I recently inspected a cell tower structural mod as the CWI. There was a series of welds that failed due mainly to a limited access condition. There I was, 200 ft. up on a tower, standing on a 2″ wide piece of angle iron, staring at the weld totally oblivious to my surroundings, the welding dork in me had taken over. Why did this weld look so bad? What was the welder struggling with? What would I have done in his shoes? How can I make sure this never happens to my crew? I couldn’t help myself, I interrogated the welding crew once I got back on the ground, respectfully as I could.
There were multiple contributing factors, including a poorly designed weld joint provided by the Engineer, galvanize coating on existing members that simply could not be removed in some spots, and of course the fact that we must perform these code approved welds at heights most have never been. Driving home that day I realized the value of being certified in multiple processes, something I require of my welders, and the importance of stocking multiple methods in your welding truck. Yes, the welder had the deck stacked against him with all of the contributing factors, but if the welder (and his Management) had a suitcase with XLR-8 FCAW in addition to his Lincoln Excalibur E7018 most all of his problems would have gone away.