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#4750247 - 05/07/18 03:13 PM Best welder for automotive body panel replacement?
oilpsi2high Offline


Registered: 12/18/14
Posts: 1314
Loc: NY, USA, etc.
My truck has a few holes in the truck bed from where water collected under the plastic drop-in bedliner.

I'd like to weld in a sheet metal patch since the rest of the bed is in good shape. What's the best welder for accomplishing this task?

I'd prefer not to have to rely on gas if at all possible.

Would something like this work?

https://www.harborfreight.com/Flux-125-Welder-63582.html?ccdenc=eyJjb2RlIjoiMTQ4MjAwMzAiLCJza3UiOiI2MzU4MiIsImlzIjoiODkuOTkiLCJwcm9kdWN0X2lk%0D%0AIjoiMTIzMTIifQ%3D%3D%0D%0A

Thanks for any help.

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#4750256 - 05/07/18 03:22 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
oilpsi2high Offline


Registered: 12/18/14
Posts: 1314
Loc: NY, USA, etc.
Could you weld body panels with something like this?

https://www.harborfreight.com/oxygen-and-acetylene-welding-kit-98958.html

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#4750263 - 05/07/18 03:32 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
Jooksing Offline


Registered: 03/05/18
Posts: 214
Loc: Chicago
"best" will be subjective. In your case, for small amount of welding it will probably do. Just need to spend more time to grind welds clean. Usually best and harbor freight will not run in the same sentence.

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#4750265 - 05/07/18 03:32 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
JC1 Offline


Registered: 11/29/08
Posts: 2898
Loc: Oshawa, Ontario Canada
I've done welding on an exhaust system with a welder like the first one. I don't think you'll get good quality welds on body panels. You'd probably need to step up to harbor frieght's better line (Vulcan), but I'll let others chime in.
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#4750273 - 05/07/18 03:40 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
OneEyeJack Offline


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 7456
Loc: S California
It's easier learning with the flux welder, and safer too.

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#4750280 - 05/07/18 03:51 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 18581
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
If its only a small amount of pieces you can just braze it as long as it not structural. A small torch set with a small tip will do the job with no problems you just have to go slow and keep the rest of the panel cool to prevent distortion. when I started out this is what we used, mig welder were no practical due to their size and huge cost.
Having a smoke wrench and cutting torch are added useful benefits.

You only need brazing goggles and gloves, the brazing rods are fluxed.
I do a lot of it and use a MillerMatic 211 inverter with steel mix gas from Airgas, the 211 can do 120v for thin sheet metal and 240v for thicker stuff but its not cheap.
The additional cost like a cart, helmet and gas bottle can add up the price of a small gas set alone.
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#4750352 - 05/07/18 05:19 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 20369
Loc: Upstate NY
Unless you want to learn how to weld, get an auto body shop do the welding. Some smaller auto body shops do rust repair, others do not want to touch rust.

Mig welding is easier than stick but still will take some time to learn.
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#4750398 - 05/07/18 06:19 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 32494
Loc: ME
Alternatively you can pop_rivet the patches in, or perhaps even get some body adhesive to stick between the sandwiched parts.

If you've never welded before, sheet metal is not the thing to practice on. You aren't "shooting glue", you're "shooting holes" and just hoping that the edges of the holes fall in on themselves.

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#4750439 - 05/07/18 06:59 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 3858
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
The sheet metal of a bed of a truck is probably too thin for a beginner to weld.

Brazing is easy for a beginner to do a good enough job, but it will not look pretty. You will want to clean up the results and paint or use undercoat on it. If you have a bed liner to hide the area you brazed then brazing would be OK.
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#4750463 - 05/07/18 07:14 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
spk2000 Offline


Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 974
Loc: Prospect, KY
Take it to a shop for $50-100 you will be done and not need to buy anything. The thin sheet metal will be quite a challenge and you will likely do more damage than good. TIG would be my choice for welding this. We use mostly MIG weld in production as it is much faster but not quite as good at repairs as TIG. Novice welders generally cannot TIG weld that good.
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#4750476 - 05/07/18 07:27 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
NHGUY Offline


Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 5023
Loc: USA
Panel adhesive is a good alternative for non structural repairs.Its not cheap and you need to buy the dispensing gun too though.

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#4750579 - 05/07/18 08:41 PM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
Vern_in_IL Offline


Registered: 06/25/14
Posts: 1865
Loc: IL
Some cars today are using high strength steel that cannot be welded.
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#4750745 - 05/08/18 12:40 AM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
djb Offline


Registered: 01/16/06
Posts: 721
Loc: Los Gatos CA
The flux wire welder will be the least expensive way to start. With a few minutes of practice on similar thickness sheets you'll be able to produce ugly tack welds. Then you can use a grinder to obliterate the worst looking parts.
You shouldn't expect a void-free seam weld that lays flat.

A gas setup will cost much more since you'll need to buy or rent tanks, and have them filled. Unless you are simply brazing, you'll need lots of practice to make a functional weld.

With both you'll need clean, solid metal that is nearly perfectly mated to start with. If you want to start with rusty metal, an AC stick welder will make "farmer" ugly-but-functional welds. Or burn through.

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#4750788 - 05/08/18 05:25 AM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: JimPghPA]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 18581
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted By: JimPghPA
The sheet metal of a bed of a truck is probably too thin for a beginner to weld.

Brazing is easy for a beginner to do a good enough job, but it will not look pretty. You will want to clean up the results and paint or use undercoat on it. If you have a bed liner to hide the area you brazed then brazing would be OK.


If I were to braze it I would cut the surrounding area out like always then use a panel flanger, make a template so it fits with a small space all the way around then braze it. a few passes with a coarse grit flap wheel on a grinder will clean it up nicely.
A little filler and primer and its good to go.

It creates a flange and can punch holes for rivets to hold it in place, they work great. HF probably has a cheap version but they don't cost a lot to begin with.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007QV7WW0/ref...p;pd_rd_w=A8GeS
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#4750792 - 05/08/18 05:39 AM Re: Best welder for automotive body panel replacement? [Re: oilpsi2high]
Ducked Offline


Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 4231
Loc: Taiwan
Flange welds with gas are very, very easy. Essentially they weld themselves, and you don't need to manipulate filler rods, BUT gas gear is prohibitively expensive, and the appearance of a flange weld won't be acceptable in all applications.

Since it was the only weld I could do well, I redesigned the underside of my rotted-out Marina to use flange welds, since I had the use of army gas welding gear. MOT tester didn't like the novelty and, in defiance of the regulations, spent quite a long time hitting it with quite a big hammer. He got tired eventually.

I havn't tried flange welds with any other gear (though I have used MIG). I'd guess that they'd probably be almost as easy with TIG, since its like "electric gas welding", but TIG aint cheap either.

For the application you describe I probably wouldn't bother. Holes are natures way of improving drainage. Might patch with aluminium located with self-tappers, pop-rivets, and/or epoxy.

I dunno if you can get it hot enough for a good braze with just a blow-torch. Those twin-carbon arc gizmo's were cheap and might be worth trying if you can find one, but they seem to have gone out of style.

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