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

Hi Folks,

Well, Rough River 2017 is in the history books.  A great Rough River all the way around!  Marco’s new GRT Mini & GNRS480 avionics install went off without a hitch, providing an awesome proof of concept for my upcoming panel.  In addition, the myriad of builder tips that I got from Buly, Rick Hall, James Redmon, Terry Schubert, Mike Beasley, Bruce Sinclair, Bill James and countless others were gold in the bank for so many upcoming component decisions and configurations I need to make.

As I mentioned before, I’ve had to adjust my schedule a bit over the past 6 weeks, which of course impacts my goals.  Yes, I will continue to fight in my hope that this will be the final push to get the main assembly of the aircraft completed.   I do plan on having the main structure of the aircraft finished by year’s end.  An aggressive timeline to be sure, but I think it’s very doable.

I’m still working out the finer details of making everything fit inside the cockpit.  Since the vast majority of what I’m doing are all mods, these usually require a lot of in-house R&D, and then trial & error when finally at the install phase.  However, the curve is exponential in that as each component is designed and installed, it accelerates the build because besides just being in the “done” column, it is one less thing to design and build.  Moreover, it’s a variable that has been changed into a constant.

All this is just to say that even though things seem to be going slowly, there really is a momentum building for this project.  These pesky mini-tasks burn time, but as they are finished and systems are integrated, then when the final airframe components builds are finished, this plane will seriously be close to being done. Again, these mini-tasks are definitely time-consuming and a lot more slow going then planned.  But finishing them now allows me to work all this stuff while I can stand right next to the fuselage without having to deal with strakes, or nose, being in the way!  

I have to say that it’s much easier and more fun to build the big stuff that makes this project look like a plane, and I often feel my discipline waining to go build something “cool”.  So, although obviously not as sexy as seeing major aircraft components (i.e. nose, strakes, canopy) being completed, these mini-tasks are oh so necessary for quality of flying later on!  Moreover, these immediate tasks, in turn, will allow me to finalize the configuration of the nose components. At which point I will focus on the building the nose and the canopy.  . . while concurrently finalizing the wheel pants install (nope, haven’t forgot about those!).

Cheers!

 

  1. Chapter 22/24 – ELT bracket installed Leave a reply
  2. Chapter 22/24 – ELT mounting base Leave a reply
  3. Chapter 22/24 – If it pleases the panel Leave a reply
  4. Chapter 22/24 – Prepping ELT install Leave a reply
  5. Chapter 22/24 – Ribs are done! Leave a reply
  6. Chapter 22/24 – Pile the weight on! Leave a reply
  7. Chapter 22/24 – Heat & Seat Leave a reply
  8. Chapter 24 – I’m back! :) Leave a reply
  9. Rough River 2017 – Bits ‘n Pieces! Leave a reply