Customized Mobile Welding with Blackburn Fabrication

Everyone wants to "live the dream", but David Blackburn is building it. By day he’s a machinist of fifteen years, but in the evenings and on weekends David is a welder. As the sole proprietor of Blackburn Fabrication, in Columbus, Ohio, he fixes everything from airplane exhaust manifolds to ranch fences, and creates customized signs, bumpers and welding rigs. The reliable and versatile Fronius power sources for manual welding are helping David to achieve every task to his customers’ full satisfaction.

Like many, David started welding as a kid in the garage with his family. He moved from stick, to MIG to TIG, and along the way he helped friends with simple projects or repairs, and got paid for his time. The side business took a big leap when his then roommates suggested he look into the airport where they worked. The amount of welding work available allowed him to make his side business a regular source of income. He started with small, personal and experimental aircraft, welding aluminum and stainless steel. He enjoyed the work enough to invest in getting certified to weld FAA planes. David spent about six years working with airplanes until the company moved out of town and hired their own welder.

This planted the seeds for what he’s working towards now. David plans on building his own welding shop – but for now his focus is on mobile welding. To aid him in this, he is building a flatbed of his own design onto his truck, with specialized toolboxes, racks, and compartments for necessities. “Welding on-site carries its own set of challenges,” he said. “With the airport work, I learned that getting a truck-mounted welder close enough to the plane wasn’t always feasible. That meant you might need long leads which can cause an unstable arc. Additionally, most welding machines have higher electrical needs than the 110v output of standard non-industrial buildings.” These challenges have led David in a couple directions, one being the mobile welding rig he’s building, and the other to Fronius.

“I first looked at Fronius welders at FABTECH 2016 in Vegas. When my buddy and I walked into the booth, one of their team answered our questions, and showed us what might fit our needs. I didn’t know it then, but that person was the representative for my area in California. He treated me like I was no different from a big shop even though I said welding was my side business.”

When David learned that Fronius had a reliable welder that would fit his mobile business, he called to schedule a demonstration at the local office. “What I was looking for was a multi-process machine that does all the things I need to do – including the ability to weld 6010 electrodes,” David said. He worked with Fronius’ CA office to test out the various welders and decide on a package that would suit his needs. Finally, David chose the TransPocket 180: The versatile power source allowed him to run any electrodes he needed, for whatever jobs he accepted, and do all the work mobile. The machine worked flawlessly, which gave him the confidence to take on more jobs with new clients.

Fronius offers the TransPocket in two versions, one that’s focused on stick welding with TIG capability, and the other is a TIG welder with stick capability. The TIG version is the one David chose. It offers pulse welding and comfort stop which gives a clean finish to the weld. The TransPocket is portable, runs on 110v electricity, and can use a 300 foot mains with no loss of power to the torch, or tripping of circuit breakers. This combination was a perfect fit for Blackburn Fabrication.

David works on whatever projects come to him, including a lot of ranch fencing and gates where a durable, small machine comes in handy. Many machines test well in a pristine lab environment, but David is putting his TransPocket to the test in the dirt of ranch life. His reaction? “It’s just a great welder. For how small it is, the quality is there.”

David also purchased a TransSteel 2500 for MIG work. This single-phase welder runs on 230v, and excels with steel and stainless steel. The versatility of the machine has impressed David. He uses the up/down torch that allows him to change settings directly. “I was welding on my flatbed and one weld was quarter-inch, the next weld was 1/8 inch, but I didn’t need to go to the machine, I just changed the parameters on the torch. It makes life a little easier.”

Once David opens the shop, he plans to offer custom welding trailers, bumpers, and racks, among other large projects. As he moves into more customized work, he’ll purchase more equipment to support efficient turn around. What’s on his list? The new MagicWave 230i that’s being released this year from Fronius. This power source is a single-phase, AC/DC TIG welder with advanced waveforms, high frequency starts, and current pulsing, allowing for welding virtually any material. “It has some very advanced features for AC welding and also I’m interested in the Bluetooth/Wireless Lan feature that is controlled from your phone. Definitely something no one else is offering.”