We like to joke about the magic of welding. A dark shaman craftsman metalworker takes your broken thing or pile of parts, disappears behind an almost opaque curtain, says a spell, waves a wand, makes hellish noises. Poof! In a cloud of clearing smoke, a welder reappears, holding a finished product worthy of a “Hey, thanks, that looks great!” response. Can I offer you a coke? »
Of course, this is all just mythmaking for the old-timers, but I always like to keep a bit of mystery in the craft. Still, what about some truly mind-blowing crap when it comes to working with metal? What kind of crazy things have you witnessed while welding that left you with blank stares and asking the hellish questions?
“The most common evil of all men, the strange and perverse reluctance to believe in miracles.” – Rod Serling, “The Twilight Zone”
I’ll share a few of mine, both dealing with patterns. One, it turns out, had an easy answer. The second, I remain undecided.
First – CSI: Weldshop
I was welding in a booth in the General Dynamics Land Systems prototype shop, with tasselled tables on either side of me. I had a Miller Dynasty 700 grounded on one table and a Dynasty 350 hooked up to the other, working on projects on both sides. In one knee-deep in the middle of a bead, it suddenly occurred to me that I was using the wrong torch. How is it going ? The torch in my hand was anchored to the table behind me, not the one I was working on. And it stuck like butter! I was confused.
I looked around to see if any answers were coming out. I talked about it with a few other guys in the store. I can’t remember which of us got the light bulb moment first, but the reason was clear: tables need to be grounded to each other under the concrete. Both were anchored at all four corners and at least one anchor bolt from each table had to touch the same piece of rebar. Case closed.
Second – Breathtaking Loop
This happened with a Lincoln Powerwave 500. While using GMAW-p to assemble a large aluminum box for the airflow lab, part of a test fixture for a new tank, I used an overhead crane to turn it over and rotate it to access the joints to be welded. Sometimes I had to remove the soil during this process. Now located, I hit an arc on an outer lip. He welded OK, but not great. I turned to the machine and played around with the cut and thread speed. It still welded, but not as well as I would like. I lifted my hood and turned back to the machine. My eyes widened and my brain exploded when I realized the ground was resting on the machine. Nothing connected the machine to the table or the part!
Now I have an idea of what could have happened. Maybe somehow it grounded itself inside and through the gun so it came full circle with itself when I pulled the trigger . I’m not an engineer or an electrical brain, and nothing like this has ever happened to me in over 20 years of welding, but that’s my best guess!
I know some of you have had problems with soldering. Paranormal science, supernatural or simply puzzle, I’m here for it. Let’s hear your story.