The steel tubes that we use to make the spars and outriggers begin their lives as a flat sheet of steel that is then rolled into a tube. This process gets things close but usually not perfect, so we have to go back and do a little work to get things where we need them to be.
When we weld these tubes together, we need everything to line up perfectly so that the welds can penetrate evenly throughout the metal. If we have gaps of different sizes then we can run into problems when welding.
We came up with this idea to help move the steel so that we can take these two slightly different tubes and make them match. Basically, we weld a bracket on one side of the gap with a bolt and threads on the other. This will push one side in as we turn the bolt until we get it where we need it to be.
Once we get it close enough, we do a quick tack weld which will hold everything in place until we can go back and do the full structural welds. We also go back and remove the brackets and grind the old welding slag off of the surface metal so that everything is smooth.
This process helps us line things up so we aren’t trying to weld a circle to an oval. Even slight variances can make a gap big enough to be a problem so this is something that we need to get right. We are making great progress as we get this second tripod base put together. We hope to see it completed in the coming months.