FROM THE "FORUM"
SECTION OF WELDING
BY DANNY WIND for McSweeney's
- - - -
OK, I know this might be hard to believe, but it's 100 percent true: I was in my workshop arc-welding a double-V-preparation joint with my Invertec V275-S when, through my mask, I spotted a gorgeous blonde in a tight white tank top standing in the doorway. She explained to me that her car had broken down while she was driving from the home of her wealthy, impotent husband to the biennial Fellatio Addicts Anonymous convention, and she wanted to know if there was a place she could spend the night while she waited for her car to be repaired.
I told her that there was a Best Western about half a mile down the road, and said I was sorry that I didn't have time to give her better directions, but if I let the steel cool for too long I might end up with cold cracking or even martensite formation. And, to this day, that joint had the smallest HAZ of any weld I've ever done. I told you it was going to be hard to believe.
- - - -
It was a beautiful summer day, and I was out in the park, surrounded by happy picnickers, welding a copper lap joint with my Lincoln CV-305/LF-72. Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, who should walk up to me but "Dandy Don" Meredith.
"That's some nice-looking work you're doing there," Don said to me. "I used to do a bit of welding myself, back in the day. What is that, a metal inert-gas welder?"
"No, it's a flux-cored arc welder, retard," I replied.
Everyone else around just stopped talking and stared at us. They must have been as disgusted as I was to find out that Don Meredith knew absolutely nothing about welding.
- - - -
Last October, I went on a welding trip to Arizona with my two best welding buddies, Rowland and Boots. It was the first time in a while we'd all been off work at the same time, and we'd long dreamed of collaborating on a major welding project: building our own heavy-duty subsoil ripper out of scrap iron. I'm not saying we're going to be qualifying for the IWF Championships anytime soon, but I like to think we're pretty good, and we decided it was time to really put our skills to the test.
Anyway, we were out at a park one day, all three sending up sparks in unison: I was using my Power Wave 455M/STT on the outer shank mounts, Boots was working on the axle shaft with his classic-body 300D Kubota, and Rowland was whaling away on the hitch tongue with his mammoth Multi-Weld 350. Both Boots and I were jealous as all get-out, since we'd always wanted a Multi-Weld of our own. We keep telling ourselves that once I get promoted to night manager at Wendy's and Boots's ex-wife dies, we'll finally have enough money to each buy our own, and then Rowland won't be able to act so high and mighty anymore.
But as we're working we become aware of a commotion nearby. There was this old, crumbling pedestrian walkway that led over a deep ravine in the park. A little boy, no more than 2 years old, had walked out to the middle of the bridge, but one of the metal railings that held it up had broken and the walkway was starting to buckle. A womanówe guessed her to be the boy's motherówas in hysterics, trying to get onto the walkway and pull the boy off before it collapsed, but a man was holding her back.
"It can't support your weight!" the man told her. "If you try to go out there, you'll both die!"
"But my baby!!" the woman screamed. "I have to save him!!"
"If only that metal rail hadn't broken, it probably would have been strong enough to hold the bridge up until I could grab the boy," the man mused. "If only there was some wayósome way of fusing the metal back together."
"Gee, you hate to see something like that," Boots said to me.
"Yeah, somebody really ought to do something," I agreed. "Well, let's get back to workówe need to start attaching the nurse-tank hitch if we want to get this thing done by nightfall."
But then the man came over to our workbench and said he'd noticed us welding and asked if we thought there was anything we could do about the bridge situation. I was skeptical, but Rowland pointed out that we'd need to let the tack weld on the ripper-shank lock washers cool before we installed any other components. So we decided we had time to take a look.
But as soon as I got a better look at the broken railing, I knew they were wasting our time.
"This is made out of a tungsten-cobalt alloy," I explained to the man and woman as calmly as I could. "You'd need a laser-hybrid welder to weld something like that."
The woman looked at the three of us and askedóand I swear I am not making this upó"Do any of you have a laser-hybrid welder?"
This time, we just couldn't resist bursting into laughter. "What, do we look like a bunch of zapheads to you, lady?" said Rowland.
"Those clowns ain't even real welders," sniffed Boots, even though he really shouldn't have dignified it with an explanation. "Think they're too good to weld with gas like a real man. Have to use some fancy-schmancy light bulb instead."
The three of us were still chuckling as we got back to our workbench, which I guess is better than getting pissed off. Even after the walkway collapsed, Rowland was still shaking his head and muttering, "Jesus ... some people," and I totally understood what he meant. It just goes to show: no matter how much progress the welding community thinks it's made in educating the public, we still have a long, long way to go.