The welding test was one of many. I want to say an excess of 10, however, the test supervisor was very difficult to get any info from. Though the structural welders were all told up front what they would be testing on, the pipe welders were NOT. Who knows, maybe some weren’t happy with “non-yardbirds” coming in making $50.00 an hour. Below are a few thoughts on the whole “testing process”.
Whats different than a regular pipe test?
The Welding of US Navy Ships is governed by a great many documents. Many of these documents have requirements that exceed those of the typical ASME Sec. IX test or AWS D1.1 test. The “standard” for qualification of welders can be seen at http://weldingclassroom.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/S9074-AQ-GIB-010-248.pdf . Some of the requirements that may be slightly different include…
Vision testing– All welders must pass a near vision acuity test at a distance of 12”. This was done by placing an eye test chart at the end of a wooden stick and placing it against your chin. A young man failed his 1st one for difficulty distinguishing an O from a Q or vice versa. I gave him a pair of 1.5 Safety Glasses to retest and he passed. His vision was probably OK but he said he assumed that him seeing two of the same letters on the same line wasn’t right so he used the other letter.
The Test Supervisor– He may not do it as he didn’t seem too thrilled about the whole process. He was very proud of the fact that he had been there for 40 years. I myself have been welding about 38 but thought it better not to ask him why he didn’t try his mad welding skills out in any other industries but figured that would be a bad idea!
Tools- You are provided everything you need. Your PPE is provided by your recruiter. Should you not bring all of the PPE provided by your recruiter, you very well may be sent home or postponed till a later date. You cannot use your own!
The hood, gloves, safety glasses etc.. are all provided. The welding lens is a conventional lens. So if all you have struck an arc with for the past few years is an auto lens, be prepared. Pipe welders will be allowed to use a soft hood. The welding hood provided can be seen here. I suggest having a cheater or two in your pocket of different strengths, maybe a #9, and an extra clear lens or two. No need to advertise that you have these!
In the booth you will be provided with all of the tools needed for the test. No need to bring anything with you. The mirror provided is good but I had to take the clear lens out of mine to reduce the number of puddles I was watching!
Restricted access- The 248 standard requires any pipe welders who will be making welds in a location restricted by 12” or less to test in those conditions. This will be a challenge as the restriction is both over your head and on the back side. In addition to the restriction around the weld, the booth itself is small. I would estimate around 4′ x 4′ x4′ or maybe a little more. No standing up for me. I welded the bottom of the coupon from my knees.
Because of the restricted access its difficult to see and requires you to either be able focus your eyes VERY close or use a mirror. The ability to see that close was my problem. My glasses were good for about 8 to 16 inches. My booth was set up with the test on the left wall. This requires you to either use your left hand for the “easy side” or doing that “ape with your arm over your head” maneuver to weld the front. On the back side, the right had worked good if wedging my head back there to see or my left hand if in the front using the mirror. MAKE AS MANY DRY RUNS AS YOU NEED! There was no time limit mentioned and you are getting $50.00 hr for the test. I should have done more!
Tig torch- The welding on a ship is very tight. You will be supplied a bag of tools to use. The tig rig is all set up except for a torch. You will be supplied with a Mini Rig that is a flex-head. Mine had a #5 gas cup with gas lens. I was given 4 pcs of pre-sharpened tungsten. In addition to the torch, you will also be using a remote switch. This will make the holding of the torch or the filler metal a little different. You are supplied some tape to allow you to tape it on the handle but I left mine loose since I had to reposition it often.
Filler metal- You will be given 1/16” diameter ER308L. No 3/32” or 1/8”. It may be unusual for some but understand that the energy required to melt a larger wire would probably cause melt through.
Accelerated Cooling- You can force cool your test weld. AIR ONLY. During the instructions, I asked if wet rags could be used. The guy responded firmly “forced cooling is ok”. Well, he did NOT mean with wet rags. He almost failed me for it. I told him I asked. He didn’t remember but out if the kindness of his heart, he let that slide…though I busted that one anyway.
The Actual Test- The test is a ½” schedule 10 Stainless socket weld. No Practice time is given other than running a bead on a pc of CS flat bar in the booth. The thin pipe coupled with the restricted access and the fact that the amperage is allowed to only be 85 amps makes for a difficult test.
I ordered a pc of pipe the week before leaving in hopes of practicing some before leaving. I even made a mockup to allow for the restrictions. The recruiter indicated that the testing/training was modified to allow for some “practice time” before testing. So I was envisioning a few practice assemblies 1st and then a test at the end of the day. That was NOT the case.
NO Walking the Cup– There was some confusion among some of the recruiter agency people about “Walking the Cup” some thought it was required. That is wrong. It is prohibited and pretty much impossible using the setup on the test. In my case, it wasn’t an issue as I learned to freehand on tests in a restricted setup before learning to walk the cup. But for some, the torch manipulation may be the biggest challenge.
The fitup and tacks– The test pc is in the control of the test supervisor. He never handed it to me to look at the tacks or anything. If you can, look at yours and make sure the inside isn’t already showing “melt through”. Once its in the jig, you can’t see the inside.
The root pass- The root pass did not have any size restrictions. The test supervisor was adamant about no downhill. As far as the size goes, I suggest spending most of the time on the socket face to make sure it melts before moving to the actual root of the joint. An unequal leg size root pass seems to be acceptable as I saw the test supervisor look at one and say it was ok. My 1st weld was rejected at the root pass because the back side was pretty rough. Once I got my vision straightened out, the 2nd one went much smoother but had one small spot of melt through at the bottom which wasn’t seen until he took it out of position. It was probably from me spending too much time there trying to get my big ole melon head where I could see.
The REST OF THE TEST- I would love to be able to comment on the rest of the test(s) but I busted out (Washed out is their term). My 1st one was a VT reject on the root and the 2nd was OK on the outside but showed melt though on the ID. The spot was slightly over 1/32” it appeared but he didn’t let me look at it very long. Should anyone who has gone farther than what I describe have anything to share, PLEASE do.
The END!-FOREVER?- It is my understanding that once you fail, that is it. You cannot come back in 30, 60, 90 days etc.. Understand, that is NOT a requirement of the codes related to welder testing for Navy ship and is decided on by someone else. Could be Ingalls or someone else.