Diary of an “Unstable Work History”
I stumbled into Welding completely by accident. At Duluth Area Vo-Tech I signed-up to attend Carpentry Class, I was required to add a second choice on that application, I chose Welding. I completed the 9 month Welding program and immediately went to work at a local manufacturer, Clyde Iron Works (my Grandfather had worked and retired from there about 20 yrs earlier).
Clyde Iron was the first in a series of 2nd & 3rd shift jobs this young Welder would have between 1980 and 1996. During this time welding took me from Duluth, MN to Billings, MT then to Sheridan, WY and eventually to Denver, CO. In each job I was presented opportunities to learn something new about how the craft I had learned as an “at-risk teen” could be applied.
Working alongside “The Old Guys” who taught me to read a drawing, lay-out a weldment, shear parts to their proper size and get the bend lines right on some of the worlds heaviest lift equipment was my starting point. From there I moved on to repairing mining equipment on some of the largest broken parts imaginable…
• Removing worn teeth using Oxy-Fuel & Carbon Arc equipment on a Cat Grader Blade Ring Gear
• Using FCAW to re-install the new teeth and using SAW to re-surface the entire ring.
• Re-surfacing the worn portions of a Dragline chain one link at a time.
• Repairing and Hard-surfacing a “Ripper Shank”.
• Learning why and when to apply Pre-heat and Post Weld Heat Treatment.
Then I was off to Denver, as a new husband and father, to learn the art of Pipe Welding. Working for some of the most creative and skilled “Fitters” I learned…
• To bevel a pipe when cutting it to length.
• How to bend tubing so it comes out at the correct length.
• How to thread a pipe.
• How to put in a root pass using SMAW and GTAW in any position.
• How to “Walk the Cup”.
In 1993, as a 3rd shift Pipe Fitter and father of 4 under 6 I was given the opportunity to take the AWS-CWI exam. Passing that exam almost immediately changed my life. By 1996 I hung up the Welding Hood and moved my family to Huntington, WV where I started a new adventure as Welding Engineer for America’s oldest Rail Car manufacturer.
After Huntington it was on to Rochester, MN as Welding Engineer for a ROPS (rollover protective structures) manufacturer. Then Dodge Center, MN to build Cement Mixers and Trash Haulers. Then off to Hager City, WI as the QC Mgr for a Power Pole manufacturer. Each opportunity allowing me to meet and learn from many of “The Greats” in todays (and yesterdays) Welding industry.
Today I’m a Level II NDE Technician (Braun Intertec), a writer (Practical Welding Today) and an adjunct instructor for the American Welding Society’s CWI Seminars. Welding has allowed me to raise and educate my 4 kids in some of the most beautiful parts of our country. Welding allows my wife and I, as empty-nesters, to travel the country with the AWS and hopefully, be that agent for change in lives of others in this industry hoping to take the next step.
Thanks for listening.