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,

A point of note to start, I have officially thrown my hat in the ring to be placed on the waiting list for a hangar at Michael J. Smith Field (KMRH) in Beaufort, NC.

As for the build, the prerequisite tasks for the nose are complete and I’m well into the both the nose and canopy builds.  The main nose structure is essentially complete, while the canopy is at the beginning stages.  In addition, the canopy external glass structure will be completed at a minimum before I haul the fuselage down to NC.

As I noted previously, the big change is that I have decided to hold off on building the strakes until after I’m in NC.  The current options I’m looking at –whether it be a hangar or a much larger workshop– should allow me to mount both wings before starting the strake build, which is of course a much more optimized way of building the strakes (not to mention much easier!).

Moreover, as much as it pains me to say this, I will be putting the build on hold after my next NC trip (end of June) to focus on prepping my current house to sell. Depending on what accommodations I end up with down in NC in the near term, my estimation is that I’ll be offline build-wise for a minimum of a month, and perhaps well over 2 months.  Of course I will make every effort possible to minimize build downtime.

Cheers

 

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