Being a homesteader, life is not always a day full of sunshine and happiness. Some days are just a plain old bad day. We have had issues with our old ATV the whole last year, and after a bolt had broken on the wheel hub, I tried to get out the left-over piece, without any luck. It turned into a bad day, and it just seemed like my drill bits were not able to almost make a dent in the bolt piece I wanted to extract. After starting looking for worse and worse words to “describe” my frustration, I ended up having to switch project to be able to get away from my problem project… I chose to weld on my excavator bucket teeth instead.
The Stubborn ATV part
The summer day started out as so many other beautiful summer mornings this summer. Birds were singing, and the peace and quiet was just hanging over us as a wonderful blanket. I had fixed many other little things on our old ATV, which we call the “Hulk” due to its green color. But, then I was about to start on the main task… One of the two bolts that fastens the “wheel hub/carrier” to the A-frame on the rear left side had broken off…again. I had gotten out the piece stuck inside the hub/carrier before…using a drill, a strong drill bit, and then a bolt extraction tool before. This time, though, I had a much harder time getting the stuck bolt piece out. Why…? Because I had tried to be very smart earlier, and purchased a hardened/stronger bolt at Home Depot, in the belief that it would not break. Whatever… It broke, and even my titanium drill bit barely put a dent in that darn stuck bolt piece.
I guess a lessoned learned from this must be: To be smart is not always the smartest thing to do…
Anyhow, after trying several drill bits in various sizes…and breaking multiple of them…I found myself looking for words that would never be found in any version of the Bible…so I found that I’d be better off by switching projects…yup.
Welding excavator bucket teeth to my bucket
Our property is basically a mountain ridge running out from a much larger mountain range. On it, we (I) have made about three miles of mountain road…one excavator bucket at the time. It has been a very challenging project, especially because of all the rocks…and boulders that the excavator had to handle. Due to all this, the excavator bucket (that had two holes in the bottom when we purchased the excavator) is now totally worn out. Our bucket has “twist on” type of excavator bucket teeth that are locked with a special type of locking “pin”, but the shanks are just worn out, and the pins are not able to lock the excavator bucket teeth in place anymore.
Being tired that they keep on falling off (because the “pin” comes out), and using the metal detector to find them, I decided I wanted to just weld the teeth to the bucket. Basically..giving the excavator bucket teeth a solid root canal.. 🙂
The initial weld
I have three welders: A small 120V one for little things where the metal is thinner, a large Lincoln 225 ARC welder, and we recently purchased a Lincoln 180 HD Mig 230/240V welder. The last one is what I have been using mostly lately. I am definitely not a welder. Having three welders on your shelf does not help you diddly-squat if you don’t know how to use them… So, after reading posts, looking at images and videos on the Internet. I have started to understand a bit more how it works, though..my initial weld is mostly looking like something that belongs in the hole of the outhouse…
The first thing I did was to put a bolt (actually two…one from each side) where normally the locking pin would be sitting. The locking pin would keep the tooth from twisting off…and make my day easier. But, things get worn, even excavator buckets. My idea was to place the bolts, and then weld them to the shank of the bucket.
Not only did my my first weld look like someone had glued metal pearls on to the metal…but I ran out of welding wire…making me have to start on a third project that day to keep busy. I was barely able to fasten 1 1/2 of the excavator bucket teeth.
I now understand why. Will explain later in this post.
When I had to move the excavator to a different place, I used the bucket to “lean on” while turning the machine, and the “weld” broke.
The second weld
My second weld was done the weekend after. I had purchased several rolls of welding wire during the week, and was ready to do some real welding…or so I imagined in my head at least.
I now had enough wire to weld all the teeth to the bucket. But, my generator seemed to have some issues. This, in addition to my still lack of understanding how to weld properly, made m”e be still a little bit uncertain on how long the welds would last.
As you can see, the weld looks wider…but it is still not properly bound to both the tooth and the shank yet. The welds held up a few hours, but after moving several big rocks and boulders, two of the excavator bucket teeth came off…one while I didn’t notice it…and it disappeared somewhere amongst rocks, fallen trees, and brush. I didn’t even bother grabbing my metal detector to search for it. It was just gone…left for the gophers somewhere. The second tooth came off when I tried to grab on to a group of thick brush trees, and I was able to see it in front of me. Picked it up, and put it on the floor of my excavator cab for later use.
The third (and final?) weld – Third time’s a charm
The third weekend I had to weld on the excavator bucket teeth, I got an “eureka!” moment. I think I finally started to understand how welding is actually done! 🙂
- Having a proper power source. Check!
- Having a proper grounding. Check!
- Having enough feeding wire… Uummm…check!
- Standing in a good position for welding. Check!
- Keep toes away from right below where the hot metal falls. Double-check!
- Holding the Mig gun close to the welding project. Check!
- And finally… Be patient! Ok, it is hard…but I guess then. CHECK!
I a lot of times have major issues with being impatient. I get irritated when I have to “wait” for stuff. It is a bad habit, and I am definitely working on it…But, it is hard. When I found out that it was actually my impatience that was the root cause of my crappy welds all along, I just had to take a deep breath and move the Mig gun a lot slower. Then suddenly the cute little lava stream of metal started appearing on my welding project…and the metal pieces actually got melted together. Yahoo!
During the week we had gotten two new bucket teeth, and when I welded them on, it actually looked like a “real weld”… As you can see on the image above, the metal has been melting properly on the tooth, as well as on the bucket shank. It all had melted properly together.
It is amazing what a touch of patience can do.
I used the bucket for many hours after my final weld, and the excavator bucket teeth did not budge at all!
Looking forward to new welding projects.
I have learned a lot during this welding project. One of the main things I have learned is that you need to be patient when welding. You need to let the metal have time to melt properly, to be able to bind to what you are welding it on to. Also, the grounding needs to be properly set, otherwise you will not get the heat you need for your weld. In addition, in the beginning I held the Mig gun (where the feeding wire comes out) a bit too far away from what I welded. This was a major factor to increase the heat when I started holding it closer to the project.
In addition: I found out the importance of standing or sitting in a position where you could keep the Mig gun sturdy while welding.
All in all, this was an awesome project, and I feel a lot more comfortable using the welding equipment now.
And hey, instead of “reading the book”, we actually have a Yutube video where we show and explain some of this:
I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you do, please make sure you share it on social media. 🙂
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