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Story of Developing skills - TIG welding

Updated: May 3, 2020

When we focus so much on earning large profits in business that we end up compromising quality & skills to achieve so, Find out how I challenged these things during my initial years giving more importance to nurture my abilities than bank balance.

Welding a rear frame of BratBob build

It was the second year of #jdcustomco, the time I was building motorcycles at my father’s engineering workshop. I used to find any empty corner where I would place the bike and do the build, mostly I had to shift the bike around every week.

Before working on Baroda Bobber I had never tried TIG welding, I was only familiar with Arc welding. So all work related to TIG welding had to be outsourced.

I really wanted to build an exhaust for Baroda Bobber which could highlight the philosophy of material(Steel) and the processes(Bending & Welding) in the form of final finish.”

I was obsessed with achieving high quality welding lines which look beautiful in its own form and does not need any grinding. I had figured out the design, material and bends for the exhaust, next part was welding the bends together to create a complete form. Even though my father’s workshop was well equipped, it lacked the TIG so I never had a chance to experiment.

So, I went to my source who was one of the best welder’s in the city and explained him what I wanted to achieve as a final finish of welding and he tried something on a sample piece as per my instructions. Unfortunately, he did not achieve anything even close to what I wanted and gave ridicules excuses even though he was certified welder! He also explained that the results I am looking for are not possible. So, I returned to the workshop with disappointment.

After few days of brainstorming and observing tons of YouTube videos and forums I decided to try it on my own. I found a company which was renting TIG welding machines, but it was too expensive.

Despite of this I decided to rent the machine for a month and do it myself even though this would mean loosing money on the build." 

The owner of the rental company was impressed with me and helped me in figuring out few other things like gas bottles at cheap rates and some advanced tools etc. I settled everything in one corner at my dad’s workshop and started practicing all day. My daily routine for a month was sitting in a corner welding, observing, learning and repeating, I was breathing argon those days. All the workers at the workshop were talking about me wasting the time and few even advised me that I should sit on the office chair rather than involving myself into laborious work. Though my father never said a word and allowed whatever I wanted to do but at the same time he was worried if I’ll ever achieve the results I was looking for!

"After all the efforts I had not achieved the quality I wanted, but was satisfied with some results. I knew that it takes years to master the skills or in some cases a life span to achieve the vision."

During the learning phase of fabrication & the time of my first few projects, I did not have much of skill sets of doing everything on own in such a good way so I was relaying half on my dad’s fabrication worker or any other sources who were in the field for more than 10 years. But by the time, I observed and realized one thing that all of those guys were not as visionary as me or had seen very little outside their circles compare to what I was exploring personally or via social media. So obviously their thoughts and ideas or work techniques were limited to what they do on regular basis or what their Guru’s taught them.

Sometimes they were able to deliver what I really vision for but most of the times the answers were its not possible or they end up making something which was not as perfect as what I have imagined!

"Also, when you really don’t know anything about the methods or techniques of doing something, you can’t push or guide someone to do it better."

So, I decided then that I have to get completely into building everything so I can understand the processes and techniques in depth which can help me in future as well as I can guide my workers or anyone to extend the limit of building something.

That was the time I was working on Baroda Bobber build. So, I experimented and learned many things on own during that build. After the positive response of Baroda Bobber, I decided to explore as much techniques and methods on own and TIG was the one thing I still wanted to experiment and learn because was not totally satisfied with the results I got with Baroda Bobber. So, I went to the same rental company who provided me machine before and explored few machines but everything was out of budget as I was mostly losing money on builds due to experiments and learning and timelines etc! So, I dropped the idea of buying a machine and started working on next project.

When my father got to know about this, he showed me the 30 years old welding machine lying in scrap at the workshop. That machine was big heavy metal box full of oil & copper coils inside.

"Dad told me that if I can dismantle the machine and sell it in scrap on own then I can use that money to buy a new welding machine."

Now it was not easy task as it seems as you have to take out all the oil & junk than remove the coils one by one made out of hundreds of copper wires, clean and burn each wire to remove all the impurity and then those wires are valuable for scrap. But I got good value out of everything and I bought my first TIG/ARC 200AMP welding machine and all the necessary equipment by adding some of my money. I started practicing & improvising whenever I get the time and explored few new things.

All the welders in city were using mixed argon gas while to get perfect quality weld one needs to use pure 100% argon of which no one was aware about. I also experimented with some advanced gas lens and back purging method building exhausts and results were so satisfying.

Today the experienced certified city welder whom I used to go before, happily using pure argon and few other tools as per my references and getting better results than before. It’s just we focus so much on earning large profits in business that we compromise quality and skills to achieve so, which is why we are far behind in terms of product quality and craftsmanship than any other country. I have still not mastered the skill of TIG welding but I am observing and improvising day by day and its helping me to reach my vision.

 "Also, I realized that quality does not only comes from one’s
 craftsmanship but also comes from one’s cleanliness of the processes
 and equipment."

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