Building a Hobart Stickmate® Cart
A simple but tough mobile stick welding center
Text & photos by Tom Hintz
Posted – 1-2-2011
When I decided to make the Hobart Stickmate® a permanent part of my shop building a cart to make moving its 100-lb + weight around the shop more manageable was necessary. Aside from pure mobility a cart adds a little more storage to the shop and allows grouping tools and supplies frequently used with the Hobart Stickmate®.
Simple Materials & Design
Since I am not towing this cart anywhere I could keep the materials simple. Most of the cart is made from 1” angle steel. Various widths of 1/8” and 3/32”-thick flat stock were used as were pieces of 1”-diameter and ½”-diameter steel tubing (for the handle and hangars) and a piece of expanded steel to make a dirt-shedding floor for the storage area on the lower level of the cart.
I used a pair of locking 3-1/2” casters at the front to make the cart steerable. In the rear are two 4”-tall wheels/tires that I picked up at Tractor Supply. Each of these casters and wheels is capable of carrying more than the total weight of this cart with the Hobart Stickmate® installed. When choosing these wheels and caster I was most interested in their making it easy to move the cart around the shop. A bit of over kill the wheels and tires also means once installed I could pretty much forget about them.
I made up brackets for the rear wheels making sure that they would keep the Cart level with the front casters installed. The wheels have a ½”-hole through the bearings so I picked up two bolts with ½”-diameter shanks, washers and locking nuts with nylon inserts. I welded the bolts into the brackets, installed the wheels, washers and nuts and then marked the threaded ends of the bolts so I could cut off the excess. I still kick the nuts at the end of the bolts occasionally when walking by but not having threads exposed means that it just hurts rather than bleeds.
Yes, I MIG’d My Stick Cart
I learned long ago that no matter what, someone will notice the smallest detail in the photos I post so with that in mind decided that I to come clean now regarding one aspect of building the Hobart Stickmate® Cart. Though it undoubtedly will not make any sense to some, I used my Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 Wire Welder exclusively to build the Hobart Stickmate® Cart. I am still better with the MIG and the relatively light weight of the materials used fit the capabilities of the Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 Welder better than the Hobart Stickmate®. Plus the cleaner nature of the MIG welds meant prep time for paint would be considerably less than if I had stick welded it. In my life these days (running two sites) anything that legitimately saves time goes to the head of the class.
I do try to maintain a balance on my sites so have a plan. In the future I am sure that a MIG-related project will come about that will allow me to use my Hobart Stickmate® in its creation and then everything should be right in the world once again.
Design/Build On The Fly
Like too many of my projects the Hobart Stickmate® Cart was designed and built at the same time. I started by turning the Hobart Stickmate® upside down and built a frame to fit the bottom closely. (I would discover later just how “closely” it really was….) I used 1” angle steel and mitered the corners with my Bosch Abrasive Wheel Cutoff saw to preserve a flat lip around the inside edge on which the Hobart Stickmate® will rest. I held the pieces in a pair of Bessey Angle Clamps for assembly and welded them on what would be the underside when the frame was installed. I also made a heavy tack weld in each corner just to keep the upper edges from separating before I welded the frame onto the 32”-long 1”-angle steel rear uprights and the forward structure that would physically lock the corners of the frame.
The frame on which the Hobart Stickmate® will sit is actually on an upper level, separated from the lower level by a pair of 4-3/4”-long uprights at the front of the frame and the actual front end of the Hobart Stickmate® Cart. This provides a 13”-wide and 31”-long lower “floor that can be used for storage or to keep things I am using on that job handy. I considered making this lower storage area taller but that would mean raising the Hobart Stickmate® itself in the cart and I liked its height from the floor as shown in the photos. Altering the height, width or length to fit your needs is simple if you are building one of your own. Just pay attention to how stable the cart will be in use with your modifications.
I welded a length of 1”-diameter steel tubing between the tops of the rear uprights. After welding up the gaps between the round stock and the angle steel at each end I ground them round. At first I developed a couple holes while rounding the area so used wire welds to fill those and then re-ground the area until it was smooth and solid. This step is not necessary but adds some comfort as well as a more finished appearance. I suppose that eliminating the sharp corners near the handle will also have some safety implications moving forward.
Using 1/8”-thick steel plate materials I made up a “shelf” for storing 5-lb “boxes” of Hobart rods. The plastic container that Hobart packs their welding rods in does a very good job of protecting them from both damage and wild humidity changes that could compromise their performance. The shape of the box makes it easy to build this “shelf” to carry 6 of those 5-lb packages.
I used narrower strips of steel to make up the retaining straps that restrain the boxes of rods. I even used a simple hand-held propane torch to heat and bend these straps. Here again, nothing fancy just a simple structure that keeps the rod boxes in place without blocking off the back of the Hobart Stickmate® where it vents heat.
I also added hangars for the stinger and work clamp cables, one on the outside of each rear upright. I used ½”-diameter steel tubing 1-1/2”-long and welded a large washer to the end to prevent the cables from falling off. Simple, cheap and effective.
Too Much Precision
With the Hobart Stickmate® Cart nearly complete I wanted to make sure everything fit before moving on to finishing. The first thing I did was to put the Hobart Stickmate® in its frame and that nearly killed the project right there. I had designed the frame to provide 1/8” clearance on all four sides. But I discovered that I was even more accurate than I anticipated!
I had slipped the machine-supporting frame itself over the bottom of the Hobart Stickmate® when I had the machine standing upside down on the floor. The frame fit closely but dropped right over the machine. However, with everything installed and the rear uprights welded in place just 1/8” from the back of the frame, getting the Hobart Stickmate® into the frame was not easy. Check out the photos to see just how close the Hobart Stickmate® actually fits in the frame. I’d like to say I intended on that level of precision but there really is nearly a ¼” error front to back and side to side. The 1/8” gap I had designed into this frame was gone and I lucked out big time.
With the building complete I went over the Hobart Stickmate® Cart with a wire brush wheel and a metal sanding disk, both mounted in my angle grinders to smooth out the edges and surfaces. At the same time I was checking to be sure that I had not missed any welds. Since the Hobart Stickmate® Cart was also a training exercise I was welding up things that really did not add more strength. They did give me a little more experience in welding in confined areas and at different angles.
I gave the cart two coats of primer followed by three coats of white paint to protect the steel. I used Valspar #65056 Red Oxide primer and Valspar #65002 (flat) white for a top coat. There is no ulterior plan behind the color selection other than my noticing that the Hobart Stickmate® is white so why not make its cart white as well. Besides, the cart I built for my Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 Welder was black so making this cart white adds variety to my work place, or something like that.
When the paint on the Hobart Stickmate® Cart was cured I reinstalled the casters and wheels, put the welder in its frame and then touched up the scratches in the paint where the fight of getting the welder to sit in its frame took its toll.
I am happy to report that when completed the Hobart Stickmate® Cart rolls along easily, doesn’t tip over and has not collapsed. It is not fancy but it does work as I wanted so this project is considered a success.
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