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2013-03-14

Medium rare to weld done




Still capable of burning down the garage, but you have to start somewhere.
Having found it periodically problematic to find a welder to do many of the jobs required aboard Alchemy, I've resolved to learn how to weld myself. But the currently strained budget and my book-only knowledge makes a slow, careful and heavily protected start with the equivalent of a welding toy, in this case a discounted Lincoln MIG-Pak 140 model. This is a gasless wire-feed flux core type (or gas shielding can be used) suitable for light gauge steel and aluminum. I can get my weld on with essentially scraps, or pieces from Metal Supermarket, and make my inevitable learning-curve screw-ups cheaply. I can also compare and contrast the results of "gasless" versus "shielded" welding. I am already aware that there are definite advantages to shielded welding, but my needs are essentially low-volume, will be done in the open air, and are rarely concerned with end-product appearance, merely strength. There is very little I will make for myself that won't be immediately primed and coated in Something Two-part and Industrial.

The advantage to this particular welding unit for me is that it runs on standard 120 VAC current, although at its highest setting, suitable for 1/4-inch stock, it needs a 20 amp circuit. I figure that I can even use the relatively wee Honda 2000 to power it at half its settings, which would suffice for making brackets and the lighter sort of frames.

Anyway, the steel fabrications I had made a few weeks back for the engine stringers and the thrust bearing "yoke" have been for the last couple of weeks clamped and scribed in place:
To be primed and painted and drilled, etc.
Built to get the shaft, and to like it. Damn, sailing's rough practice.
What was proving difficult was getting hold of a welder to do the actual "melt it to the boat" bit. Greg the Welder, who fabricated our solar panel arch and welded it to Alchemy lo! so long ago, was barely contactable by phone, and despite his best efforts, admitted he was booked until April.

We launch in April. Not good.

I asked a welder at the club if he wanted the job, No, he said, but he put me on to another semi-retired other welder/club member, who already said in the past that he didn't want the job, but who might have an apprentice up for it...sometime...

Argh.

Treblex, the Mississauga-based metal fabrication firm,whose work impressed me and Capt. Matt, my "installation advisor", put me in touch with a couple of names. One called back right away, but said he'd need about a week and a half to get to me. The second guy whose name Treblex gave mecould've been by in three days, but in a mounting sense of panic at the passing days of winter, I'd already booked Welder Number One. Welder Two has some designs for various fabrications I need, and as some marine fabricators have already turned me down, albeit in a helpful manner, for being too piddly a client to work for, Welder Two might get those jobs after all.
Diamond Sea Glaze made this for Beth and Evans of S/V Hawk. I am not her, alas, and I think DSG have gone a bit higher-end. Evans was kind enough to correspond with me about how it has worked on the Big Real Ocean.

Welder One called back unexpectedly earlier this week and said "his guy, Jeff" could drop by Thursday morning. Which is how we got to here, finally:
Fire in the hole!
This is the by-now tiresomely familiar sight of the Beta 60 being kept in suspense. The process was "put welder and gear down hole; raise engine to reveal welding job; place planks as 'safeties' in case chain fall fails; reverse steps to free welder".
He was quite capable of cutting his way out, if I went for a walk or something


The misty appearance is the smoke from burning primer, for which I was lightly chided by Welder Jeff for being too witless to remove prior to his Smith God routine. Bad skipper!
Possibly not to code, but the gantry mods I made were apparently sufficient

The stringers were continuously welded at both ends and "stitch welded" periodically along their sides, Welder Jeff assuring me that this was more than sufficient to stay attached should the seas boil and the winds howl, etc.

The weld is so bright, I've got to wear shades

Here's where the thrust bearing got welded directly to the hull.
And where the Skipper figured out a better camera angle other than "straight down".


Yikes. I went to ground level to confirm my approaching date with bottom paint.

These are "heat marks". They are evidence of "successful penetration". Write your own joke here.

Yep, that's burning bottom paint. Oh, well, now I know how to relate stuff on the inside to stuff on the outside.
Boat osmosis or lava? You decide!

The other side was equally spot-fried, but not, I was assured, "all the way through". Well, I would hope not. That could impede sailing plans. Welder Jeff actually commented that the steel hull at the turn of the bilge was "surprisingly beefy, probably three-eighths of an inch thick or better". Thanks, Welder Jeff. I feel better already.

Now that this particular skills bottleneck has been cleared, I could write, and may yet write, an entirely separate post on the struggles I've had finding tradespeople (marine and otherwise) who were a) competent, b) reliable, c) not extortionate and d) in existence. A brief confab with Jeff on the state of his world underlined how busy he is, how very few young people are going into the trades, how "no one wants to get their hands dirty", and if they do, they are making craploads of money in Fort McMurray.

Short of encouraging our son to go into the trades so he can support his poor, old, by-then salt-encrusted mum and dad in our mutually pensionless dotage, I can do no more. Well, I can try to improve my own skills to lessen my reliance on others, who aren't likely to be found in tropical lagoons anyway.

That's how this post began.

On Monday, we move to the final positioning, the drilling of the stringers to take the motor mounts, and the final dry-fitting of shaft, coupler and prop with the various extras. Onward, upward, spendward.

4 comments:

Bill K said...

Keep practicing with the welder,it will come to you.

Bill Kelleher

Rhys said...

Thanks for the encouragement! Luckily, for where I need to put things I intend to weld, "strong" trumps "pretty".

That can come later.

GOFF (father-in-law) said...

And to think of all the projects I gave up on because I couldn't find a welder---and now there's one in the family no less! Maybe I should go and make a list.....

Rhys said...

Not quite there yet, but I have some cracked iron frying pans to experiment on!