Welding for my life

I am welding for my life.

This is a butt weld between two relatively thin pieces of mild steel – the original hull and the new plate – cut to fit and bent to almost exactly match the curvature of the hull. The weld is built up rather heavily but great care has been taken to avoid undercutting and burning through both of which are a risk with thinner pieces like this. As long as the area is not permitted to unduly flex the extra thickness should not overly compromise the hull compared to undercutting. The original metal was corroded badly enough to be untrustworthy. Although I have added and am continuing to add a lot of “safety” to the vessel this particular section of weld is part of a major repair running for several metres. If it were to catastrophically fail in rough seas along the wrong portion of length it is quite possible that the vessel could founder within minutes – a total loss scenario.

The lives of all on board depend on this

The lives of all on board depend on this

Now this is where I get to scare off all my potential crew members. I am not a professional welder. I haven’t been on any courses or received any formal instruction. I’ve read a bit about welding, watched a professional work a bit and asked the same professional quite a few questions. I’ve otherwise just picked up the equipment and started doing it – cutting and welding more than halfway through approximately two tonnes of new steel so far. The learning project I set myself was to build a one tonne crane – firstly because I needed it for material handling and secondly because I figured if I could build that without disaster striking I could trust myself to ease into the work on the vessel itself. I’m not sure I’d exactly recommend it as an entirely safe project to start on – but my continued existence and progress is presumably some sort of admissible evidence in support of either incredible luck or the absence of incredible stupidity.

It isn’t quite as reckless as it sounds – I do ask a professional to quality check the most critical pieces of work.

Nonetheless, I really am welding for my life.

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