This year, I was motivated by Alvin and the Chipmunks to revive this holiday exercise to the tune of their Grammy-award-winning song “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” My apologies to Alvin, Simon, Theodore, and Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. (a.k.a. David Seville). None to Congress. (more...)
Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category
When I visited Lambeau Field, home of storied NFL franchise Green Bay Packers last month to check out the on-going structural renovations that have been taking place over the last several months, I was asked repeatedly versions of the same question: “Is it weird to be here as a Bears fan?” (more...)
By: Tim Heston
Thirty-nine years ago yesterday Ed Kittelson--with grinder in hand--spent his first day working at a fab shop in Anoka, Minn., northwest of Twin Cities. It was a homecoming of sorts. His parents had moved south to escape the cold, but Kittelson never felt quite at home. So the day after high school graduation, he packed his 1971 Chevy Vega hatchback and, long hair and all, headed back north to Anoka.
For years he spent time on the floor working the fabrication equipment of the day, punching sheet metal using a traditional duplicator stylus. He climbed the ladder to night shift supervisor, and then moved on to other manufacturers, working in sales and shop management; some jobs were great, others weren’t. In the early 1990s he found a two-person fab shop for sale, and he needed a $50,000 down payment on the loan to buy it. Where did he get the money?
By: Eric Lundin
It wasn’t that long ago that Alessandro Volta built the first battery. In 1800 he made a stack of metal plates, alternating zinc and copper, with each pair separated by layers of cloth soaked in brine. Today’s batteries are more sophisticated but use the same principle to create electromotive force, or EMF. The basic unit of EMF is the volt, named in Volta’s honor. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
The fun thing about metal fabrication is how a fabricator's vocation can also be part of his or her fascination. Some use their welding skills to create art. Others use their metal bending and finishing skills to restore old automobiles. In one instance, a metal fabricator has even applied his metalworking skills to guitar-making.
Brad Ufford's work has sparked the fascination of a whole town, if not a whole generation of people. The fabricator, who works in the R&D department of Sukup Manufacturing Co. (http://www.sukup.com) in Clear Lake, Iowa, did most of the work on the new artwork anchoring Three Stars Plaza. By the way, those stars would be Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson—the three music legends who died in a plane crash after wrapping up a concert at the town's Surf Ballroom on a chilly night on Feb. 3, 1959.
The artwork is designed to mimic a central spindle with three stacked records. However, these records are not made of vinyl but of seven-gauge stainless steel, with a combined weight of 3,900 lbs., and a 15-ft., 24-in.-diameter steel spindle that weighs 1,600 lbs.
Ufford said one of the most interesting parts of the project was all of the gas tungsten arc welding that was required. Even with the stainless steel discs suspended in the air, the designers and project managers wanted the records to be cosmetically perfect, which meant no blemishes. So he had to work and etch out all of the blue marks left on the stainless steel finish after the welding.
Ufford doesn't think about the work as being that special. Sure, it's the focal point for a town so closely linked with the legendary musicians, but from a fabricating standpoint, it's just another project. In fact, Ufford said he gets more of a kick working on his automobile restorations.
"Buddy Holly is a little bit before my time," he said with a laugh.
It's before my time as well, but the music still remains pretty important to me. It's an extension of my childhood—always listening to my dad as he played his 1950s tunes even into adulthood. He never really progressed musically with the times, but that was OK. He didn't miss much in the 1970s.
Today that rockabilly sound lives on in bands like Jason and the Scorchers and the Reverend Horton Heat. They aren't household names, but they and other bands are keeping that original sound alive—albeit at a slightly faster pace. A tribute album to Buddy Holly was released in 2011, again proving Don McLean may have been a little premature in singing that Feb. 3 was the day the music died.
(If you don't like artist interpretations of original music, you might want to steer clear of this CD. In fact, Paul McCartney's performance of "It's So Easy" might scare you away from tribute albums forever. Sorry, Sir Paul.)
Once again, a metal fabricator's work makes a big impact on a community. Ufford and Sukup Manufacturing can feel confident that their contributions won't fade away.
By: Eric Lundin
It has been nearly two years since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico. For most of us, the story slipped off our radar a few weeks after the rig exploded (April 20, 2010); the story made headlines again when the well was capped temporarily nearly three months later (July 15, 2010) and again when it was shut down permanently (Sept. 19, 2010).
What has happened since then? The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force continues to assess and mitigate the effects of oil contamination along the beaches of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The analysis seems well-organized, breaking down the contaminated areas into three zones—subtidal, intertidal, and supratidal—and providing separate reports on the effects on fish, birds, turtles, and other wildlife. So far, so good. But what about the other cleanup?
By: Dan Davis
I've been in metal fabricating shops where company managers are open with information and make it a point to communicate regularly with their employees. Boy, does that make a difference.
Even in the most trying of times—the first half of 2009, for example—this type of commitment kept everyone on the same page. As incoming revenues shrunk, the team knew that everyone, including those who sat in the front office, was going to share in the sacrifice. That meant a reduction in work hours for some and temporary furloughs for others. Those companies that did what they could to soften the blow for their workforces bounced back stronger in 2010 than their competitors, who were scrambling to replace laid-off employees that decided to search for greener pastures.
By: Vicki Bell
Earlier today I made the final edits to an article to be published next week (Oct. 11) on thefabricator.com. Written by welding instructor and quality manager Carl Smith, a frequent contributor to the Web site, this article, "Don’t junk it; make it better," is about welding to extend equipment life and improve products—in this case, using aluminum bronze welding wire.
While the technology and applications described in the article are interesting, what captured my attention is the overall concept of taking something that might be considered old, defective, and obsolete and making it useful for years to come. In a sense, some students in South Whidbey, Washington, are doing just that as they work on a rather unique project. (more...)
By: Eric Lundin
I saw a bold headline a few days ago: “Why McDonald’s wins in any economy.” As far as I am concerned, this is more of an advertisement for an article than a headline, and I am wary of flashy advertising, but it lured me in anyway. I figured a small investment, a few minutes of my time, might pay off in providing some perspective for you and your business. Fabricating metal has little to do with selling burgers and fries, but I thought the article might have a few strategic nuggets that apply to any business. (more...)