OK, cards on the table time. I got fired just a few days before last Xmas, and have been scraping by on charity and a little help from my friends. Well, it seems that the outfit that fired me needed me to do a little couple of things, long story short, I'm back, working for free, sort of indentured, until I repay in sweat what I cost him for my fuckup that got me fired.
Well, historically, I've been a computer geek, but there hasn't been much computer work; but he's in the middle of making a huge weldment, about the size of a cement mixer, TIGging together 2.5" slabs of aluminum. At 300 amps AC. Today, the office manager was at his welding area, and he was trying to show her how to weld stubs of filler wire together so they didn't have to throw away pounds of aluminum filler wire; stick it together and use it like new filler. Duh.
She wasn't able to get a good bond, and gave up in frustration, and when I looked at the boss wistfully,he let me try.
I did it!
The task was to lay two 8" to 10" stubs of filler wire end-to-end, and just fuse them. Lying on a steel table. Well, I wasn't lying on the table, the pieces of filler wire... Well, anyway, I was a real featherfoot on the pedal, and found that there's no (or imperceptibly little) pressure feedback on the pedal; but I got enough of a feel for it that I actually succeeded in joining a couple of pieces of 1/8" aluminum filler rod into a longer piece of filler rod. :-)
And he let me watch him use it, and it was beautiful. At 300 amps, it buzzed loudly as any well-behaved AC arc is wont to do, and the thing that kind of dropped my jaw was how he fed the filler rod into the puddle, like six inches at a shove, and then just held that perfect arc there, the puddle unchanging, while he choked up another six inches on the filler rod, and gave it another shove, making another little ripple in this perfect3/8" fillet bead.
I think if I'm very very polite and subservient and toadyish, there's a possibility he might teach me to weld. I think that would be totally awesome - he's won awards for being the best welder on the west coast for certain tasks; watching him weld is like watching poetry in motion. After a pass, he said, "Looks easy, huh?" I said, "You _make_ it look easy." Anyway, it was way kewl, and I did, in fact, join two pieces of metal together today. :-)