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  1. #26
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    Mar 2011
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    McGregor, Iowa
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    61

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    I have a shop but I sometimes do mobile welding, reference the forklift thread to see my skid. Its a very small part of my business. I do mostly in shop repairs on boats and dock related materials. A bit of aluminum being I live right on the Mississippi. My mobile welding is maybe once every 2 months but it usually is on the docks or a boat when the waves are rolling so much you don't really have to weave with the stick. The mobile aluminum I do isn't much better either. Being in the water, the aluminum is so dirty and thin that its hard to do. Just yesterday I fixed the bottom rib of a boat that was beat up and patched with jb weld then coated. The bobcat I have does pretty well and I modded it to have the 14 pin to hook up feeders and spoolguns to. Starting out mobile here would be almost impossible as there's not a lot of that kind of work available and the larger factories and places here have their own people also.

  2. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    VA
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    2,523

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    Quote Originally Posted by Mmock4 View Post
    Did you/are you working for yourself or a company?
    I've worked for myself for the last 12 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mmock4 View Post
    How does compensation stack up as compared to other fields in welding?
    Compensation? I think it matters more that I'm self-employed than whether I'm mobile or shop-based. Mobile welders often have a higher rate, but that rate largely disappears into the additional expense of traveling to the work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mmock4 View Post
    Is work pretty consistent, and do you stay pretty busy? Do you find that you need additional work to keep financially stable?
    Work is rarely consistent in the one-man-business world, but there are exceptions. I've been on a single job since Sept 15 of last year and have largely disappeared from this site as a result of the hours I've been working there. Between that job and trying to keep my other customers satisfied, I'm drowning in work and have been for a year. It took me a decade to reach this level of success, and the first years were strictly peanut butter and jelly.

    The other comments about needing additional skills are right on...the job I'm on now is an equal split between welding, rigging, heavy equipment operation, and mechanical work. When it's all done and it's existence becomes public knowledge, I'll add a thread here with a ton of pics and info. Until then, I have to stay quiet about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mmock4 View Post
    I know that most are working with welder/generator combos, but is it effective to have a decent generator(clean power) and running stand alone welders, and equipment off of it?
    My thinking is in a different direction. I've invested heavily in cordless tools, Milwaukee and Metabo, and I rarely run my welder anymore unless I'm actually welding. The newer 9.0 and 12.0 Ah batteries make cordless grinders actually useful....I even recently picked up the new M18 9" grinder and it lasts longer than I expected.

    I have zero interest in separating the generator and welder on my trucks. All of my welders are now TB325's with EFI and Excel power, and I'm satisfied with their efficiency on the rare days I need to use them to run a corded grinder for extended times.

    My final thoughts on this subject are going to be somewhat unpopular, but.... My personal feeling is that the days of the old carbureted DC generator welders of whatever brand are over for anything but pipelining or arc-gouging for the heavier ones. They're great machines, but extremely inefficient and often very limited as to process capabilities. They're fine for learning or for being nostalgic about the past, but anyone wanting to get into general repair welding would be much better served by a modern high-end but still air-cooled machine. Trailblazers are what I've always run, but the Lincoln equivalents would be at least equally good. Lawnmower engines or not, they get the job done with a minimum of fuss and fuel consumption and they're very flexible with great generating capacity. I've got an SAE-400 which sits in the shop and looks pretty ... the Trailblazers are what make me money. My SA-200's went down the road years ago and I don't miss them even a little.
    Last edited by tbone550; 10-12-2018 at 09:34 PM.
    Applied Fabrications, LLC

    Mobile Welding / Mechanical Repair in VA's Piedmont & Shenandoah Valley

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Tampa, Florida
    Posts
    599

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    Great reply tbone550, thank you very much for taking the time to write and share.

    It would seem like in my formative years, that I should stick to working in a more reliable field. Gain experience, learn some more things, and then canvas the local market again if I’m in a situation to be considering mobile work as a possibility. I still will take on side work, and perhaps if I recognize the demand as being high enough, I can start making a transition towards it.

    You’re right regarding being self employed, and that’s the dream I’d like to chase. However, bills must get paid, the bank account will need filling, and the investment;retirement accounts will want some too. Welding is fun and all, but being a student I’m spending the time and money to learn the trade in an effort to secure my future financially. Owning my own business still tops the list however, perhaps that will come with time, and hard work.
    Last edited by Mmock4; 10-13-2018 at 07:05 AM.
    -Mark Smith

    Vulcan ProTig200
    Vulcan MigMax 215
    Hypertherm PowerMax45 Xp

  4. #29
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    Mar 2017
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    bar stool
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    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    Fellow here named Bill graduated high school/trade with a Diploma for Welding in 1963. He drove away in his new 63 Chevy 1 ton welding truck with a Hobart Bros machine on the back and a pair of cylinders. That truck was mostly paid for that night because had been working for farmers since he was big enough to drive a tractor. Bill grew up on a farm and knew how to work on and repair machinery. He pulled a card with the Operating Engineers and got on a big job in 65 running a loader. Bill rented himself a parking spot across the street and parked his rig there every morning showing like a billboard.

    Couple months later he was climbing off the loader at 4:30 and welding on machinery till 9 or 10 every night and most of Saturday. He was real careful about not violating any Union turf, and he made money. Bill was one of the first men on that job and one of the last off, partly because he had some solid connections made thru kinfolk. He worked at the trade for 20 years mostly mobil and bought a new truck every couple years. Ran a small ad in the Pennysaver year around just to spread name recognition.

    Today Bill would probably bust out in the first 2 years due to costs and regulations even with all the connections he had.
    Paperwork alone will eat you alive, and most of the paperwork requires a check stapled to it when it goes back.

  5. #30
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    Jul 2014
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    Bulldog Heaven at the end of my chain
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    3,124

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil5 View Post
    Fellow here named Bill graduated high school/trade with a Diploma for Welding in 1963. He drove away in his new 63 Chevy 1 ton welding truck with a Hobart Bros machine on the back and a pair of cylinders.
    Kinda feel like I know this guy just from that short blurb. Almost "kindred spirits" if you will.

    My first vehicle was a 1964 GMC 3/4 ton pickup truck with a 1/4" steel plate bed covering the original wood slat floor. Bought it from the original owner in April, 1976. Into the back of this I routinely carried my Hobart G-213 welding machine and nobody ever bothered my welding leads, rods or anything else stored in the cab which was locked of course. Didn't have a lot of friends in high school as they were always holding down meaningful employment positions such as washing dishes, serving fries with burgers, selling department store wares, etc. and I didn't want none of that. Seems they all had a different mindset than I. That welder alone kept me ridiculed at school, and busy after as I wasn't too good to do whatever needed done with it. Funny thing about that is I always had spending money when my girlfriend and I wanted to do something. Same girl has been my wife since 1977 and a keeper as she still puts up with me.

    Shifting gear(s) a bit on you now. I had a high school nickname much the same as a lot of others do. However the one I earned and kept was "Troll". This is before the days of the internet as it was back in 1976. I stopped by a place to weld a pin socket into an Allis-Chalmers HD-5 tractor arm on the way to school knowing I could be late for first period and the instructor wouldn't give two ****z if I showed or not. It was an industrial arts class and had nothing to do with painting. Anyways, I walk in about five minutes before the period is over just covered in dirt and grease from the job just completed. Teacher looks at me and asks, "What the hell happened to you? Looks like you slept under a bridge"! Somebody said "yeah" he even looks like a troll; and the rest is history as the name stuck.

    Anyway that truck, welder, attitude, and being available made me more money than most of the yahoo's whom scrimped along in conventional workplaces long after I dropped out of school. You get your trademark in the right place and it'll take you far but you got to stay hungry. Get lazy and you'll not only get hungry, you'll starve. Waiting for a good job to fall in your lap is fallacy. You got to drive yourself to the point of collapse a few times before you find success and it is in no shape, nor form, easy. Lost a lot of weekends and evenings keeping myself marketed through the years. Would I do it again? Probably not because I'm a little smarter now?

    Oh, never did graduate high school until I was just shy of 25 years old. Kind of "slow" I guess as it took me near that long to realize a high school diploma might be a good thing to have someday. Still no college so guess educating me is a lost cause.

    I finally sold that old Hobart G-213 welder in June of this year. Bittersweet as the severance of any long term relationship is, but it was time to let go.
    Slob

    Purveyor of intimate unparalleled knowledge of nothing about everything.

    Oh yeah, also an unabashed internet "Troll" too.....

  6. #31
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Central Wa. state
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    1,772

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    It wasn't an independent gig, but in high school I was compulsory second shift maintenance for my father's construction/excavating outfit, my daily school driver was a 1969 Chevy C-60 with an 11' service body. It had a good air compressor, an old Lincoln Weld and Power DC machine, and a small crane. I usually went out and changed cutting edges and other parts that were discovered to be problematic during the days operations.
    I did get paid well for doing that work and managed to sucker a few friends into assisting here and there.

  7. #32
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    Mar 2018
    Location
    Tampa, Florida
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    599

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    More good information guys, I will take it to heart. It’s good to hear from some people that have done it, and especially the modern takes on the results of what doing something similiar in today’s climate might be like.

    Union gets talked up a lot, pipeline has it’s famed reputation, a good deal of comments on structural, and industrial disciplines in welding, but you don’t hear too much about the mobile guys, I think I’m beginning to see why.
    -Mark Smith

    Vulcan ProTig200
    Vulcan MigMax 215
    Hypertherm PowerMax45 Xp

  8. #33
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    Jul 2014
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    Bulldog Heaven at the end of my chain
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    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    Mark, you are apparently of the analytical genre type. So far, maybe a professional student as they say? Usually the type make good accountants. No sharp tongued response as I say that being married to one whom was very successful in the field.

    I'm not the smartest guy, nor sharpest knife in the drawer, but some information you best take to heart:

    Don't leave a job completed on the expectation of getting paid timely, (if at all) for a restoration on a mobile repair. People don't need YOU, your invoice, or your problems meeting obligations when they have no repairs or broken machinery needing addressed. After their problems have been addressed and rectified, you as the creditor are an irrelevant "piss ant" soon forgotten. When, and if you do extend credit to all but a few, they will bad mouth your work telling other's not to hire you as the work was "less" than expected.

    Second words of advice. Should you need to have more than one day in a mobile repair job, don't leave that piece of equipment usable or in a "get by" status when you depart for the day. Leave it broken. You would be surprised how many will put the piece of equipment back in service after you depart, or call their cousin "Hercumer" over to finish it in your absence and then the first paragraph once again applies as far as getting paid.

    Don't take me wrong as there are many, many good parties out there that are far distanced from the above examples. It's the "one off" phone call you receive that need concern about. I have literally dozens of farmers and industrial operators that call me when I can help them and there is never a worry or concern about getting paid. This reputation did not come overnight, nor easily. I usually give a rough guesstimate, then try to come in under that if possible. Some jobs you get, some you don't. Update them as often as convenient to progress and get "earnest" money up front to cover your expenses, and obtain obligation for completion. My fee is usually 1/2 up front of original guesstimate, and balance on work completion prior to leaving. Never a problem for me as people are people and usually know a small business cannot float large expenditures easily.

    It's not all bread and roses out there and if you want to make it, you'll need to have precautions in place to safeguard your own well being. CYA as they say.

    Be fair, be honest, and being upfront with conversation will take you far. Don't be afraid to tell someone you need earnest money as you cannot afford to put the funds out up front.

    In closing never, and I mean never, ever bad mouth someone else's work to your customer. Keep your personal thoughts to yourself and stick to the task at hand.
    Slob

    Purveyor of intimate unparalleled knowledge of nothing about everything.

    Oh yeah, also an unabashed internet "Troll" too.....

  9. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Tampa, Florida
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    599

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    Thank you Slob, I take your opening comment on my appearing to be a proffesional student as a compliment, that’s what I strive to be, and how I try to present myself. I’m not tooting my own horn, but when the Welders and Pipefitters union came in to talk to the class this past Friday and asked the question “Among y’all who do you think is the best weldor?” The fingers of 24 students unanimously were pointed at me. I felt proud because undoubtedly my practice, my commitment to obtaining knowledge, my willingness to ask questions, and my work ethic both in class and extra-curricularly had gotten me to that point. My goal is to do well for myself, and help others do the same.

    You’re right, I do consider myself fairly analytical, and like to gain as much knowledge as possible before proceeding with any endeavor. Such efforts save time, effort, and cost. Ultimately distilling the task at hand to its simplest means. While my traits might make me a good accountant, my personality type would make me a poor candidate. I like to sweat, work with my hands, learn new skills, and enjoy the challenge of becoming proficient in technical, tactile work like with welding. Being an office man would drive me bonkers. You’re the second the weldor I have come to know that has a wife as an accountant, surely an invaluable asset to have.

    On to your advice, as always I do appreciate it anytime you and others think it worth your while to type up a well written, thought-out, and meaningfully helpful response. The information you conveyed was exactly of the nature that I was looking for. Know that I will take it to heart. I archive my threads on to my computer and refer back to them when they are of this much value.

    Honestly I had never thought of being the creditor for repair work. My mind was working under the assumption of “Payment due at the time services are rendered” but after reading a few of the replies here, I can see that- that’s not always the case.

    Good point on bad mouthing someone else’s work, that never really made sense to me anyhow. If oneself is a better craftsman, surely the evidence of one’s workmanship will speak for itself.


    Thanks again Slob.
    -Mark Smith

    Vulcan ProTig200
    Vulcan MigMax 215
    Hypertherm PowerMax45 Xp

  10. #35
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    Mar 2017
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    bar stool
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    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    I second Slob's comments on getting paid without hesitation.

    I swear there is a covert group that circulates a list of guys who will come on the run to do your job who you can screw over when payment time comes. The instant you walk in the door you hear "this breakdown is costing me $6973.27 an hour and I have 32 people standing around doing nothing. Can you have me back running in 15 minutes or should I send the shift home?"

    In 2018 you can whip out a phone and ask for their credit card before looking at the problem. If they balk, you tell them sorry, it's how we do things. In years gone by, it was common to figure on 1 in 5 customers to either stiff you or whittle you down after the bill was sent. The Laws are on the Debtor's side, and there are a sufficient number of contractors grabbing for business for deadbeats to beat you.
    You'll hear how the Branch doesn't have a checkbook and all payments come from Home Office- walk away.
    Others will get into you and then call for more work. That line will be You gotta help me so I can make money and pay you for the last job. You ain't going to get paid for either job, so WALK AWAY.
    Another advantage you have in 2018, most County Clerks have on line access to their database. You can go there and learn fast how many Judgements a potential customer has against him. Judgements mean WALK AWAY

    Then there are the wonderful folks called Government Agents. In most States there is Sales Tax. As a business you get to collect it for the State, keep it in a dedicated account, and pay it over periodically. If you're doing business in NY, plan on paying $500- for the License to Collect. ITS is another wonderful group.
    Stay in business long enough and you'll have a collection of Bankruptcy filings in your drawer as a substitute for payment for work you did and material you paid for. I ain't bothering to tell you about IRS clawbacks, they're kind of rare. Post dated checks generally equal toilet paper with writing on them.

    You can be the best rig weldor in town, do the finest work, and go bust with the speed of light if you don't know the business end. Friend of mine had a chunk of an interconnect phone business for a while. 2 salesmen on the road bringing in jobs, and 2/3 of the orders bounced when the paperwork went to the Leasing Company who would actually own the phone system when it was installed. He reoriented the sales people to qualify the potential customer early in the deal and saved a lot of wasted effort.

    Friends in trouble you gotta help lets just call that charity donation. You ain't gonna get paid, and you gonna loose a friend. It's like the guy who borrows $50 till next month. Only you can decide if it's worth $50 to never see him again.

    Your rig sitting in your driveway doing nothing costs you far less than your rig and you doing a job you won't get paid for.
    In addition to never criticizing another man's work, NEVER discuss a deadbeat with anybody other than your Collection Agent or your Lawyer. Another Law protects DEBTORS, and if they choose they can sue you for operating an unlicensed credit reporting agency. I've seen it happen to a business for having a sign on the wall of the service dispatcher's office "NO WORK FOR" with a list of names.

    There is no shortage of potential customers who can sleep well knowing they beat you out of payment due. It needs to be one of your top considerations in business.

  11. #36
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Central Wa. state
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    1,772

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    I've been doing my thing for close to 30 years, Heavy equipment, trucks and trailers, farm equipment, and irrigation pipe work. I've also been a dirt work contractor with dozers, scrapers, and excavators. Now I just hang out in the shop mostly, I usually have a line of projects outside the door waiting to get in. All are from well established customers that just want it done and running, when they get billed they pay. I've had new people show up wanting it "NOW"... they get politely ignored.

  12. #37
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    VA
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    2,523

    Re: Some questions for mobile welders

    I'm heading out, but wanted to quickly comment on the 'payment due when services are rendered' idea. That's great for locally-based companies, but you get into regional and nationally-based companies and you're NOT getting paid when the job is done. If you force the local branch to write you a check, you're a hassle and you might not work for them again. You're obviously assuming some risk by extending credit and rather than being scared of that, negotiate an hourly rate or quote the job in such a way that takes that risk into account. Different levels of risk deserve different levels of reward. My hourly rate for a local, proven, paying-on-receipt customer is not the same as my rate for an out-of-state customer who will, at best, pay me in 60 days.

    Make the reward match the risk.
    Applied Fabrications, LLC

    Mobile Welding / Mechanical Repair in VA's Piedmont & Shenandoah Valley

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