Welding

Adventures in Welding

December 2012 • January 2013 • February 2013

This post covers the past month or so of welding endeavors.  I signed up for a class at the local adult learning annex that covers mainly stick and TIG welding, with a little MIG thrown in there as well.  Of course, with all my welding stuff literally scattered across the globe, I ran to Harbor Freight to pick up some less expensive gear.  Their welding helmets got great reviews online and I was able to pick up a $79 version on sale for $39, so I was fairly pleased.  It works great too!

(BTW, sorry for the blurry pics, my camera has been a little funky lately… but considering it’s lived through Afghanistan deployments, being dropped off Mt. Kilimanjaro & is now slathered with epoxy as the official build camera, it’s not doing TOO bad… I hope.)

More after-Christmas presents!

HF Welding Gear

HF Welding HelmetI spoke with my welding instructor about using my own welder, if I was to get one, and he was very agreeable to it.  He told me that it would need to be dual voltage because the 220V power at the school was 3-phase.  So dual voltage was definitely a requirement.  I was able to pick up a cheaper TIG welder that got great reviews off eBay (after a ton of research) for less than $400 with shipping.  I received it in good shape & unpacked it . . . all the components looked to be fairly good quality (not uber high end, but sturdy).

New TIG Welder off eBay

New TIG Welder off eBay

New TIG Welder off eBay

New TIG Welder off eBay

I also picked up some TIG welding rod.

TIG Welding RodsTIG Welding Rods ER70S-2

I had to add my own power plug.  Since I can only use 120V at school, I installed a robust plug from Home Depot.

Air filter & compressed air hookups for plasma cutterTesting out 120V plug install

I also went to my local welding supply and had them make me a new grounding clamp cable.  It’s over double the length of the one that came with the welder.

Extended clamp cable (old cable in the center) Below is my “kit” that I used to haul my welder to/from class a couple a nights a week.

Mobile Kit: Hauling to/from class

Of course my portable welder is a far cry from the monsters they use at my welding class, and the welding station setups they have for handling big chunks of metal!

Industrial-sized TIG welder at classWelding work stand at class

 

 

 

The best part of this welding class was that I could use all the Argon I wanted each night of class!

Argon shielding gas bottle at class (All you can use!)

Below is my first weld using TIG.  I ran this bead without welding rod filler, since I was just trying to get the motion down at first.

My first TIG bead (without filler rod)

One of my classmates picked up a Miller MIG machine right before class ended.  A very nice machine (my MIG welder in storage is an eBay special like my TIG).

Classmate's New MIG Welder ... nice!Classmate's New MIG Welder ... nice!

•••

5 March 2013 — The first weekend in March I attended the EAA SportAir TIG Welding Workshop in Griffin, Georgia.  Great class!  I would highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to do TIG welding specific to Aircraft building, both with 4130 steel and aluminum.

EAA Welding Class, Georgia

This is my first experience welding aluminum . . . what a different animal.  Glad I’ll only be working with 4130 steel for my rollover assembly.  Still, it was fun to try something new.

My first Aluminum weld bead (tricky stuff!)

Below are a couple of practice projects we did in the workshop.  I added a few pieces to a few them of them to make it a little more realistic.  Our instructor was fantastic and really helped lock in our TIG site picture, pointing out how to improve our techniques & showing us a few tricks.  It helped immeasurably.

EAA Course - welding 4130 tubing EAA Course - welding 4130 tubing

•••

August 2013 — Since I found out I was going to spend a year in the Middle East courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, I offered to “store” my welder at my buddy Marco’s workshop.  Of course I thought it would simply stay in the box unused, but apparently he had other plans for it!  (ha! Of course I’m kidding.  I knew Marco would put it to the test, being a highly capably machinist/metal guy, and luckily for me it passed his rigorous standards!)

Click here to Marco’s initial assessment of my welder, and of course to see a much more detailed discussion on TIG welding in general than I could ever give.

And click here to see Marco’s Chapter 8 – 4130 Rollover Assembly build using my welder. Great stuff!

•••

 

Recent Posts

Project Update

Hey Guys,

I left my last project update for a while so everyone would have a good chance to read it.  

So this is it folks!  I hope for this to be the final push from now until Rough River to get the main assembly of the aircraft completed.  That’s my goal.  Is it an aggressive timeline?!  Oh, yeah!  After Rough River, I then expect the next few months to be finalizing any leftover punch list items and the finishing & painting! 

Over the past few months I’ve had some unexpected scope creep in my build, which is all well and good because the build is THE project.  As you know I rewickered Marc Zeitlin’s new AEX system which took a fair amount of time to implement, then I had planned on knocking out a good dozen electrical related items so that I could close up the nose.  I got a bunch of those completed, but kept finding myself not being able to really close out wire runs, confirm install spacing configurations such as the pitch trim unit, etc. because I couldn’t sit in the airplane and confirm what I had dimensionally without the actual pilot’s seat in place.

This drove me to move my immediate project line of demarcation from the instrument panel, back one more bulkhead to the pilot’s seat.  I was then going to knock out the pilot’s seat area –including the thigh support & cover– but there was a glaring prerequisite to doing so: I couldn’t get the pilot’s thigh support configured & installed without the fuel lines in place!  Thus, I needed to move the project line of demarcation back one more bulkhead and knock out the thigh support sump tank to get the fuel lines run in reality without merely estimating some more with a fake, mocked up install.  

So the immediate order of battle right now is to finish the fuel sump (including configuring the majority of the back seat area), and then the pilot’s seat area. These, in turn, will allow me to finalize the configuration of the nose components. At which point I will focus on the building the nose while concurrently finalizing the wheel pants install (nope, haven’t forgot about those!). Then the canopy install will be after that.

Hang on to your hats folks, it’s about to get busy all up in here!

Cheers!

 

  1. Chapter 21/22 – Sump glassing done! Leave a reply
  2. Chapter 18/21/22 – Atonement! Leave a reply
  3. Chapter 16/22 – The Cobra strikes! Leave a reply
  4. Chapter 21 – Sump tank complete! Leave a reply
  5. Chapter 21 – Sump tank top mounted Leave a reply
  6. Chapter 21/22 – GIB area stuff Leave a reply
  7. Chapter 21 – Fuel sump top GLASSED! Leave a reply
  8. Chapter 21 – Sump top glassed Leave a reply
  9. Chapter 21 – Interior layup cleanup Leave a reply