As the Special Projects Manager in our office, I was hired to perform a multitude of projects that included everything from welding and constructing to designing and editing.
Within my first few months of working on special projects, I was given a project of rehabbing a landscaping pull-behind trailer and converting it into a more stable, typical trailer with side rails and a fortified rear operable gate.
I’ll be upfront of my preliminary construction experience: other than Legos and Ikea furniture, I was a novice. Our Construction Manager, Joe Little, began to teach the basics of welding to our Managing Partner, Patrick Moran and me.
While it wasn’t a terribly confusing process in theory, welding involves much more than just a super hot welding gun and a bunch of metal.
Depending on the function of what’s being welded, it was necessary for us to first reinforce parts of the original body of the landscaping trailer that was slowly deteriorating. This included the surrounding boundary rails that compose the trailer base and the trailer hitch segment.
While none of these adjustments were major fixes, we learned how to use the welder by identifying spots that needed strengthened. We mimicked our welds in the same spots that had been originally welded to gain some experience before we moved into the new construction facets.
There are several different types of welders depending on the medium being welded. In our case, we were using a Chicago Electric MIG (metal, inert gas) welder, also referred to as a gas metal arc welder.
MIG welders work by a constant feed of wire extruding from the welding gun that is described by Wikipedia as “a welding process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and the metal” and “a shielding gas feeds through the welding gun, which shields the process from contaminants in the air.”
The primary welding style for MIG welders uses a circular motion to slowly melt the steel and when the weld is complete, it resembles a series of circles almost likes a stack of cascading nickels down the welded seam.
With this process in mind, the reinforced portions resembled the aforementioned ‘stack of nickels’ and once complete, were able to move forward on the trailer rebuild. Other parts had to be removed entirely such as the wheel wells that protect the tires, the brake lights and the original gate that was rusted shut.
The removal process used a plasma torch to heat the metal to a high enough temperature that caused the pieces to melt and fall off. While not very precise, a plasma torch allowed us to quickly disassemble parts that we no longer planned on using.
Now that we completed the first half of the project regarding deconstruction, it was time to start the actual construction.
Keep an eye out for the follow-up post to learn more about how we use our new welding knowledge as well as how this project finishes.