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.
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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.