I had my forst experience with MIG welding today. Although technically it was wire-feed arc welding since I wasn't using a gas, the welder is a full-ready MIG welder, and I'm not pulling nits.
Since this was my first time, I decided that before taking on the seat repair, I had a smaller project to try out:
Basically, I wanted to make a clamp for clamping things like foamcore to a stand for use as a reflector. Simple design: a pony clamp from Home Depot and a couple of 8-inch flat steel pieces.
And after the cleaning and my first attempt at welding...
Pretty crappy looking welds, but they work. And I'm not completely concerned with the aesthetics at this point (which as it turns out is a good thing).
So since it actually worked, I spent some time prepping the car seat.
First was the removal of the back. Which was not exactly a walk in the park, since these things seem to be designed by graduates of the Escher School of Car Seat Fastener Design. I eventually got it apart.
The white thing is the inflatable lumbar support.
It was a little worse than I first thought.
A little closer view:
This was broken all the way through the bottom of the seat, and bent enough that I couldn't close the gap back up without extreme pressure.
The good news was that the back tubular frame wasn't bent. A couple of the welds were broken on one side.
You can see that the welds didn't continue along the whole piece, just a couple of places. The other side was the same, though only one of the welds were broken.
Cool. Welding these pieces was easier, probably because the metals were the same, and I rather thouroughly cleaned them. Still not perfect welds, but better. I welded them all along the pieces for some added strength.
Then it was time to attack the broken base.
I had a semi-brilliant thought: I attached the power base back on the seat but flipped it around so the straight bracket was on the broken side. It took some doing, but it acted like a jig to force the frame back into the best shape it could be, and with some additional wrangling of the steel, I was able to get it back into a semblance of the shape it was supposed to be.
I also cut some small pieces from steel stock to act as reinforcing bridges, and went outside to weld. Here's what I ended up with:
Far from perfect welds, but again I'm not going for aesthetics. You can see the pieces that I added, and you can see just how badly bent the frame still is.
The flap of metal on the left side is the left side bolster plate. There's another air bladder in the sides that inflates to provide side support. The hinge was broken and there were some additional stress fractures that I needed to fix as well.
And finally I replaced the power slide base, with one slight modification: I drilled some new mounting holes just over an inch farther back.
This has the effect of moving the seat just a little farther back, which will help with removing some of the stress that broke the seat to begin with.
Re-lubed all the ball screws and sliders, and I carted it back out to the 'Sploder; about a half-hour later I was seatful again. It's weird actually having a driver's seat that is solid and comfortable again-- even the back is solid, which I wasn't expecting.
All in all, a success.
Some things I learned:
Welding is easy. Welding well is hard.
The most difficult thing is seeing through the visor.