Saturday, December 02, 2006

Welding Project. . .

Ok.. so I know I've continued to be a very bad blogger... long absences... but honestly I've been very busy.

Work has been absolutely crazy busy. We're deploying the second phase of a year long development effort next Tuesday. This is an application used across the rail industry to not only track but to also aid in maintaining the health of all of the 1.8 million (that's right *million*) pieces of active railroad equipment on the tracks today.

Testing this application, identifying issues, suggesting improvements and writing the user guides has pretty much occupied my every waking moment for the month of November.

I'm doing web casts next week to demonstarte all of the new features to our customers as well as running internal demonstrations and training for our customer service folks. So I had to develop all of thos scripts this month as well.

Now I could have started earlier, but the application didn't exit development until the 9th and I wanted to include only the most current screen images in the documentation.

So that's my excuse for not blogging... but, I did take about a day and a half out to build myself an 'extension' for my welding cart. (Hence the title of this post)

Anyway... when I got my new MIG welder a couple of years ago, it came with a small cart. It was nice that they included it in the 'package', but a couple of things have always bugged me about that cart.

First, while it rolls quite easily, there was no handle so it was always an adventure navigating it to where I wanted to use it in the garage.

Second, there were no built in 'hooks' to hang the various cable and cords, or the welding helmet from.

So, when I recently acquired a used Plasma cutter (I traded a woodsplitter I had for it) I decided that instead of getting a separate cart for the cutter, I'd build an extension for the existing cart, and, while I was at it fix the two things that always bugged me.

Before I started in on this project the cart looked like this...

The first thing I did was to build the outside frame rails. The trick here was to make them exactly the same size, with perfectly square corners and such that the top edges were level to the rest of the cart.

Once that was done, I added two cross braces. One in the front, and one in back. The only real trick here was keeping the outsides aligned and making sure I had room to open the side access panel on the welder so I'd be able to change the wire without removing the welder from the cart.

In the second picture below you can also see the difference in the length of the front and rear 'legs' of the frame rails. While having these unequal sides made aligning everything a bit more difficult it allowed me to better balance the additional load of the plasma cutter on the cart.

Then I added a handle. I angled it forward about 30 degrees, to ease access to the front panel of the plasma cutter, and just to lower the handle height a bit.

After I had everthing tack welded and lined up, I attached the 'legs' to the existing cart and finished welding all of the seams. Securing the legs to the cart helped keep everything aligned during this final welding as one of the problems in welding up a 3D object like this is the tendancy for the tubing to warp as it's heated and cooled.

I also added the 'pan' that the plasma cutter will sit on.

Once everything had cooled, I removed the new frame from the cart, ground the welds, cleaned and sanded all the steel and painted it a satin black to match the rest of the cart.

In these next two pictures you can see the four 'hooks' I added to allow me to hang the cables and cords when they're not in use.

Once the paint had dried overnight, I reassembled the frame to the cart and began storing the cable and cords on the 'hooks' I'd installed.

So there you have it... one customized welding cart...

Interestingly enough though, I hardly had it all put away before I started thinking about a couple of other 'enhancements' I should have made!!

Oh, and lest you think I'm so talented that this all went together without a hitch... the truth is it took me two tries, the first try warped during the final welding as I'd forgotten how steel will do that if it's not prevented from doing so byt being held in place!!

I've missed you all and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! With any luck, starting towards the end of next week I'll have time to blog on a more regular basis.

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Lorna said...

glad to hear you'll be back soon; good to be busy though. I take it Mrs Bill is doing all right?

Jada's Gigi said...

wow, you are alive! :) Happy Holidays!

Cyli said...

WOW and Holy Cow Bill...that turned out great - AND long time no see sweet man. How are you and your sweet wife doing? I am just now getting back into blogging - now that I have returned. So i will once again become a regular visitor. I moved Why not - Right? to a new blog url. I will leave the URl with this comment. Wishing you and yours the very best holiday season Bill! It is so good to see your still you!

Comfort Addict said...

Welcome back, Bill. I've been busy, too, and uncreative when I haven't been. Here's hoping that we both get back to blog productivity.

Bill said...

Lorna - Thanks... Mrs. Bill continues to struggle health-wise... but we remain optimistic, and focused on getting through this.

Cheryl - Yes.. I'm alive just covered up with too much to do, and scarcely time to do it!!
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to you, and yours as well!

Cyli - Wow... good to see you!! I'm glad to know that you're home, safe and sound!! See my note to Lorna on the wife... other than that we're both doing well thanks!! and you?

CA - Brother, it's been a rough year... short time frames, no resources... but we've (the team and I) hit the targets each time, maybe with a few less 'features' than we would have liked, but on time and to spec all the same!

I'll join you in a wish for the time, and inspiration, to return to blogging productivity!

Jeanette West said...

Your welding project went amazingly well! Building an extension for the old one instead of acquiring another one was just brilliant, and the result is marvelous! Thank you for sharing the tricks, Bill!

Jeanette West