Consistency. Ease of use. Reliability. According to Dan Holohan, head fabricator at Rad Rides by Troy, these are the primary reasons the Precision TIG® 275 from The Lincoln Electric Company was the welding machine of choice for the restoration of Joe Rogan’s Sick Fish 1970 Barracuda.
Consistency. “The arc doesn’t dance around at the start like some TIG machines. With the Precision TIG, the arc starts where you point it,” said Holohan. “With its MicroStart™ Technology, the machine produces a stable, consistent arc that is very controllable. We always look for the best weld we can possibly produce, regardless of whether we will grind the weld or leave it exposed. With this machine, we know we are achieving high quality welds.”
Ease of use. According to Holohan, once the amperage is dialed in for the specific material thickness, the Precision TIG is ready to weld. Not only is the machine easy to use on an ongoing basis, it only took his crew 10 minutes after the machine arrived in the shop to feel comfortable with its operation.
Reliability. Holohan, Troy Trepanier and the four other fabricators at Rad Rides never looked at any other brands when they were selecting a new TIG machine for the Barracuda project. Their previous experience with Lincoln made them eager to try the Precision TIG. Challenged with a compressed six-month timeframe to complete this car for the Rides television show, they knew having a reliable machine was critical.
Although many shops use the MIG welding process for its fast arc travel speeds, the custom fabricators at Rad Rides prefer the TIG process. They use it almost exclusively because of the superior aesthetics it achieves. TIG welding also typically offers more precise control over warpage and burn through on thin materials.
Sick Fish, having only 4-inches of ground clearance at the rocker panel, required extreme fabrication to achieve its low ride height. To accommodate the 30-inch tall tires and give them the look of sitting “deep” in the car, Holohan and his crew spent additional time designing and fabricating the rear portion of the car.
“To complete the back end of the Barracuda we had to cut out sections of the car’s existing frame rails, fabricate new ones for the new four-link rear suspension and weld them into the original frame rails,” said Holohan. “Since the frame rails are a key part of the car’s structure, we relied heavily on the sound, high quality welds created by the Precision TIG.”
Other Welding Feats
Another area where the Precision TIG set itself apart from other machines on the market was in welding the new 16-gage steel transmission tunnel to the existing 22-gage sheet metal floor of the car. The dissimilar metal thicknesses required a solid butt weld on both sides of the tunnel from the firewall to the new rear end or differential. “With the Precision TIG, this welding was easy to accomplish. Once I strike the arc, I am able to use the foot control to fine tune the machine and back off of the amperage,” noted Holohan.
The seam welds on the Barracuda’s signature rear spoiler also required the extra heat input control the Precision TIG delivers. This spoiler, fabricated by Rad Rides, had to be welded onto the deck lid. According to Holohan, whenever you add a piece to an exterior body panel, warpage is an issue. However, the Precision TIG allowed him to handle the job with ease.
Additional areas where Rad Rides utilized the Precision TIG include front and rear suspension parts, wheel tubs, floor panels, tubular engine mounts, rocker panels and the rear valence panel, among others.
Rad Rides also took advantage of the Precision TIG welder’s specialty welding features. The pulse feature was used to control distortion on the thinner materials of the rear suspension and full roll cage. According to Holohan, the pulsing function created a high quality weld bead, requiring no grinding work. The shielding gas post-flow feature was used on the 3003 aluminum alloy gas tank to cool the weld and prevent craters in the weld puddle.
Convenience Features & Support
But it’s not only in the welding where the Precision TIG stands apart. “I like the layout of the machine with its easy-to-reach controls and water cooler located below. Rad Rides prides itself on a clean, uncluttered shop, so having a cable management system with cable hangers on the side is great for us.
“We were well supported by Lincoln throughout this project. We owe Scott Skrjanc a lot – he always comes through for us and makes sure we have what we need,” notes Holohan.
In addition, Rad Rides used Lincoln's Pro-Cut® 55 plasma cutter to cut areas such as the inner wheel wells, frame rails, transmission tunnel and rear floor panel. “I’ve worked with a lot of plasma cutters in my 20 years in the industry and this is one of the best I’ve ever used,” notes Holohan. “We were able to dial the amperage down to exactly what was needed, which worked well for the curved 1/8-inch thick material required for some portions of the vehicle.”
“We pride ourselves on quality, both in the aesthetics and driveability of the car. These cars are made to drive -- no matter how cool they look. Joe Rogan absolutely loves this car. He cruises up and down Sunset Boulevard and drives it on a regular basis.”