Last week my son’s good friend Jose’ Tyson asked on Facebook for anyone that could weld his Ford Ranger truck. His door latch had broken and he needed it repaired. I offered up my services in exchange for an ice cold beer. Tyson was quick to take me up on the offer.
He arrived at 10 am on Saturday and we went to work. First task was to clean the metal as good as we could. Tyson removed the latch and the some of the inside trim so that he could hold things in place while I weld, and more importantly, move some electrical wires away from the welding area to keep them from melting. We prepped the area with a grinder, Dremel sander and hand sandpaper, then cleaned it all with acetone. We couldn’t get all the paint off but we were able to get most of it removed. As a precaution we disconnected the ECU on his truck even though I don’t think it was necessary. We also ground off a place on the hinge below the door latch so we could ground the welder and keep the circuit short.
I had a hard time getting my TIG torch and wire into the welding area – it was a tight fit. I welded the worst of the cracks first. Every 15-20 seconds I would stop welding and Tyson would use my Dewalt hand-held leaf blower to cool off the weld area. I didn’t want the heat to ruin the paint nearby or melt any plastic or rubber parts. By using my TIG welder at around 40 amps, we kept the heat isolated to the weld area and cooled the metal to keep the heat from building up and spreading. It took about an hour of fine detail welding and waiting for it to cool to get everything welded back in place. Some of the weld area was a bit ugly since I had a hard time getting into position, but for the most part things worked out great and we only had to do minimal grinding to get the surface flat again so he could remount the latch. We grabbed some paint at AutoZone and just rattle-canned the affected area – after cleaning it of course. This wasn’t in a cosmetic area and the truck was a bit older, so Tyson wasn’t too worried about cosmetics. He was VERY happy that the door now sealed nice and tight with no wind noise, and looked pretty decent.
I was very happy with how my Lincoln Electric Square Wave TIG-200 performed. I was able to easily control the heat using my foot pedal, using between 25 and 50 amps as needed. This is a great welder for home shop use, especially since I can not only TIG weld, but also stick weld with it. And it will do both DC and AC TIG welding so I can weld aluminum as well as steel.