Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The myth of the exploding arc welder

As a rule, Dad didn't let things bother him. He was very good at tuning out at the end of the day. He always said he could sleep soundly and easily because he had a clear conscience. Mom in reply asserted that what he had was a short memory.

Whatever the real cause, Pops rarely let things bother him. But he did, like all of us I believe, have his pet peeves.

As I've said many times, me Grandpa Joe rented welding equipment and Pops worked for him literally since he was about 10. Grandpa rented almost exclusively Hobart Welders. He bought more new Hobart welders in 1953 than anyone else in the country except Ford and Chrysler, so it was quite a good business back in the day. He bought so many machines that the Hobart company invited Joe to send someone to their facility in Troy, Ohio for a six week course on repairing their equipment. Grandpa sent his son, and Dad did so well that Hobart sent Joe a very complimentary letter about his boy's intellect and industry. Pops and Joe were both proud of that.

So then of course Pops became the go to guy to repair Joe's welders, both in their shop and in the field. He didn't mind the service calls; it was nice to get away from the shop on a regular basis. He had become friends with many of the ironworkers and millwrights over the years as well, and liked to get out and see them too. Yet herein also came one of Dad's pet peeves.

When someone would call for service Dad always tried to get an idea of the trouble. It helped him to know what tools and parts to take along. Most of the time the guys gave him decent answers when dad asked: the battery was dead, the motor would turn over but not start, or it was overheating, things like that. But a few guys were no help at all. When Pops would ask them what was wrong, they would tell him that the machine had 'blowed up'.

"What do you mean?" he'd ask in reply.

"It just blowed up," they'd repeat.

Dad would impatiently respond, "So when I get there, there'll just be parts and debris scattered all around where the welder used to be?"

"Well, no, no, it's just not running."

All right then, he'd continue, what exactly is your problem, and go from there. But it truly rankled him to be told a welder had blowed up.

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