Dear Readers: I recently had the honor of having a wonderful interview by Kevin Tetz, cohost of the Trucks! TV program. Tetz is doing a number of podcasts for The Eastwood Company as part of the Shop Talk series, and I was fortunate to be one of the first people to be interviewed. Tetz had some great questions and comments, and in the 50-minute interview, I talk about how I first got interested in cars, how I learned about metal shaping, who my mentors were, how I started my business, what it was like to have one of my cars win the AMBR award at the Grand National Roadster Show, how I developed my workshop and DVD series, and toward the end of the interview I discuss my current personal project, which has a completely hand-formed aluminum body and scratch-built chassis. You can listen to this interview by going to my website (covell.biz) and clicking on the player. It's a great way to get some background on the life and times of "Professor Hammer".
Q A few months ago you had a letter from Lauran Howard regarding wire welding a patch panel. Just to give you some creditability for what follows, I started out in the early stages of the MIG processes. In the late 1950s I went to work for Air Reduction, the inventor of the Aircomatic welding process. In the early 1960s Union Carbide invented and patented the Short Circuiting transfer process using 0.035 E70S6 wire and 100 percent C02 shielding gas using a constant potential power source. Through the years it became known as the MIG process. MIG is an acronym for Metallic Inert Gas (but maybe it should really stand for something else I'll mention later). I've spent my entire life in the welding industry, first with Airco as the western area engineering manager, then as the owner of a welding distributor, and finally retiring from Miller Electric as a district manager. I'm still an avid industry nut and do my own metalwork; I have built numerous hot rods and customs.
Now to the problem Lauran is having. You're right on with your suggestions, but I would like to offer some of my successes and failures when trying to do what he is attempting. I would suggest using an aluminum backing strip—it sucks heat faster than copper. He needs to MIG spot about every 1 inch, let it cool, and then spot between the initial spots, and continue this process until the weld is complete. One word of caution: he needs to snip the wire before each spot (the machine he is using, being a constant voltage machine, will automatically increase amperage in order to burn off the wire). Normally he should be welding at about 65 amps with a 0.023 wire on sheetmetal, but with a ball on the wire, when it comes in contact with the metal, the machine will "see" a much larger wire because of the ball (it may look like 0.030 or 0.035 wire to the machine), so there's an instant increase of amperage in order to burn off this increased wire diameter. I've been down both paths, and I know it's slower to snip the wire, but in the long run the part stays cooler, making a weld with little or no distortion. At the ripe old age of 75 I still remember that MIG is not for everyone, but it gets the job done. And one last thing, the MIG process can mean one other thing: "Maybe it's good."
I hope I didn't drive you crazy, you know what you're doing. I read every issue of STREET RODDER, and all of your articles. Keep up the good work.
Via the Internet
A Thanks so much for the information. I can see that you have long, in-depth experience in the welding industry, and your insights are very good, indeed. I'll pass your thoughts along to Lauran directly, and I believe both he and our readers will find them very helpful.
You can email your questions to Professor Hammer at email@example.com, or mail to: Professor hammer c/o STREET RODDER, 1733 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92606; you'll receive a personal reply. Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking, and he offers an ongoing series of workshops across the nation. Check them out at covell.biz, or call for a current schedule of workshops and a free catalog of DVDs. Phone (800) 747-4631 or (831) 768-0705. You can send a request by mail to: Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd. Ste. 4105, Freedom, CA 95019.