Century Mfg Model 131 Cordless Rechargeable wire feed welder
Product Review: Century Mfg Model 131 Cordless Rechargeable wire feed welder Short Cuts

By: John Nutter - 5/2001

The Trail Welder You Have Been Waiting For

I want to start out this review talking about performance. Performance is by far the most important feature of any trail welder. If you make a repair on the trail, you need to make sure it's strong enough to get you off the trail and back home. The Century 131 performs just like any of the better 120V AC powered wire feed welder that most of us already have in our shop. Yes, its that good. Best of all, it performs like this anywhere. Its also just as easy to use as any standard gasless wire feed welder. It's also cheap compared to most trail welding options, priced about the same as a cheap 120V AC wire feed welder.

Janet Nutter
Courtney Kerr and I, setting up Chuck's welder for it's initial use.
Janet Nutter
Driveshaft repairs in Pritchett Canyon.

Does this sound like a reviewer blowing smoke about a product he was given for free? Its not. A friend of mine, Chuck Bydlon, bought one of these welders before our trip to Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari. I used his welder a couple of times on the trip, and I knew I would have to buy one after I fired up the welder for the first time. The crackle of the arc was perfect and the beads were beautiful with very little slag. All the experienced welders standing in the vicinity wandered over and commented on the sound. As most experienced welders know, the sound can tell you a lot about how well the welder is working and the quality of the welds. Great penetration was obvious as the edge of the base metal melted away and was replaced by a bead formed by the combination of the melted metal and the wire feeding in from the welder. After one use, I was convinced. After the second use I knew Id have to buy my own within a week of arriving home, and I did.

OK, youre probably convinced it works well, but want to know how long it lasts. Rob Eide broke the center section of his Dana 35 free from the axle tubes on the first day of the trip. Chucks 131 welder was used to weld the center section to the tubes. The welder easily made a complete pass around the junction of both tubes and the center section and most of a second pass. Both pass were wide with the bead weaving from the tube to the center section. In the end there was an even 45 degree bevel of bead between the tube and the center section. Thats a lot of welding. Time wise, probably 15 to 20 minutes of actual run time. Century states in the manual that the welder can do 72 inches of welding on a single charge.

Ok, by now you probably believe me that this is a serious welder, capable of handling major trail repairs. You probably want to know some details about it though. It appears to be a cross between a heavy-duty jump-start pack and a wire feed welder. Its got two sealed lead acid batteries inside, wired in series for 24 volts. The wire feed mechanism is similar to what youd find on any 120 AC volt wire feed welder. The torch is a genuine Tweco brand, so replacement tips and torch parts can be found at any welding shop and many other places that sell welders. The welder uses common .030 flux core wire on the small spools, once again this wire can be found at any welding shop and most places that sell welders. Recharge time is overnight. You cant charge it directly from your cigarette lighter because it needs a 24V dc source to charge. The welder comes with a wall transformer for charging, and you could plug this into an inexpensive DC to AC inverter if you wanted to charge the welder while you were driving. The charger is small and doesn't draw much current, so a 60 watt inverter should work.

Every product has to have some kind of a draw back. The only one I could find on this welder is that it isnt possible to adjust the amperage. Its always at 130 amps. You wont be able to patch the sheet metal on your truck with this welder becuase the welder will burn through it instantly. Of course you probably dont care about patching sheet metal when you are broken down in the woods.

I just want to say it again, this welder is for real. If you are looking for a welder that can be used for serious trail repairs, is truly portable, and requires no installation on your vehicle, this is your welder.

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