You are on the level 5 trail....it's been 4 hard hours of wheelin' since you put the t-case in 4LO. There is about an hour of trail left (if all goes well) with a nasty rock garden right at the end. The speaker on the CB crackles and you hear your buddy's voice. "I got a problem....I ripped a control arm bracket off."
Sound familiar? If it doesn't, then you simply haven't been on enough trails yet because it will happen. And if it isn't a control arm bracket, it will be the track bar bracket or something else. This actually happened earlier this year on Die Hard. BobP ripped a control arm bracket off the frame on a bad section of the trail. BobP had his welder with him and in about an hour, he was back in action finishing the trail.
This past spring (2006) at the 6th Annual Jeeps Unlimited Moab Run, we had two suspension failures during the week, a rear upper frame end control arm bracket and a front axle lower control arm bracket. They ripped off of the frame and axle tube, respectively. On both occasions, someone in the group had a welder along to do the repairs. It wasn't production quality welding, but it was good enough to hold the suspension together and make it off the trail.
The Ready Welder II (RWII) was introduced some years back and has certainly found a home in the off-road community. It is a compact unit (packaged in a padded plastic carry case) that comes with everything you need to weld except a helmet and a power source....it even includes a roll of .035" mild steel flux-core wire. The most common power source is a pair of 12V vehicle batteries connected in series for 24 volt MIG welding, which yields up to 275 amps. This 100% duty cycle welder is capable of operating on DC power ranging from 18 to 40 volts, so a third 12V battery can be added in series to provide 36 volts at up to 400 amps of welding current. More than enough to properly implement a trail side repair.
It also works quite well for the weekend project in the garage. I helped ScottK do his 8.8 axle swap and he used a Ready Welder II for it.....that was several years ago. I was totally impressed with the results. He had a pair of 12V deep cycle batteries he kept on a roll around cart (with a pair of inexpensive chargers). Doing the welding commonly found on a weekend Jeep project, Scott had no problem with the batteries lasting all day. I don't recall a time when he ran out of battery before running out of project. Note: The above mentioned repair on BobP's TJ was done with ScottK's RWII, which now belongs to BobP, as does ScottK's old TJ.
The business end of the RWII is shown above with the cover removed. A 1pound spool of wire resides in the handle (left hand side of photo) and makes for a fairly handy setup although sometimes you may find it a little awkward when attempting to weld in a very tight space. None the less, it does work quite well. Wire size from .023 to .045 can be used without any modifications to the feed mechanism. Screw in replacement tips can be purchased in bulk (25 to a pack) for less than $25.
The controls are pretty basic. The trigger turns on the wire feed motor and the red dial is used to control the wire feed speed. A pair of LEDs (one green, one red) indicate the polarity of the gun (details included the RWII manual). The trigger does NOT control the tip....it is always electrically hot (on this model), so be careful that you don't arc it while moving the tip into position. Ready Welder has recently released a "cool" tip model which eliminates the always hot tip.
The RWII comes with a jumper cable with copper terminals already crimped onto each end. The jumper cable is used to series a pair of batteries together to obtain 24 volts. If the batteries are equipped with stud terminals, the jump cable can be attached directly to the studs. If not, the supplied battery clamps can be attached to the cable and used in that fashion.
The RWII can be used with a shielding gas if so desired. An extra 10' of hose is supplied for connection to your tank. For those folks that carry a CO2 bottle on the trail, it would probably we worth getting a low pressure adjustable regulator to use with the RWII.
More Ready Welder II
4x4 Off-Road Homestead Firearms RC Flying