I started out with a John Deere tractor I wanted to trade for a TIG welder (I couldn’t sell it.) Dad died in 1998, he worked in Mobile, AL in the summertime (between college to be an engineer) as a welding apprentice in the shipyard. Not a very good job. As I grew up, he had a stick welder, and was pretty good at it from his summer job. Every time we wanted to stick aluminum or stainless together, he would say “We would need a ‘heliarc’ for that.” Since I was a kid, I always wanted one of those [I]exotic [/I]machines.
I started researching TIG welders, figuring out what the good ones are, what the bad ones are, American versus Chinese, 110V versus 220V, high frequency, DC, AC, pulse, preflow, post-flow, water versus air cooled. I had to know when someone came with a trade that I’d get something equivalent to my tractor. It kinda became an addiction.
I found a welder on Craigslist, 300 miles from Nashville, an Airco 350 amp single phase TIG, built in water cooler, high frequency, pulse, for $1500. I hadn’t seen this one. But it was way overkill, but had all the advanced features for welding exotic metals, thick or thin. When I went to researching it, I found it on ebay too! $450 and he didn’t mention the word TIG anywhere in the listing. So I bid on it, even after only finding that Airco OEM’ed Lincolns, Millers and ESAB – exotic!
You can’t imagine how excited I was when I bid $450 on it and won! So I emailed the guy to make sure it would fit in my Honda Element. He then informed me that it weighed 950 pounds, 5′ long, >4′ high with the cart. Oh crap.
So, I decided I’d ask the guy if he’d deliver it. He said he would, but that was going to be $250. After waiting for it for a month, I figured I’d switch to plan B. I’d rent a pickup and go get it.
Oh, now I need an argon tank! I had been eyeballing them too. I found one 150 miles into my trip, a 286cf tank brand new! Apparently the guy was injured and couldn’t TIG anymore. He was getting rid of his owned bottles for cheap! So that’s working out.
On Friday when I pick it up (took a day off from work), the seller has a forklift and is going to load it in my rental pickup. When I get it back home, I have a buddy with a barn and a chain hoist, I have another less reliable friend with an engine hoist. We’ll get it out of the truck somehow. It’s going to live in my small home garage.
Tonight, I’m three days from my journey to go get my giant argon tank and the huge Airco TIG welder with every feature you’d ever want, and I’m tickled to death. I’m watching Youtube videos on how to weld all kinds of metals. I’m reading about filler rods. I’m talking about it at work (I work on computer networks for a living) and I’m driving everyone crazy.
The most common question I get from my white collar friends is “what are you going to weld?” My answer has become “I don’t know. I need to learn to weld first, then I’ll tell you what I’m going to build.” Then everyone thinks, and they say “Oh, I have something that needs to be welded.” I tell them that’s the point.
So, my wife thinks I’ve totally outdone myself this time, my friends think I’m nuts, only a small number of my friends understand (and at least one is sharing my enthusiasm – he’s building a “velo bike” with electric motors from scratch.) All I can think about is TIG welding. Everything except this has become boring.
Come on Friday! OK, so my question is, what’s my first project? Maybe I’ll make something for my tractor – it’s still sitting there!