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Old 29-06-2018, 11:15   #1
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Welder on board, power supply advice

Hi all.I have just got a small stick/tig welder for repairs to metalwork on board. Any major jobs will be done on the bank so just looking at running 6013 1.6mm rods at 20-40a.


Anyone have any experience of running a welder off an inverter. It is a high quality 1.5kw one with a peak power of about 2kw. I do have a small gen-set that is 1.7kw but it is 120v and the welder is 240 of course. Still only weight 10lb though
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Old 29-06-2018, 11:39   #2
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

I weld at 120A using a Freedom 25 inverter no problem.
Sucks the batteries though.
Generator is better, its a 6Kw, but really only produces 4.4
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Old 29-06-2018, 11:51   #3
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

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Originally Posted by sy_gilana View Post
I weld at 120A using a Freedom 25 inverter no problem.
Sucks the batteries though.
Generator is better, its a 6Kw, but really only produces 4.4

Thanks thats really useful, confirms that a modified sign wave inverter will supply a welder. Is your welder a traditional transformer or an inverter?


Thats also a similar current as I am on 240v not 120 so 50a for me is like 100a for you. How heavy stuff have you been able to do? I'm am fitting a new engine and may need to do some mods to the engine beds which are 1/4 angle mild steel.
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Old 29-06-2018, 12:31   #4
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

I spent many years in the 4WD Overland world and these were on many rigs. I have never used, but did see one inaction and it solved a big problem.

Ready Welder
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Old 29-06-2018, 12:32   #5
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

This interests me. What welders are you using? Which method works best as an all rounder on the boat considering the various metals that might need welding? Is there a one size fits all (or almost all)?
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Old 29-06-2018, 14:14   #6
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

I have a wooden boat so not looking for anything heavy duty. I wanted something that would do occasional odd jobs like making/repairing brackets. I got it now as I am about to fit a new engine and may need to modify the engine beds.
For a super compact cheap welder it more or less has to be a stick machine. Cheap wire feed machines can be unreliable and anyway if the wire gets damp and rusts it jams up. Unless you want to keep the wire in a waterproof box with dry packs in it the machine is just not going to run.
The other issue is that MIG machines need shielding gas which adds to bulk and complexity and blows away outdoors. Stick uses flux coated rods so works outdoors as long as it is reasonable.
The other use is SS work. Even tally I want to replace the pulpit and add some SS frames to the cockpit. It is super expensive and difficult to get those sort of things done unless you have a big boat yard handy so I am going to set up for TIG. It's a bit like brazing, the ark replaces the gas torch to provide heat and you use a metal stick to add weld metal. Does need Argon gas to shield it so not an outdoor job. Not tried it yet. It is supposed to be the hardest to do but makes the neatest job. It is how the pro's do all your SS bits. Any stick welder can also do TIG, you just need a TIG torch and gas supply.
The machine I have is a cheap Chinese job called a Hitbox ARC200. Looks OK, haven't plugged it in yet so will update after testing it. It cost less than $200, weighs about 10lbs and measures about 9x4x6 inch!!!! My old traditional TIG machine was a 3ft cube that took 2 people to lift and came on wheels, this one has the same output, ins't tech remarkable...

You will also need a helmet etc which will probably coast about the same as the welder.

If you are really good you can stick weld ally, very tricky but if you are sticking bits of mast back together at sea who cares what it looks like!
PS I sail in remote places where the nearest yard is often a week away so need to be super independant and I am a DIY nerd
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Old 29-06-2018, 14:53   #7
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

What's best but reasonably priced for heavy structural aluminum work?
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Old 29-06-2018, 15:24   #8
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Welder on board, power supply advice

Isn’t tech remarkable.
Yes it is, but Physics is an unforgiving Mistress.

Years ago, many actually I was a contract welder in the oil patch in Oklahoma, I had an old one ton Chevy with a Lincoln pipeline welder as old as I was on its back. 200 amp machine if I remember. It took the one Ton truck to haul the copper wound generator nicely, a 3/4 Ton would have been overloaded with all the other tools, gas bottles etc.
I was working in a yard in Oklahoma City building drilling rigs, had another welder show up one day with a little Toyota truck with a 300 amp machine in it. It was a Japanese machine, but tiny, yet made more power than my Lincoln, wasn’t nearly as smooth an arc, I think it was a big alternator with diodes, but never mind, it was little, powerful and sipped Diesel where my big ole Lincoln was heavy and it’s flat head Continental engine was fond of gasoline. It looked like I was the fool hauling all that excess weight around.
Well one day we were jetting out a mud tank, that is running huge “jet” rod, 7024 I think. Anyway to run that big rod I would turn my Lincoln wide open and let her go. After running rod for I guess an hour or so, the other guys welder just quit, wouldn’t strike an arc, so we climbed out of the tank to see what had happened to his new machine.
The bed of his truck honest to God had molten aluminum in it, seems his welder had melted its windings.
Well of course he took it back to where he bought it, and was explained what duty cycle meant, seems his little powerful welder could actually deliver 300 amps, for 20% of the time, then it had to rest for 80% of the time. He did not get his money back.
Big ole ancient Lincoln Pipeliners I have seen connected to long sections of frozen pipe and run wide open to thaw pipe, they can be run that way until they run out of fuel.

Reminds me of these little 200 amp small frame alternators. I wonder what their duty cycle is?
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Old 29-06-2018, 15:33   #9
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Welder on board, power supply advice

Not $200 but if I were to carry a welder, this is the machine I’d want.
You would need argon of course, but I think I may plumb that in as an engine room fire extinguisher when I wasn’t TIG welding, and a bottle ought to last a looong time just doing piece work.
http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/...-wave-200.html
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Old 29-06-2018, 15:33   #10
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

Absolutely agree. This thing is supposed to give 98a at 100% duty cycle but even then I would not want to use it as a 'work tool'. It is for odd jobs and is unlikely to ever run for more than 5-10min at a stretch.
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Old 29-06-2018, 15:37   #11
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Welder on board, power supply advice

With a good machine and if you were willing to do some side work, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could make it pay for itself pretty quick.
I have not run into a Boat based welder, but I have not gone far either
Sort of stuck in my backyard
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Old 29-06-2018, 15:56   #12
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

Yep, met an ex cruiser in Panama city who runs a business from his boat as a welder. He is always busy but you have to be good and do stainless
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Old 30-06-2018, 07:42   #13
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

I don't currently weld, but I am thinking of taking it up out of general interest, and as a potential way to make extra $ when we start cruising in a few years. I like the idea of being able to repair almost anything on board, and it seems like it would be a good service to offer other cruisers. I am appreciating this thread!
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Old 30-06-2018, 07:49   #14
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Welder on board, power supply advice

You may want to go down to your local trade school and take a welding class.
There are three general types of welding “stick” which is the simplest, pretty easy and is very flexible and least expensive way. Great for the farm and what all of us did building welding rigs etc. not so much on boats, unless you have a steel boat.
MIG aka wire welders is high production and easy, has to be done inside out of the wind though and takes much more stuff, is easy though and fast, not so good for SS and Aluminum.
TIG is for high quality, attractive welds and is the best for SS and aluminum, but isn’t easy, takes lots of practice before you can be stacking dimes, lots. Isn’t inexpensive and takes argon etc and has to be done inside out of the wind. Nearly all aircraft high quality welding is TIG for example.
TIG is an art form, stick great for heavy, maybe rusty in the field stuff. MIG high production factory manufacturing.
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Old 30-06-2018, 08:05   #15
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Re: Welder on board, power supply advice

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Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
I don't currently weld, but I am thinking of taking it up out of general interest, and as a potential way to make extra $ when we start cruising in a few years. I like the idea of being able to repair almost anything on board, and it seems like it would be a good service to offer other cruisers. I am appreciating this thread!
Go for it! Not that difficult, I have a little inverter welder and self taught, or rather continuing to learn. Currently replacing all the bolted on fittings on my steel boat with welded on stainless so no holes anywhere. Built a new pintle for the rudder today, would have cost more than the welder to get made. Doesn't look the showroom prettiest but plenty strong! Stainless using stick isn't that hard, every passage you make you'll arrive with another list of little brackets and bits to fabricate to make life easier onboard
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