Here’s what welders do at a party.

While strolling around at Performance World, I bumped into John Edwards of Dream Machines (John was the Builder of the Year for 2010). As we glanced around the show, we noticed a bit of a crowd gathered over at the Lincoln Welders booth. ‘Sheep Mode’ kicked in and we went to check out whatever it was that was so exciting… turns out it was a video game type welding simulator that Lincoln brings to shows and even shops for training in MIG welding.

A welding helmet houses virtual reality goggles, so that when you drop the helmet as if to start welding, you see a virtual landscape of a job site. There are TV screens hooked up so that passersby can see what you’re seeing. John and I decided that a Weld-Off was in order, just like the good old days.

I decided to kick off the show, and after John mentioned to the Lincoln guy in charge of the simulator that I had never welded before, he put the helmet on for me. Nice touch. As you pick up the welding gun, it appears as if floating on the screen. There is a coupon (two pieces of “steel” set up at 90 degrees) in real life, held on a sort of arm, and you have to “weld” the pieces together. To give you a bit of a guide, there are some indicators on-screen which tell you if you’re in the right range in terms of how far away you are from the material and your angle. This was especially helpful since I have “never welded before”. On my second run, John thought he would be a wise guy and hold my cable while I was welding… turns out that was my winning pass!

I’d like to thank John for the challenge, and offer some consolation: this was a video game, after all, and I hear that video games are difficult for the older generation to keep track of.  It’s also not representative of the work John does in real life – he’s a top-notch fabricator, as the Builder of the Year title supports.

One comment

  1. DW says:

    Email I just received from John:

    “Hey there young man:
    Now that you mention it, when we bumped into one another, it did look like you were “strolling”.
    When the Lincoln rep. outfitted you with the helmet, I thought this would have been just like at work. Don’t you have a welders assistant who puts on your helmet and gloves, sets up the machine and places the tig rod in your hand?
    I wasn’t trying to be a wise guy, I noticed your speed was too fast and tried to assist and slow the young guy down. Probably why your travel speed was perfect and yes, matter of fact I think that was your high score.”

    Thanks John, sorry for speaking too quickly – a sign of the times, I suppose… no respect for elders any more eh? 😉

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