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Intermediate Trail Welding - Trail Juice

Posted in How To on November 1, 2002
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Photographers: Cole Quinnell

Don't you wish you could bring your wife's blender along on your next trail outing for that perfect end-of-the-day margarita? Or how about your hair dryer so the other guys don't make fun of your unmanageable pompadour? And let's be honest, who hasn't wished for their home coffee pot and bean grinder the morning after a rowdy night in camp? What do all these things have to do with an on-board welding story? Because having a portable 110-volt DC source of power is just one of the benefits when you run Premier Power's on-board welder.

Sure, guys have been welding on the trail with two batteries, some jumper cables, and a nickel (we saw that MacGyver too), but we're talking about extended welding. You know, like when Pw's frame fell apart and he needed to reassemble his GPW in the boonies. You've probably got a similar story and if you don't, you will soon if you keep wheeling.

What You Need
The Premier Power welder comes with either a 160-, 170-, or 190-amp alternator, a control box, wire leads, a hand throttle, and detailed instructions. We opted for the 160-amp alternator because it's a direct replacement for the typical '60s-'80s GM alternators. The Premier Power alternators are available for most domestic engines, including diesels, and a good variety of imports. If you can't pop for the whole welding system at once, start by upgrading your charging system with a Premier Power alternator, then buy the control box and the rest of the system when funds allow. Since the regulator is housed on the control box, you'll need to let Premier Power know so the company can include an external regulator with your alternator. The Premier alternators are designed to put out more amps at lower rpm where the average off-road engine dwells, while factory high-amp alternators develop their amperage at higher rpm.

Fitting It
There are enough alternator options available from Premier that you should be able to pick one that's a drop-in replacement for the alternator on your engine. If not, Premier offers alternator brackets for some applications including Dodge gas and diesel engines. The control box isn't quite as long or tall as the magazine you're holding in your hands, but it is a lot thicker. With that in mind, find a mounting location that is accessible, but that will keep the control box somewhat dry. We try to mount ours somewhere in the cabin, usually under the dash where it's pretty easy to get at, or underhood on the fenderwell. Don't go mounting it in front of the radiator, behind the front tire, or on the engine itself unless you want to keep buying control boxes. They're durable, but not indestructible.

Using It
Arc welding is more an art than a science. We've seen people lay better beads with a stick welder than most can manage with a MIG welder. With that said, you'll need to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.

Since your engine alternator is powering the control box, the faster the engine spins the more amperage the alternator will put out until it reaches its peak output of 160-190 amps. The supplied hand throttle attaches to the throttle linkage so you can raise or lower engine rpm from outside the vehicle and, in turn, raise and lower your welding or DC power levels.

There are three basic controls on the Premier Power control box. The Master Control Switch is the first of these. When the Master Control is switched off, your alternator will work only as an alternator, but when it's switched on it takes alternator power and routes it to the control box for welding or 110-volt DC use. Next is the Power Tool Only switch. This will only work when the Master Control Switch is turned on. To use 110-volt DC appliances such as blenders or grinders, simply switch on the Master Control Switch, then the Power Tool switch, plug in your accessory, and go. Finally, there's a High and Low Charge switch on the top of the control box. This is used with the Master Control Switch either on or off to add 25 percent more charge to the system. You can use the High Charge switch for limited periods of time to quickly recharge your battery after hard winching or for extreme welding situations.


Premier Power Welder
Carbondale, CO 81623

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