My oddball apprenticeship.
In industry, if you need to do welding when you’re away from the electrical supply, you make your own with an engine driven welder; I was not aware of this for my first few years in industry.
I worked in a large distribution centre’s maintenance department. Most of the repair work we did was mechanical, mainly on balers and conveyors, but when welding needed to be done we had an electric welder with about 50 feet of cable. This was enough to reach across our main machine room or out to a small yard where most of the work was performed.
What was different about our operation was that if we couldn’t bring the work to the welder or reach it with the cables, we used acetylene. This was before I set about becoming a professional welder and, until I first went to trade school, I just assumed that this was a common practice.
I’m really not sure why this was done, it was the least efficient way we could weld things, but that’s how we did it. When I started welding at home, I used acetylene because it’s what I was familiar with. Actually, I’m in a fairly small club: people under the age of 100 who’ve welded with a number nine torch tip. You have a puddle the size of a nickel that consumes filler rods at an alarming rate and the heat input is incredible…and if that torch backfires, it’s quite a spark show.
What made me think about all this was that I was doing some estimating for an aluminum repair job that’s outside in the weather and can’t be moved. When welding aluminum with any electric process you use a shielding gas to protect the weld in its molten, reactive state and even a slight breeze can make welding impossible. Instead of worrying about the weather, I just figured on torch brazing it; something most welders in my parts wouldn’t consider.
Let me say that I’m not an anachronist. There are situations, though limited, where torch brazing excels. For jobs like attaching carbide teeth to saws it’s an obvious choice but when doing small aluminum jobs in the field, unless the work specifically requires MIG or TIG work, I braze it with a torch. This way, aluminum repairs can be made in the wind and rain; it works well and is the best choice if there isn’t enough welding being done to make sheltering the work area worthwhile; just roll out the hoses and get to it.