SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal-September 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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A SPARK OF GENIUS Miller Electric Offers 10 Tips For Welding Repairs During Off-Road Racing Events By Dan Sanchez SCORE race teams know that chase and pit crews have to be prepared for any situation. It’s key to winning a long-distance race like the SCORE Baja 1000. The problem all teams face, is that there’s limited room to carry parts and supplies, so only essential components and replacement parts are taken out into the desert race course. One of these necessary items is a capable, yet lightweight welding system that can eliminate the need for many extra parts, as some components can be repaired or replaced with prep-work and a good weld. While high-profile teams typically have an expert welder or two on staff, other teams are not so lucky to have access to someone with more than just basic welding skills. Andy Weyenberg, Motorsports Marketing Director for Miller Electric Mfg. Co. has lots of experience with both novice and professional welders and has seen mistakes made by both over many years of motorsports experience. With Miller Electric’s involvement in SCORE, Weyenberg offers some tips, and tools that teams can use to improve their techniques and repairs when racing in Baja. SCORE Journal: For chase teams racing in Baja, what Miller welding products would you recommend they carry on their vehicles that would be best to do repairs in the field, and at the same, time be easily portable?  Andy Weyenberg: If teams carry a generator, a product like the Miller Multimatic 200 or 215 would give them the ability to MIG-TIG, DC, and STICK-weld with one 30-lb. package that can run on 120V and 240V. The Multimatic 200 has a durable plastic case and better suited for field work. SJ: Are there other products you would recommend for pit crews stationed on location, that can handle larger repair tasks?  AW: The Miller Multimatic 220 AC/DC is perfect for larger MIG and STICK repairs as well as TIG DC for steels and AC where aluminum repairs are needed.  This is basically the all-around, do-it-all machine with over 200 amps of power in a lightweight, small inverter package. SJ: What are some of the essential items (welding accessories, safety gear, etc.) you feel pit crews and chase teams should have with them at all times to make necessary repairs?  AW: I think a lot of teams already have some of the basic tools needed to do a proper repair job, but taking the time to use them is the challenge. Some of these tools that they should have if they already are not using include: • A grinder to remove paint and shape metal. • Die grinders-some with carbide bits to get into tight areas. • Cut off wheels and a Sawzall. • Precut patch metal sheets and tubing in different thicknesses. • Weld helmets with X-mode that senses magnetic fields instead of just light generated from the weld.  Welding in bright areas like outside makes is hard for the helmet to see the arc.  Helmets like the Digital Elite and small Weld Mask 2 have the magnetic field sensor. • Weld sleeves are easy to use and protect arms from weld spatter and arc burn. • The TIG Multitask gloves are a good all-purpose glove for fabrication, MIG and TIG welding. • Miller SLAG safety glasses in SMOKE color are great for eye protection and comfortable enough to wear all day as sunglasses so you are always ready for work. SJ: What are some of the most common mistakes you see pit crews and chase teams make while performing repairs to a vehicle chassis or other components that need to be welded?  AW: The most common mistakes are made due to the lack of time.  People tend to shortcut the repair.  If the repair needs welding over cracked or broken components, make sure you gusset or weld a patch over the fatigued area. Also make sure the area is well cleaned of paint, oil or contaminants before welding. SJ: Many pro pit-crew teams have expert welders while other teams have “guys that know how to weld” and sometimes are not as familiar with settings. For those people, what do you recommend as the proper settings for welding machines to make repairs, knowing that most of the vehicle chassis are made of chromoly steel?  AW: For guys who don’t weld all the time or have to work with machines that they are unfamiliar with, a lot of our welding machines come with AUTO-SET technology to help set the machine based on that thickness you are welding. For machines that do not have AUTO-SET technology, you should use the 1 amp per .001” material thickness rule.  So if you are welding 1/8” material, set the machine for about 125 amps.  Give yourself a little extra power for “T” joints or aluminum. We recommend TIG welding Chromoly steels but if you have to MIG weld it, use a higher strength MIG wire like the ER80SD-2. Better yet, when building your race vehicle, there are high strength steels on the market like DOCOL R8 that have the same properties as Chromoly but can be either TIG welded or MIG welded without sacrificing joint strength. SJ: What type of bead should teams look for to know they are making a good weld and what are the signs they are not making a proper repair?  AW: Weld beads should not be high and ropey. The edges (toes) of the weld should tie in smoothly to the base metal. A cold weld looks like you could pick your fingernail under it or looks like the sides of the weld bead folds back instead of smoothly transitions to the base metal. SJ: What are your safety recommendations for any pit crew to consider when making repairs (ie. location of repairs, clothing, electrical system safety, distance from fuel, etc)?  AW: From a safety standpoint, it’s very important to have plenty of weld blankets available and protect/cover flammable parts of the vehicle such as wire harnesses, fuel tanks, rubber hoses, seats, etc. It’s always a good idea to unplug the engine computer too. If you’re welding near fuel lines or tanks, TIG welding doesn’t create spars and is easier to control the heat zone since it is a slower, precise process. SJ: Not knowing what parts of the vehicle may need to be repaired in the field, are there pieces and sections that crews should always carry to make these necessary fixes, (ie. tubing size, gussets, etc.)? AW: Bring the standard gussets and tubing sizes for your vehicle but also bring smaller diameter tubing to make internal sleeves for fixing crash damage if a tube has to be cut/replaced.  Butt welding tubes is not sufficient for repair.  Also bring some sheet steel for making patches to weld over cracked frame areas or suspension parts. SJ: Obviously, one can’t just start welding or making repairs without preparing the metal around it. What are some of the things you recommend to prepare a section of chassis or suspension component to be repaired?  AW: I can’t stress this enough. CLEAN GRIND CLEAN! Clean grease and debris from the repair area, grind paint off, and clean again with acetone for contamination free weld area. SJ: What should teams do to check their welding equipment before a race? Is there a maintenance checklist and extra items they should carry?  AW: If your welder stays in the transporter all year, take it out and run it. If it’s a MIG welder, check the MIG wire.  It doesn’t last long and starts to rust.  If there is any residue or slight rust, replace the wire. Bring extra contact tips for the MIG welder. Check that the weld connections are tight at the and clamp and welder. Make sure you have the correct gas for your MIG and TIG welder.  They are different… 75Ar/25Co2 for MIG, straight Argon for TIG. SJ

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