By guest blogger David H.
Having worked in shipyards for seven years, I’m familiar with how dirty this type of job site can be. Ship repair worksites and welding surfaces are often filthy with rust, dust and other contaminants. Even in shops and yards where fabrication is ongoing, cleanliness is often lacking. If fabricated or refurbished pieces are being installed onboard, the surface to which the piece will be welded could be rusty, coated with scale, or have other types of corrosion.
It is hard to overstate the importance of having a clean surface when welding. Welds made on unclean surfaces can become contaminated and fail; this is especially true with certain metals, such as aluminum, and certain types of welding, such as TIG, but for all welds at least some level of cleanliness is important.
Methods and Equipment
There are numerous methods available for cleaning surfaces. The most basic are simple wire brushes and scrapers; these are ineffective beyond removing common dirt and simple surface contamination. Some hand-held tools, such as grinders and reciprocating needles are slightly more effective.
A surface that is properly prepared by blast cleaning can help you ensure fewer problems with weld quality.
Deeper cleaning processes can help to ensure high-quality welds. This is particularly important where a failed weld could be costly or create shipboard dangers for the crew. For corroded or contaminated surfaces something stronger is required. Some of the best systems available are blast cleaners. Red-D-Arc has a number of blast cleaning rental options. Dry-ice systems are environmentally sustainable, non-destructive, and use inexpensive, readily available dry-ice pellets. Recycled glass systems, which reduce dust by as much as 95% compared to dry-blasting, are available too.
Take a look at our selection of rental blast cleaners which can powerfully clean up the dirtiest weld surface. A surface that is properly prepared by blast cleaning can help you ensure fewer problems with weld quality.
By guest blogger David H.
How important is it to remove welding smoke from the work area? Ask a welder, or ask someone who has to work in the vicinity of welders working in enclosed or semi-enclosed areas.
I recall some years ago working on a Navy general cargo ship. The ship was was undergoing extensive renovations and the hold of the had four or five levels. My employer, a small repair yard in San Francisco, unfortunately did not take air quality in the work area seriously. There were more than 20 of us working in the hold, and some number of us were welders. From a distance you could see where the work was being done — smoke and fumes drifting up out of the hold! In those days, safety requirements weren’t always top of mind. OSHA and other regulations aside, taking care of your workers by providing a safe work environment is simply the right thing to do. Without them your business can never be profitable. By failing to provide a safe workplace, you may lose workers due to health issues and employee turnover or face consequences for not complying with standards.
“respirators are hot and uncomfortable, and many welders simply refuse to use them”
There are a number of ways to deal with welding fume issues. One approach is the use of respirators. I often wore one, but they are hot and uncomfortable, and many welders simply refuse to use them. They can be remarkably expensive, over the long haul, given that filters must be replaced daily. If the mask is a disposable type, the entire mask must be replaced daily.
Portable smoke extractors – sometimes referred to as smoke eaters – are a far better solution. They extract a higher percentage of the fumes than respirator masks and protect everyone in the work area, not just the welders. They can be moved around the job site and from one job site to another, but can also be set up at permanent work stations. These machines can help make sure that your work space is a place where people can get their work done safely. Your employees will thank you.
To view the smoke extractors Red-D-Arc offers for rent head over to our smoke extractor rental page.
We also have used smoke extractors for sale on our used equipment page.
By guest blogger David H.
Some years back I was working in a shipyard in San Francisco. The yard had several small repair jobs going, plus a fairly large project building six ocean-going barges. The supervisor who was in charge of the barge-building project was looking for volunteers to operate semi-automatic wire feeders, using flux-cored wire, to weld stiffeners to the skin of the barges. I had never used a wire feeder before, so I volunteered out of curiosity.
After a very short training period, possibly all of 30 minutes but I think a bit less, I was off and running. I was impressed by the quality of the welds and the speed at which they were deposited. Without question I was outpacing anything that could be done by stick welding, and I felt it was easier to maintain a uniform weld size too. The machine itself was light enough and small enough to move without difficulty, and the spools of wire lasted long and were quick and easy to replace when the spool of welding wire was finished.
Red-D-Arc has nearly a dozen semi-automatic wire feeders available for almost any application. We also carry fully automatic wire feeders, which are faster still and appropriate in certain circumstances – like building storage tanks – especially for large-deposition welds.
Guest blogger David J. shares his experience as a shipyard welder for the U.S. Navy.
Need to remove or move a large object welded onto the deck of a ship? Arc gouging equipment can really help speed up the process. I worked as a welder in the shipbuilding/ship repair industry, and especially ship repair, in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years. One particular day I was given the task of finishing up the removal of a pair of bollards that had been mounted on the deck — the navy wanted them moved a few feet forward. Someone else had done the initial cutting, but a rectangular shaped weld measuring about six by three feet, where the bollards had been joined to the deck, remained. This weld was perhaps half an inch wide and protruded above the deck by nearly half an inch. That’s 18 feet of steel nearly half an inch square.
This steel could have been ground flush with the deck, but the time involved using a grinder would have greatly increased the time and cost of the task. With a hand arc gouging torch, see the K4000 manual gouging torch, I made much quicker work of the job. Properly handling the gouging torch, the welder can leave the surface such that the grinder who follows him need only do the lightest touch-up. For bigger jobs and for outfits that routinely have gouging operations, the N6000 metal removal system is recommended for both increased speed and accuracy.