Archive for March, 2010

Another stroll down amnesia lane.

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I remember touring the Netherlands Institute for Maritime and Underwater Archaeology many years ago and looking at their setup to use polyethylene glycol for preserving the raised wrecks of wooden boats. There were tanks under the floor to immerse pieces and also sprayers set up to apply the preservative to items laid out in the open.

I asked an older man who worked there about the preservative and he said he didn’t know….and showed me a card with a list of words that included polyethylene glycol; which was highlighted. He said that that was the preservative used and he explained the process for a bit. At one point he said that list was actually the ingredients in his heart medication….proof that it was good for old wrecks of any sort!

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Why a welder should try his hand at different work methods.

March 14, 2010 1 comment

I remember, several years ago, talking with a machinist over lunch and what came up in the conversation was his dislike of how most welders have a “sloppy” manner of working. He isn’t one of these fellows who wastes time being considerately more accurate than a job calls for; he is a practical man. And though he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what made him feel that way, I figured there had to be something to it.

The thought that occured to me was what I figured to be the biggest, most fundamental difference between our trades: Machinists worked metal by removing material while welders worked by adding it.

I think that this influences a tradesman’s psyche. One of the joys of being a welder, depending on your type of work, is that there are often situations where you can deal with poor fit-up by simply filling the gap. What does a machinist or joiner do when they make a piece too small? Make another and hope the boss doesn’t notice the lost time.

Surely this makes a lot of us, compared to other trades, appear to take a fast and loose approach to layout work. In the case of an unmotivated welder, he may never develop the ability to accurately fit work together if his job never requires it. The truth is that there are a lot of welding jobs where you can be considered a great fabricator with a degree of skill that wouldn’t qualify you to make coffee in a cabinet shop.

If you’re an impatient welder, then a little time working with wood is a cheap way to force yourself to be accurate. It will broaden your horizons and round you out as a person and tradesman.

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A funny thought.

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I was reminiscing about toys I played with as a boy and thought of how Space Lego was a favourite.

I wonder what space agency they belong to. I’m sure there’s a background story about a fictional agency but I just like to assume, on account of their clunky looking equipment, that they’re Eastern Bloc.

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Some things are too weird to make up.

March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Would you believe I have jumper cables that once belonged to a member of the Danish royal family?

Sort of….They’re made from welding cables and ground clamps discarded by a long defunct company that had The East Asiatic Company as a partner in the venture.

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