Introduction: My MIG Cart
This MIG (GMAW) cart is a little different than what is usually available currently. It is more compact. It was also built almost entirely of free steel I found on the curb around garbage pickup day or that was given to me. I did purchase the three casters. This exact cart will be difficult to duplicate because I used what I found. But, it does give a glimpse of a very useful configuration different from normal.
- 1 1/2 inch square tubing with 1/8 inch walls
- 1 inch angle iron
- 2 inch angle iron
- Concrete reinforcement bar (rebar) in 3/8 inch and 5/8 inch sizes
- 1/8 x 3/4 inch bar steel
- 1/4 inch steel rod
- 5/16 inch eyebolt
- Short spring from the suspension of an automatic washing machine
- 1/16 inch steel sheet
- 4 1/2 inch angle head grinder with a diamond cutting wheel
- 230 volt stick (SMAW) welder
- Various clamps
- Magnetic welder's square
- Corner bracket
Step 1: The Frame
I found parts of a home gymnasium on the curb shortly before garbage pickup day. I have wished they were a couple of inches longer in the straight sections. But, I was still able to make a strong stable MIG cart with some careful planning. Notice the chalk mark across the upper section. I decided to cut both pieces along that line. I also cut the 5/8 inch solid rod coming out of the lower piece (left side of the photo) off for use later.
Step 2: Position and Weld the Frame
I positioned both frame pieces after cutting and clamped them to a piece of steel sheet to hold them while welding at the Vise-Grip clamp.
I know a weld across rather than in line with a load bearing piece provides a stress area vulnerable to a crack later. It will be buttressed later.
Step 3: Add the Caster Frames
I removed the caster wheels before welding to keep them unblemished and undamaged. I should not have done it, but I have some welds that are across rather than in-line with the load bearing pieces. But, the load in those places will either have additional buttresses, or the load at that point is minimal.
Notice I also welded a piece of square tubing between the two sides of the frame near what will be the rear of the cart. Part of it is directly above the rear fixed caster frames. The Argon/CO2 shielding gas tank will rest on top of this piece of square tubing.
Step 4: Tank Support Post
I did not yet have a tank when I was making my MIG cart. My welder had not yet arrived, so I made some guesses about the size of tank I might get so the hose would reach from the tank's valve and regulator to the back of the welder. I found some data on the Internet about diameter and height. The steel tube is also from some of the discarded exercise equipment. I used a magnetic welder's square and the finished result was square enough, although not perfect.
I argued with myself about how I would mount the welder in relation to the tank and considered several options. I planned the mount for the tank just a little to one side of the frame's center. A key goal was that the finished cart would not be easily tipped over.
The yellowed square tubing supports the weight of the tank. I felt I needed to weld around the circumference of the round tube at its base for strength. Later I welded a flat plate gusset 1 1/2 wide by 3 inches long and 3/16 inch thick on both sides of the square tubing where the round tube is welded, lest the weld around the round tube's base weakened the square tube.
Step 5: Stabilizer Pieces
I did not just want the tank to balance on the square tube, but I wanted to weld short pieces of tube under the tank's location to form an "X." I used a piece of scrap wood to align the short pieces of square tubing before tack welding in place. I avoided welding across the square tubing and added a thick gusset from angle iron in the corners. (See the second photo.)
See the third photo. I clamped a gusset in place so I could align the short piece of square tubing. A piece of scrap wood helped with alignment before tack welding again. (Fourth photo)
Step 6: The Handle
This photo shows the finished "X" support for the shielding gas tank.
The scavenged pieces of the home gymnasium have two round horizontal sleeves at what is now the back of my MIG cart. As the cart progressed I decided I would move the cart with a hinged handle made of 5/8 inch rebar. I used the 5/8 inch solid rod I cut away from one of the curved pieces of square tubing to make pivots for the handle. I bent the 5/8 inch rebar into a curve by supporting it between two sturdy blocks and hitting it repeatedly with a very big hammer. I trimmed it to length and welded it to the pieces of 5/8 inch rod used for the handle pivots. I had to be careful to get a big enough weld to be strong and not to weld the pivot rods to their sleeves.
See the second graphic. The black rectangles represent the location of the caster wheels. The blue triangle defines the area between the points where the wheels touch the floor. Notice that the tank and the welder's transformer are within the blue triangle and within the area with the most stability. Some effort is required to tip the cart to the right so the left rear wheel rises from the floor. But, the cart must be tipped quite a number of inches before the cart wants to continue tipping as to fall over. I purposely mounted the welder low to the floor so it would be as stable as possible.
Step 7: Secure Latch for the Tank
I had some steel plate about 3/16 inch thick. I cut a rounded area from it and ground it to fit the tank very closely. I used a corner bracket and clamps to position the steel plate for welding. Then I removed the tank and welded the plate to the top of the round tube.
A friend gave me some old snow chains from the 1940s. I used some of it to gird the tank. I designed and made an over center latch. The spring is from our old washing machine. It suspended the tub and the works so they could move a bit during use without the outer shell of the machine moving about.
Later I drilled a 1/8 inch hole through the latch and the steel plate and added a safety locking pin to keep the latch from coming open accidentally.
Step 8: Welder Mount
I used angle iron to make a base for mounting the welder. The longer angle iron on the left is mounted a little lower because the door for changing the wire spool, checking the settings chart, and adjusting roller tension is on the left side of the welder. I wanted to be able to raise the door without lifting the welder from the mount for it. See the second photo.
There are three cross pieces in the mount because there are raised load bearing points on the bottom of the welder, and the cross pieces have been positioned to align with the load bearing points. I placed the welder on its side so you can see a little of the load bearing points in the black bottom of the welder.
I was able to angle the welder upward so I do not need to stoop so low to adjust the settings. But, because the welder is quite low to the floor, the cart is as stable as possible.
Step 9: Cable and Helmet Hanger
See the text box attached to the photo. I used 3/8 inch rebar to make a stand shaped like a cactus. It holds the cables and the helmet when the welder is not in use. I should clean and paint the cart, yet.
I want to thank all who voted for my Toy Steam Shovel project in the recent Metalworking Contest. I won this welder and helmet as one of the two First Prizes. It has already been a blessing to me and I am already using it to bless others.
6 years ago
Very nice. I like how low and compact it is. It's almost like the base of an IV cart you see at hospitals.
Reply 6 years ago
Thank you. The pieces of steel I found and a need to keep the center of gravity low determined a lot of its final form. I also need to roll it into a limited space for storage when not in use.
Someone could weld up square tubing, even black pipe, to make their own desired frame shape.
I have a larger tank than many might choose. I had planned to buy a smaller tank, but the sales guy at Airgas showed me the bigger tank was only a very, very few dollars more than a tank half the size, and filling a larger tank is more cost effective than filling a smaller tank. The inspection and certification process is the same for a big tank as for a small tank.
6 years ago
Reply 6 years ago
Thank you for looking and for commenting.
6 years ago
Great work as usual, Phil.
I was happy to see you win the welder, and happy that you're putting it to use right away! :)
Reply 6 years ago
Thank you very much. I sent an e-mail to Miller, maker and donor of the welder and helmet, to thank them for making these prizes available. I got a nice e-mail response from the woman who works with their public relations telling me how much they appreciated the acknowledgement from me. I recognized her name because I had opportunity to go to SEMA in Las Vegas four years ago and met her in person at the Miller booth at that time. Thank you also to Instructables for allowing me to share things I have done, as well as to record them for my own use later when I have forgotten some details.