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Welding floors in a 48' refer. trailer

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  • Welding floors in a 48' refer. trailer

    I'm gonna be welding in some new aluminum diamond plate floor panels in a couple refer trailers.The plates are 4x16' and 3/16 thick,any tips on tacking these down and skipping around to make the welds?Any tips in general would also be appreciated.I have done tons of steel work but i'm just starting with this aluminum stuff so i want to get it right!Thanks

  • #2
    Spool Gun, and lots of ventalation.

    I did this as a favor before and the work is tough. when you get to the deep end add a lot more vent as it will get hot and stickey
    in there, also (Knee Pads) diamond plate hurts on the knees.

    good luck,


    • #3
      FIRE & breathing protection are MOST important.
      The insulation systems in trailers are an unknown quantity, and can become an inferno very quickly, as well as outgas some very toxic materials. You definitely want a safety person watching your back, especially as you get farther into the nose of the trailer, cause you won't be able to weld and watch for fire too.
      Contact the trailer manufacturer for possible fire hazards you'll encounter, they will provide information.
      If the unit is equipped with an air tube down the top of the trailer, run the unit for comfortable work conditions and additional ventilation.
      If you can work sitting, plant your butt on a 4 wheel dolly and save your knees.


      • #4
        Got the spool gun,gonna get knee pads.
        Franz,very good point with fire,it was in the back of my mind but know it's right up front!

        The air system runs thru the refer unit and they are reluctant to turn it on in fear of fumes and gases running thru it and the fact that these are obviously produce trailers,they don't want to spoil anything.Do you feel that is a concern.Thanks for the help,greatly appreciated


        • #5
          Don't you just hate when the produce smells of dead weldor.

          Lots of ventalation and take breaks to let ventalation clear out the fumes. Not sure where you are doing this, but sun load can make a trailer into an oven if the refer is not running. Try for the shade of a building or tree or freeway underpass if you can swing it.



          • #6
            Not to hot here yet,50's and 60's,job can be done inside or out,my call.Probably outside so i can start early end late to make up for the ventilation breaks.

            I want to be as efficient as possible as there are more trailers to do if all goes well.


            • #7
              OK,here's a dumb question pretty late in the ball game,I'm planning on using 4043 wire,i'm pretty sure the new sheets are 5000 series and i'm not 100% on what the trailer is.Am i going to get into trouble assuming this is the correct wire?After all,the assumption is the mother of all f-ups!


              • #8
                If you know the make of the trailer, check the manufacturer's web site, most of them spec what grade of aluminum they use for their structure.
                As far as the owner's "concern" about their produce stinking of weld, it's pure CRAP. Every unit I've seen over the last 15 years was capable of being set to heat, cool or ventilate the trailer, so you just need to set the unit correctly. My neighbor hauled for Countrywide for years, produce East, and movie Film West, and usually vented his trailer between unload & load.
                If it's a rrecirculation only unit, stack some burlap bags of charcola in front of the intake inside the box, and it will absorb all the stink.
                Now, I might be a bit PARANOID, but, if I was doing the job, I'd have a safety man at the back of the trailer and a rope tied around me so he could pull me out if the proverbial shut hit the fan. Modern trailers are lined with nasty plastics, and those liners produce really nasty gasses when they burn. Being inside of a 48' box that is on fire and or full of smoke will be totally disorienting. Then again, I might just be overly cautious. Maybe that's how I got this old.


                • #9
                  Hey Arc burn, I cannot offer any tips with mig aluminum for its been 20 years and I wasn't the best at it back then. Tig aluminum that I do a lot of, but anyhow.

                  I wish you the best on tackling this job and hope it leads to many more opportunities for you. ( let us konw how it goes)

                  Good luck
                  Jerry Streets
                  J P Streets Welding LLC


                  • #10
                    I think you'll find that aluminum is very that you can smack it with a 4 pound single jack to bring it down flat. I assume you're tacking down 4 x 8 sheets? Then tack four corners and then the middle and then the middle between the tacks and so on. That sequence and your single-jack will keep it flat and matched up.

                    What Franz was talking about the life line is standard OSHA regs for confined spaces. I would have a sniffer tied to me as well, were I doing the job. The sniffer beeps when oxygen level goes too low. If you feel the slightest bit dizzy, get out of there, you may not have a second breath before everything goes black.


                    • #11
                      Hey if the guy says you cannot run the venterlator system then buy, rent or make your own system. They are cheap compared to you, and yes get yourself a criket its only the size of a small pager and they are not expensive.

                      Stupid suggestion, but rember to tie the doors open.

                      Good Luck


                      • #12
                        Rocky D,these are 4x16' sheets,but the procedure is probably the same.

                        They did not refuse to run the vent,they just had some questions about it,i told them i knew who to ask ,thanks fellas,ALL very good info.


                        • #13
                          Safety 1st

                          Along with the other suggestions I would have a fire extinguisher or 2 next to me. Co2 or Water, dry chemical would be a bit nasty for breathing and seeing in that small an area.

                          If I remember correctly aluminum metal vapors are pretty nasty, maybe SCBA or a respirator with the proper filters should be worn as smoke/vapors could build up pretty quick in the confines of a trailer.


                          • #14

                            Here is a link to a positive pressure set up for paint ... scroll down to the Hobby Air 1. You could probably wear a "half mask" under a welding helmet. Drive it with a small vacumn cleaner or air compressor with a valve to keep the flow at a comfortable level.
                            Belt loop of some sort as strain relief.

                            If there are more of these in the future, this might be a good investment. I would work it all out and practive with it before you get to the job site.

                            With 42' trailer and 16' lengths, there has to be a cut somewhere. You might want that in front or mid-run rather on the back where it might show.



                            • #15
                              Bob,I think we are on the same page with the air issue.I just called my dealer and he's getting me a price on a Fresh aip pack for the speedglass helmets,i have one speedglass but this system requires it's own helmet so i'll have 2 helmets,3 when i get the Miller auto back from the dealer!

                              The trailers are 48' so the 16' are gonna lay pretty good without cuts i hope!

                              I'm doing 2 right off the bat and if all goes well there are more waiting,thats when the fresh air helmet will come into play i think