Snowmobile Tilt Trailer Build welding project – Day 1

Snowmobile Tilt Trailer Build Welding Project

Day 1

My amazing husband guaranteed me some dedicated time in the garage today and I am SO excited to start this Snowmobile Tilt Trailer Build welding project! In my last post I outlined the plan and cost of the project and why we need a tilt trailer for our snowmobiles so badly.

I love to run through the familiar routine of putting on boots, tying back my hair under a weld cap, safeties, and sharpening a soapstone. Then sipping a coffee looking over and thinking what I’m going to do. That coffee rarely gets finished before I’m into it and going. Like any routine it gets me in the mindset. Today I’m being deliberate about these things because I need to get and stay in the moment – I need a break from a demanding baby – I’m learning this takes mindfulness.

Hurry Up. I can hear my son crying inside and I need to learn to let it happen without me. Hurry up. I have to trust they are both fine and let my husband figure it out on his own. His own way. Hurry up. I put in ear plugs and turn up the radio.

Hurry up.

All tradesmen know that phrase. Wether its yelled at us, begged of us, demanded by our competition, or created by situation, a sense of urgency is also familiar. However, I have never felt pressure like this to work fast and get as much as I can done so I am ready to be there when I’m needed for the people I love. WOW The intensity of this feeling is surprising and almost overwhelming.

Hurry up.

The last of the seasons snow is JUST about all melted. By the time those little bad boys start falling again I will be ready!! An easy to load and unload tilt trailer for BOTH snowmobiles!!?? HELL YEAH! Let’s build…

Ugh. The realities of working without a shop. This driveway setup is so frustrating, but my reality. I know I’m not the only one without dedicated shop space and I want to show that larger builds ARE still possible. All that being said, I can not WAIT for the day I can say “check out my shop!” Talk about creating ease in our lives!

TIP: Make sure your material is level before cutting. Just good practice. Even on bandsaws with rollers, checking level every once in a while saves so much headache later on. This ensures that the cut is square on two planes, not just one.

I love my Makita chop saw, but for this size/shape 3/16″ thick HSS, the cut was hitting the wheel in that ‘dead zone’ where the ‘contact length’ of material and blade is too long or ‘flat’. Not a nice vertical downward cut. It felt like it was taking forever to cut while heating up the material. The blue zone around the cut ‘kerf’ means that has reached around 350 degrees C and bogging down the saw motor.

So, a ‘zip’ disc and angle grinder is my answer. After each cut I remove the burr, sharp edges with a ‘flapper’ sanding disc. Sanding discs are a relatively new addition to my toolbox. Until a few years ago I had never seen or heard of them but quickly they became a ‘regular’. Because removing mill scale is such a necessary step for each weld site, they just combine those two steps easily while processing each piece of material. I like the flapper disc because it is aggressive enough to get through the mill scale but smooth enough it doesn’t remove too much material or leave deep groove lines like a grinding disc can.

Mill Scale.

If you haven’t heard that term before, no worries, this little tip is going to make your welds SO much better!!

Here’s a good article on mill scale.

Flashback to high school chemistry – this is the reason why they made you sit through that class. I didn’t listen then either.

Briefly, it is a thin layer of blue-grey magnetite (a form of iron and oxygen) sitting on the surface of steel. It forms when steel is being hot processed – rolling or forming into sheets and shapes at the mill. Technically (and confusingly, a form of corrosion) This layers chemical composition is slightly different than that of the steel just underneath. Because it is brittle, flakey and not totally adhered it does not provide even conductivity making consistent weld fusion more difficult. It is easily seen and removed at joints to be welded with a grinder or ‘flapper’ sanding disc. Underneath the blue mill scale is shiny silver more easily welded steel.

Remove. the. mill. scale.

Laid out on the garage floor the sled trailer frame looks huge! It is just over 8ft wide to carry both our snowmobiles. I can’t wait. It makes me smile every time I think about this build. I don’t know ANY mom (or dad) who doesn’t want things to just be easier and more fun for her family.

Times up.

After working 12 hour days for the past 7 years, I don’t know if I can call it a ‘day’ really. 3 hours. And a good portion of that was staring at prints. Good practice though. My husband peeks in through the garage door window with a hungry, red faced little man in his arms.

Anyone remember this? Are you IN IT right now? Make sure you take time for yourself, whatever that looks like, to recharge.

Stay awesome,


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