Vintage SA-200 Short Hood Welder

I bought this thing at least 5 years ago. After I got it home I
fiddled with it a little bit. I seem to recall that I put some machine
oil down the spark plug holes. But to this day I never attempted to
start it. And the guy I bought it from didn't either.
Now my sons are big and we'd like to bring it back to life.
Since it is so old I'm reasonably sure it's no longer supported by
I will appreciate hearing from everybody who's ever refurbished one.
Among the things I'm wondering are whether we should attempt to get it
to run just long enough to determine whether it will generate current.
Otherwise, I'm worried that we might spend the time and money
overhauling the engine, gas tank and radiator, only to discover that
the armature is fried.
Do y'all believe there is any compelling to reason to attempt to start
it or vice versa?
Stated another way, will we learn anything by starting it that we would
not learn by doing a teardown of both the engine and the generator and
bench testing the components?
I am entirely confident tearing into the engine. But I'm clueless as
to what to look for, inspect, test and/or replace on the generator end.
If anybody has a roadmap for a logical approach I'll appreciate hearing
it. This thing is on a little home made single axle trailer with no
suspension. I'd like to do a frame up restoration. But, like I said,
I'd hate to go to all that trouble and only then discover that the
generator end is unrepairable.
Is this a valid concern?
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I sorta go by the assumption that an old piece of gear probably has at least one thing wrong with it, otherwise why would the owner sell it? In this case, it may just be the crank starter.
This unit is really bullet proof, heavy duty windings, Continetal (??) engine. I'd try and start it, see if it seems to work, then go from there. In spite of years of inactivity, all systems are pretty simple on the thing: clean the fuel bowl, fresh gas, pull the plugs and clean them, see if you have spark from the magnetio.
Manuals are available on line at
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if you can find a 3 or 4 digit code number somewhere.
Vern> I bought this thing at least 5 years ago. After I got it home I
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Everything on the old ones is replacable, repairable or upgradeable. I know of several 1950's SA-200's that are still in hard use by Pipeliners.
Three of the best sources I know of are:
Chris at Chris' Welder Repair in Odessa, TX. 432-552-8151
American Welding Supply (in TX, they have a website) 800-256-1867
Weldmart (also have a website) 800-460-6474
Keep in mind we are at the begining of what's projected to be the largest Pipeline/oil/gas boom in living memory so anyone that works on Lincoln Pipeliners is going to be pretty busy. Old machines are in demand right now.
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If it was me, I'd get the engine manual, and the Lincoln manual that covers the governor and carb. Then do a compression check and fire it up and use it a bit first. Then rebuild it if you want.
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Well, y'all have pretty much echoed my thoughts.
I'll feel a lot better about spending money on it once I see it's capable of striking an arc.
Also, thanks for the service company referrals!
JTMcC wrote:
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I have a 1947 model SA200 - never had a starter, nor ring gear, just crank start. When the carburetor is working, which is almost always unless it's been sitting in the weather for a couple of years, it'll start on half a revolution in 20 deg weather in a 40 mph wind. I bought it from an old timer who had bought it new, the machine was complete (even side panels) and had been stored inside - even the decals were intact and he pulled the original literature out of a drawer in his desk including the original invoice! It hadn't been run in 20 years or so. He had two identical machines and I picked what I thought was the best one - I wish I had bought them both, but $300 was real money in those days. I took the head off and replaced the head gasket, rebuilt the carburetor (easy, kits are available), changed the oil and put gas in it and it started right up and runs well to this day 20 years later.
They are wonderful machines and most parts are still available. The engines are so overbuilt and conservative they just about last forever. I think the engines are about 160 cubic inches for about 30 hp - not much hp per cu in by today's standards. Likewise, those engines were used on jillions of machines - generators, forklifts, pumps, hydraulic power units, welders, air compressors, etc., etc., etc. A great source for parts for Continental F162 engines is a called Foley (sic?) - they have a website.
Smoothest arc there is.
If you don't want it, plenty of people will.
Fix it and use it!
Vern> Well, y'all have pretty much echoed my thoughts.
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Your note was positively uplifting. Thanks!
Vernon wrote:
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They _are_ sweet when they're running right and set up right. The welding just seems to flow along.
You can bet the heart of your utmost bottom on that! IOW: Ya can betcher ass on that, Dad. :)
Fellow just down the road in Edinburg had bought one and completely rebuilt, and I do mean completely. He sold it for $1200 and I nearly wore out my tongue cussing myself for not grabbing it the moment I saw it for sale. It might not have done much but sit there looking pretty, but I'm sure I could have put it to some good use.
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John Husvar
I would like to know just what does it mean. Does it mean that the electrodes are not sticking? Or what?
The reason for my question is this. After some messing around with my welding power supply, stick welding also became very "easy". I can strike an arc with my eyes closed, rods do not stick, metal is deposited, etc. It is definitely not because I became a great weldor (I am a lousy weldor).
So.. I want to know what makes a welding machine "feel right".
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Well, there are far more qualified people on here than I to answer that question, but for me, the first answer I think of is: "I dunno."
1) The arc strikes quickly and cleanly with little tendency to stick the rod.
Whether that's due to correct amp setting, improved skill, smoothness of the machine's DC power, or all the above, I don't know. All those factors enter in, but the old engine driven and motor-generator machines just seem easier to use than transformer/rectifier machines.
2) The bead runs easily with little spatter and makes a nice, clean bacon frying sound. It's almost intuitive to use the right weave, arc length, etc. It seems like you're just painting the bead on with the stick.
Again, all the factors I noted in 1) probably apply.
3) I'm going by my own limited experience. When I used a motor-generator welder and later an SA200, everything about stick welding just felt easier. I don't know exactly what to attribute that feeling to, but there it is.
4) Maybe it's just that old feeling of loving it when a plan comes together. :)
There's a feeling that everything is working together for you. I got that feeling when Ernie told me to use 309L rod to O/A weld stainless and regular mild pieces together. It just worked.
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John Husvar
For a first cut, the smoother the voltage, the smoother the arc. AC is the worst, rectified DC is ok, the DC motor/generators have almost no ripple. Arc starting likes a high open circuit voltage (80 or 90 volts is nice) Reserve power is nice to avoid rod sticking. Adjustable voltage is nice to get the best fit to the rod you are using.
On a MIG gun, it's common to have the operator fire up on a piece of scrap, have someone play with wire speed and voltage while the arc is lit. You can hear it when you get it right, the arc noise just goes to a soft purring sound. No spatter.
Ignoramus28229 wrote:
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I just want to give y'all a progress report.
I've been pouring Marvel Mystery oil down the exhaust, the spark plug holes, and every else I can think of.
I've been turning the motor over by hand while it regurgitates Marvel Mystery oil through every orifice. It is getting easier and easier to turn over. Today I replaced the front motor mount. Tomorrow I will replace the two back ones...
I replaced the radiator hoses. Upon removing the old hoses some coolant came out. It didn't look bad at all. I re-filled the radiator with fresh coolant and water. The radiator is holding the coolant but the water pump is leaking copiously...
I filled the crankcase with fresh oil. I think I remember that I refilled it about 5 years ago when I bought the welder. But I'm not sure. In any case, the old oil looked like ... oil.
Yesterday I realized that there's no air filter on it. I remember removing the carburetor way back when to clean and rebuild it. But I don't remember having removed an air filter. So it probably didn't have one when I bought it. Up to now, the only things I know to be missing are the air filter and the sheet metal side covers. But the top cover is on its last legs...
I also discovered that one of the oil circulation hoses was missing between the oil filter canister and the engine. I'm so proud I discovered this before attempting to start the engine. Since I couldn't find the proper lines I had some HYDRAULIC lines fabbed up for it. They're good for 5000 PSI. I hope the oil pressure don't burst 'em... ;o)
Today I brought back a new 8 volt battery from my Farmall Cub. Also, today, while moving some stuff into storage, I found a replacement carburetor I bought for it on ebay. It is a Carter carburetor and looks to be the proper replacement carb.
So now it has new hoses, fresh coolant, fresh motor oil, and is all slathered up in top cylinder lubricant. Tomorrow it will have two new motor mounts, the new carburetor and a fresh battery. I'm running out of reasons not to try to start it.
Vern> For a first cut, the smoother the voltage, the smoother the arc. AC is
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Thanks, Roy and also John for your nice list. That seems to be the case for me also, I tried a little welding last night.
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Your water pump packing has dried up. If that pump has a nut you can take the nut loose, pack in some axle grease, and tighten up the nut with some hope of it not leaking.
Before you start cranking for real, make sure that you are getting a nice hot spark from the magneito. They can get cruddy from disuse, don't have the impulse spring working right, won't spark at low speeds. You should be able to hear a distinct 'click' when you turn it over.
Vern> I just want to give y'all a progress report.
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Roy Thank you for that advice. The water pump does have a grease fitting at the top. I'm pretty sure I pumped some grease into it back when I first got it. But I'll try it again.
I also thank you for mentioning the magneto. Among the things I'm wondering is how do you "turn it on and off". In other words, to start and stop the engine do you pull/push a toggle switch?
On the radiator end there's a push button and two push/pull knobs. No doubt the push button is the starter. I assume one of the push/pull knobs is the choke. It goes to a cable slide wire that's seized. The other knob has some small gauge wires connected on the back side. I haven't yet chased down where these go.
But if you could explain the wiring logic of a magneto that would be a big help. In other words, what kind of control turns the spark on and off?
Thanks! Vernon
RoyJ wrote:
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Well, you're welcome, but about all I did was say: "I dunno" and: "It just works."
It really is just a feeling that everything's going the right way and all at the same time to me.
Of course, that's why God made DC.:)
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John Husvar
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Thomas Kendrick
You "turn a mag on" by spinning it, if it's spinning, it's making spark. You "turn a mag off" by grounding it. There should be a small stud coming off the side of the mag body with a wire running to a toggle switch. Flip the swithch and you ground the mag, shutting off the engine. The mag id a very simple and very reliable system. It has a set of points and a rotor and a distruibutor cap.
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