I've been thinking about building my own power cage for a few months...Tuesday I decided it was time. This thread is for the "do-it-yourselfers" of the S&P. I'm not looking for "WOW, that's cool" or "I wish I could weld" feedback because I know it's cool, and if you want to weld, go buy a fuckin welder and some metal and teach yourself like everyone else. Don't let the fact that you don't know how to do something get in your way. And now, the cage....
June20, 2006. I stopped at Patton's Steel and dug through their scrap pile. I found exactly what I needed. I bought about 60ft of 2" square tubing (.060 wall thickness) and a 10ft piece of 1" round stock (also .060 wall thickness). I bought a few cutting wheels for my grinder and some other sht. The grand total was about $100.
As soon as I got home, I made a rough sketch of how I wanted the cage to look. i based the design off of a few other cages I've seen. They're all pretty simple designs. Once I had my measurements, I started cutting. When you cut with a grinder/cutt-off wheel, you're cuts aren't the straightest, but it's easy to fix later with a flapper wheel and some patience.
At this point I cleaned all pieces with acetone and a rag to get all the oil and dirt off. You don't want to weld dirty metal. It makes for shitty welds. After that, I flushed up the ends and made sure all the pieces that needed to be, were the exact same length. If all the verticals are the same length, and all the crossmembers are the same length, when you put it together (assuming you passed the third grade) the end result will be square to the earth, which is to say, not bucking lop-sided.
Sleep X 1
June 21, 2006
I started laying the pieces out to make sure they were how I wanted them to be. At first, I had planned on welding all joints, but then I realized I'd never get the finished product through my god damned door so i had to rethink that plan. I decided to use attach brackets and bolts, which meant I had to fabricate some brackets. I have a 4x4 sheet of 16 gage sheet metal that I'm using on my VW Bus project, so I made the brackets out of that. I made eight brackets in all.
In this picture you can see what will be the top of the cage. The round stock in the fore ground will be the CHINS bar...
In this picture, you can see the bottom of the cage, the two different styles of brackets I made (haven't drilled holes yet) and the vertical supports for the cage...
That's all I've done so far. I'm out of welding wire. I'll probably start welding tomorrow or friday. I figure the whole projetct will take me a week or two to complete. Any feedback regarding my appoach or design is very welcome. Other comments, provided they're funny, are also welcome. I'll update this as I make progress.
UPDATE: June 23, 2006
Murphys law states that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong...
I stopped at two different hardware stores on the way home to get welding wire. neither place had the .040 thickness, so i settled for .030 which I have never used. I got home, drilled the holes in all the brackets and started welding. The first weld looked like absolute shit. It took me awhile to get used to the thinner wire. Since it was thinner, it didn't have as much flux in the core and it was popping like crazy. I turned up the feed speed on my welder and turned the voltage from MIN to MAX and finally started getting good beads. For those that don't know, oxygen is a welders worst enemy. When oxygen gets into a weld, it fucks it up royal. It pops and it gets weak as hell. That's why welders use inert gases (argon or helium normally) to remove the oxygen from the weld long enough for it to cool. In MIG welding, which is what I'm doing, the wire has a flux core which burns and removes the oxygen from the weld but it's not as effective.
I got everything tacked together and made sure it was square. Then I started the final welds. I made it three quarters of the way through and my fucking welder died. The motor that feeds the wire went tits up. So tomorrow, I get to go buy a new welder. That' won't be cheap because I'll be upgrading. Here's what I accomplished.
If you look close, you can see how I integrated the brackets I made into the upper section. The bracket is basically sandwiched between the horizontals and the verticals. It welded in on all seams so it will be sturdy as all hell. So for those not paying attention, the top and bottom sections will be completely welded/solid pieces and the verticals will be bolted on.
Here's a slightly different angle of the same piece. Fatty, if you're reading this, I fucked up and forgot about the rolling thunder mod you suggested... I guess that's cool, I didn't want to have to send your ass a royalty check anyways...
Here's the POS MIG welder I'll be replacing tomorrow. I realy shouldn't complain. It's lasted two years and I've welded a shit-ton of metal. It was $200 at Harbor Freight.
That's all I got done on this glorious Friday. Now it's time to get shit-faced...
PS. I was forced to remove several pics due to the 6-image limit per post. All future pics will be posted elswhere in the thread.
I had a busy ass weekend. As is turned out, my welder was fine, it had just overheated and shut itself off, which is a function I didn't know it had. So I still have the blue machine in the picture above.
Drilling the holes took quite awhile to set up. I had to make sure the tubing was perfectly level before I drilled a hole all the way through it. Since the brackets were hand made and the tubing was cut with a grinder, I clamped all the pieces in place and marked the location for the holes with a sharpie. Before I marked the holes, I made sure all the verticals were squared/perpendicular to the base/top. You can see how I supported the opposite with pretty much whatever I could find (used cardboard as a shim) and then used a level prior to drilling. No one wants a lop-sided hole...
Each leg was a custom fit and it took awhile to finish that part. By Saturday night, I had the cage together enough to do a couple sets of CHINS. All I had left was two welds.
Sunday morning I woke up early to finish off the welds.....lol.....story time.
For those of you who are familiar with how an electrical circuit works, you'll start laughing before the rest of the people reading this.
So I'm finishing up the last two welds on the cage. I had just finished mowing the yard and I didn't feel like changing for two measly welds. So there I was, in shorts, sandals, no-shirt and a welding hood. I didn't even bother putting gloves on because I'm pretty good about keeping the spatter from the weld off me. Half way through the first weld, my welder started stuttering. The wire wasn't feeding like it should. So, I took the top of it off (left the welder on...) and started adjusting the tensioner on the feed motor. As I'm adjusting it, I'm squeezing the trigger and wire is coming out of the end. By the time I found the right tension I had about 2 feet of wire handing out the nozzle...
Well while I wasn't looking, that 2 foot piece of wire had contacted the cage and spot welded itself to one of the verticals thus completing the circuit to the welder....but I didn't notice. I tried to pull the nozzle over to my bench to cut off the excess wire and noticed it was stuck on something, without checking to see what it was stuck on, I grabbed the fucking wire with my bare hand and tried to pull it free. (PAUSE) Now, the path of least resistance was still through the metal so I didn't get shocked, BUT, that completed circuit is designed to heat metal enough to fuse it. (PLAY) What it did instead was burn the holy living fuck out of my hand. I can't describe the pain. It was retardedly awful and it lingered for what felt like a lifetime. After I quickly removed the ground from the cage I cussed everyone from God to Barbara Striesand as I stalked around my garage looking for shit to punch. It took me about 5 minutes to calm down. Then, I forced a glove onto my glowing red hand, I finished the fucking welds and then I went inside and raided the first aid kit.
Bacon's safetly tip of the day: "Don't be fuckin moron."
The white parts are the well-done sections of my hand. On a positive note, if I'm ever kidnapped by cannibals and they cook me over an open flame, the smell that comes off of my roasting body will be nothing new to me. My garage smelled like burnt human for hours.
The cage itself is done. I still have to make the hangers and the safety bars which is no small task, but the big part is out of the way.
I'll be updating this thing for atleast another week or so as I add the minor details (safety bars, end caps, thickbar add-on, paint, etc...)
BTW, That thickbar design looks like a good idea Urban.
Well bitches...it's done.
Here's a shot of the base and the last minute add-on weight hangers. I load tested them with two 45's and a 25...they're solid. You can also see the safety bars and the locking feature that I (in utter brilliance) painted. I would later realize that painting a piece of metal that will spend it's life sliding in and out of a small metal hole (focus Lusst) isn't the best of ideas. The paint will wear off pretty quick, but I don't give a shit...I can do squats now!!!8 I wrapped the saddle portion of the hangers in black grip tape.
Here's another shot of the same shit.
Here's a front shot of the safety bar/hanger. You can see the weld joint. I won't lie, this locking feature, as most of you know, is on a lot of other cages. I didn't invent it.
Here's a shot of the upper hanger. This is the same design as the one one above. The hangers and safety bars can be relocated to any other hole on the cage in about 10 seconds and their robust enough to withstand all 230lbs of my weight set plus 178lbs of me....load testing was fun.
Here's a shot of the glorious CHINS bar in all its splendednessisis. It's wrapped in black athletic tape. As you can see Urban, I haven't added the thickbar attachment. I just wanted to get this thing done. I do have a 5 foot section of 2" pipe though, and I'll be doing something with it soon.
I've done a chit load of CHINS since I did the final assembly on this bad boy. Expect PR's bitches, cause there will most certainly be PR's.
And as promised Lusst, here's a shot of my boy Bacon lifting....er...lounging under the cage.
The whole project (if done in consecutive, 8 hour days) would have taken me about 4 days to complete. This includes the dry times for primer, color coat and clear coat. A few parts were time consuming (drilling all the holes and making sure they all lined up) but not a single aspect of this project that hard. Anyone who posts here and has any mechanical inclination (which can be learned) can make a power cage. I have no formal training in welding or metal fabrication. I learned how to weld in my garage about 18 months ago. It's not that hard. It's amazing what you can do when your television isn't sucking the life out of you.
The materials cost about $150. Which is about $150 dollars cheaper than you can buy a decent cage online. The caviat here is that I already had all the necessary tools to complete the project. Here's what I used: MIG welder (flux core wire feed), grinder, drill, drill press (not required but makes life MUCH easier) and various hand tools. If you have those, all you need is initiative and some scrap steel....the steel is easily obtained...
A little vision and motivation goes a long way. Not being afraid to fail helps too.
Well, that's my cage. If anyone else feels like building one, I'd be more than happy to lend my tewscents. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some squating to do...