I was watching Youtube last night and I was following one of favorite welding channels ,Schofield welding. He was welding a 12 inch field fabricated saddle and since I am an old washed up welder and I was enjoying his craftsmanship. I used to have my welding licenses for pipe ,but now, I cannot follow the line anymore; ain't getting old grand. He time lapsed the branch and went down to cut in a weldolet. I noticed he was careful to remove the ground off the pipe before he used the torch. Strange the way your mind works or in my case doesn't work. I was 24 years old again ,on Canada Packers process meat floor, running three inch schedule 80 for an ammonia liquid line. I apprenticed at that time to be a industrial refrigeration journeyman the term HVAC would have been met with a puzzled stare.
I always worked with the same journeyman pipefitter he taught me alot and because I was young enough to be his son,he treated me the same way,including slaps up side the ear. We worked the 4 to 12 shift and somehow his wife had gotten hold of one of the shift engineers and he told our foreman, Gino ,had to go home ,something had gone amiss. So our foreman came up ,told Gino to go home and as usual ,he tells me to "get up there you little **** and start welding." I was in my third year before he used my name, because as he said ,you are halfway to being a tradesman. Our foreman was a Sergeant in the Canadian army during the war and he was a hard case ,plus given the fact,he was a big man among big men, he could back it up. He was hard on me,but I still loved the guy ,underneath he was one of the kindest people I have ever worked with.
So, I start one of the welding machines and this little * started to weld. I finished the first elbow and I decided to take a break., I was up on a scaffold and you know what that is like, you are cramped a lot of the time.I climbed down and since we were running pipe in a hallway and the next weld was a butt weld I was looking at where I was going to push the scaffold to. The pipe took a 90 degree turn at the end of the hall and I was wondering if I could make the scaffold fit around the corner, because I hated welding pipe off a ladder.
I wandered down to end of the pipe and I instantly knew I had to do something with this 90 before my foreman saw it. I had tacked the back of the 90 and for whatever reason I had tacked the front after the rear tack had cooled off. Yep, you know what I am going to say ,the damn thing was off by at least 5 degrees.
The owner of the shop was old school and he did not see any reason a welder would need a grinder, all you needed was ,a level,a hammer, a tape measure and a file that was it.
Now you would have just gone up, ground the tack off ,and straightened the 90 out ;back then you got out the torch. I was cursing myself and in a hurry to fix my mistake and I missed one of the cardinal rules of welding pipe ,take the ground off first before you use a torch on it. I go up on a ladder and I am heating the tack with the cutting torch and as soon as I hit the oxygen the law of reverse magnetic fields took over. The pipe was being grounded back to a DC power source and that caused a repulsion field to be set up in the pipe ,in essence ,the pipe became a backward inductor. I have had to wear glasses my whole life and up to that point I cursed the damn things. I was young and stupid and I was in a hurry ,the ideal situation for you to hurt yourself. I had to go back to the job box to get my welding goggles and who had time for that? I hit it with the oxygen and of course the tack now became a super charged chunk of molten metal and flew dead center into my right eye. Well I have to say for a moment, I was blinded by the light ,so to speak. Then the gravity of my stupidity sunk in ,if I had not been wearing glasses, I would have lost my right eye for sure.
I still remember looking at my glasses and thinking what a idiot I was ,when of course ,our foreman came up to check on me.He took one look at my glasses and asked me if I was alright and after I said yes, I was chewed out right left and center, you dumb ****. This is where he was so kind underneath, the next day he told me to get new glasses and as I was a poor little **** , give him the bill. He of course told me if I ever did something that stupid again ,he would kick my ass until it was impossible to sit down ,you dumb little ****,.I loved that guy.
All the best and my deepest sympathy for September 11. Jack