Alt Bike Culture - Tools of Mass Destruction
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05-26-05, 11:03 AM
What are your prefered tools for doing heavy-duty disassembly and reassembly of bikes?
So far my most preferred disassembler is the plasma cutter. The damn thing is as easy to use as a pencil, and will cut through any electrically conductive substance up to 1/2" thick. It'll go right through paint and other coatings as well, which is a handy feature. I used it quite a bit while making my tall bike, since it could just blast through any job.
My most preferred reassembler is the MIG welder. I'd like to learn TIG at some point, but I don't have a TIG welder, I don't have any friends with TIG welders (though a friend's coworker has one he said we may be able to use for doing some aluminum work... mmm!). I've been using mostly a Millermatic 135, which is a smallish MIG, but it seems to be plenty for bikes.
I also kept two angle grinders around at all times, one mounted with a wire cup, and the other with a grinder wheel. The two things got quite a bit of use cleaning up welds, removing paint, and other duties.
What do you all use?
05-27-05, 12:13 PM
Can't add to your list. Though having two grinders for the wire & cut-off functions is definitely the way to go (I have only one).
Instead I wonder: do you have any problems with the MIG & burning holes in tubes? What kind of settings are you using? I have a Hobart Handler 125 or 135, whatever it is its pretty similar to your millermatic I think.
I ask because I'm in the process of experimenting with a trailer & am debating the merits of a tallbike project.
Anyone have any idea what a used plasma cutter will cost? 1/2" capacity would be nice, but I don't think I'll need more than 1/4" capacity, unless I buy another Landcruiser.
05-30-05, 09:12 PM
I don't recall exactly what MIG settings we were using, but we used what the miller's settings were, but we used .024" solid wire, 75% Ar/25% CO2 gas (standard welding gas), and whatever settings the chart on the side of the welder suggested for 1/16" mild steel.
I burned holes through the tubing once or twice early on, but that was mostly just control issues, and I just filled them in on the second pass without trouble. Just start with your settings a little on the low side, and if you don't have the heat to maintain a pool, turn it up a bit. And if you do burn a hole, just fill it in on the second pass.
I'd say go for it! Steel is highly forgiving, especially the cheaper/thicker steels that we are probably using for this sort of project (as opposed to the super thin true-temper steels used for performance bikes).
Does anyone have anysuggestions on mig welders I am looking into buying one but I dont know if there are any good brands or brands I should look out for....also what kind of $$ should I be willing to spend for a decent welder....any suggestions would be very helpfull.....thanks, Luke
06-02-05, 12:23 PM
...Best you can afford.
I bought a Hobart that runs on normal household current, so I don't have to run 220/240 to the garage. The 120volt versions are also cheaper. Mine (probably all of them) works as a plain wire feed (flux-cored wire) or with a bottle as a MIG. The bottle & fittings are expensive, so if you're just getting into it, can buy the welder first & add the MIG junk later. I believe models from Hobart, Miller & Lincoln all offer this, possibly Chicago Electric as well. You can start with a cheap wire feed from Harbor Freight for probably $150 or so, but it'll have limited use & will be wire feed only - no MIG. I want to say my Hobart was $350, for everything but the bottle. That was another $90, I think.
06-02-05, 03:25 PM
You can often find used ones from people who are upgrading. I'd second the suggestion to look for Hobart, Miller, or Lincoln welders. All are fine companies, and make good welders in the entry-MIG range. I've used a Millermatic 135, which is a 120V welder (works on normal outlets), and has been great for working on bikes. We do use it in MIG-mode, with the solid wire and the gas, and it helps keep welds much cleaner.
I'd avoid a Harbor Freight welder.. I love HF, but for something like a welder it just doesn't seem worth it... I'd talk to a few welding supply places in your town to see if they have any used stock, and what their bottle rental/purchase deals are like.
06-10-05, 10:03 PM
representing Oberlin College Bike Co-op and the Chopticons -
we use a sawzall, angle grinder (which is constantly and mysteriously morphing) and oxy-acetylene to weld.
we fly through sawzall blades, especially on mountain frames, but it's still faster than a grinder.
our fleet thus far is 2.5 talls (one has a bad fork weld), and about 6 choppers. it's hard to chop when you have papers to write.
06-10-05, 10:42 PM
Who needs papers? Chop chop chop! We've got 5 talls (and two more in parts), but no complete choppers at the moment... I gotta get on that...
Sawzalls are certainly fun. That would be my cutting tool of choice if a friend of mine didn't have a plasma cutter he lets me borrow. :D
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