16 December 2007


At school (which I'll be done with in a few weeks, thank gods), we do a lot of bend tests. We weld two pieces of metal together, edge-to-edge, cut the newly-created piece into strips ("coupons") perpendicular to the weld, and bend them with a pneumatic hammer. This tests the strength of the weld. The guys at school are always amazed at how nice my coupons look, so I decided to write a little tutorial. The pictures here are of my 6G-downhand stick pipe test, and every single piece broke because I didn't bother cleaning out the slag.

How to Make Your Bend Tests Pretty

This is what a coupon looks like right after I (don't give a sh*t about doing a good job and) cut it. Not pretty.

The face was ground before cutting (easier for me to mark out the coupon that way), so now the root side needs to be ground. Always grind along the length of the weld so the grind marks end up perpendicular to the weld. Don't go crazy... once the root buildup is flush, you're just getting the mill scale off, and that doesn't require much pressure.

Now come the edges. First, grind along the length. Use the soapstone cutting lines on the face as a grinding guide.

This may look flat, but it isn't. How do you make it flat? Come around to the side (looking at the face of the coupon as it's clamped), hold the grinder so the wheel is parallel to the floor, and grind back and forth along the length of the coupon. Because the new grind marks are perpendicular to the first lot, it's easy to see where your high and low points are. The little batches of stripes here are the low points:

If the highs are especially high or the lows especially low, go back to grinding along the length of the weld, just in the high spots. Come around to the side for a few sideways-grinding passes now and then until it's pretty close to being flat. Use the sideways-grinding to finish, and the piece should look like this:

Put a small bevel on the corners, file off the burrs, and go break it!

14 December 2007


Ten minutes before lunch today, the Canadians rounded us all up, brought us into the break room, and, with very little fanfare, terminated our employment. The company is closed. We got 11 days of severance pay, plus any unused vacation and sick days, and all the paperwork we need to file for unemployment benefits.

Time to find a new job. Grr.

06 December 2007


An hour or two after I finished the skirts for the big adapter plates, Joe came over and told me how I could have made it easier... I could have used my pneumatic sander to put a little bevel on the inside corner of the skirt so it would sit over the bead of paste. "If you can't raise the bridge," says he, "lower the river."

I really loathe that phrase now.

I try not to talk much about my medical issues at work because I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses or trying to be special or something. On the other hand, Joe seems to be expecting me to figure stuff out on my own, and that's not something I'm really capable of. The combination of medication, sleep, diet, and sunlight keeps my brain functional, but only just. I can follow orders, assemble parts, do good welding, and stay focused on what I'm doing. Thinking outside the box, on the other hand, is nigh impossible for me.

When people meet me, they assume I'm smart. I'm really not. I'm skilled and I know lots of stuff, but applying that knowledge isn't something I do well. I tend to get stuck on trying to make something work one way, only to find out later that I could have saved myself a whole lot of trouble by approaching the problem from a different angle, like with the skirts. I hate disappointing people, especially my bosses, but at the same time I don't want them to get frustrated every time I fail to solve a problem.

My 90-day review is supposed to be next week. Things I want to discuss include a change in my schedule next month and a pay raise. Wish me luck!