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As Time Goes By

A pictorial history of welding as seen through the pages of the Welding Journal

It has been a long, long while from 1919 to 1994. Despite the wars, one of the most severe market
crashes the world has ever seen, the landing of man on the moon, periods of enormous prosperity, the
invention of electron and laser beam technologies, and production lines where robots help manufacture
millions of automobiles, the welding industry kept rising to the occasion. The Welding Journal covered
these times through the editorial leadership of such individuals as Bill Spraragen, Bonney Rossi, Ted
Schoonmaker and Jeff Weber. This being the 75th birthday of the American Welding Society, what
better time to show you what things looked like during the roaring twenties, the depression years, and
WWII - "way back when."
The following photographs come from past issues of the Welding Journal, from 1922 to the present.

Butt welds and sleeve welds were used in the fabrication of


Philadelphia Electric Co.'s 2200-ft-long steam line in 1922. Electric welding (shown left) was used on a
33 sleeve welds for the flange joints, while the 92 butt joints were made using oxy-acetylene welding.
The entire line consisted of 12-in.-diameter steam line and a 3-in.-diameter water return line. The
chemistry of the pipe included 0.0 percent 7 carbon, 0.30 percent manganese, 0.045 percent sulfur, and
0.100 percent phosphorus. The electrodes contained 0.011 percent carbon, 0.032 percent sulfur, and
0.025 percent oxygen.

In the early 1920's the Pressure Vessel Committee of the American


Society of Mechanical Engineers evaluated numerous methods for testing tanks made in the shop. On
some tanks, hand hammers were used, as specified in the Code. The blows were struck 3 in. apart and
within 2 or 3 in. of the joint at the rate of 50 to 60 per minute. A 12 lb sledge, having a 24 inhandle, was
used on some of the tanks. In the end result, it was found that the hammer test was only effective on
tanks having exceptionally defective welds.

An early structural design, known as the Ewertz type of electric arc welded
vessel, was used to compare the relative costs and strengths of welded vs. riveted shops. This picture,
taken in 1924, shows a 400% overload on a Ewertz type of welded vessel. At the time, E.H. Ewertz, the
inventor of the design, was president of the American Welding Society.

The sign speaks for itself in this gathering of welding


people in 1924. This assemblage was about to board two buses for tours of three facilities in Cleveland.
The first was the local utility where they witnessed the oxyacetylene welding of a 16-in.-diameter highpressure steam line. The next stop was a tour of the Collingswood Shops of the New York Central
Railroad. Third on the list was a visit to The Lincoln Electric Co. The editor of the November 1924
journal noted: "This plant is taking its own 'medicine' in that it is using welding wherever possible in the
construction of its motors and generators."

In 1929, pipelines were welded using the oxyacetylene


process. The necessary cylinders of oxygen and acetylene are shown here being delivered by what
could very well have been one of our nation's earliest welding distributors.

At the annual convention of the American Institute of Steel


Construction in 1930, an automatic welding machine was demonstrated which had been designed
originally for "battledeck" steel construction. At the time, it was inferred that such equipment could also
be used effectively in the fabrication of floors in building construction. (Left)

Welding took to the stage at the AWS 1933 national fall meeting in
Detroit with the presentation of a four-act play, The Prosperity Process. Sponsored jointly by AWS and
the International Acetylene Association, this industrial drama drew 1,600 attendees. One critic
described the play as "stirring." In one scene, which took place in a weld shop, a complete
demonstration of welding, cutting and weld testing was given on "stage right."

Back in the old days, a fierce competition developed between


the manufacturers and vendors of electric arc and oxyacetylene welding equipment. Here we have
welds bent to elongations of 30%. The two specimens on the left were made by oxyacetylene welding,
while the specimens on the right represent electric arc welds.

Regarded as a "first" at the time, three 10,000ton cargo ships were launched simultaneously at Todd Shipbuilding Corp., South Portland, ME, in 1942.
W.H. Hobart, vice president of Hobart Brothers Co., attributed the feat to three things. First, the steels
did not have to be overlapped as they are when riveting is used, thus saving a great deal of steel.
Second, he said, new welders could be trained much faster than new riveters. And third, welding lends
itself more readily to production line assembly.

During World War II, American industry


covered numerous fronts. Here, welding is busy at work on a mass production line to make LeTourneau
Carryall scrapers.

During the post-World War II years, all of the


large factories had converted from defense to commercial products once again. Here two men with gun
welding machines at the Fisher Body Division of General Motors in Detroit weld the component parts
into a strong, shock-resisting body.

The Nautilus, the first of the United States Navy's fleet of atomic
submarines, was launched at the Electric Boat Division shipyard in Groton, Conn., in 1954. Heavily
welded from stem to stern, the Nautilus is shown here being christened by first Lady Mamie

Eisenhower. Standing by is John Jay Hopkins, chairman and president of General Dynamics
Corporation.

In this 1962 photograph, three electron beam welds are being made
simultaneously in a hard-vacuum chamber for the welding of steel and exotic metals for use on the B-70
bomber and supersonic aircraft. The picture was taken at North American Aviation in Los Angeles.

A technician, protected by a pressurized space suit, welds stainless steel


pieces with an experimental electron beam gun inside a space chamber at Hamilton Standard Division,
United Aircraft Corp. The same conditions one would experience at altitudes of 380,000 ft. were
maintained within the chamber.

Welded stainless steel reached a high point in the


early 1960's when Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. erected the famous St. Louis Arch on the banks of
the Mississippi River. The main metal in this structure is Type 304 stainless steel.

Underwater weld repair had become an interesting


business in 1977. Here a welder/diver for the British Oxygen Co. Sub-Ocean Services team, after
emerging from the water depths, had to be undressed quickly and brought back to 30 ft. of pressure in a
decompression chamber. He had to remain in the chamber for 35 minutes. This was done in order to
avoid the crippling "bends."

Certainly the most publicized welding event


since World War II had to be the construction of the 798-mile-long Alyeska pipeline, stretching from
Prudhoe Bay in the north of Valdez in the south. Already concerned about the effect this pipeline might
have on Alaska's wildlife, the environmentalists were also worried about stories of "thousands of
defective welds" in the 48-inch-diameter Alaska pipeline. The welds in question were not defective; they
had just not been inspected properly. All told, 2700 tons of weld consumables were required to make
the 100,000 welds in this massive project. The shielded manual arc electrode of choice was an E-8010G filler metal from Thyssen in Germany. The main line pipe was produced in Japanese steel mills.

Austenitic stainless steel was the metal of choice as the membrane


material for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks Newport News Shipbuilding welded in 1979. These
"waffle" membranes were called for in the Technigaz design from France. Some 30 miles of gas
tungsten arc welding was used for the membranes of each of the three tankers build by Newport News.
The filler metal was Type 308L stainless steel. Some 150 Cyber-Tig power sources from Hobart
Brothers Co. were used on this project.

In 1922, a pipe laying crew sets out for a day's work.


Pipeline activity had undoubtedly been triggered by the discovery in 1918 and 1919 of the Panhandle
natural gas field in Potters County, TX and the Hugoton field in southwest Kansas. The Panhandle field
contained 1.6 million acre. By 1920, the first commercially produced pipe having electric welded
longitudinal seams made its debut in the marketplace.

In the 1920's, electric arc welding was starting to be used in the


field to make repairs on costly equipment. In this picture a welder used bare wire steel electrodes to
make a repair in a steam shovel dragline bucket. The bare electrode remained the main tool for electric
welding until the early 1930s when it started to be replaced by the covered or shielded manual arc
electrode.

By 1984, the self-shielded version of flux cored arc


welding was becoming more evident in the erection of high-rise buildings throughout the country. In the
field, it was proving to be very competitive with gas-shielded welding processes. Perched high atop the
Georgia-Pacific headquarters in Atlanta, a welder is shown depositing a critical structural joint. The
process was the Innershield method from The Lincoln Electric Co.

By 1988, robots had become familiar sights on automobile


manufacturing lines all over the world. The squadron of robots seen here is used to assist in the
resistance spot welding of car bodies. What had started out as a tool-handling contraption was now a
precise instrument capable of vision, touch sensing, and coordinated motion. Robotics is also being
used more and more in arc welding, both in large and small manufacturing plants.

An important step in this country's attempt to curb


acid rain took place on November 15, 1990, when President Bush signed new amendments into the
Clean Air Act that would force the owners of 110 coal-burning power plants using high-sulfur coal to
generate electricity to reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide from their plants. Shown here is the flue gas
desulfurization outlet duct at Lower Colorado Authority Fayette Power Project 3. The size of a
gymnasium, the interiors of this structure were lined with 50,000 sq. ft. of Hastelloy Alloy C-22 sheet
panels. In a technique known as "wall papering," gas metal arc welding is often used in the shortcircuiting transfer mode to attach the panels to the walls of the ductwork.

In 1984, Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya of the Soviet


Union used a hand-held electron beam gun to conduct welding, brazing and spraying experiments in
space. To perform these experiments, she spent three hours "extravehicular" from Salyut 7, her
spaceship. General Vladimir Dzhanibekov, a fellow cosmonaut, followed her. The EB gun used for this
particular job by engineers at the EO. Paton Electric Welding Institute in Kiev, ukraine. In 1991,
interviews with Boris Paton, the president of the institute, and Gen. Dzhanibekov were published in the
Welding Journal.

In 1976, an unusual facility was set up outside of


Charleston, SC to weld the 5083 aluminum liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks for a fleet of ships being
constructed by General Dynamics Corp. in Quincy, Mass. The storage tanks were fabricated according
to the Kvaerner-Moss design out of Norway. The plate for this project was rolled at Alcoa's Davenport,
Iowa, Works. At the time, it was considered the largest aluminum plate order in Alcoa's history. The
main process of construction was as metal arc welding. After each tank was completed, it was moved
out of its individual fabrication bay and hoisted onto an awaiting barge for shipment up the coast to
Quincy.

Space Shuttle Endeavor lifts off on mission STS-57. On


this mission, pilot Brian Duffy soldered 46 connections on a printed circuit board. Welding's biggest role
in the fabrication of the Space Shuttle was in the welding of the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel
tanks. The welds were performed using the variable polarity plasma process from Hobart Brothers co.
Each external tank of 2219 aluminum required 36,000 linear inches of weld in order to join the 138
separate sections of metal together.

Hortonsphere was the name give to the


storage vessels weld fabricated by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. These Hortonspheres at the Gulf Oil
Corp. in Port Arthur, TX, completed in 1938, came in two sizes. One is 35 ft, 3 in., and the other 22 ft, 3
in., in diameter. Their respective storage capacities are 4000 and 1000 barrels.

Without warning and with a report


that was heard for at least a mile, the deck and sides of the S.S. Schenectady, a World War II tanker,
fractured just aft of the bridge superstructure on January 16, 1943, while tied up at pier on Swan Island
in Oregon. The shop had been launched from a kaiser shopyard two weeks before in Portland, Ore. The
vessel was repaired and returned to service.

In this photograph taken from the September 1959 issure of the


Welding Journal, a plasma gun is shown spraying aluminum oxide to form a thick coating on a shape
simulating a missle nose cone. The article describing this technology was authored by James A.
Browning who was the president of Thermal Dynamics Corp., Hanover, NH.

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