Welding pass

This week was the last day of my college evening welding class. I passed with a B, for which I had to work hard. I attended every class, got highest scores on the written tests and scored the lowest on most of the actual practical welds. What I did learn was this is a skill that needs to be practiced, a lot. I am not a natural and it would take me hours to learn some particular skill. I am now able to do it, which is a huge leap forward compared to where I was when I started the class. Now I need to figure out what type of equipment I need out on the farm. I really need to get a cutting torch operational and I need a stick welder. The major problem is I don’t have 220V wired anywhere on the farm. I can fix this in the old house but I don’t really want to weld around a wooden building. So I need to look at 120V welders, the good part is I don’t really need to weld through anything thicker than 3/8 of an inch. This will make it easy to cut back on the type of welder I need as I don’t need super high amperage. We also have a propane generator. I need to see how many KWh it puts out and if it has 220V capability. I don’t know as it is for emergencies and we have not had to use it. It would solve a lot of portability problems if it will put out enough juice to run a welder.

I ran out to look at the generator as I am curious now. It will do a 4000 W start and continuous 3250 W, but only does 120 V. The nice part is it has an RV plug so it will do 20 Amps. Further research has led to two SMAW (further use will be stick welding for the uninitiated) welders that run on 120 V. A Hobart Stickmate 160i stick welder for around $570 and a Century Inverter Arc 120 V stick welder for $260. The problem with the cheaper welders is you only can weld about 3 minutes out of 10 minutes and only go up to 90 amps so you must weld thinner material. Since I am already slower than the average welder the down time requirements are not going to hurt me. For you purists out there depending on how the weld was set up and as long as I did a good root weld I could layer in the rest of the welds and still weld thicker material. Luckily for me, I don’t have really anything thicker than 3/8 of an inch to weld and most of those are repairs. I really need a little cart I can put the generator on, propane tank and welder all in one place and have it ready to go. Maybe I need a bigger generator? I probably do not need a bigger generator as I am not a full time farmer working on great big piece of equipment. I am trying to keep our costs realistic and not go all out and buy the most expensive thing. I am also going to do more Oxyacetylene welding, its slow but it doesn’t need any power at all, hard to beat that advantage for some things. I told Annmarie my end goal was to be able to build a 10 foot diameter igloo out of old used horse shoes of all various sizes, old nails, rust and bent shoes included. I have not convinced her that it would be a work of art and not an eye sore yet. I need a few thousand more horse shoes. I only have a few hundred now. I am willing to pay $0.05/horseshoe or $50/1000 shoes, which is way better than the scrap yard. I have not given up the dream yet.

This morning she talked to me about marking the babies and mother sheep when we start lambing. We tried a crayon marker a few years ago and did not have very good luck. Instead of using paint irons where you have to use multiple irons her family uses a L shaped iron and marker paint. She drew it all out on a old envelope to teach me. You create a grid of 9 numbers and use the L iron to create the sides of the grid around the number you want.

I have copied in the four examples she showed me. The I threw me as it is not on the grid she made for me until I said it wasn’t there and she said it equals 0. It made sense when she told me what it was. You just have to have the orientation to the lamb correct and you can match the mothers and babies for the first month at least. She said I needed to just weld the marking rod. I figured out today how to make it without welding anything. I just need to get a piece of 1/4″ square stock 24″ long so I can make it. I will make a wooden handle so it won’t be so cold to handle.

We are very short on rainfall, less than 1/10″ last month. We need some moisture in any form. It can rain for all I care as long as it doesn’t warm up too much and fool the trees.

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