The Quick Fix

BREAKDOWNS can be a minor nuisance or they could lead to an expensive recovery. Worse still, they could lead to a life threatening situation.

If you’re close to home or a metropolitan area and you have phone service you can ring for help from friends, family or even a break down road service. You probably don’t want to leave your boat, camper trailer with all your gear aboard abandoned on the side of the road while you go to get help. In the back blocks of Australia, it’s a whole different ball game. If the worst happens and your trailer has succumbed to the horrendous road conditions and the millions of corrugates you have traveled, and it needs welding together to get you to the next town or even station, what are your choices?

Do you leave your mate at the side of the road with the boat and trailer while you drive half a day to the nearest settlement to get help? What if you don’t have a mate with you? Do you use your satellite phone, ring a tilt tray recovery service that is nearly a thousand kilometres away and arrange a lift, but find the quote for the recovery is actually more than what the boat and trailer is worth?

If this is the case do you fill your vehicle with what gear you can and abandon the boat and trailer to the elements of the bush and the passing parts pirates?

An alternative is DC welding, a simple yet effective way of getting you and your broken trailer out of trouble.

Your comprehensive tool box and spare parts you carried now come into play. Along with your tools you have added two dozen welding rods, a welding mask and a battery-operated. drill and grinder. This welding hack has the ability to save you so much heart ache along with lots of dollars. You need to straighten any damage and prepare it for welding. The battery-operated grinder comes into its own for this. You now need to get two of your twelve-volt batteries from you boat or vehicle, preferably leave your cranking battery in your vehicle if possible. The two batteries are now connected in series, that is the negative terminal on first battery is connected to the positive terminal on the second battery.

This can be done with a jumper lead but its better if you have a short lead that is used on many trucks and heavy machinery to connect batteries in series as many of these vehicles run 24-volt electrical systems. Now run a jumper lead from the positive terminal of the first battery to the work to be welded. It’s important that the positive lead is connected to the work and not the negative, otherwise you will struggle to weld and get lots of splatter. The welding rod is clamped in a pair of vice grips from your tool box and then your second jumper lead is connected to the negative terminal on your second battery and then to your vice grips. This method of welding is call DC negative welding and is different from your normal AC stick welding.

Now you can put on your welding helmet or goggles on and start welding. Repairing a broken trailer frame, shackles, springs etc. can be relatively easy if you carry that little bit extra gear to enable you repair torn, broken stressed steel. The Tanami track through the centre of Australia is littered with abandoned vehicles, trucks, cars, trailers, camper vans, caravans 4wds and such. Many of these vehicles have been abandoned due to a metal fatigue crack or even something as simple as a broken spring, something relatively easy to fix if you have the few parts needed to be able to DC weld. The recovery costs for some of these vehicles would have been far in excess of the value of the broken down vehicles. Do yourself a favour if you plan on going far off the beaten track, check out some DC welding videos on YouTube before you head off and if the worst happens you can deal with it on the road rather than leaving your gear to the perils of the parts pirates! Remember, practice makes perfect, give it a go at home before you head out on to the track.

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