Saturday, February 9 2008
This morning the weather was nice and I was feeling well enough, so I did my first-ever arc welding project. It was a simple job: the insertion of a spring between the muffler and the body frame of the four door Honda Civic (in hopes of suppressing a rumble that happens at around 2000 RPM). In the past I'd wadded fibreglass insulation into that gap, and this had worked for a time, but after a year or so the rumble had returned. With the spring I was hoping for a more permanent fix, but to achieve that I'd have to weld it in place.
The spring I used was an extremely powerful one, and it had come from the car's original exhaust system (these springs go around the bolts holding the various pipes together and keep rattles from being amplified). I had to cut the spring to two-thirds its length to get it to fit, and as I did so I realized it was actually made of brass, not steel. Hmm, I'd never heard of welding brass to steel, but I was too far along in process to quit now! I ran the cables and what not out through the window of the shop, grounded the car frame with the big black wire, put on the auto-darkening mask, and started blasting away. It didn't take long before the whole spring was glowing cherry-red, and I never got the impression that the weld I was making (to the frame, not to the muffler) was actually incorporating the spring. But it nevertheless seemed to hold, and later Gretchen reported that the rattling had disappeared.
Later in the day a snow storm swept through, totally altering the appearance of the landscape and making it seem impossible that earlier today I'd lain on my back in the driveway with a welding gun in my hand.
Meanwhile my illness progressed, and though I had work to do for a looming deadline, I realized at a certain point that it would be impossible for me to do any of it.
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