I came into work 2 hours late Friday as the pain and tingling in my hands kept me up all night Thursday, which was scary. After multiple weeks of grinding steel, it's finally caught up to me. Thankfully the new guy took over the rest of the work on the old dump truck bed is started rebuilding and it looks great. Turns out we went to the same tiny college, at the same time,studying the same courses, and ended up working at the same place 11 years later. Amazing how small the world seems. He got his degree in industrial technology, but I dropped out. He seems like a good person, so I'm happy to work with him.
I ended up moving to the main shop where the other guys and the Amish build new tow trucks. They'd brought in a collosal dump truck with train wheels on it for me to work on. Nothing major, just needs some new panels welded onto the sides of the bed and outside of the tailgate. In order to get the new panels in place, I had to cut away some 1/4 Inch thick steel flat bar from the sides, and the welded safety chains on the back. There were probably 20 cuts that needed to be made in very thick steel, which would have taken me a very long time, and destroyed my hands. Luckily I was given a cutting torch. I'd never used one before, but I had watch a video on it by The Essential Craftsman on YouTube, which gave me the confidence to try. One of the very nice Amish guys showed me how to use it as well.
Within a few minutes of getting it going,I was able to make very clean cuts I very thick steel. I'll admit I burned myself a few times, but I've accepted that. It amazed me how quickly that torch cut through steel. A cut that would have taken multiple minutes and destroyed a cut off wheel took only a few seconds with the torch. I'm no expert, but I can confidently cut and heat with a torch now, which is another step towards building my dreams.
I'm not sure how I'll use this new skill in building The Village, but it can't hurt to have such a skill. I imagine this will come in handy when working with things like a tractor or building heavy braces for things. The torch can cut steel, but also gently heat it and make it easy to bend. If I ever needed to cut something like the bucket of a tractor, the torch is the fastest and easiest way to do so. Cutting metal can be a very difficult and expensive task. Having something that can blow straight through it like a torch can only make life easier. I also believe there is a way to weld with a torch, but need to research this further. I had an idea yesterday to make tools and blades from the leaf springs of my old pickup truck when I go to upgrade the rear suspension, and being able to cut such steel easily will be very helpful. I plan to build a forge at some point and make all my own blades and tools if possible. I've got some forging experience already, so it's quite possible. I may be able to use a cutting torch to forge in a pinch, but I expect that will be quite expensive. I know a biogas forge can be made, as I've seen it done.
So, with my new torch skills, I'm feeling just a little more confident in myself and this project.