Saturday, 27 March 2010

TIG Welding - First Results

Well to be honest these are not my first results but the first ones that I was not too ashamed to publish.

Here's the welder and the thermalite and slab of steel I've been using as a mini welding table. You can see my new vent in the background. The disposable gas is a bit expensive but I've not yet sourced a North London supplier of Argon in larger bottles who does not require rental.

TIG Welder and Torch
Welding Slab

I started on some 3mm mild steel , which I cleaned up using a angle grinder and a flap disk. First experimenting with getting a puddle and practicing adding the filler rod (left) and then tacking and various pieces, one of the later results (right). I've still to do a strength test on these, my previous attempt just snapped right in half with a simple tap of the hammer. At this thickness I found 80-85A seemed to work about right, I expect as I get quicker I'll need to turn up the settings.

After three or four goes on 3mm steel I though I'd try some 1mm. I set the current down to 45A and successfully joined the sheet. You'll see I've a bit of a melt through at the edges but that should go with practice, the trick is not to stop when you get to the end.

1mm mild steel sheet

Finally I gave a go with a T joint, I just tacked the re-bar either side to a small offcut of square steel bar.

6mm Rebar To 5mm Square bar

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

TIG Welding thoughts on grinding tungstens

I've been reading a little on preparing the tungstens for TIG welding (GTAW). The tungsten in your TIG welder is a critical component and the correct grinding will affect the ease of use and the quality of your weld.

Most tungstens have small quantities added chemicals such as thorium to improve their properties such as reducing burn away or improving the starting of an arc. They are colour coded to help you identify them. A red thoriated tungsten is most common for welding mild steel.

The shape of your tungsten will affect the arc and penetration of the weld. Typically the tungsten is ground to a truncated cone for best all round performance. A sharp angle would produce a long thin point which would have good arc stability and a wide penetration pattern. A short stubby point would give a narrow arc but it may be less stable. A sharp point on the end may break off and contaminate the weld so should only be used for thin materials with lower currents.

Truncated cone

You should grind with the tungsten straight onto the grinding wheel not on the side or perpendicular. This is to avoid concentric rings on the tip that would promote arc instability. It is also a good idea to use a separate grinding wheel for your tungsten than for your other workshop tools. This stops other metals contaminating your tungsten which could in turn contaminate the weld.

Reference thanks to Miller Welding

Tips to promote arc start
Selecting TIG Tungstens
Selection and Preparation

Saturday, 20 March 2010

April Events at Kew Bridge Steam Museum

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum has regular steam events when their large pumping engines are brought into action.

In April there are a couple of special events. On Sunday 4th April 2010 there is the Stirling and Hot Air Engine Rally. Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th there is the Magic of Meccano Show.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Gatergrotto MetalWorks - Sculpture from reclaimed materials

Tim Adams from GatergrottoThis week, I got a chance to quiz Tim Adams from Gatergrotto Metal Works. Tim is a self motivated artist working with metal, rock and salvaged parts. He uses a mixture of tools and techniques from his "redneck forge" for blacksmithing through to modern power tools and a MIG (GMAW) welder.

Workshopshed: Hi Tim, how did you get into working with metal?

Tim Adams: It was by chance that I got into it. It all started while working for corporate America and going to the doctor for many things, finally ending up in a psychologist office for a four hour review of my brain and being told that I was stressed. So I had to do something that was for me, if you are working for someone else and all their goals are not your own then it is really tough to have any well being.

At first I did not know anything and took old forks and spoons and welded them together with an oxy-acetylene torch. I found it very expensive to refill the bottles, so I sold it and purchased a mig welder and plasma cutter. As time has progressed I have noticed that I like blacksmithing and that it is easier, and easier to put things together to make something. Also with practice anyone can become as great as they want to be "not to say I am great by any means" though I strive to make everyone happy with all my metal creations. A little bit of self reflection never hurts either!

Workshopshed: Many of your pieces are of plants or animals, where do your influences come from?

Tim Adams: I have many line drawing books that I reflect on and use. A couple of examples that are put out by Dover books are 4001 animals and plants; I also just bought 1415 animals. It is hard to see things in 3d until you actually put them together with clay or do a cardboard cutout of them. When I was younger I lived on a ranch and have always like the country western feel, though I have a lot of influence from what I want to see in my back yard.

Most of the time while I am sitting in a meeting or other event that does not take all my energy to focus on I doodle in my journal, I have pages of things I want to do, though it seems that there is always a commissioned piece that I have to do before I can do something really creative, which keeps me excited because a bit of money never hurt anyone’s cause.

Workshopshed: One of your recent creations was "Light of the Petrogyph", what can you tell us about that?

Light of the Petroglyph

Tim Adams: Oh! This piece fought me the entire time and I still get scared thinking about making more then one. I did learn a lot about things while I put it together though and bask in its luminance all the time, which brings me to reflect that without difficulty comes nothing.

When I first started it I have to say that the rock base was going to be more of a focal point of the piece, but after looking at how it was going to have to hold together, I had to make a base for the rock. The spring is out of an old mustang and was not that easy to get it out of the junk yard, I learned another lesson that it is easier to go the scrap metal yard to find what you need, because it has already been declared and cut out of whatever it was in. I think the only item that I had to buy was the lamp hardware and the angle iron for the shade.

It is interesting to note that total cost was about $15. That does not include time spent though. That would have to be around $400 if you figure $20 per hour, but that does not matter because it was all for the love of putting something together that will outlast me. “HOPEFULLY”

Workshopshed: Where do you get your materials from?

Tim Adams: Mostly from the scrap yard, I find it so intriguing to search through what everyone else has decided is scrap. We humans throw so much stuff away that it is not even funny; yes we do recycle it, though even that takes power to reclaim it into something new.

Think about:

1. Bought a new one since old one is old. This is a waste because had to make the new one.

2. Take it to the scrap yard. Use gas in the car to drop it off

3. Cut it up into manageable pieces. Uses oxy-acetylene and or electricity

4. Metal goes to a plant that has to be hauled in a large truck far away to be processed into something, which takes a lot of power to change back into something usable again.

5. I have probably missed some steps, but you get the picture.

This is ironic because what is started out to be, it could be again. Not to say that I do not have to use gas to go and get the metal. My hope is that I can change its destiny and save a bit of power it takes to process it.

Almost Infinity

Workshopshed: You mentioned that you are learning as you go along, are there any particular skills or techniques you are particularly pleased to have learnt?

Tim Adams: Hum, interesting question….I would have to say that just getting back into the concepts of welding again has been my biggest challenge. While I was in the FFA I did a lot of welding, though art welding is a lot different. You have to weld in a lot of different positions and get the weld to hold together with a lot of different types of metals. Also I have to add that getting to know the types of metal has been an ongoing learning. At first I just grabbed items that thought would weld together, though was just pop metal or aluminum that just burned through.

Workshopshed: Are there lots of gators in Cedar Rapids Iowa? Would it be a dangerous place to visit?

Tim Adams: HEHE!! I have to preface this with, how many movies have you watched that Iowa has been mentioned as some point or there is a sign point to Iowa. You might say not many times, but it is like when you have a car and see everyone else with the same car, but when you do not have that type of car you never see it. I think it has something to do with like thing always attract each other, like magnets!

The Gatergrotto actually was created when I first got online. I thought to myself that I really need to come up with something unique so that when I signed up for something I would never have to worry about someone else having already taken it . As time progressed I found that my username had a life of its own. Have you ever did a search on Google for your username and seen what they are doing. Mine was having the time of it life!!!!.

So you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with gaters in Iowa, “which there are none since it gets cold in the winter” well if you look at it gaters is misspelled, and no I am not spelling challenged, though some times I do turn off the F7 key. Gateway was my first computer and I lived in a basement, if you can picture me in a deep, dark basement on a computer covered with smoke “I smoked at this time” then you get the picture. Thank you everyone for making it an interesting day, I hope I was just as interesting.

Workshopshed: Tim, thank you for taking time out of your day for an interview.

You can reach Gatergrotto on the web or via twitter @gatergrotto

Monday, 8 March 2010

Welded Flea Sculpture

The welded flea sculpture made as part of my Artist Welding course at Chelsea is now finished. The slate base has been drilled and filled with epoxy and the mounting plates screwed down to it. The backlegs were also tied down using wire so that the legs articulate nicely. Springs have been added so that the flea can bounce up and down. The temporary bolt that was acting as a pivot has been replaced with a shiney new phospohor bronze one. A small copper pipe from the hobby store has been added to the head for the flea's mouth. To balance the sculpture a lead counterweight has been added to the back of the flea, held in place with some epoxy.

The flea has been moved out into the garden where the steel will slowly rust and turn and nice brown flea colour. I'm also waiting for it to rain as the slate takes on a lovely dark green colour when wet.

Giant metal flea in the garden

Workshop Practice Series