I really wish someone, anyone, in the “press corpse” had the stones to, the next time our figurehead starts spouting about the economy, say: “Mr. President, you are a liar…”

  8. After supper evening desert……..
    2 cups of strawberries chopped..( you can use rasberries , blue berries etc to.. just mush up the blue berries)
    3 cups of water
    1/2 cup of brown sugar..
    1 Tbsp. of lemon juice..
    1/2 cup of brandy..
    heat up the water to a simmer.. then add the brown sugar and the brandy.. whisk until it is all mixed and clear.. then add the strawberries and the lemon juice.. if you like citrus.. then you can use orange juice instead of the water.. or half and half.. it is up to your personal tastes.. I sometimes add a slight bit more of brown sugar to.. it should be a light syrup.set aside…

    Now take
    2 cups of heavy cream..
    1 1/4 cups of sugar ( divided)
    1 envelope of knox unflavored gelatin
    1 Tsp. of almond flavoring
    1 tbsp of pure vanilla extract ( or the insides of one vanilla bean)
    2 cups of sour cream
    In a saucepan combine the cream and 1 cup of the sugar. Cook and stir constantly over low heat until thermometer reads 160 degree’s.. ( I use a sous vide) or steam rises from the pan or the cream begins to rise.. ( Do not boil) stir in Gelatin until dissolved ( I have used corn starch to.. but Gelatin is way better.. I take a small amount of milk and mix it with the Gelatin.. then when I add it I pour the mix)
    add the extracts let cool about ten to fifteen minutes.. whisk in the sour cream.. pour into your desert cups and chill about an hour to two hours.. then before you serve put the brandied strawberries on top.. ( I sometimes like to mix it in.. parfait like and top with whipped cream.. but that is me.. had to have something to get the muscle in the middle LOL) .. an alternative is to take the fruit.. and layer the fruit and a light dusting of sugar.. fruit sugar.. etc.. then let that set if you don’t want the brandy.. I have also used pie filling for the topping…. and whipped cream..
    I have one of these.. so much cheaper than buying it in cans..
    you can use powdered cream to.. just one to one mix.. then the sugar and vanilla… then whip it..

    anyway.. enjoy.. great to have in the evening while sitting on the pattio or around the table.. reminiscing the day you was wearing black tights cape and a batman mask… or whatever else you want to visit about..

  9. Store bought welding carts? The Shame! LOL. Bigger wheels on anything like that is a plus. Worked at a golf course maintenance shop that had asphalt floor. Not a fan, but can’t beat it for cost I guess.

    • I did inquire about “skinning over” with 1″ of concrete topping mix.
      Redneck wizdumb says no, too unstable and the topping would crack. More asphaltic!

  10. “People will throw out really interesting goods ”

    Everything is in the trash!!!!!
    We live in a throw away world.. consumption not industry..

    I got my radial arm saw there and a few air nailers. My favorite griddle.. trash..still in the box .. my truck..tow away junk.. the buggy ..
    The bunk of ply is gone now.. used it all .. but a whole bunk of plywood .. was still banded at the landfill. the forklift scraped it and rather than sort it they tossed it..
    When I worked maintenence.. we had a return.. a small electric wasn’t even put together..crush it..huh.. yup..well we put it together and rode it all around before crushing it.. at the grocery store they put a deli in just to use the damaged stuff..
    When the soda industry went from 16 oz bottles to 20.. they dumped thousands of cases..
    You wouldn’t believe it..after xmas..xmas returns are heaved out.. bought a pair of dudes.. take them home only to discover you bought the wrong was close to your’s out..
    My favorite down winter coat.. they razor bladed the whole rack..tossed it..wrote it off..
    When I worked building cabinets.. we built a national display for the home show tour.. a house out of cardboard..they hung all their cabinet lines in it.. beautiful… after the all was crushed..trash..
    One time a department store was out at the landfill.. searching they accidentally tossed out the lol.. our boss tossed out our paychecks we freaked.. they sent a woman to look for them… we were expecting a whole day search through 80 tons of crap.. she shows up.. what was it in..oh a white, brown or black plastic bag..omg this is going to be hell.. she shows up.. in a white jumpsuit.. looks at the big pile and points..there it is lol lol lol.. no digging required lol lol
    Vacuum cleaners lol lol thousands and thousands.. people Vacuum then toss when it stops vacuuming.. oh what.. yes they didn’t change the bag when it got full lol lol..
    Except rainbow and Electrolux Vacuum cleaners..they pop open and you can’t close it until you change the bag.. our Vacuum cleaner is one of those that I salvaged years ago..

  11. Well.. I know what the bill is for my friend that passed on.. we had him live in our spare bedroom.. the hospital didn’t waste any time getting it out either.. phew.. over two mil so far…. and that isn’t all the tests or the bills from all the doctors for consultation yet.. they of course have in the past sent out a consultation bill. I doubt I will ever see the final amount..Phew.. I figured it would be high .. I just wasn’t to sure how high.. I guessed over a mil.. .. But I didn’t expect it to be that much… talking to my brother.. he said my father got one from each of the area’s Gynecologist’s LOL….

  12. Zeus was perhaps silently marveling how ancient Egyptians constructed elaborate cat deities in advance of one of the six simple machines, namely the wheel.

    “Get a machine to do your work.” How about a bot?
    Today I read “Always Day One – how the tech titans plan to stay on top forever” by Alex Kantrowitz. The gen Y author asks questions and the answers may leave some bruised apples. Apparently legacy factory work will not a titan make. There was only one single mention of Tesla. Maybe Elon understands the value of a bot more than he lets on?

  13. The finger cots are interesting – I wonder if they’re sturdy enough to keep dirt out of open hydraulic lines? The Amazon description and comments indicates that they’re not as large or stretchy as advertised – but I do like the idea of keeping the dirt and dust out.

    Here’s a tool that I use a fair amount of: a 4.5″ angle grinder with a blade meant for a plate joiner(Harbor Fright # 38840. It’s carbide tipped and will take your finger off faster than a skilsaw! It’s definitely not for those without both the competence and confidence to stay intact, so I’m a bit reluctant to share this, but it really works to cut and carve out what can’t be reached with a skilsaw or sawzall. It’s not an “approved” combination, but in my case, it’s useful. Just watch out for maximum rotation speeds of the device and blade, and for God’s sake, wear gloves and eye/face protection. Obviously, keep the blade guard in place, though if you don’t have a secure grip or drop the tool, it won’t save you.

  14. And fade the news . To sell high buy low and don’t ever be afraid to sell . Plenty of trains but get on the right one

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