I have a 1937 model Lincoln SA200 welder that never had a starter. I
have heard old welders say that they used start those on the pipeline
by getting one started and then using it to start the others by
connecting the welding leads from the running machine to the leads on
the machine they wanted to start whereupon the generator would be
motorized and the engine would start. Is this possible and could I
connect several (say 3) 12 volt batteries in series to the welding
leads and start my welder that way?
I'm gonna vote NO. A stick welder has the electrical circuitry built
into it to tolerate a dead short. That's what happens when the stick
electrode gets stuck to the work piece with the ground clamp attached
as well. Same thing when one is used to thaw a frozen pipe. The
voltage droops and the metal involved gets warmer to very hot in the
case of the small electrode. The resistance is fairly low.
In the case of shorting out 3 batteries in series, my expectation is
that at least one would explode and perhaps all three. Let's say 700
amps at 36 volts. These are liquid-filled electrolyte batteries. I
predict steam generation between the battery plates. Better put a VERY
sturdy acid-resistant shield over those batteries and have plenty of
water and soda to neutralize the acid spill that I believe is
Is there a ring gear anywhere on that motor?
No, that's the problem. The welder was manufactured without either a
starter or any provision to install one. Since I know old timers used
to start such welder by hooking the leads from a running one to the
leads of the one to be started, thereby motorizing the generator and
turning over the engine, it seems that using batteries to do the same
thing would work as well. Why would connecting the batteries to the
welding leads to motorize the generator constitute a dead short? Many
dc motors are run off batteries and that doesn't constitute a dead
short. What do I not understand about this?
Good chance you can get it to work, the old timers did a lot of things
that are not exactly perfect. My small tractor has a stater/generator
that does exactly what you want to do. Not sure the specifics on yours
without seeing it.
It's a 40 volt dc generator. At full song it puts out about 250 amps
for welding. I was thinking three 12 volt car batteries in series,
while only 36 volts, might provide enough juice to motorize the
generator thereby spinning and starting the engine drive. Of course,
as soon as the engine cranks the generator will start producing 40 volt
current and, I assume, back feeding the batteries absent some circuitry
(like the electrical equivalent of a check valve perhaps) that would
prevent the backfeed - I don't know enough about electricity to know
what such circuitry might be or how to wire it. A primitive solution
might be to just have a spring loaded starter switch that would be
released (by me) as soon as the engine caught, thereby disconnecting
the batteries. It shouldn't be too hard to install an alternator on
the engine to charge the batteries. This might sound like a lot of
trouble and expense - batteries alone are about $50 each - but a ring
gear and starter for an SA200 from Lincoln runs well over $600 and it
would still have to be installed which might require the purchase of
additional parts. Do you, or anyone else out there, have an idea about
how to do that? Also, am I correct in assuming that polarity, i.e.
which side of the batteries should be connected to which side of the
welder leads, would determine which direction the generator would turn
thereby either cranking the engine backwards or forwards?
Do you have a manual for it? Any idea how many amps does it take to
start one? Can you scrounge 3 batteries (maybe from your cars) and a
DC shunt rated for a lot of amps, and see how many amps it takes to
spin one up?
I have a DC battery charger for sale pictured here
it can produce 50 amps at 39 volts. (rated for 28 nominal, but can do
If you are local to me (NE Illinois), you could buy one and use it for
a variety of purposes.
I have a manual for the welder, it says the generator is a 40 volt
generator and puts out between 40 and 250 amps. I am not knowledgeable
enough to know what you mean by a dc shunt. Where would I find one of
those and what is a "lot of amps" - when you say "spin one up" are you
talking about the shunt, the generator, or what? Scrounging 3 12 volt
car batteries is not a problem. I am in Texas so NE Illinois is not
very close; also, I have a couple of dc battery charges where I keep
the welder, but I assume they put out only 12 volts or so since they
are intended to charge only one battery at a time. Thanks for your
If the unit is a simple 40 volt DC generator, you can simply hook 3
batteries in series across the terminals generator (plus terminal to
plus and negative to negative) and spin it up. As the engine comes up to
speed, the generator will start looking less like a motor and more like
a generator. Once the motor is up to speed, you will have 36 volts worth
of batteries being charged at 40 volts, a perfectly normal mode of
operation. Simply take the batteries off line and things are fine. A
standard ford starter relay will take care of the connecting and
disconnecting the battery. About $10 at any auto store. Just hold the
solenoid closed until the engine fires and disconnect.
What I am concerned about is how the field is excited. I would expect
that the output current is controlled by some sort of field excitation
regulator. Or you could wind up 'flashing' the field, a major problem if
you get it backwards. Without a circuit diagram or manual, I could
visualize some potential ways to fry the relatively low current
windings. If you really belive the old timers, then these concerns are
taken care of iternally.
I might add that you need to get the polarity right. Hook it up
backwards and the engine will spin backwards.
I went looking for manuals, you need to go look for a code number
somewhere on the machine. It should be a 3 or 4 digit number.
These manuals look promising:
And I would agree, this will be a real stinker to start if it doesn't
have an electric starter!!!! It looks like these things have magneto
ignition, it should start with the crank. Make sure you keep your thumb
on the same side of the crank handle as your fingers if you don't want a
quick trip to the ER to have your dislocated thumb put back into the
You're right, it does have a magneto. This reply also goes to Clif who
asked about just using the crank. The problem is that this machine is
on a ranch and is rarely used - when it is used, however, it needs to
start and work hard for several days. If everything (meaning the
carburetor and the gravity feed fuel system) is right, it will, as the
old timers say, start with one or two cranks at "15 degrees F and a 40
mph wind". I am forever having to rebuild the carb and clean out the
fuel filters so I am planning to convert it to propane (someone gave me
the parts and I know how to do it). With lpg it starts readily, but
you have to crank it over fairly fast maybe 20 or 30 times without
stopping so the vapor will be drawn into the cylinders and that's a
little hard on the old arm especially considering the potential for
busting one's thumb or arm; once it starts on lpg it's great, no warm
up or anything. The code number for the machine is "671" and the
serial number is "A188912". The manual says this about excitation:
"Separate excitation of generator shunt fields is supplied by an
exciter which is direct connected on the commutator end of the
generator. The exciter armature is mounted by a sleeve connection on
the same shaft as the generator armature."
Assuming I hook it up wrong and the engine starts to turn backwards,
will that hurt anything as long as I kill the switch as soon as I know
the direction? It shouldn't take more than a half revolution or so to
Thanks for all y'all's help.
If you want to try a test fire, here goes:
Fire the thing up using the crank, get it warm. Use a volt meter to
check the polarity of the output as well as the voltage. Shut it off,
hook up some jumper cables to a SINGLE 12 volt battery, maintain
positive to positive, neg to neg, see if it spins. Be ready to pull the
jumper cable off at the first signs of it firing. Use your voltmeter to
check and see if you have the same voltage as before.
If you totally screw up, you may need to reflash the field, instuctions
are in some of the other SA200 manuals, you'll just have to download
several and look.
I doubt I'd convert to LPG, not worth the trouble. I've never had
gasoline related trouble getting old tractors to run, even with ancient
gas. Bad spark can cost you days of fiddling around. Sounds like you
have a gas tank problem, full of rust and crud. How about taking the
tank off and either full rebuild or replace? Or perhaps an auxillary
tank that is much bigger than the one on there? As far as that is
concerned, there is a fuel pump block off sitting under the exhaust pipe.
If you are looking for engine info, try posting on
Can I ask what you need 40 volts DC for several days for?? Certainly is
It's welding all right. This old Lincoln is only good for welding
since it's too early to even have the 115 v (dc) outlet which is good
for tools that have brushes. A Lincoln SA200 (or SA250, SA300, SA350,
etc.) is known as a pipeline welder and is about as good a stick welder
as you can get, smooth as butter. From time to time I need to build or
fix fences, pens, cattleguards, barns, etc. and I seem to put that off
until I do a whole bunch at once, hence the several days of hard
running on the machine and then back to sitting under a tree for 10 or
12 months (the machine, not me!). By the way, I bought a Miller
suitcase wire feeder a couple of years ago, and it runs great off the
old Lincoln. No auxiliary power needed or anything, just attach the
Lincoln leads and go - apparently the Miller has a voltage sensor and
hooks up fine to the constant voltage dc power source to run the wire
feeder. Just need to use flux cored wire outdoors because of the wind.
Speaking of crud in the gas tank, I think you're right, the glass
fuel bowl fills up with rust flakes and that stops up the filter, etc.
etc. A few years ago, I opened up the steel gas tank (it's built like
a clam shell), cleaned it all out with a wire brush, and then put it
back together, the rust came right back. Do you know of a product that
I could line the inside of the steel gas tank to prevent it from
rusting again? I think water condenses in the tank over time. I
didn't know about the fuel pump blockoff; it's a gravity feed system,
but I know that Continental Red Seal engine was used to drive a jillion
different machines, and maybe still is FAIK.
You think it's possible that a single 12 v battery might be sufficient
to turn the 40 v generator?
Try the single battery, I would expect it to turn over a hot engine.
Cold and sitting for a while will likely need two. I would not leave the
battery(s) on the machine, they need to be on a keeper charger. If it
does work on 1 battery, just jump it from the truck. Otherwise just use
a battery pack and bring it out when needed. the RV stores have some
nice switches, connectors, etc that make hookup easier. There is a
forklift battery charger connector that is polarized, makes hookup easy.
Fix the fuel tank. Or replace it with a new plastic tank from the marine
come in lots of sizes, quite a few are quite flat. Since they have
square sides, you might bet more capacity then the current setup.
Just a few days of welding? Here I was picturing some sort of 24/7 pump
that needed to be run for a week. When I pump, I need to do an oil
change every other day. How do you say run HARD?
Running an engine hard enough to change the oil every 48 hours is hard.
I probably don't need to change the oil in that welder except for the
passage of time. BTW, have you ever (or anyone else lurking) used a
product called POR15 or something like that sold to coat the inside of
steel tanks to prevent rust? If so, does it work, does it last, and is
it hard to install?
A pump is the worst, 100% load, 100% of the time. I'm just moving water,
it runs at about 15psi off the pump, oversized inlet and outlet. Right
down at the low end of the curve, max hp required. As the self priming
starts cutting in the roar goes to a roar... roar.... roar, then when it
locks in you can just hear the engine groan and settle in. Governor
never gets a chance to do anything except let it go at full throttle.
There is supposed to be some epoxy liner material that works on the
tanks, someone will have to chime in. Start a new thread?
Thanks everybody, particularly RoyJ, for all your help. I've wondered
about how this might work for years, but this is the first time I've
managed to get information that I thought was sound. What a great
resource. Thanks again.