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"Ultimate" Trail Welder & Jumper Cable Kit

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i've been carrying around a set of heavy duty jumper cables as well as a custom battery trail welder setup for quite some time. there's really no need for both. after all, many people have done welding with just a couple sets of jumper cables.


old separate setups:





how about a little background...


to do some emergency trail welding, you just need good sized cable to connect the batteries from 2 or 3 rigs in series to get 24 to 36 Volts. as long as a couple people have heavy duty jumper cables and someone carries some welding rod, tinted goggles, and leather gloves - you're good to go.


a few of us have tried to make things easier to use and more efficient by creating a dedicated setup for trail welding. using large gauge cable with terminal clamps to make solid low-resistance connections and adding a proper rod holder and ground clamp, we have ourselves a "trail welder".


my goal was to merge my jumper cables and trail welder into a single "ultimate" setup.



one issue was that my batteries are hidden away beneath the floor in the rear of the Jeep due to my particular dual battery setup. so i have an Anderson SB175 connector under the hood to connect to for jump-starting instead of normal battery posts. that's why my old jumper cables in the picture above only have one traditional clamp end.




so requirement #1 for the ultimate setup was to work as jumper cables for my rig. here's the custom jumper cable configuration:







requirement #2 was to work as regular jumper cables if i need to loan them out while on a trail. here's that configuration (same as #1 but with additional clamps attached to the Anderson connector):





then requirement #3 was the trail welder setup. for that configuration, i just swap out the main positive clamp with the rod holder clamp via the single Anderson PP180 connector and use the extra 2 short jumpers to connect the multiple batteries together:





a few little tricks round out the kit...


i used rubber coated "parrot" style clamps everywhere since they are compact. these particular ones have dual copper contact areas. however only one of those contacts was designed to connect directly to a lead, and the other was making a poor (high resistance) connection to the clamp due to the rubber coating.


so i took each clamp apart by drilling out their hinge rivets and then i jumpered both of the copper contacts together with a short 6 gauge wire. they were put back together using 1.25" length screw posts for hinges.




i added a voltmeter to the main Anderson connector by making a small bracket out of aluminum. the idea behind this is that i can periodically check the voltage while welding to know when the batteries are getting so low that they might not start a rig anymore. it would really suck if just a couple of us were on a run and completed a welding repair only to find that neither rig would then crank!


it also allows me to see what a person's "dead" battery is really at so i have an idea whether they just need a this one jump or if it's so far gone that they better drive directly to Autozone afterwards.




i used quick-clamp style terminal connectors on the short jumper leads. they are attached to a crimped ring terminal with a bolt. they don't look particularly robust, but i chose them because they make quick low-resistance connections. i have a couple extra of these connectors in the kit just in case one breaks.




all the cable is 4 gauge, which should be fine for the short use times this will see trailside.


instead of goggles, i butchered up a cheap welding helmet like this one...


i removed the front flip lens, putting the smoked glass directly into the main helmet window area. i also cut out much of the sides so it would be less bulky and the back could fold-in. doing this and storing the head-ring apart from the main shield allows it to all pack into my kit bag and squish in behind my back seat easily.




i bought some welding gloves from Harbor Freight to add to the kit as well. my current rod is 3/32" 6010, but i've yet to test it out personally so that may change. UPDATE: 6010 is horrible for a beginner, found out that 7014 is the idiot's rod and works much easier.


everything fits in a 15" canvas bag, also from Harbor Freight, which tucks behind my back seat. it does indeed take up less space than the previous separate jumper cables and welder setup.





i should have some time this weekend or next to actually test the setup and see if anything needs to be modified.

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i started a little instruction sheet to include in the kit (below). anyone have any suggestions for it or spot any mistakes?



UPDATED: 3/13/2017 - better organized these notes and attached a Microsoft Word document version.


Download: theksmith Ultimate Battery Welder Quick Reference.doc




Cheat Sheet for This Kit


For the included 7014 1/8” electrode:

- Material 1/8" to 3/16" thick: 24V DC+

- Material greater than 3/16" thick: 36V DC- or 24V DC+ multiple passes.


For the included 7014 1/16” electrode:

- Material less than 1/8" thick: 24V DC- or maybe 12V DC+ in emergency.


For the included 6010 3/32” electrode:

- Hand it to an experienced welder! 36V DC+ might be used to gouge-cut some 1/8” or thinner material.





12 Volts (12.8 actual) = 1 battery

Difficult to strike an arc, poor penetration.


24 Volts (25.6 actual) = 2 batteries in series

Good for general purpose.


36 Volts (38.4 actual) = 3 batteries in series

Easy to strike an arc but too hot for most vehicle material. Good on very rusty/oily areas or thick frame-rails. Could possibly be used for cutting (i.e. gouging through).





DC+ / Electrode Positive / "Reverse" = Hook-up battery clamps “normal”

Deeper penetration, good for medium to thick material.


DC- / Electrode Negative / "Straight" = Hook-up battery clamps “backwards”

Shallower penetration, good for thin material.





7014 (DC+ / DC- / AC)

Best option for beginners. Very easy to use, known as “farmer rod”, just drag it along the material.

Medium penetration. Good on heavy iron content material & general purpose. Use on decently-prepped material.

Slow freeze, horizontal surfaces only. High deposition (move quickly). Moderate spatter, very heavy slag.


6013 (DC+ / DC- / AC)

Good general purpose rod for hobbyist level welder. Smooth, easy to start arc.

Low to medium penetration. Good for sheet-metal & general purpose. Use on well-prepped material.

Medium freeze, ok on vertical surfaces. Low spatter, medium easy-to-remove slag, good appearance.


6010 (DC+)

Best general purpose rod for experienced welders. Extremely tight arc, difficult for beginners.

Deep penetration. Good for thicker or dirty/rusty/painted material. Might be used on thinner material with DC-.

Fast freeze, good for any position surface. High spatter, hard slag.


6011 (DC+ / AC)

Very similar to 6010 but works on AC as well and is easier to find at generic hardware stores.

Compared to 6010, has slightly less penetration, a slightly rougher arc, and slightly more difficult to remove slag.


7018 (DC+ / AC for some brands)

Smooth arc, easy first strike, hard to re-strike. High strength & versatile, but must be stored in air-tight container!

Medium penetration. Works on many materials (unknown steal alloys). Best used only on well-prepared material.

Minimal spatter, very easy to remove slag.

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Argh! I could have definitely made use of something like this on my "Highway to Hell" run this past weekend.

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i've been reading up on common electrodes, and updated that part of my information sheet in the above post.


basicly the 6010 rod that i was sold a while back probably is the best thing for random emergency trail repairs due to it's deep penetration and fast-freeze properties. however, it's also one of the most difficult to use for a beginner. 7014 is supposed to be the simplest thing to use, sometimes even referred to as "idiot rod" (as in any idiot can use it). 6013 is somewhere in the middle of those, but if you can use 6013 decently then you can probably practice a bit more and be good enough with the 6010/6011.


i've only tried the 6010 so far and i can confirm it's not going well for this beginner! going to pick up some 7014 and 6013 later today and try those.




learning stick


a very long time ago i tried to stick weld for a few minutes and i don't even remember how it went, so today was pretty much a virgin attempt. here's how it went with the unfriendly 3/32" 6010 and 2 batteries on 1/4" steel.



try #1 & 2 - struck an arc right away made a tiny bead, lost it and then "stuck" the electrode on next strike. grabbed another and just couldn't get going, made a big mess of holes.







try #3 - got a bead kinda, completely erratic speed though:





try #4 - had trouble getting started, but then laid down something a little more consistent at least:





ran about the same number of beads on the other side of the bar and never really improved, continued to have trouble even keeping the arc.




the kit


everything with the kit worked fine, nothing melted or exploded! ;)




my batteries started out both at 12.8 volts, so 25.6V total. after practicing beads down both sides of a 3 foot long bar of 1/4" steel, i was only down to 25.1V.






more pics to come once i get some other electrodes to try...

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Any thoughts of selling the kits?

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Kris this is awesome, you definitely took it to the next level. The welds will look pretty with practice, any shots of the back side penetration?

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Any thoughts of selling the kits?


nah, all the parts alone add up to more than most people would spend, and then my time is definitely worth more per hour doing my day job than anyone would pay me to make these!



Kris this is awesome, you definitely took it to the next level. The welds will look pretty with practice, any shots of the back side penetration?


thanks Dave!


i actually practiced on both sides, so it wouldn't tell you anything - there was not enough penetration for sure, i was just trying to get the hang of maintaining an arc and didn't even get that far.


i did pick up some 6013 and 7014 today, but didn't get a chance to test them - hopefully tomorrow. 7014 is hard to find (without going to a welding shop). none at Lowes or Home Depot, finally found a single 1lb box left at a Sears, but it was 1/8". got it anyway. we'll see if it's really "idiot" proof, and if so i'll get some 3/32".

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Did you try switching polarity to compare penetration?

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Did you try switching polarity to compare penetration?


not yet, i didn't feel i could even call what i was doing "welding" yet. when i get a little more practice then i'm going to try and do some comparisons of the different rods each with different polarities.

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Sweet kit! Being diesels have two batteries, this would be te perfect kit! Will be stealing your ideas if you don't mind.

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