I’m not a welder and have never even turned on a MIG welder prior to this week. I did watch a bunch of YouTube videos, read several articles and have watched curiously over the last 10 or so years as professional welders practice their craft. But I took a stab at it and I’m pretty pleased with the results so far.
I am lucky enough that my Dad had a MIG welder he had and was willing to let me borrow for the duration of the project so the most expensive part of the problem was already solved for me. As far as, learning how to lay a weld, I realized that I had to take a first step and just try with the limited knowledge I had. So, after a full afternoon of spattering molten steel all over myself and the back garden, I finally managed to lay a decent little weld by night fall and was happy to call it a day. As you saw in a previous post, I managed to cobble together a frame for the generator to hang from the belly of the bus the next day and for at least an hour or two every day since, have been trying to piece the cradle together and bring this fairly complex part of the build to an end. I had a moment yesterday where I felt completely in over my head and asked myself “what the hell were you thinking biting off this project?” I chopped some of my bed-rail angle iron for the slide mounts 3/4 inch too short, had to fabricate some extensions to weld onto them, then realized I hardened the steel and I couldn’t drill through the weld. A trip to the hardware store for a new pilot hole bit and a conversation with an old-timer where I learned about annealing or heating up the steel red hot with a torch then letting it cool slowly to soften it, saved my whole day, got my pilot hole punched through the steel and reassured me that I might actually have this.
I’m sitting here reveling in this particular phase of the project nearing some modicum of completion however there will be quite a bit more to do before the generator mount is complete. Of course finishing the welds and physically mounting the beast under the bus is first off but sometime soon, I’ll also be enclosing the genny with soundproof(ish) walls, designing a cooling/aspiration and exhaust system and also wiring it into our electrical system. But why bother with all this generator subassembly stuff right now? Why not focus on the glamorous stuff like making the bus liveable? Well simple: I need electricity and I need to take better care of my back. Our storage yard doesn’t have easy access to a power hook up (the nearest one is about 300 feet away from my parking spot) and due to security concerns in the area, I’ve been having to load and unload the 100 lb+ generator in and out of the back door of the bus every time I need to use a power tool. 20 year old Austin might have been cool with this but apparently even at 30, you wind up paying for that exertion for a while afterwards. I had a few evenings early in the build where I could hardly move after moving this beast around for a couple days in a row. So, for the sake of my back and so Sarah could have a fiancee that didn’t stagger around like a crippled 70-year-old iron worker, the generator needed mounting.
Hopefully, I’ll wrap up our generator mount tomorrow and will be getting back inside the bus and onto our inner-sidewall removal by the end of the week and with any luck, onto finishing our window relocation on the driver’s side and insulating shortly after that! Stay tuned and as always, thanks for checking in!