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The Old Welder Comics shop tips safety and shop stories by Frank Tabor Man at welding supply counter.  Salesman offering a welding helmet with a gas-mask.

Common Scents
in The Shop

By Frank C. Tabor

In an issue or so back, I wrote in NMW about the "Green Smoke Caper". in which I accidentally caused hot steel to come in contact with ancient canned milk. That equation created a stench that only a polecat could live with.

Similar adventures come to mind as ~ think back over the years. Many assorted scents are turned loose by welding, depending, of course, on the particular substance that comes in contact with the metal you are heating with the arc of torch.

Springtime triggers a specific set of stenches on the hapless welder. The drying weather reminds farmers of needed repairs on their machinery. Your hot arc releases the pungent aroma of fried manure. Mmmm - mm. Cow pies, anyone? (NMW Editor's note: Do french fries come with that?) Even though the visible evidence is gone, the pew remains in the pores of the metal, patiently awaiting to be released by your welds.

Next door to our shop, the proprietor of the meat and grocery store had periodic problems with his meat grinder. What additional ingredient he attempted to add to his hamburger will always remain a mystery. but every six months or so he'd come trotting in carrying the auger from the grinder. Whatever he was grinding was putting enough loads on the auger to break it, and it was our job do put it back together. The shop welders did everything but draw straws to avoid inheriting the welding. If you've never savored the aroma of frying bits of long-dead meat, you have really missed an exhilarating experience.

I have always hated chewing gum. ~ never could see any reason for extra chewing unless a good steak was on the scene. What really bothers me is that many gum chewers will put a used cud anyplace to get rid of it. Show me a counter top or restaurant stool anywhere that IS gum-wad free on the underside, and I'll send you a coupon good for a fur-lined syrup pitcher at your nearest crockery store. Gum chewers in the shop tend to fling it down on the floor, where it sticks to the underside of plates and castings. Add to the burning gum stink the rubber bands that string out from your gloves when you pick up the heated metal, and you have a lovely situation. indeed.

Our shop would often buy from traveling metal merchants if a usable item was available. We purchased fragments of used steel plates and assorted sizes of steel piping ~ remember one length of eight inch steel pipe in the alley next to the shop, where we stored plates and bars. An end of the pipe was elevated by a pile of debris, and angled upward about fifteen or twenty feet from the back door of a restaurant. Over the door was a fan. But instead of being an exhaust fan, it drew fresh air into the kitchen. I was burning on a big plate one day when Buck, one of the shop mechanics, came out dragging a cutting torch. He needed a section of that pipe for a shop project. Measuring off what he wanted, he popped his torch. I glanced up a few seconds later, and what happened next could only occur when fate sometimes organizes an exact set at circumstances.

The hot day had created an updraft in the pipe. Some kind of swamp creature had built a nest in that pipe. Perhaps a Gillygaloo - a bird that flies backward to keep the wind out of its eyes - had died in there. When Buck started to burn, a huge puff of coal-black smoke poured out of the end of the pipe, headed straight for the fan over the kitchen door, and disappeared inside! Fortunately for me. I saw the smoke and didn't get a whiff. So, I have no idea of what succulent aroma it carried, but it couldn't have been too mouth-watering because the restaurant cook came out of the back door like a turpentined cuckoo.

I often ponder back over the years at these amusing incidents. These are the times that help cushion the burns, scrapes, and bruises commonly found in the ranks of the metalworking trade.     *NMW

* Originally published in Northwest Metalworker

Comic of the day! Don't miss it!

Large multistory building with sign, Locomotive Cowcatcher Sharpening Corporation on side, large parking lot and employees entering. . .
"Yes, and that ain't all. They also run a full time help wanted ad in the paper."

Locomotive Cowcatcher Sharpening Corporation ????

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