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  • AC stick and new welding rig for forestry questions

    I'm setting up a welding rig for the first time. My theoretical customers are small logging fits and ranches. I'll be honest I haven't done much of this kind of work. After welding school I got into a pipe fitting, so I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to see. I'm just really excited to move out of the city and have a rig seemed like a good way to go.

    I'd like to see if I can set up a rig on a V6 Tacoma with something light like a multiquip 180 instead of the standard Cummins truck with a Bobcat on back.

    So here are my questions:

    Do I need to have and AC welding power supply?

    How much amperage am I likely to need?

    Is there an advantage to having something lighter and more nimble off road?

    What tools will come in handy beyond the obvious metal fab stuff?

    Any other general information or tips about supporting forestry operations as a welder would also be welcome.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    I would say find a forestry welding job and keep it for a year or two to see if you like the work and learn what special tools you'll need, and how to work with them. A year or so isn't too much time to invest when considering making a serious career move.
    Last edited by tackit; 03-06-2017, 04:39 PM.

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    • #3
      That is sound advice, but I am moving for my wife's job into which doesn't have a lot of employment. It's set up a rig, start some other business, or work for minimum wage... So welding rig.

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      • #4
        I'm not a rig weldor. Years ago, after I got out of the army, I went to work selling welding alloys. One of the niches I focused on, because it was a very prevalent industry where I was living at the time, was the logging outfits. Two areas of concern I remember their mechanics needing most help with when welding...and keeping it welded....were the log tongs and the "bunks" on the log trucks. The bunks (called different things in different parts of the country) are the horizontal and vertical components on the log trailers that hold the logs in...big "U" shaped structures. Those were always breaking, cracking and otherwise giving the mechanics a fit keeping them repaired. <br />
        <br />
        Just two of my observations in the forest fiber industry. If you use the right welding alloy and process, you can greatly increase the successful weld repair of those two critical areas and limit their costly downtime. I was able to help several of those logging companies, both small and large, with those two particular areas alone and made happy customers and fed my belly at the same time.

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        • #5
          You may want to rethink your truck also ,those roads can get pretty tough rock,deep mud ruts etc ... I've done logging it's tough on equipment and just to get to some of these outfits your going to need a truck with strong axles and transfer case .Not that Tacomas arnt strong you put on a welder generator plus torch setup tools grinders hose reels , plus needed steel plate round and flat stock and any other material you'll need in the woods your weight is going to be past a 1/2 ton pretty quick .
          Being prepared out in the woods is key when there equipment is down there not making money so you better be able to get to them it's not always gonna be a nice flat dry landing to work on or graded logging road.
          IMHO of course D

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          • #6
            I'd seriously rethink the truck and welder choice for supporting that industry. I doubt either will fare well in that environment or will be lookled upon seriously. Basically you're looking to support heavy equipment welding and repair.

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            • #7
              I wouldn't think of using anything smaller than a Bobcat.

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              • #8
                Save your money.
                Then go out and investigate what is in your area. Talk to people. See if they already do their own work first. Many mechanics weld, and companies buy expensive welding machines.
                If you roll in on sight in a Tacoma (we have one and love it....it is a toy) and a 180 amp machine (with a wimpy duty cycle.....it is also a toy) almost any heavy equipment guy is gonna laugh. You would be lucky to get even one call.
                You need to be able to run 1/8th 7018 as a minimum endlessly, at times. You will need a acetylene rig and a pretty big one to not only cut, but to bend things back.
                Dozers and loaders bend steel like spaghetti.

                I say if you want any RESECT at all, you are gonna need;

                #1 A minimum welder of a Trailblazer. You could get a Bobcat but you will regret it if you are really a pipe welder by trade.
                #2 Big torch set-up plus a rose-bud
                #3 At least a hundred feet of lead from the machine to the work
                #4 Long heavy duty extension cords
                #5 Large and small grinders. BIG hammers
                #6 A 1 ton or minimum 3/4 ton 4wd pickup or steel flatbed
                This is just to get your foot in the door. You have to realize that these companies have been operating for years before you came along, so another welder guy is already fixing their equipment. They are most likely friends with that guy. You are going to have to steal his work. People already know what a heavy duty repair should look like. Once they do call you, you have only one chance to perform a miracle. Time is money.

                You would be much better off to specialize, doing what no one else in your area can do. Such as aluminum and stainless tig.
                Or cowboy up and buy the proper equipment to compete. You could trade your Tacoma for a truck pretty easily. Tacoma's hold their value well.
                Their are tons of used welders out there as well as the rest of the stuff. If you don't have at least 10-15 grand to spend then you may be fooling yourself anyways.
                I am not trying to be HARSH. Simply keeping it REAL. I am a pro with my own biz. I have loggers in my area. I could get that type of work any time I want. I have been in the woods and welded BADASS heavy duty equipment and left with a good impression. It is hard work. Your are gonna crawl in the dirt and mud, and set things on fire. Your gonna get burnt and bruised and wet and hot and cold.
                Your gonna get up early and work all night. Rain snow sun whatever.
                I hope this helps. Good luck in whatever you decide.



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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Crash.HM View Post
                  I'm setting up a welding rig for the first time.

                  I'd like to see if I can set up a rig on a V6 Tacoma with something light like a multiquip 180 instead of the standard Cummins truck with a Bobcat on back.

                  Do I need to have and AC welding power supply?
                  Would highly recommend it! For the price of what you'd spend on a separate generator, get an even better welder. Many times they can provide up to 11kW which is plenty for lights, power tools, heck you could even run a small mig off that.

                  I recall at one time we had a Lincoln welder.. not sure the year model, but it produced a DC output on the outlets. It would kill a grinder if it wasn't AC/DC rated. Always had to make sure you had the right grinder on the truck when using that welder, I once got stuck with it on a rig doing a job and didn't check the grinder.. Would have bit me in the @ss if back then I couldn't have made such clean cuts with a torch as not to need one.


                  How much amperage am I likely to need?
                  If you get a welder with AC output, then they should produce enough... Go as big as you can. No one ever said I have too much power to use.

                  Is there an advantage to having something lighter and more nimble off road?
                  the oil field rig roads can get soupy after it rains and other vehicles rut it up. Make sure you have GOOD off road tires, 4x4, and I'd make a nice bumper on the front and back with attachment points for a winch. Then mount a heavy duty winch. You may never need all that, but it helps to never need it than wish you had it.

                  Thanks.
                  What you describe is just what I'd think as soon as I see your truck pull up.... Small truck lacking power with a farm welder. For that setup I'd figure most of your business was small jobs like driving to customers houses to repair their stock trailers or maybe building fences.

                  I didn't make a life out of welding, because my family lived it and that was not a life I wanted for my family. Long hours, no time off, on call 24/7 365.
                  It could be Christmas morning and when that phone rings your out the door. Welding and iron working was all my father and grandfather ever did.
                  Grandfather helped build the Pecos river high bridge, and set the antenna on the hemisphere tower in San Antonio, and my father was an iron worker/welder erecting the Corpus Christi, TX power plants.

                  My father and grandfather then followed the oil field into New Mexico. Father worked for another guy until he saved enough money to buy his own welding truck that he then built a welding bed for it. Not one of those stock pickups that somebody just sticks a welder in the back and says I'm a welder.

                  For 3 years straight my father worked over 100 hrs a week.
                  When he saved enough he moved away from the business he worked for so as not to directly compete, and then started his own oil field welding business with a mobile bag phone in his truck and a pager on his hip. He would go from rig to rig welding day after day until he earned a reputation for himself and the name of his business. I believe he always ran at least an SA-200 on the truck. Later on some of the trucks had the Lincoln 300D diesel and man they welded nice. Once his name got out their, my mom moved where he was and became his answering service. She would then relay to him what the next job was and when and keep his schedule packed.

                  After a number of years, he started hiring other welders to help handle all the work, and that was the start of Superior Welding in Carlsbad, NM. My dad ran it for about 30 years and then shut it down when it finally became to difficult to find welders who could pass a drug test and not tear up equipment.
                  By that time they had started 3 other companies, (a structural steel company, a water hauling company, and an energy company). So shutting down the least profitable made sense back then.

                  Just a little history of what I've seen with the life of welding to maybe give you some ideas on how you could shape your future.

                  Oh... also, I pretty much agree with everything Fusionking said...
                  Coming into a new area to you where the customer already have relationships with other welders or big welding companies is going to be TOUGH...

                  I can't speak for logging... but in the oil field may times Welding companies would do big favors for the oil field company guys.. Like take them on big game ranches all expenses paid, or other perks. In return.. the welding companies would get TONS of work in return.
                  Keep in mind these were customers we had had for years and had done LOTs of work for.
                  For a new guy to come in, he wouldn't have stood a chance until the guy we had connections with was gone.

                  It is a REALLY shady way of doing things... but if you worked for some of these established logging repair companies, then those customers could see the work you do. When you give them your business card, write your cell number on it.

                  Then as you get more established and those logging outfits see you do good work. Start your own business and keep the same cell number, then your prior customers still know how to reach you. Next time you visit them give them your new business card. Then they are no long trying a new company, they are using the welder they used last time, but the payment goes to a different place.

                  The reason I know how all of that works, is because it at times happened to our business with guys that were some of our best, who then became our competition.

                  Last edited by clint738; 03-13-2017, 10:27 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by clint738 View Post
                    It is a REALLY shady way of doing things... but if you worked for some of these established logging repair companies, then those customers could see the work you do. When you give them your business card, write your cell number on it.

                    Then as you get more established and those logging outfits see you do good work. Start your own business and keep the same cell number, then your prior customers still know how to reach you. Next time you visit them give them your new business card. Then they are no long trying a new company, they are using the welder they used last time, but the payment goes to a different place.

                    The reason I know how all of that works, is because it at times happened to our business with guys that were some of our best, who then became our competition.
                    Yea we had a person who did that in our area.
                    Not a chance of this person ever getting a welding job in the field they were in, in our particular area.
                    Good help is hard to find. And good entails more than just welding skill. Work ethic is very important, as well as morals.


                    www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
                    Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
                    MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
                    Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
                    Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

                    Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
                    Miller 30-A Spoolgun
                    Miller WC-115-A
                    Miller Spectrum 300
                    Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
                    Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

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