So i have this project, see.... http://www.ecobox.me and i'm under some pressure to make it presentable quickly, since it doesn't jive with the pretty brick facades on the buildings. So i get stressed, and paint it white before welding, which makes everyone happy - but now the next phase is to get the windows and doors on. Like a noob, i write into the budget 4 months ago it'll cost about 200 a window to get some frames done, the box cut, and the frames into place.
I'm at Home Depot looking at quickie saws thinking they might work to cut the corrugated container sides, since everyone has said not to try with an angle grinder, and that plasma's the only way to go, and i'm resisting that advice. A guy who does welding starts talking the talk, and the next thing I know, i've got them on to do one window as an experiment - they've got the gear and will do it for my $200, and from that get the experience they need to give me a good quote on the remaining 6 or so penetrations. I know this is lowball, but couldn't take them up on their quote for 2 days at $95/hr (2 guys) - it would cost as much as the container did in the first place! And I wanted to see their work.
It was supposed to be a quick couple of hours- but quickly it came across they didn't quite have it together- hand cutting 45 degrees (I'd like to have seen a chopsaw), cutting 90 degrees before cutting the 45's (wasting 2" each time), measuring too tight and filling the gap with flux, etc. and so on.
FIFTEEN HOURS later (over 3 days) it's done, and I'm glad they're gone, and I've got a frame in a window. The metal (2x2 11 gauge tubular) is bowed in slightly in the center (1/4-1/2") and there's a lot of slag from having to fill in the gaps of sloppy cuts done with the gas saw and a 14" blade and an electric angle grinder. They used a TIG welder but agreed later that they needed a MIG they didn't have. Halfway thru the welder fought with his manager/cutter, and left the job, calling me to say that he didn't want his name attached to whatever was done after he left.
So, this is a wordy (I must be venting) way of seeking everyone's advice. What I want to do:
Cut shipping container walls - very straight, and very cleanly.
Weld frames into place (were 2x2 tubular, but now inclining towards 1x2 angle iron, perhaps a heavier guage than the 11 g we used for the 2x2).
Seems i could get the frames made at a shop, or we could do them ourselves.
Here's what I GATHER is the ideal:
Cut the steel with a chopsaw set at 45 degrees
Weld the frame together with TIG or MIG (does it matter for a tight fit?)
Cut the walls with a gas powered-saw with metal blade mounted to some kind of rail or jig, and or set against a piece of wood or metal to act as a guide. I'm thinking i could tack weld a piece of tubular steel to mark the opening edges, and just run the saw back and forth along it to get a good straight line - but the gas saws can get heavy cutting sideways and for long periods- which means sloppy cuts.
Weld a hopefully nice-fitting frame into a well cut hole with a MIG welder.
I still only have $200 per in my budget, but we're a community college and have a big machine shop, heavy equipment program (maybe some portable rigs) , welding program (unfortunately no portable rigs), and i'm connected to various people around town with various toys (but none yet with a MIG). Problem with volunteers is getting that much work well out of folks is hard, and even if it goes well, it'll be hard.
I was reading these forums and looking at welders myself, and probably going to take a class this semester (we get one free each term) to go with the one I took 15 years ago.
But I'm looking for feedback and experiences, since clearly these guys had not a clue about working with stuff. The site has access to 110 outlet only.
Here are some visuals:
there are numerous photos of containers- probably more than i've been able to find anywhere else- the sides are about 1/8" steel, and corrugated with a variety of patterns, which vary from roof to wall to end to end of walls.
So in an ideal world, what would you use/do? (note, my ideal would be to have a robotic welder in a toyota factory just do it all for me, but that's not likely unless we get a very big grant, LOL)
Open to ideas and thoughts- i'll be checking back here, but my email is email@example.com