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Old 03-25-2012, 08:05 PM
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silverbear silverbear is offline
The Boy Who Never Grew Up
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: northeastern Minnesota
Posts: 8,131
Default Re: Old dog learns new trick...Welding!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly...
I spent a couple of hours this afternoon outside the Tinsmith's Shop finishing up the welder cart and practicing welding. I started out with some real ugly boogers and had trouble not veering off to the left or right. I'd focus on staying straight and then forget about speed and either go too slow or too fast. Focus on speed and forget about how close the tip was to the weld and the angle of the tip in relation to the weld surface. I also discovered that my body position... feet, wrist and arm all had an impact on the welding. To the observer it doesn't look like much is going on, but for the beginning welder there are a number of things which are all new going on at once so that it is easy to forget one thing while trying to remember another.

I am reminded of how it takes time for the body to learn things and remember them so they no longer need to be focused on. A long time ago I was first a competitive swimmer, then an instructor and later a swimming team coach. I've taught a lot of young people how to swim and some how to swim very fast. Today I am kind of like the beginning swimmer, at first simply overwhelmed at being in the water. As an instructor I knew that a new swimmer has to focus on one skill at a time and practice that skill enough times that it becomes automatic and the body remembers on it's own. It becomes a habit, you might say. So for one lesson I might focus on breathing and the position of the head and chin in the water. in through the mouth, out through the nose. A thousand breaths later and the body remembers how without thinking about it. So it is with the kick, the arm stroke, hand position, foot elevation, body position. Try to think about each thing all at once and it is hopeless, but give the body a chance to learn and remember one skill at a time and eventually it all comes together.

And so I remember that and tell myself to be patient and not even try to think of all things at one time. Even in those short hours today my hand and body coordination improved. I could see significant improvement on my last welds from the first ones. I find this very encouraging. I know I have a long way to go yet with many more hours of practice before I am making good welds, but I'm giving myself reason to think I will get there eventually. There really is no teacher like experience. Dan could tell me this and that and demonstrate, but in the end it was the good, the bad and the ugly which led to progress. You have to do it. And do it over and over again. So I will be patient with myself and offer my own encouragement, taking heart at small accomplishments.

The cart is together and I will have it painted tomorrow, put the wheels and axle back on and it will be ready to give service for many years to come. I welded something useful. How about that!

Dan is going to get the metal for the gas tank next and some scraps of the same gauge for me to practice on. He's thinking about some fairly heavy stuff, 12 gauge I believe, to make it less likely that I will burn through the metal. He's going to see how the 12 gauge bends and decide from that whether or not we need to go lighter. I know that I'll make mistakes, have places which will need grinding down and re welding and maybe re welding again. Someday I'll have this welder set up for gas, but for now the welds will be flux core.

No doubt I could do better if I spent more time practicing before starting on the tank, but I am aware that I have a month before I'll be packing everything up and returning to Minnesota for the next six months or so. I have two goals to accomplish before leaving. One is to get the Indian Hiawatha running and roadworthy. The other is to at least have this steel tank for the Panther tacked together with mounts, bung and petcock in place... and if time permits have the tank all done minus the paint.

See you next Saturday in the Tinsmith's Shop.
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Someday when I grow up I will probably lose interest in toys with wheels, but until then...
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