Introduction: A Sensible Wheel Kit for a Welder

Factory wheel kits for a stick welder always attach at the back of the welder. The photo below is from Lincoln Electric's web site. The user is to tip the welder back toward the rear in order to move the welder. You can see the wheels attached, and also the handles at the top of the welder. In order to use this wheel kit, the operator would need to get behind the welder.

Step 1: The Real World

This is my Miller stick welder. It occupies a small space near the garage wall and between my lathe and my radial arm saw. The cables, helmet, gloves, and welding hammer either rest on the floor, or on top of the welder. Space is limited and things could easily fall off. That could be tragic for a nice helmet with auto darkening lens and circuitry.

But, sometimes I need to pull the welder out of its space so the cables will have just enough reach to weld something I cannot bring inside the garage, or to service something inside the welder, like oiling the cooling fan. This welder is heavy and using raw muscle power quickly stops being fun.

Step 2: My Welder's Wheel Truck

Since I cannot easily get behind my welder I decided to make a wheel truck that attaches to the front of the welder. I can tip the welder toward me as I stand in front of it. I also added some hooks to hold the cables, my helmet, a welding hammer, etc. My gloves can lay on top of the welder.

Materials for this project were:
4 feet of 1/2 inch black iron pipe
two short carriage bolts (used for end caps to close the hole in the end of the pipe at the handle)
some 5/16" steel rod
some 1 1/4 inch angle iron
two short pieces of 5/32 x 1 1/4 inch strap iron
a set of old lawnmower wheels and axle (see the next step)

Step 3: The Wheels and Axle

I visited our local scrap yard and found a discarded Snapper push mower similar to the one pictured in this photo from Google images. These mowers feature a solid axle that runs the full extent of the machine's front. The wheels pictured here are plastic. Those I found at the scrap yard were steel.

Step 4: The First Steps

The first step after acquiring all of the materials was to cut the angle iron pieces to length. On my Miller welder the pieces need to extend from the bottom of the machine to just above the bolts on the front of the welder that support the transformer. Cut each piece of angle iron about 13 1/2 inches long.

The two angle iron pieces will be set to face inward toward each other, so that one will be the left piece and one the right piece. In the photo you see the right piece and part of the right wheel.

Cut a piece of strap iron for each side (two short pieces) as you see here and weld one to the end of each angle iron. This strap iron tab will bear most of the weight of the welder. The face of the angle iron nearer to the camera attaches to the front of the welder. The tab extends under the welder at the front face. It is short because a foot is stamped into the bottom of the welder just beyond the end of the tab.

Step 5: Close the Ends of the Handle

Cut the threaded ends from the black iron pipe. Cut a piece 12 1/2 inches long from the black iron pipe. This will become the top part of the handle.

Get two short carriage bolts. The diameter of the bolt heads should be very close to the outside diameter of the pipe. Weld them over the ends of the pipe you just cut to give a nice finished look to the ends of the handle. Grind the welds smooth.

Step 6: Preparing the Pipe for Welding

Cut what remains of the pipe into two equal pieces. With an abrasive cutting wheel about the same thickness as the angle iron make a slot in the side of one end of each piece of pipe. The slot is about 1 1/2 inches long and is parallel to the length of the pipe. The graphic is not to exact scale.

Step 7: Align the Pipe to the Angle Iron



In the photo the whole wheel truck has already been assembled and welded. (I did this project several years ago.) The board in the photo is clamped to the face of the angle iron that rests against the front of the welder. This photo illustrates measuring to get the same angle off of the face of the welder before welding the two pieces of pipe. The next step will show the pipe welded to the angle iron and will help clarify some things about this.

Step 8: Weld the Pipe to the Angle Iron

When I made my wheel kit, the kerf in the pipe from the cutting wheel fit snugly on the angle iron. I could tap the joint with a hammer to adjust the position of the pipe, and it would stay where I put it. When you are satisfied with the placement of the pipe, weld the pipe pieces to the angle iron pieces.

Step 9: Locate the Support Bolts for the Transformer

Lay the welder over on its back so the weight of the transformer does not change its alignment with the holes for its mounting bolts. Remove the four bolts in the yellow boxes.

Measure the distance from the bottom of the welder to the centers of the bolt holes. Measure and mark the angle iron pieces for the location of the holes. Drill holes in the angle iron pieces and bolt the angle iron pieces to the front of the welder.

Step 10: Weld the Handle Across the Pipe Uprights

After bolting the angle iron and pipe assemblies to the front of the welder you will have two pieces of pipe pointing up into the air. Check to see that they are the same height and neither is set more forward or back farther than the other. I had to heat one of the upright pieces of pipe near to its weld to the angle iron in order to bend it forward just a little. When they are aligned, place the handle piece across them and weld the handle to the uprights.

Step 11: Attach the Wheels

The mower axle is longer than necessary for the wheel kit. Cut the axle into two pieces and remove half of the extra length from each piece.

Drill a hole in each of the angle iron pieces for the axle. The wheels should rest on the floor if the axle is properly located, or may lift the front of the welder off of the floor about 1/4 inch.

Step 12: Weld the Ends of the Axle

Chamfer the ends of the axle halves before welding. Clamp each half of the axle to a short piece of angle iron to hold them in alignment for welding. Weld by filling the "V"s made by the chamfers with a bead on one side and then a bead on the other side. Continue making alternating beads until the "V"s are full.

Step 13: Tack the Axle to the Angle Iron

To make everything more solid I tack welded the axle to each piece of angle iron.

Step 14: Make and Weld Hooks

Cut four pieces of 5/16 inch rod about 7 inches long each. Grind the ends smooth. Bend each 90 degrees at about 2 1/2 inches. Chamfer the other end of each rod. Weld them to the upright pipe sections as shown.

Step 15: All Done

This photo shows (again) the welder with the finished wheel kit or truck in place on the welder. There is a variety of ways the equipment hooks can be used to store the cables and accessories according to personal preferences.

Step 16: Using It

To use the wheel truck, just walk up to it and place one toe on the axle. Pull the handle back, and wheel the welder to its new location.

A wheel kit that attaches to the front of a welder makes so much more sense than a wheel truck that requires the operator to move behind the welder.

Comments

author
gumby_kevbo (author)2016-11-30

This is a great idea, and also has another advantage:

Suppose you get all set up to weld, and then find you need a foot or so more reach:

With the normal set-up if you pull on the cables, the welder falls over on it's face...so you have to set everything down, and walk over and move the welder, then go back and get things set up again.

With the wheels on front, tugging on the cables rolls the welder toward you. Of course this is bad practice, yet it is the sort of thing that can save some frustration when needed, and of course the cables will occasionally get pulled on accidently as well.

When I made my Oxy-acetylene cart, I made it with this in mind, but had always just lived with the wheels that came on the inherited-from-dad Montgomery Ward/Century arc welder.

I'll be reversing the wheels on my arc welder soon. I might move the power cord exit to the front panel as well. Running out the back prevents it from snuggling up to a wall...would be nice to have all the sticky-outy stuff on the same side.

author
Phil B (author)gumby_kevbo2016-12-28

Thanks you for your ideas. My father did electrical wiring and I was his helper until I left home permanently. I grew up with an aversion to pulling on cables. We now live in a different house and my workshop setup is entirely different. Still, it makes more sense to me for the operator to be able to move a welder from its front rather than its back where the back could easily be against a wall. Sometimes I have to reach through cables and that is a little annoyance.

author
jimmyf (author)2015-11-01

Nice work. I have used an old luggage trolley for my welder, which is not as heavy as yours. However, I keep the welder the other way round. Your idea of having the wheels in front just never occurred to me. I will make that change just as soon as I finish this post. Thank you for sharing.

author
Phil B (author)jimmyf2015-11-01

Thank you for looking and for commenting. We are in a different house now, and I could position the wheels on the back side of the welder now without making much of a difference. Still, it makes sense that a welder will be rolled up against a wall sooner or later. Putting the wheels in front is a better option in such cases.

author
criggie (author)2011-06-10

Nice work. What do you think of a 4 wheeled platform on which the unit rests.

More of a bogey or a sampson rather than a sackbarrow?

author
Phil B (author)criggie2011-06-14

I am not sure I understand your question. But, four wheels would work. I would want swivel casters on only two of the wheels, though.

author
rimar2000 (author)2009-03-09

You have given me a good idea, Phil. My welder is not as heavy, but with wheels, it would be more portable.

author
2 stroke (author)rimar20002010-09-26

i am the same way My welder is not as heavy, but with wheels, it would be more portable.

author
Phil B (author)rimar20002009-03-10

Thank you, Rimar. The design of my Miller welder allowed me to bolt my wheel kit to the front of the welder using the bolts that support the welder's transformer. The structure of my wheel kit took advantage of the strength in the frame of the welder and it could be relatively light and quite simple. I doubt that you have a Lincoln like the one pictured in the Introduction, but those are very popular in the USA. Anyone with a Lincoln would need to design a very different wheel kit, if he wants to do what I did. I have no suggestions, other than that a front accessible wheel kit might need more structural members and be in an "L" shape pattern. I expect you have a smaller welder designed to run on 220 - 230 volts from your standard wall receptacle, like is common in Europe.

author
rimar2000 (author)Phil B2009-03-10

Phil, if you want see my welder, open Google (or so) and search images of "Soldadora Electrica 155 Jet Gamma Turbo Ventilada". There are a lot of them. It is the cheapest I could find for 150A. I will do for it 3 little wheels when I finish the "ghetto lathe" that I am builting.

author
Phil B (author)rimar20002009-03-10

Rimar, Thank you for the information about your welder. I looked for it on the Internet. It looks like a nice unit. 150 amps should be enough for most home jobs. I seldom use over 90 amps. I would like to see an Instructable on your ghetto lathe when you are finished.

author
rimar2000 (author)Phil B2009-03-10

At the rate I'm going, I would be happy to finish the lathe around the end of the year. I leave my house Monday to Friday around 7 AM and return around 7:30 PM, so imagine ... Last Saturday I cut 12 pieces of L profile iron that will form what would be the bench and sliding cars. I need a lot to get version 1.0.0 "alpha test" Be patient, however.

author
Amir (author)2010-03-24

This is a really nice instructable, and a really good idea. I

've got an old Lincoln stick welder that weighs a little more than 100lbs. I use a two wheel dolly to move it around, but like you said, it's a real hassle to move it around from behind - especially in a little crowded garage like mine. Plus it sort of monopolizes my dolly with it's extra long extension cord wrapped around it and such, it's hard to take it off.

I've got all the parts scattered around, I'll have to make one of these sometime soon.

Thanks!

author
Phil B (author)Amir2010-03-25

Thank you for your comment.  I expect your Lincoln is identical to the welder in the Introduction photograph.  A friend has one of those, but I have not looked at it closely.  I expect it should not be too hard to make a front mounting dolly for your Lincoln.  The transformer mounting bolts on the Miller were just ideal for a front mounting dolly.  I wish you well.  There is a lot of joy in something you made that does a needed job well.

author
2 stroke (author)Phil B2010-09-26

i am making this for my welder

author
stephenniall (author)2009-09-30

Hmm looks alot heavier than my mig welder But i suppose that came with wheels !

author
Phil B (author)stephenniall2009-10-03

Your MIG welder probably has a handle for picking it up and carrying it to the job site with one hand. You would not want to carry my stick welder more than a couple of feet, even if you can pick it up.

author
LeumasYrrep (author)2009-03-09

Yes, yes YES. Excellent ideal. I can see this useful for a bunch of carted items that assume you can reach the back. I love your use of "junk scraps." The junk yard is my favorite "shopping center."

author
Phil B (author)LeumasYrrep2009-03-09

Thank you. Our junk yard has been a wonderful place to find treasures. But, a couple of years ago some person managed to injure himself while digging through things out back. He sued the owners for a bunch of money and now no one from the public is allowed in the yard. It is a source of great disappointment to me.

author
gmjhowe (author)2009-03-09

Excellent work! Its great to see 'bodge' jobs like this in order to make an item more usable! Keep it up as always.

author
Phil B (author)gmjhowe2009-03-09

Thank you, G M J.

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Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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