The problem came about when I bought a TIG welder. An inverter design, it’s quite a small unit. Positioned on the workshop floor, the TIG is way too low for easy changing of the controls. So bending down all the time was an issue.
Then add the gas cylinder – a huge and heavy ‘G’ bottle. These bottles are very easy to knock over – what with their small footprint and great height.
So what I needed was a welding trolley – a design with wheels that could locate the TIG up higher and also securely mount the bottle.
Easy – huh… just go to the joys of eBay or your local welding shop? Trouble is, I soon found that many welding trolleys are small and light, definitely not suitable for mounting a large gas cylinder. Furthermore, I actually found people on eBay selling the welding trolley that they’d just bought… as when it arrived, they’d found it unsuitable for their equipment – the trolleys simply weren’t up to the task.
In fact, to find a decent trolley looked like it was going to cost around $200.
So off I went to the shop at the local rubbish tip – the recycling shop. I looked at… industrial trolleys (too expensive, even second-hand), wheeled walkers designed for the disabled and elderly (not strong enough), steel framed chairs (I was thinking of adding wheels and a shelf, but these just didn’t suit), prams (not strong enough), ‘rowing’ style exercise machines (wrong shape – but plenty strong) and then, finally, supermarket shopping trolleys.
And the trolleys had potential. Steel framed, strong castors, and with a starting shape that looked more suitable than, say, the chairs.
I ended up buying a smallish supermarket shopping trolley for $15. Designed to carry two baskets, it already had a shelf of about the right size and shape for sitting the TIG on, but positioning the gas bottle would need further work.
Firstly, I removed the cross-bar handle and then looked at where the gas bottle could fit at the rear. But the wheelbase of the trolley was a bit small – the gas bottle would be positioned right over the rear axle line, rather than within the wheelbase. And the track was also a bit narrow – with the big bottle on it, a small lateral push could cause the trolley to possibly fall over sideways.
The original trolley design had the rear wheels further apart than the front wheels. This meant the bottom frame was roughly triangular in shape. By removing the rear wheels, and then extending the frame side rails rearwards, the wheelbase could be lengthened and at the same time, the rear wheels placed further apart for better stability.
I used RHS square tube to extend the wheelbase about 280mm, which in turn put the rear wheels 500 mm apart rather than the original 420. I welded some steel plate under this new extension, which both braced it and added a platform on which the bottle could sit. The rear wheels were relocated to the outer corners of the plate.
To hold the bottle in place laterally, I cut up a bracket originally designed to hold a large diameter pipe, and welded this to an existing cross-brace. Some chain was added to this to hold the cylinder in place.
I also lubricated all the castors so that they were free to turn, and removed some bearing clearances on one of the castors by compressing the cup a little in a press.
The final step was some black paint applied to the frame via a spray can.
Everything apart from the trolley made use of existing scraps, offcuts and leftover paint that I already had – so the out of pocket cost was just $15.
It works well – the castors being particularly effective when moving the trolley around. There’s plenty of storage space available on the bottom shelf for cables and torch.
Quick, cheap, easy and simple!