Sunday, January 9, 2011


I've had an interesting couple of days. I made a new friend who happens to be a fabricator. He has opened up his shop to me in exchange for some technical help for his business. I'm going to make him a basic website and help him get it all up and running and make sure his data is secure. How he's been doing this for so long without keeping up with the times is beyond me, but he must be good at what he does because he's off to Egypt for a job in a couple of weeks.

His shop is roughly 10,000 square feet and it's pretty much all metal working equipment. In some places it's a bit hard to walk. Messy for sure, but I imagine one could make a lot of cool stuff in here.

Back to the bike.

My welder buddy was able to find time to come by this weekend and give me some tips....Well, he makes paper now, but he was a welder up until a couple years ago.

Along with the HF welder I recently picked up, I've trying my best to get all the necessary accoutrements as well. One of those items was a spool of Lincoln wire as opposed to the factory supplied flux core spool. A lot of the online reviews mentioned less spatter with the Lincoln wire. However, Aaron and I agreed early on that since we were just practicing, and I'm just learning, we'd start off with the cheapy factory supplied spool. I also picked up some scrap steel from the local hardware store, as well as a helmet, some gloves, an apron, various types of clamps and magnetic holders, seamers, etc. Aaron is a kickass person and brought two of everything as well.

We first cut some strips from an approximately 2' x 2' sheet of flat steel and cut those into sections about six inches long. Then Aaron dialed in the welder by tack welding the strips into essentially six inch long T-bars. Aaron commented on how easy the machine was to get up and running and dialed in.

As I'm in the process of rebuilding the front forks on my GS, rather than pay $70 for Suzuki's dampening rod tool, I picked up a 1/2" steel rod about 2' long and we figured that would be the first thing we welded. We cut five inches off one end and welded it on as a T-handle. On the other end we welded a nut. Aaron did all the work on it while I watched. He wasn't really going for a nice weld on it, but was more interested in having me understand the sound I was looking for. Bacon-esque. I'm pretty stoked that I can actually make something useful from some scrap metal and the stuff in my garage.

Fork tool.

He then did a couple quick passes on a piece of our T-bar to not only show me what I'm shooting for, but also to see the quality of welds from this fine $99 piece of HF dreaminess.

He wasn't tooting his own horn or anything, in fact he pointed out some mistakes like the porosity on the left side and what not, but overall he was pretty impressed with the quality of weld from such a value priced welder. We only attempted to clean up the slag and "dingleberries" on the right side of the piece, to get an idea of what it could look like, otherwise we just took the wirebrush to the welds to get a look.

I did a short pass or two on some other pieces with him watching and pointing things out to me, but then both of our "dad" responsibilities called us away and I put everything away for the day. I was able to sneak in the garage a bit later and clean up some of the mess Aaron and I made, and made a few more quick welds.

I know they're me.....I know. I'll keep practicing, though, and hopefully sooner or later they won't look half bad. I won't be doing anything on the bike until I'm confident in my skills. I'll get there.

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