07 February 2009

Trickle-Down Theory?

The company I work for, though it has a fabrication component, is primarily a roofing company. So it was to my great surprise that I came in to work a few weeks ago and found a puddle next to my table, being fed by a regular drip from the ceiling. The first thing I did was to ask our janitor/handyman/fetcher-of-stuff for a bucket so I'd at least remember not to walk under the leak. The second thing I did was tell one of the bosses that the roof was leaking.

Five minutes later, she was back with a status report. "Well, in spite of us being a roofing company, there are no actual roofers around right now. As soon as a crew gets back, I'll send them over."

The next day, I introduced the roofers to the leak, and they climbed up to the roof to see if they could find it. After half an hour of stomping and poking noises from up there, they re-appeared to inform me that they couldn't find anything, but they said they'd rig something up so I didn't keep getting rained on. I was out the next day because of a snowstorm, but when I came back the following day, I found this hanging over my table:

Yes, that's a tarp secured to the rafters with twine, and screwed into the center of it is a garden hose that goes down to a bucket. Really high-tech, isn't it? That thing stayed up for a good two or three weeks before they had to move the crane hoist from one end of the shop to the other, and since the tarp-hose dealie was in the way, I'm back to just a bucket.

The roof has since sprung another leak, ten feet away in my neighbor's booth. He doesn't even bother with a bucket, but he also doesn't seem to mind getting wet.

I'm sure the roofs we install don't leak like our own does... at least, I hope they don't.

17 January 2009


Occasionally I do something stupid at work. This week I did two stupid things: I welded a part together with an incorrect component that couldn't be cut off, so the whole thing had to be replaced, and I set my chair on fire.

Naturally, I'd rather talk about the chair.

I was MIG welding a part, finished, picked up the part, and walked across the building to the inspection room to verify that I'd put the thing together properly. A few minutes later, one of my fellow welders came into the inspection room and said, "you need a new chair." I raised an eyebrow, thinking maybe he'd done something to the chair, until he continued, "you set it on fire."



Apparently a spark from the welding had landed on the chair, smoldered for a minute, and then jumped to flame. My coworker saw the plume of smoke rising from my booth, ran over, grabbed the chair, dragged it outside, and dumped it in a snowbank to put it out.

The best part of all this? The guy whose booth I took over really liked that chair, and told me to "keep it warm" for him in case he was re-hired.

I don't think this was what he had in mind.

07 January 2009

"Honey, Your Gloves Are On Fire."

When I woke up to sleet on top of snow on top of ice this morning, with more sleet and freezing rain predicted for the rest of the day, I determined that making the hour-long drive to work wasn't safe, so I called out. I do love my daily dose of metalwork, though, so my boyfriend and I got some work done in his shop, a safe 30-second walk from our back door.

He's been complaining for a while that his cast anvil needed to be dressed; its horn in particular was in need of grinding. Once I convinced him that I love grinding stuff like that, he handed me the 4" angle grinder and an 80-grit flap wheel and went off to take care of some chores. This was what the horn looked like when he left the shop:


And this is what it looked like when he came back ten minutes later:


Pretty spiffy, eh? He was suitably impressed with my skill with the grinder, and put me to work on his dishing forms, which were also in need of some work. I didn't take pictures of them because the difference between before and after was more tactile than visual... they still look a little pitted, but they're smoother than they were.

We also made a new tool today. One of the products Erik makes is a ring belt, and he's a little sick of buying commercially-made rings for them, so he asked me to help make a tool that would enable him to make his own rings. I brought home some 2" round bar and 1" square bar, he forged a tapered end on the square bar so it'll fit in his stake plate, and I welded the two pieces together. I helped a little with the forging process, holding the bar with tongs while he whacked it with a hammer, and my insulated leather gloves started smoking a few times from the heat of the tongs. I didn't even feel it.

This is our shiny new ring-maker:


This has been one of my most productive days off in a while. I'm happy.

22 December 2008

Peachy In Keene

The new job is going well, though the extra hour and a half of daily driving leaves precious little time for blogging. Still, I have been thinking of y'all, especially last week when one of my coworkers left this on my bench:


"Think you can fix that for me?"

I'm a little embarrassed to say that it took me a while to catch on that he was pulling my leg. After all, I'm a welder. My purpose in life is to stick bits of metal together. Here are two perfectly good pieces of metal that used to be together, so why should it be out of the question for me to reunite them?

Well, they're hardened and all sorts of other specialized stuff to make them suitable for use in a massive hydraulic punch machine, and the process of welding the pieces back together would mess with the temper and make the thing brittle... but that's beside the point. Check out the fracture!

(as always, click to embiggen)


I have small hands, but that thing's still 0.75" in diameter at the fracture point. It's a hefty piece of metal... so imagine the force necessary to snap it like that.

Pretty cool, huh?

More about work soon, I promise.

18 November 2008

Breaking News!

This afternoon I was offered a full-time position at Melanson Co., Inc. in Keene, New Hampshire. I start December 8th. I'm very excited.

Now to tell my current bosses that they only have me for two more weeks. Ugh.

21 October 2008

Wild Week

There's been plenty of blog-worthy activity at work in the last week. Trouble is, that same activity has been exhausting me so much that I haven't had the energy to write about it. Even now I'm not sure I'll get this entry finished before I fall asleep, but I'm going to try. I'm sure y'all are desperate to know the fate of my fantastic shelving units.

In a move that reminded me of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, Bob announced last week that there would be not three shelves, but five. This wouldn't have been a problem if we'd had enough material for five shelves. But no, we have enough for three and a half, plus enough bits to stick together to complete a fourth.

Yes, bits. Six- and eight-inch bits of 2x2 tubing and angle iron that I butted end to end to make longer pieces. Now, I'm all for using up the material we have instead of ordering more, but it's really annoying to do those joints and try to keep the whole thing plumb on a table that... isn't.

But at least I have a big enough table to work on now. For about a week and a half I was borrowing a smallish table from the guy in the next booth, but he needed it by the end of last week, so I was using the thin, wobbly table that's a permanent fixture in my booth. Steve, one of the "back room" guys (the "back room" is about a third of the shop, and I still can't understand why they call it that), decided that I deserved a good table, so he and one of the other forklift drivers got together and moved a part that didn't need to be on its tables anymore.

The part? A 10-foot ring. The guys picked it up with two forklifts, took it around a 90° bend, and put it on blocks outside. The coordination required for that move was astounding, and I really wish I could've taken video of it. Unfortunately, photography and videography are forbidden in the shop. Oh well.

I do occasionally bring little things home (things that, if removed from the shop, will not get me fired or violate the non-disclosure agreement I signed), and I'll take pictures of them for you when I have time and light. For now, I'm off to bed so I can be awake enough to finish making my three (five, sir!) five shelves tomorrow.

15 October 2008


Have you ever had one of those projects at work that keeps getting redesigned and altered as you're trying to complete it? I came to expect that at Finebar because it was a natural part of working on prototypes like the conical refiners. Here at AMK, I'm building... shelves. For the shop. And while I respect my bosses, I kind of feel like giving them each a good whack on the head for continually redesigning such a simple project.

They've altered the height, they've added pieces, they've changed the material, they've mistakenly cut parts out of the wrong metal (wasting almost $500 worth of Inconel that somebody said was scrap), and I've been a good little employee and rolled with all of these alterations. But I still want to smack people. They're shelves, for crying out loud! Three simple tool shelves that, had the design not been messed with every day, would have taken me four days, total, to fabricate and paint. It's been a week and a half now, and they're still not even close to being finished.

I'd like to finally get these things done so I can, y'know, practice for certification on something other than carbon steel tubing. Once I'm certified, I can work on "real" projects... the stuff that makes the company money. I feel bad that these shelves are costing the company so much in labor. Speaking of which, my first payday is at the end of this week! It will be so nice to have money again.