AN INTRODUCTION TO WELDING
By Rich aka Hattymender
Sooner or later any car will need a bit of welding. With old Land Rovers it tends to be sooner, much sooner............
My father's a good welder with arc, but with gas he can weld snowflakes. So I made him do the lot.
But latterly pushing a pensioner under my latest MOT failure in the rain was bothering even my (limited) conscience.
And dragging him out from under was getting tedious, it was hurting the wife's back. Best learn and get my own welder?
Now I should point out that I don't buy review magazines. They're depressing; be it dishwasher, television or any appliance I'll unerringly buy the one they tell you to avoid. And so the wife staggered out of B&Q with the most viciously touchy Mig welder ever to be knocked together in the sweat shops of China . Why the wife? Well I was busy strutting around the car park practicing Darth Vader breathing in my new and very expensive automatic mask.
Bright red overalls and an Aldi purchase of welder's gloves and apron completed the ensemble. Happy with my new attire I wandered around the house looking like Star Wars meets Sweeny Todd, unfortunately in my semi dark world I tripped over a sleeping Border Terrier (mummy's little darling). Well 'mummy's little darling' is spirited if nothing else, she took one startled look and in defence of home and country set about this alien apparition. Hospital visit number one of the weekend.
On returning home I limped into the garage. The instruction manual is an interesting translation but one of the more helpful suggestions is that “purchaser may wish to practise on various test pieces and not various settings”. Good plan. A ‘not’ book was put alongside scraps of metal on the workmate. Old (oil soaked) overalls were donned, I’ll keep my nice new red ones for best. Darth Vader helmet put on, quick check for Border Terriers, and I approach the job making light sabre noises.
It was a chance purchase made some years earlier that saved severe injury. Although I didn’t study the label in detail at the time it claims in it’s repertoire to be suitable for extinguishing ‘Class A Fires. Fires involving solid combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper’. I can confirm that it does indeed, and does all three simultaneously (wood, cloth and paper) with great enthusiasm. However the cooling relief offered ‘in the trouser region’ was quickly overtaken by the realisation that expanding CO2 gets very, very cold. And although instructions are liberally offered on how to start the thing it’s curiously reticent on stopping it.
Neighbours responding to the commotion were treated to the garage door abruptly flung open followed by an ‘X factor’ style emergence. The CO2 mist cleared to reveal Darth Vader clutching the ashes of a ‘not’ book while checking tattered undergarments (and contents) for damage. A task facilitated through a large hole in the front of overalls. A workmate smoldered in the background.
Sensing the presence of an audience I stood and with a 'Tommy Cooper' grin lifted my helmet whilst completely forgetting my wardrobe malfunction. Fortunately fear and the freezing CO2 ensured there was little to cause further shock. Second trip to hospital……….
All the above happened many years ago. Since that time I’ve become proficient enough to presume some of the bits of metal I stick together may stay that way. Accidents still happen though. Welding can be very satisfying but very dangerous. And I have the scars to prove it.
The MOT ceremony:
The great day approaches. It’s actually been approaching for almost a year (annual events are like that) but like death and taxes the human brain prefers not to hold onto that inevitability.
There’s three adversaries to face in this upcoming conflict; The MOT inspector (obviously), the receptionist and the wife.
You fear the inspector 'cos he's, well, the inspector. You fear the wife as failure will result in scorn, “You said it’s ok”, “You said there’s nothing wrong”, "My dogs travel in that" (dogs? what about me?) etc. etc. but on this day it's the dippy, nail painting receptionist that's your real enemy.
So it begins.
Stage 1. Booking the test.
Two approaches are taken by garages;
Type A; “No problem Sir, bring it in at 8:32am and we’ll do it immediately”
Type B; “Thursday? You’ll be lucky, drop it off and I’ll try to fit you in but don’t hold your breath”.
Always go for Type B. First rule of MOT’s is that they never, ever, run to time. So at least Type B is honest.
Stage 2. Prep.
Asking the wife to help is futile;
Will you stand ‘round the back and check the lights?
Are they on?
Which are they?
(‘for crying out loud’ under breath). Well, are any on?
Not sure, turn them on and off then I’ll know.
Anything? Anything? Are you there? (She’s talking to Sandra next door)
Oh, sorry. Which lights am I checking?
A word of caution here. Don’t under any circumstances ask your wife to pass a tool while you are under the motor. Ask for a Philips screwdriver and you get a 13mm socket, ask for a hammer and you get a screwdriver which she passes blade first and you puncture your finger on the tip. etc
Stage 3. Taking the motor to the test station
The day arrives;
Breakfast. This consists of 5 cigarettes (non smokers must substitute their own vice, milky bars, finger nails, picking your nose etc., etc.)
Suddenly you remember last year’s ‘advisories’. Have they all been sorted? You will be able to find MOT certificates and emissions printouts for years gone by. But the advisory slip? No chance.
So with an air of doom and terrible nagging doubts you set off and arrive at the designated time. Nobody’s there (Second rule of MOTs is that they’re either not there or have lost your booking).
When the dippy receptionist finally arrives (lugging a bag of cosmetics to be applied throughout the day) you leave the keys and a string of instructions/warnings;
"Watch the bonnet catch", "call me on this number", "be careful with 3rd"
Reception will promise to pass them on as she arranges her nail varnish. And then forgets every word
Her parting words
"It'll be done by 12". (Liar!)
Stage 4. Has it passed?
You call. Is it ready? "Hang on a moment I'll check". Several hundred moments later "It's on the ramps now, call back in 15 minutes".
(it should be noted that when I say "is it ready" I mean "has it passed/failed?". The receptionist knows this, so she's not going to tell you it’s a game they play).
Minutes later. Is it ready? "Hang on a moment I'll check". (Aaaagh! Just tell me if it's passed). "He's out testing the brakes, call back in 15 minutes"
Is it ready?
"Yea fink so. But he's gone for lunch, it'll be half one before you can pick it up".
"Er, has it passed?".
At 1:30pm prompt you're waiting. The inspector appears promptly 15 minutes later.
“ Has it passed”?
A man of few words; "Almost. No fog light". (Fog light! Great! The relief ! I can blame the wife).
Several minutes of wire wiggling later it flickers on. Trying not to look as if it only works with your finger on the connector you call the inspector with a cheery "Just a dirty connection".
And so a licence to leak oil for another year is issued.