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I Forge Iron

John McPherson

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Frog Pond, NC (Near Charlotte)
  • Interests
    Full Time Welding Instructor/CWI, occasional blacksmith.

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  • Location
    Charlotte, NC

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  1. Well, if you are interested in buying a pre-certified welding procedure, they are available from the American Welding Society.
  2. PM sent about a hammer-in tomorrow in western NC.
  3. Shocking but true! With this one simple trick you will always be successful! (Yeah, I hate those ads too.) But: get out of the hobby mindset. If you want to play with the pros in the major leagues, you can't compete with spotty supplies from flea markets and flimsy big box import tools for a living. I like a bargain as much as the next guy, but get real. Buy once, cry once. Shop where the pros in the trade shop. The tools may look the same on the outside, but I have seen cheap grinders with pot metal and plastic gears inside when autopsied. Also, I have never had a problem getting any quantity, size or type of abrasive wheels from a welder supply shop. I might have winced when I handed over payment, but the quality and selection has never let me down. There are even companies like Unitec that make specialty abrasive tools the likes of which have never seen in a big box store. Mighty handy when you need to polish 3000' of stainless tubing stair rail during a commercial installation.
  4. Heck, I would drive from NC to OK to see those guys in person, especially since everything else has been shut down this year. Best of luck to you all.
  5. Nah, I have just gotten so used to dealing with HR folks who are trying to send their knuckle dragging wire burners in to take "the welding test" that I despair of having a conversation using proper technical terms ever again. If they had a welding engineer or inspector on staff, they would never condescend to be talking to the likes of me, figuring me for a flunky as well. They may be right, in a school setting the Instructors are valued lower than Housekeeping. But I am a flunky with multiple degrees and certifications and awards, dang it! Those letters after my name, (and $5) will get you a cup of coffee almost anywhere. So company phone calls and emails about Requests for Service are pushed off to what used to be called secretaries, now "Office Administrators." And we go back and forth, playing telephone and email tag, up and down the chain of command. Until someone with actual authority makes up their mind, or the conversation falls into a black hole, never to be seen again. And I did not do it for the OP, I did it for future reference. I realized that I could not find where I had ever broken down the process for the masses on this site. Maybe it will show up in search functions and help someone one day.
  6. OK, you asked to drink from the firehose of knowledge, hang on to your socks. This is what I have done for the last dozen years: teach the whole spectrum of welding (basic to fully automated) at a community college, and do AWS Certified Welder (CW) testing at several Accredited Testing Facilities (ATF'S). The fact that you even ask the question means that you are not ready to take a test. IF... you have been working 3-10 years in a fab shop, or with a mobile crew, and think that you have ALL the mad skillz, savings account, and the client base to get your own shop or $100K mobile rig, business license, insurance ($1 million umbrella minimum, $5M would be better) then by all means get yourself down to the nearest ATF and take the appropriate test. You'll know which ones you need to serve your market, whether that is filthy, greasy digger repairs in quarries or food grade cleanliness thin wall SS pipes in distilleries. Some job sites require a current copy of your CW card and Insurance paperwork to even bid on the job. You may need to have a General Contractor License for each state you work in, or agree to be a sub and have somebody take a cut out of your lunch money. If not, go to work for somebody and get those job skills. Working for The Man, the company is responsible for testing and record keeping of their employees, the qualified welders. (Small Q) Whazzat mean? When you drive out of the parking lot, your qualifications remain in a locked file cabinet. Your skills acquired on the job, paycheck and reputation are all you take with you. Also, the headaches of tax preparation, filing, phone calls and emails, etc. to run a business are their problem, not yours. As others have stated above, CW status is only good for 6 months until recerts are due: use it or lose it. Recerts are only a sign-off by a client, boss, supervisor, or inspector if you are actively working in that process. BUT: ya gotta do it for each process, every 6 months. Let's say that you have Paid Your Dues by being a journeyman, and know what you want to do next. How do you go about choosing an appropriate test? Here is how my ATF does it under AWS rules, which are the most copied and modified worldwide. Some states and cities have their license requirements, Canada has a whole 'nuther system. The most common structural tests taken are 3/8" plate and 6" heavy wall pipe with stick rods, however, there are many more available. We prepare the pipe by turning the bevel on the lathe, and the plate by saw cutting the angle. The applicants are responsible for the remaining coupon preparation before welding starts: cleaning off any mill scale and setting the lands at the root opening with your own grinders or file. Grinding, power wire brushing or other mechanical cleaning is permitted during welding under most codes, but not under the D1.5 Bridge Code. The main items that we need to know to select the proper test for you to take are: Job Type: There are many different AWS codes and code books for specialties such as Structural Carbon Steel - D1.1, Structural Sheet Steel D1.3, Bridges - D1.5, all the way up to Aerospace D17.1. Other codes that we can not easily test for, such as Section IX of ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code or the American Petroleum Institute API 1104 may govern the job. Metal alloy: Low carbon steel, high carbon (tool) steel, high carbon to low carbon, stainless, or other, more exotic metals Metal thickness: Tests are normally good for double the thickness tested, so a standard 3/8" plate will qualify for up to 3/4", weld testing on 1" plate or Schedule 80 pipe will qualify for unlimited thickness, 1/8" is the minimum certified thickness for non-sheet metal tests. Metal type: Sheet metal up to 10 gauge, plate 3/8" to 1", round stock 2" or 6" diameter Schedule 80 pipe or tubing. Joint Type: Fillet weld, groove with backing, open root groove. Position: Flat, horizontal, vertical up, and/or overhead for plate, vertical, horizontal or 45 degree angle for pipe. "All position" (F,H,V,OH) certifications for carbon steel require either two plates (vertical & overhead) or one 45 degree pipe. Qualified Welding Procedure: The AWS has 60+ different prequalified Standard Welding Procedure Specifications (SWPS) to choose from, and there are many more privately developed and qualified procedures that are treated as proprietary Trade Secrets. (You would not believe how many Non-Disclosure Agreements that I have had to sign over the years.) Process: GTAW (TIG), SMAW (stick), FCAW (flux core MIG), GMAW (MIG) spray transfer, or a combination. ***Note: There is NO AWS certification for GMAW-S (short arc MIG), except in sheet metal, or as a root pass followed by another process for plate and pipe.*** There is a wealth of information and photographs on the certification process at http://gowelding.org/Welding_Certification.html I hope this answers most of your questions, if not feel free to ask. I drop in when time permits, so I may not see it for days.
  7. As hobby smiths, most of us will not burn enough coal in a lifetime to create an appreciable amount of toxic waste byproduct. The most prolific local smith I ever met routinely did 6/10's in the shop, and was burning 14 tons a quarter turning out industrial tools 30 years ago, and he did not work alone. That was one fully loaded dump truck direct from the WV mines, delivered to his door. Clinker was his parking area gravel. Cinder tracks at schools were paved with the waste from coal furnaces. On the other hand, a local NC utility company has been in the national news due to spills from holding areas containing millions of cubic yards of fly ash. If you are burning enough coal to need dedicated rail lines in order to provide electricity for several million people over several states over several decades; well, that's a lot of byproduct. It is just a matter of scale. (No, not that flakey stuff, the ratio kind.) Folks cook out every evening in the summer over charcoal grills, and smoke from restaurants make me hungry on my way back home from work. But no modern city allows trash fires and open burning of yard waste, and we no longer heat our homes with coal and firewood. The few remaining factories that still have smokestacks now have to have scrubbers in place. Cars and trucks burn cleaner fuel more efficiently now. I am old enough to remember smog alerts as a common thing, very rare now to have an Air Quality Index high enough to raise alarms, and that is with 5X population growth. At a museum that I demo at occasionally, the first time, they put me under the trees on the west side, and my smoke blew thru the vendor area. I helpfully suggested that the outhouse, barns, stables, pig pens and blacksmith shop had been located on the east side due to prevailing winds. So that is where I set up henceforth, and that is where the replacement smithy is located now. My suggestion that tossing the clinker in the driveway was historically accurate was not met with the same approval.
  8. Mine came yesterday - just before the rain! My wife brought it in.
  9. Would that be the famous Hispanic women's health specialist, OB Juan Kenobi?
  10. I have seen leaders in business. Rarely. I have seen a lot of bosses. A lot of cruel, shallow, broken people in places of authority that they were in no way mentally or morally fit to occupy. But they looked good on paper, and talked a good game, took all the credit, placed all the blame, and never put anything self-incriminating in writing. As long as the final numbers look good, there is no change. And I have seen a lot of supervisors above them turn a blind eye and deaf ear to any problems, because then they would have to DO something, or maybe even make a decision, something that they feared.
  11. Well, the upside now is weather forecasting. For a week, I got to hold my middle finger up above my heart. In public. "No, not being rude. Doctor's orders. See the bandage? And a good day to you as well, and the horse you rode in on." And my son, as the striker (for the last time), earned the nickname "Lightning", and had to drive me to the ER, and not for the last time. Just the last time he was the culprit.
  12. A tool like that is not used without a striker or a power hammer in any case. Do you have either now, or is this just a theoretical question? Everyone approaches problems from wherever they started out. Weldor/fabricator, machinist, tool & die maker, backyard hobby smith, thousand ton hammer industrial smith, total noob. Whatever tools you know and understand, will be how you want to attack the problem. Heck, with the right robot welder, you could 3D print one. I, personally, would search thru scrapyards looking for something close to what I wanted, cut it, and weld it to an old sledge hammer head, but I work alone. If I had access to a big enough lathe, I could probably rough a bowl shape out of some big stock. Having seen BB demo at ABANA, I would wager that that one was forged over a ball form, like a shot-putt, with strikers. (Oh, yeah. Keeping a unsightly scrap pile bee-you-tiful assemblage of odd shapes and sizes available for bucket list projects is a Guild requirement. I keep telling my wife that, she says the same thing about all the boxes of fabric.) Hmmm, where did I put my son's old high school shot-putt? And where can I get some strapping lads to swing hammers accurately. Don't want to end up in the Emergency Room holding my finger together with a bandanna ***again***. The upside is, I always know when it is going to rain.
  13. Farmall, Lost Art Press has them new for $43.
  14. "Cream rises to the top, but so does pond scum." The pessimistic among us have come to the conclusion that the best we can do is not just limited by our own abilities and talents, but by the artificial barriers and constraints imposed by the 'clods' that have risen to the top. That is when the frustration sets in. "If you get up in the morning, and run into a single jerk, then that is his problem. If you get up in the morning and everyone you meet all day is a jerk to you, then YOU are the problem." You can have a team of superstars: educated well above the competition, dedicated to quality, eager to do the best job possible for the end user and the organization. One bad supervisor with relative immunity, who can destroy any gains produced on a whim, change plans and suppliers without ever consulting the crew that actually does the work, show favoritism on one hand and stall raises, careers and progress on the other, is a poison pill to the organization. "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." When no one above the supervisor's level wants to hear anything that would make them have to reconsider the job being done, you have a systemic problem. If the only way someone can be removed, or even reviewed at more than a cursory level, is to commit an egregious HR violation, you have systemic morale problems. Manufacturing has a theory of limits, which can also be applied to blacksmithing and other human endeavors. There is a choke point in every process that limits through-put. If you want to increase productivity, systematically remove each choke point as you find it, and then move on to the next choke point. If only senior admins could be taught to think logically...
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