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Soldering or welding in emergencies

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It happens. You are far from help and amenities and you urgently need to weld something that broke. Or the radiator of your vehicle leaks and the hole is too big to seal it with egg white or mustard powder


You can easily weld with 40 volt direct current and 120 ampere. You can also manage with 36 volt but 24 volt is the minimum, otherwise there will not be enough spark. You then need three or at least two 12 volt vehicle batteries that is connected in series to weld.

The problem is that 300 ampere is a little heavy and you can easily burn holes. The best will be to connect the batteries in series with galvanized wire, which will serve as resistance, to help confine the current. Just watch out, if the wire gets too hot, connect an- other wire in parallel. If you cannot remember, from school days, the difference between series and parallel ask your son.

To protect your eyes you can use two pairs of sunglasses together. It is not very comfortable but be wary for arc eyes – that is much more inconvenient. Now use the jumper leads of your vehicle as welding cables and clamps. As weld electrode you can use the carbon centre out of a torch battery. Sharpen the centre like a pencil and roll it in tinfoil (if need be out of a cigarette packet) and clamp it firm in the jaw of the one jumper lead. Then draw a spark with the carbon electrode to melt the area where you want to weld and then add extra metal in with wire that you fuse in (a coat hanger or a piece of wire from a wire fence).

It helps, of course, if you have an old glow plug, a small roll of soldering, a couple of welding rods, and a piece of welding glass for eye protection in your toolbox. You already have galvanized wire (the fence next to the road).

You never know when you might need it.


  • Dr Wallace Vosloo is an Engineer and Scientist by profession. His family has lived in Africa since 1696 and he has a deep love for the continent. He is a practical outdoorsman and loves traditional hunting, axe and knife throwing, longbow shooting, black powder rifle- and cannon shooting, salt and fresh water fly fishing and tracking. The art of survival is Wallace’s main field of interest and his passion is to transfer these old forgotten skills to young hunters.

    Start a fire and heat a piece of metal to serve as soldering iron, A strong screwdriver or a rod with a flat point will also work. Still better is a diesel vehicles glow plug that you connect on the 12 volt battery, its point becomes perfectly warm for soldering work.

  • Scrape and rub the place thoroughly clean with sand or a piece of rock where you want to solder. A half a lemon or battery acid can also be used to clean the solder area of any remaining oil.

  • Inspect the joints of the radiator if there is not a little extra soldering that you can borrow or plunder, if need be, the necessary lead out of the contacts of light bulbs.


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