Happy Mothers' Day! Dad took Mom to the tulip festival in Pella, Iowa, on Saturday. She didn't have to work, so they decided to spend the day together. They both really enjoyed viewing all of the flowers and the parade. They toured a windmill and enjoyed the other interesting sites in the town. Dad also gave Mom flowers. I gave her a wooden flower box that I built. I am using it as a 4-H project for this year's Chickasaw County 4-H and FFA Achievement Show (county fair). Jolene came home Saturday and stayed overnight. She bought flowers for mom to plant in her new flower box.
Everyday after school, I get home as soon as I can. This past week, I helped Dad out with discing two plowed fields. A disc is a farm implement for preparing soil. It cuts the sod up, usually after plowing ground.
Friday evening, Dad and I repaired a gate. In this repair job, we had to do a lot of cutting with our cutting torch, and welding with our arc welder. It came to mind that welders are on many farms for repairs on equipment such as gates, implements, wagons, vehicles, etc.
Welding is the process of permanently joining two pieces of metal. Welding can be done by either a gas torch or an electric welding machine. Welding looks easy to do, but it can be very challenging.
Welders must have protection from light and heat when welding. They need to wear work shoes (not tennis shoes), jeans (not shorts), long sleeve shirt, apron, approved welding gloves, and wear either a backwards cap or a bill less cap. All this is needed to keep sparks, extreme heat, and possible drops of molten metal from burning you. An approved welding lens is required. The light from welding is so intense that welders can go blind when not using a welding lens. Lenses come in different numbers. The increase of number is the increase of darkness. A number 4 lens is for using a gas torch to weld or cut or for an insignificant light. A number 10 lens is used for welding with a welding machine, or an extreme light.
Many farms have two common welders in a shop for farm repairs. We have two arc welders. Some farmers have wire feed welders. A stick arc welder is a welding machine that uses an electrode (welding rod) holder. The MIG welder is a wire-welding machine that feed the welding wire through a hose, into the weld. This is an easier way to weld, but does not do as good of a job in windy conditions.
Electrodes can come in many different sizes and strength. Welders need to use the correct electrode for the right job. Electrodes are classified in a certain way. The classification can be a four or five digit number, with a letter preceding it. Two common electrodes on our farm are E6011 and E7014. E indicates electrode. This letter E is for arc welding. Letter G indicates a welding rod used when gas welding. The first two or three digits represent tensile strength when the weld is stress relieved. For example, 60 means 60,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) and 100 means 100,000 PSI. The second digit from the right indicates the position of the joint the electrode is designed to weld. A 1 means all positions. Two means butt and fillet joints in the flat or horizontal positions. Three is recommended for flat position welds only. The last digit indicates the power supply, type of covering, type of arc penetration, and presence of iron powder.
Electrodes must be handled and stored very carefully. The covering can crack. Electrodes should be kept out of humidity. Humidity can make the covering break and the rod can rust. They should be kept in a closed container or shelf. There are electrode drying ovens to avoid humidity, too. Electrodes are 14 inches long. Some of the common sizes are 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 inches diameter.
I have been welding for a couple of years now. I really enjoy welding on the farm and even in school. I have my own lens, electrodes, and gloves. Someday soon, I'll be planning on purchasing my first arc welder.
Farm Fact: Welding is a very good skill to know. Some repairs may take only a few minutes. It is handy to have a welder or other tools in a farm shop to fix broken equipment and to build new structures. Hiring a welder to fix or build everything for a farmer can become very costly.