I have a sensitivity to loud sharp noises more than most because I have tinnitus so I wear ear plugs but that gets boring and instead I wear headphones along with my ipod but there’s a problem in that I can’t wear the regular ipod style of headphones as they are round and my ears like most are not shaped like that.  A while back I came across JVC marshmellow in ear headphones for $19 at walmart and decided to give them a try as I needed a replacement pair of headphones after the overpriced ipod ones came apart.

The first thing I noticed was that much of the ambient noise around me was gone just as you would find with regular foam ear plugs so that was a plus but then turning on my ipod I was impressed with the quality of the sound coming from the tiny speaker inside the ear piece and these are definitely smaller than the typical headphone speaker.  Across the board the ranges are good and I have no complaints finding the sound level to be comfortable and enjoyable whether working under a bank of high output fans or working in a construction environment with 35 other people welding and hammering and sawing metal.  My only complain about the marshmellows was the construction which was flimsy at best and required my having to add a dab of super glue where the wire goes into the body of the headphone as the manufacturer secured the line inside the body with a simple single knot.  This knot would move causing a ticking sound that became annoying fast so I added the dab of glue but later encountered the problem of the acid in the glue eating the rubber casing and eventually breaking the wire on one side 4 months after I bouht them so it was time for a new pair.  My next pair lasted 6 months and died by way of a broken wire inside the casing so again it was time for a new pair.

So the day the second pair broke I decided to look for something different but was met with higher prices and having a limited budget I was left with getting the same model when I noticed that JVC had changed the design completely and kept the same price.  The new design incorporates an ergonomic body effectively making the body fit better and become an added shield blocking out even more noise than the previous design.  Another change was the addition of a quarter inch length rubber sleeve for the wires and what seems to be no more knotted line inside the body which could lend to broken wires.    The airport is also moved to the bottom of the body allowing for less potential for blockage which would reduce sound levels from the speaker.  JVC also added an adjustable grommet though its not very secure so for anything other than reading or walking its hit or miss if it works.  Sound levels are also somewhat improved over the original design as well with only a momentary break in it seems for the bass though it could have been the song that was playing on my ipod at the time.

I wear my JVC headphones when I’m stocking at work and when I’m welding in school and it has been a great hearing protection, the nice thing about them is that it doesn’t block all sound so you can hear when someone is talking to you or when equipment is moving near by and machinery is running.  The headphones block just enough noise to make you comfortable but still safe so long as you don’t crank up the sound level to where your just being stupid.



With the economy being as bad as it is in most of the country it is surprising to find a welding materials supplier that takes upwards of two weeks to get materials to a customer when the weekly bill tends to be $2,000 – $3,500 a pop but that seems to be the case with the company that supplies my school with metal and consumables and replacement parts.  Most businesses would have dropped a slow supplier like this on the first or second time it happened but not my school so either they are fine with the slow boat from China delivery or they themselves are taking their time in getting the check over to the supplier which makes for a bad experience in learning how to weld aluminum right now.

Recently I had satellite tv installed at my home ( dish network for those interested ) and blindly trusting that the installer who had been with the company for 3 years knew what he was doing I opted to relax inside the house as I hadn’t slept in 24 hours.  After 6 hours of delays and having to get spare parts and waiting on help he had the system installed and out the door at 10pm on a job that should have taken no more than 2 hours tops and I know this because I installed for dish network for 6 years.  Two weeks pass and I finally get the time to go out and take a look at his work and find a rather nasty steaming pile of shit for workmanship and quality along with some damage to the house…to say the least I was not happy so I went and got the camera and after taking some pics I made a phone call to dish network about the problem.

To shorten the rest of the story I am currently waiting on a manager to come out and take a look and get the system put in right, while I can fix it all on my own I wont be going that route as I am a customer and I should not have to do that and have a reasonable expectation that it should have been done right to begin with by a qualified and trained professional.   The same quality of workmanship that I exercised while installing satellite television is what I am bringing to welding and when I installed satellite television I did a damned good job of making my work look spotless and clean.  I would go to the length of hiding cables where it could be hidden without causing any damage and leave no more than 5 feet of cable showing between the dish and the grounding / wall penetration and secured properly through the home.  The dish was always placed to where it would not be an eyesore unless there was no other option and only after the customer approved and never was a cable brought through a wall without having a wall plate installed.

If you can look at your weld or whatever work you do and actually feel proud of what you have done and confident that you’ve done good work then feel good about it but if you can look at your work and it looks like crap and wouldn’t hold the weight of a poodle then you need to fix what your doing or get a new job and fix your attitude  because crappy work will not keep you in work for long and can get someone hurt or killed.

When I started welding school back in September I started out with stick welding basics and one of the things I had heard I believe in a book was that right handed welders go from right to left so that’s what I had been doing with stick and mig and tig for the last 6 months no problem.  Well when I started the advanced stick mod for structural welding I went to do the horizontal weld on a 3/8 plate with a backing strap and a 70 degree total bevel and I just could not get the bead to lay right and be consistent or anything and it was bad enough to look like I had just run my first bead ever.  This went on for three days until I found myself angry enough that I ran a bead from left to right and I’ll be damned if it didn’t go considerably smoother so I did the rest of the plate that way and it turned out pretty good.

So I went to my instructor ( by now you know what he will have said based on my previous post ) telling him of what I had found and all he could do was look at his right hand and do a straight line right to left then left to right and shrug at which point I started to wonder why I was going in debt to this school and why he was the head of the welding department so I turned around and left and went back to working on a new plate.  Later I posted a question about this on a forum I frequent to learn more about welding and I got some deer caught in the headlight responses and total confusion as well because apparently I was doing something wrong with one statement being that I was messing with body mechanics.

Either way I’ve changed several aspects of how I weld stick and I think it may change with mig and tig, as to what has caused it I can speculate but thats about it.

One thing that I’m learning is to never rely on your instructor to help you figure out a problem.  Over the last 7 months I have run into many problems and at first my instructor was helpful with explaining what I was doing wrong but as of December he pretty much turned into unhelpful and would come look at what I was having problems with and would run a bead or two and be surprised that he was having the same problem then say ” I don’t know ” and move on to something else.  Some of the problems that I have had I’ve been able to work out with the help of folks over at http://weldingweb.com/ while the rest I have done on my own though it has taken me longer than I like but that’s how it is when your fresh into something that’s uncharted territory.  So what ever you do work through the problem yourself first and ask help from others second and your instructor last but throughout all of it work on the problem yourself even when asking for help from others.

So for the last near four weeks I have been working on structural stick welding in the 2, 3, 4, and 6G positions with plate in 3/8 and 1 inch thick plates with 45 degree total bevel.  The 3/8 plates were easier to do though since this is advanced stick welding I did overhead for the first time because I never finished the basic stick book and I have to say that my overhead came out really good.  The longest parts of the process with the one inch thick plates was having to cut prep stack and tack together 2 3/8 plates with a 1/4 inch plate on each side and a 1/4 inch backing strip, doing this would take about an hour to two depending on how well the band saw actually cut the plates.  One of the problems that I have had to deal with on the 1 inch plate has been arc blow which I never experienced before on any other type of welding but I was able to cure the problem only after going through it for one plate and a week and half by moving the ground clamp to the work piece.  What lead to the problems with arc blow was the addition of a new welding jig to the table made of 8 inch, 6 inch, and 4 inch pipe replacing an older and less stable and heavily damaged jig and for some reason the pipe seems to be playing havoc with the current flow through the table.

Another problem I had to deal with was really thick slag which was so thick that I had to use a pick to get it out of some spots and had to beat the heck out of the beads overall to get it clean.  Ultimately the thick slag was corrected by cutting down the heat from 120 to 110 but only after taking it all the way up to 150 which is what the parameters called for in the hobart book.  At this point I’m working on my vertical up doing the Z weave and I’m really happy with it as vertical has been my arch nemesis with the only weave I have been able to do being the ladder or open box weave.  Getting the arc blow and the Z weave down and a correct work angle I have been able to avoid having to grind out any more beads to clean out slag which let me tell you if you have to do it four times on a piece you’ll get it figured out real fast so learn from your mistakes.

I haven’t posted much mostly because I am not as adept at juggling a full time job plus school full time plus a family on top of taking care of my father’s house.  Now as far as welding go’s its a mixed bag of results with my doing well with flux core mig and regular mig and tig but stick is still a bit rough on the vertical up work and overhead is still new to me.  What I’m lacking experience in through school is aluminum welding and right now it would be good to have this experience so that I can get out of working for walmart sooner but walmart is another story.

Last week we had a tour of  Liebherr’s North American facility ( the only one in the US ) http://www.liebherr.us/us-me/en/products_us-me.asp?menuID=106335!2044-0 and I was impressed at how clean and orderly the factory is but a little bothered by the lack of a work force so its obvious that even though the company is hiring that the economy is not improving as well as anyone would like but it is good news that they are hiring and orders are up by 12 vehicles for this year.  Job wise I have about three dozen local companies to choose from in a variety of welding disciplines to choose from but I will have to narrow the field to acceptable pay and acceptable benefits.  Another company we will be touring soon is Northrup Grumman and hopefully BAE systems both of which are also good companies that pay well and have good benefits but the working conditions are not as nice or clean as Liebherr’s.

I think that ideally I would like to get into a job / career doing tig work because I really like the greater degree of control over what can be found with mig and stick and believe me stick is hard with a fresh rod.  The biggest problem with tig though is it tends to be a bike or car shop type of job and those never pay very well unless you own and then its a feat or famine type of deal and I just don’t want to have that or deal with the tax issues of owning my own business.