Stupid welder question

I've got a '98 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I've got two problems with it I need to address. One is that the steering knuckles have notches worn or
correded into them on the sliders where the brake pads ride, the other is that the bolt-hole where the track bar is secured to the frame has gone oval.
My plan was to get a couple of new steering knuckles and a couple of hardened washers and put the steering knuckles on and have the washers welded to the frame where the bolt goes through.
I'm not interested in "how do you know it needs these repairs" advice-- I've had it apart and I've seen the notches and the oval hole.
Now, to the question.
A couple of steering knuckles go for about 230 bucks and shipping, and for that I can get one of Harbor Freight's little #91110 80 amp 110v inverter stick welders and an auto mask and gloves and a box of E6013 rods. So my inclination is to get the welder, do a few practice welds on some scrap, and then have at it. I figure that the worst outcome won't leave me any worse off than I am now--if the weld comes out of the notches the brakes still work as well as they're working now, and if the washers let go the wobble isn't any worse than it is now, and I'd end up with welder that should suffice for the hobby projects I envision and possibly the occasional muffler.
Am I being insanely stupid by going this route?
Note that I am well aware that there are much better welders available, but right now I'm near broke and buying a pro grade Lincoln or Miller is out of the question, as is stringing a 220v line to a detached garage for one of the Lincoln tombstones. I'm also aware that learning welding in the school of hard knocks by welding stuff on which my life depends would be stupid, but in this case the risk is small since the consequences of weld failure would be to return me to a status quo that is working.
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J. Clarke wrote:

Might think of a 115V MIG that can use flux core or gas. That's what I'm looking at doing.
As for the problems, had em both on my 93.
Got a local muffler/brake shop to mig the notches and file them flat again. Cost me about $40 and that included having them do all the work.
As for the oval, that could be fixed the same way, just put a bit more metal in there and redrill/grind.
Washers would work too, but you don't need hardened, regular steel will do. Besides, when you heat hardened it changes back to regular steel. hardening is a tempering process and quite tricky.
I've tried my hand at stick and gas. Never could get the hang of stick welding but did "ok" with gas. Been looking at a small MIG unit and debating the lower end one Sears has or just getting a Miller and putting it in my will. :) I was told to look for the drive assembly and stay away from anything with plastic gears or carriers.
--
DougW



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On 2/13/2012 10:37 PM, DougW wrote:

I've got a 120 amp Snap-On MIG welder, and I'm sure it would have some serious difficulty doing a good weld on these pieces.
Which brings up your other solution: just take them to someone with a bigger welder and have them build up the welds for you. Then use a grinder to smooth it all out.
As for that ovaled hole, I agree, regular thick washers should do the trick.
--
I'm never going to grow up.

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On 2/12/2012 5:27 PM, J. Clarke wrote:

Personally I doubt that little welder would have the power to weld anything substantial. I'd guess in the end you'd figure you wasted your money and time!
--
I'm never going to grow up.

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On 2/15/2012 1:29 AM, Budd Cochran wrote:

Budd, I think your last sentence says an awful lot! A skilled welder can do some amazing things, but the average welder will have some serious problems with a weld that has poor penetration due to lack of heat. <g>
--
I'm never going to grow up.

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Well, I dropped the hammer on the 80 amp today. Was hoping to hold off until the weather was consistently warm, but the ZJ had other ideas. Last night I noticed half a brake rotor behind it, pulled the wheels and found that the right rear rotor had no rim. No more luxury of waiting-- gotta be fixed now, and the ZJ stays where it is until it has brakes.
So I hit HF, Advance Auto Parts, and Home Despot for everything I needed to do a right job of fixing the damned things (well, I thought I had-- gotta go down and get calipers, the right rear piston won't go in with any force I can bring to bear).
Anyway, I took a piece of angle iron and the grinder and buggered it up like a notched brake slider and tried "fixing" it. The first couple of tries I got the rod stuck, and then the beads were just falling off, but once I got the hang of it the little welder worked a treat, and I couldn't bust the bead off with a hammer, nor did it fly off when I ground it down, so I went to work on the brakes.
For anybody who's interested, here's lessons learned so far.
First, for those who may have missed earlier posts, the welder is the Harbor Freight 91110 80 amp inverter welder. When I got that I also got their auto-darkening solar powered helmet (the one that was on sale), a pair of gloves, a chipping hammer, and a box of 1/16 E6013 electrodes.
In use it seems to work easier drawing the weld toward you than pushing away--pushing away I always get the rod stuck.
On the brakes, so far I've used about half a rod per slider. I had to take the angle grinder and clean up a spot for the ground clamp to sit. Easiest way to work is to start on a good area on one side of the notch, work across to a good area on the other, and if it's not filled make another pass. Takes at least 2, sometimes 3 passes with the small rods to fill the width of the slider, and after grinding may need a little more. If the arc doesn't strike, hit the end of the rod with a file or try a new rod--I thought the welder was busted at first, but the rods sometimes get something nonconductive on the end apparently.
Using a 20 year old Craftstman Professional 4-1/2 inch angle grinder with whatever grit sandpaper it has on it from the last job I used it on. Takes down the weld bead just fine, and cuts slowly enough that it's easy to shape the slider.
Pads are sliding on the cleaned up sliders just as smooth as you please.
By the way, one neat thing, where the ZJ sits until it has brakes again, it's about 150 feet to the nearest electrical outlet. The 80 amp welder works just fine on 200 feet of 12-gage extension cord.
Probably not the right choice for building stuff that has to take a lot of stress, but for brake sliders it's completely adequate.
I was looking at this job with a good deal of trepidation, but it turned out to be fun.
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That's an AC wirefeed welder that weighs about 40 pounds.
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