Even if you only use a single tractor to manage all your fields, it's almost impossible to stick to a planting and harvesting schedule unless you can repair your own equipment when a crack develops or a mowing deck starts to wobble. Welding is the only safe and reliable way to repair big pieces of equipment like feed bunkers, combines, and hay balers. Whether you're a seasoned hand with a stick or just recently started experimenting, follow these five welding tips for better results during farm repairs.

Prevent Electric Shocks

It only takes one mistake with your welding mask or gloves to get a painful safety reminder. However, many people forget that electric welders come with their own hazards beyond the heat and brightness produced during work. Never make common welding electrical mistakes like:

  • Using electrical power cords and cable leads with cracked, missing, or otherwise compromised insulation
  • Connecting multiple lengths of cable leads together without a protective cover and appropriate splicing caps
  • Working on bare ground when it is wet or even damp
  • Letting yourself get soaked with sweat or rain while welding, especially when your clothing becomes wet as well

Pick the Right Equipment

Since you might be repaired thick steel one day and paper-thin aluminum sheets the next on a busy farm with a lot of equipment to repair, invest in a welder capable of producing quality seams on both extremes. Look for a welding unit that offers both flux-core and MIG settings in one machine so you can get your work done quickly with good results on all types of metal. These models also cost less to buy and operate, and both flux and MIG welding are easier for farmers with little or no formal training.

Take a Class

It's easy enough to learn the bare basics of welding from a farming mentor, but you'll miss out on a lot of training that helps you deal with difficult welds and troubleshoot problems like bead breaking and improper arcing. Check in with the local farmer's support office to find out if there are any farm welding classes in your area. These classes are short, usually taking only a few days to complete, and focus on the welding techniques most useful on the farm. There's no need to enroll in a technical school just to polish up your welding skills.

Clean Materials Twice

Frustrating welding problems can pop up in the cleanest work booth with brand new materials, but they're even more likely when you're working on a rusted old tractor attachment that's covered in decades of mud and dirt. Grab a pressure washer, abrasive cleaning powders and pads, and whatever else you need to get your metal as clean as possible before firing up the welder. Take extra care with recycled barrels and other metal materials that may be coated in flammable liquids.

Outsource Big Jobs

When you're running a farm on your own on a tight budget, the idea of spending more money on equipment repairs becomes painful. However, you should turn over the biggest and most important welding jobs to the professionals instead of trying to handle them yourself. Unless you're a fully trained and experienced welder, don't make metal repairs that could threaten your life or the people around you if they fail suddenly. Stick to smaller patches and reinforcement work that will only make a mess or waste feed due to seam failure.

With well-maintained equipment and a little extra training, you can handle hundreds of small welding jobs around the farm for fast and inexpensive repairs. Just be sure to click here for more information or call in the professionals when your tractor's entire power takeoff cracks off or the mulch truck's axle breaks again for the third time.