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Thread: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

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    Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    Hello! As the title says, I have zero welding experience, though I've thought of hiring someone to teach me how to weld, but that's not what I'm here for. I want to build an overland camper on a truck like the F350. I'm looking into hiring someone to weld an aluminum frame in the approximate shape shown in the photo. The walls would be 2" thick and probably have an aluminum skin on the outside to protect from plants and branches. It would also have radiused edges and corners. There's no design file right now as this is just to find out what the ball park cost would be for this job. When done it would have to be lifted and mounted on the truck's 3 or 4 point pivoting subframe. If none of you know, then please point me to someone who does. Thank you!

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    In order to get any kind of realistic number for this work you would need to start with more information. I would expect a drawing and well defined scope of work before any one could offer a price for this.
    Mike

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    You would be vastly better off to buy a completed vehicle.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    A prototype usually costs 50% more then the production unit for something like this. Much more cost effective to buy the production unit.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    That Earthroamer is over $500k all in.

    I've made several box frames for Military trucks and have made a number of overland trailers. Much more downmarket from that.

    The box on the Earthroamer is carbon fiber or at least fiberglass. It's difficult (but not impossible) to get those curves with aluminum. (I wouldn't do it)

    I get a lot of dreamers who have no concept of cost or what it takes to make one...at least you admit that. I also have seen people want me or others to sign an NDA based on a google sketchup cartoon drawing. No thanks to those people.

    Or, I've made things to the customer's wishes, and then it's "what about...this?" "what about....that?" ...stuff they didn't think about that are suddenly very important.

    Rough ballpark is going to start at over $15k for aluminum frame with aluminum skin. Limited radiused corners but mainly straight panels, rough openings for your windows/doors and not much else. How will you repair aluminum panels welded to aluminum skin? Aluminum skin welded to frame will have some distortion. Panel bond is an option. Fasteners are an option but might leak.

    Good luck with your project.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    Quote Originally Posted by jamscal View Post
    That Earthroamer is over $500k all in.

    I've made several box frames for Military trucks and have made a number of overland trailers. Much more downmarket from that.

    The box on the Earthroamer is carbon fiber or at least fiberglass. It's difficult (but not impossible) to get those curves with aluminum. (I wouldn't do it)

    I get a lot of dreamers who have no concept of cost or what it takes to make one...at least you admit that. I also have seen people want me or others to sign an NDA based on a google sketchup cartoon drawing. No thanks to those people.

    Or, I've made things to the customer's wishes, and then it's "what about...this?" "what about....that?" ...stuff they didn't think about that are suddenly very important.

    Rough ballpark is going to start at over $15k for aluminum frame with aluminum skin. Limited radiused corners but mainly straight panels, rough openings for your windows/doors and not much else. How will you repair aluminum panels welded to aluminum skin? Aluminum skin welded to frame will have some distortion. Panel bond is an option. Fasteners are an option but might leak.

    Good luck with your project.
    I only posted the photo of the Earthroamer as an example of the approximate shape I want. Sounds like the radiused corners would add a lot to the cost. I don't know the best way to make the skin or how to attach it to the frame. From what I've read, it sounds like most people glue the skin to the frame. I'm still exploring how best to do the box though. Thank you for your rough ballpark.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    Don't know if you need full blueprints but might need an engineer to help with a very detailed drawing. What is the purpose of the truck? Mobile office or similar to a camper, etc.? I've seen fiberglass slip in boxes with high ceilings on trucks but don't know what they're called. Utility company and similar outfits have them. Found these. Probably a lot cheaper and a lot easier to buy something already made.

    https://mastertruckbody.com/mobile-office/

    https://www.spacekap.com/

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    It's going to be a full time home and overlander. I'll be staying in the free campsites in the backcountry areas. It has to be able to stand up to repeated abuse from small branches and bushes. Also, I need a project to work on. This will be something I will work on for the next several years. How hard is it for a newbie like me to learn how to do the kind of welding this project will require? I've seen some YouTube videos on some welding techniques and shows like Bitchin Rides show a lot of welding work.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    Unless you are stuck on 4 wheel drive or outward appearance why not buy an used box truck and modify it.
    If you're planning on building it over a couple of years look for just the box and buy the truck later.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    I think twice on hiring a welder
    I would look for someone that does that work and get a quote.
    I do not know how many times I fix someone else work and can be pain with cost to match.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailmike View Post
    Hello! As the title says, I have zero welding experience, though I've thought of hiring someone to teach me how to weld, but that's not what I'm here for. I want to build an overland camper on a truck like the F350. I'm looking into hiring someone to weld an aluminum frame in the approximate shape shown in the photo. The walls would be 2" thick and probably have an aluminum skin on the outside to protect from plants and branches. It would also have radiused edges and corners. There's no design file right now as this is just to find out what the ball park cost would be for this job. When done it would have to be lifted and mounted on the truck's 3 or 4 point pivoting subframe. If none of you know, then please point me to someone who does. Thank you!

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    So this could be an ambitious project. The first step would to be making a subframe that matches the chassis mountings of the truck. There is software that can take the design for like a 2" diameter by 1/8th" wall round tubular skeleton and produce components and send to the tube bend house. But you would certainly want to anneal the bends and mandrel bend the tubing then weld with high strength filler like er5356. Then 1/8th" sheet alum beveled inserts could be fitted normal to surface of the exterior and welded with same er5356 filler, canning straightened, then ground and blended. From there the window cutouts can be made, framing from any structural extrusion fitted and welded, and those ground and blended. That could get you close enough to fit the interior. When done bondo, sand and paint.

    I could see a shop charging $70K to $80K just to fab the subframe, tube skeleton, skins, and window and door framings with full weldout. Offroad trailers are a lot simpler.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    My uncle hand built an overhead camper in the late 60's-early 70's, he did the hand build so HE knew what was in it, from the framing to the insulation , paneling and skin. He built an exceptional unit that was not only of much better quality, but also much heavier and expensive when completed. It probably came in at 3 times the weight and 4 or 5 times the cost by the time he was done. He did a fine job on it but it came at a high cost.
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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    Quote Originally Posted by jamscal View Post
    That Earthroamer is over $500k all in.

    I've made several box frames for Military trucks and have made a number of overland trailers. Much more downmarket from that.

    The box on the Earthroamer is carbon fiber or at least fiberglass. It's difficult (but not impossible) to get those curves with aluminum. (I wouldn't do it)

    I get a lot of dreamers who have no concept of cost or what it takes to make one...at least you admit that. I also have seen people want me or others to sign an NDA based on a google sketchup cartoon drawing. No thanks to those people.

    Or, I've made things to the customer's wishes, and then it's "what about...this?" "what about....that?" ...stuff they didn't think about that are suddenly very important.

    Rough ballpark is going to start at over $15k for aluminum frame with aluminum skin. Limited radiused corners but mainly straight panels, rough openings for your windows/doors and not much else. How will you repair aluminum panels welded to aluminum skin? Aluminum skin welded to frame will have some distortion. Panel bond is an option. Fasteners are an option but might leak.

    Good luck with your project.

    Sent you a PM.

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    Re: Zero Experience Here! How Much to Hire a Welder for this Job

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailmike View Post
    ...It has to be able to stand up to repeated abuse from small branches and bushes...
    Aluminum would be a ridiculously poor choice for an exterior which has rounded corners and is subject to "repeated abuse from small branches and bushes."

    I'd like to be able to phrase this kindly, but am reminded of the saying: "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing." This project is a pipedream with no basis in reality. And anyone who would encourage you to proceed with it, as outlined, should be looked upon with extreme scepticism.

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