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"Built Dam Strong!"

06 December 2013

Making lollipops, or my least favorite job at work.

Every couple of months I have to do something I'd rather not do. Ever. But it needs to be done so I don't complain about it (while at work). What does that have to do with lollipops? Read on to find out!

DISCLAIMER: WEAR A DANG RESPIRATOR THAT IS METAL FUME RATED BEFORE WELDING OR GRINDING ON OR PAINTING WITH GALVANIZED STEEL!!!!!! For serious. It can kill you. No, I'm not even joking.
 
This is the kind of lollipop I'm talking about:


I don't recommend trying to consume one, even if you are iron deficient! This is what I'm using these for:


That is a hot galvanized tube with a vent hole in the end cap plate. Hot galvanizing is,  well, it's HOT! It is hot enough that the air inside a tube that is capped tight will get uncomfortable and seek more accommodating climes. Explosively. So, to prevent the tubes from popping when it's hot, the vents are added. The problem with this is that these aren't one way vents. These tubes are outside in the weather, so water can get in them, freezing and blowing the tubes apart, even with the holes. Therefore, the holes need to be plugged, and this is my least favorite job.
Welding on galvanized steel sucks. It is a dirty, nasty, painfully annoying process. The zinc pops, sending molten metal everywhere, and even covered up completely, you'll get burned. The welds look like crap, but you have to grind the flush, which is good for looks but annoying to actually do.
 
Here is the plug tacked in place, slightly "proud" of the surface:
Keeping it sticking out a bit helps when welding on this crap surface so the new metal you are blasting in has something good to "bite" to, then melt off any zinc crap left (well, it usually explodes off in metal flames) and then finally it decides to melt into the plate. Yeah, it's that fun. 

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. The next step is to simply break off the stick:

Zap zap zap! All the way around:

Yeah, it's ugly. Closeup:

Wash, rinse, repeat ad nauseum:

That's only a small part of the current bunch. 

After everything is ground flat, there are usually some undercut areas, from the zinc resisting good fusion, so you have to go back and fill in: 

Ad then grind again. This is what you should have when you're done: 

The little spot you see is mostly exaggerated due to lighting. It will also be filled in with the final stage: Paint! The paint we use is industrial cold galvanizing zinc paint. The can is mostly zinc, and each can weighs almost a full pound and is about half the height of a normal spray can! 

The paint goes on thick and covers up most small imperfections:

While it is a very good coating for corrosion protection. it doesn't exactly match the finish of the hot galvanizing process:

But that's OK. It works and works well, even if it is annoying to get to the end point.