The engine driven welding machine has a hero aura about itself: “No power. No electrical outlet. No Problem.” It’ll transform your business. It’s enabling you to take on business that isn’t coming to your shop door. And for those jobs that force you out of the shop, you’re sending your own people with the tools and power to do the task. It’s hard not to want one.
But the engine driven welding machine is just a tool. It’s not Superman. The engine driven welding machine is depending on others to service it. It’s true it isn’t a 5 minute task; its requiring time and effort – so maybe that’s why it gets neglected.The owner’s manual has a great section on how to do Routine Maintenance. (We will avoid mentioning that it comes with pictures) It’ll save money and time: guaranteed.
“Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
1. A brand new engine driven welding machine isn’t working.
Here’s a tip. Make sure, whoever is selling you the new machine includes a demo. New machines usually have switches and digital meters that weren’t on the old model. There are switches on the front of the machine that are sending messages to the control board to do certain tasks. If you unknowingly switch it on to remote but won’t be using it in that mode, than the machine is going to do some weird things. Making you think you’ve
bought a “lemon”. Bringing it to the warranty shop and thinking warranty work covers poor salesmanship can be a disappointing and costly experience. So before you hand over your money, get the sales people to show you and those who’ll be using it how it all works. They owe it to you.
2. Mounting the welding machine.
Mounting it beside rocks and gravel on the truck is like having a fireplace with no chimney. The fan is going to be sucking in dust, rocks, and whatever else is lying beside it. The first day it’s going to be okay and probably the 100th day, it’ll be cranking out the amps and kilowatts. But one day, it’s going to be likened to the straw that broke the camel’s back.
3. The top cover on the welding machine.
The cover and sides do a lot to safeguard the welding machine but it doesn’t mean it lives in a nuclear bomb shelter. There is a generator with electric windings underneath that cover. The wires are coated to withstand certain elements but some parts of the country don’t always have mild weather. If for some reason those wires start becoming uncoated, a short circuit is going to happen. It’ll be sending a surge up the wires and delivering a knock out punch to the Circuit board. Those capacitors on the control board were designed for a certain amount of power – and when it’s exceeded it will spill its contents on the board. After that, two things will be needed to restore the machine: new control board and new stator. Oh, yeah, money, too.
4. The screws that hold the machine together.
Screws can become rusted and firmly welded into the machine. This is okay until you need to remove the screws. If the screw won’t come easily and it’s hidden behind another part then you’re going to get to make a costly decision. (1) Do you pay for 3 or 4 hours removing other parts to get at a small part? (2) Or do you say it’s not worth repairing? And it’s all because a screw can’t come out. It neatly fits the old saying, “For the loss of a nail, the kingdom was lost”
5. Jerry-Rig: To fix an object (usually mechanical) to a working condition in a haphazard way. Also known as doing a MacGyver on it.
It’s amazing how a little bit of mechanical knowledge and good foraging skills can keep your engine driven welder going. Such as locating the choke and finding something to keep it open. But if it works, take the “pat on the back” and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the answer for the long term. There’s a strong correlation between the duration of a jerry rig repair and the total of the repair bill.
6. Machines that keep coming back to the repair shop.
We once kept seeing the same welding machine over and over. The owner was quite sure we were incompetent. We explained each time it came in, it was a different problem. One day, one of the owner’s employees let it slip, he hated the machine. He was hoping his boss would give him another machine. Maybe the moral of this Aesop’s tale is that a well maintained machine is the one everyone wants to use. (No, we never saw the last chapter of that story.)
The biggest problem in abusing an engine driven welding machines is the unknown repair bill that will surely come one day. If there’s suspicion the local welding machine repair shop is a rip-off artist, this’ll be the day he can take advantage of you. Hoping exaggerated truths (e.g. that the machine has been serviced regularly and was running great) is going to help reduce the bill is wishful thinking. Once the technician starts poking around the oil filter, air filter, etc., it becomes difficult to sound credible.
If we can help you develop a plan to maintain your machines, give us a call. Or you’re looking for a new one. We can make it happen.