Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

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kmorin
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Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#1

Post by kmorin »

I doubt there are that many AAB.com forum members who are still trying to weld for a day's work as they close in their 70th year? I am. I tried some retirement and found it to be less than comfortable due to the lack of accomplishment in my days. Felt guilty sitting on my overly round stern, and I just felt poorly that I might have a few more boats left in me (?) but if I didn't get going, they'd pass my carcass by and I'd end up wishing I'd built them.

Not saying that series of thoughts are widely held; but some might??

Pushing 70 is an interesting time; you know plenty because of the long (seems nearly endless) list of mistakes you've learned to avoid: and your skills may have been honed by some decades of practice? But the obvious "on the other hand" is your carcass isn't quite as willing to burn wire for long hours, and along with that is the "been there- done that" syndrome that I suffer a bit, as well.

However, all that said; if you weld for 6-10 hours as you close in on 70 years- you might end up sore at the end of the day. That soreness is the subject of my post.

I was feeling pretty despondent that my building days were behind me. Building welded aluminum boats is a very enjoyable pass-time and one I deeply regretted to give up. However, just doing a day's work in the shop was putting me out for two or three days- joints, muscles, and general fatigue.

Then I learned about Low Light Lasers as therapy for soreness, tightness and ligaments' aches. I suggest anyone who's considering being active and working a full day in the shop - who is older than 65-70 give some time to investigate this technology. It is extremely expensive, and requires a bit of knowledge to apply to your carcass- but if you want to enjoy pain free day's work?

Investigate the LLL systems and even go further and give some online time to PEMF systems!

These two technologically incredible systems can extend your working life well beyond 65. Arthritis, joint damage of a "bullet proof" youth, muscle aches, tremors from weakened muscles, lack of muscle tone and other 'working man' BLUES.... can all be addressed with these two systems' application to an aging boat builders' carcass.

I'm thankful for the day ( a year gone by) that I learned about these systems and invested. I've gone from few hours and lots of pain to longer hours and much (MUCH) less pain, and a recovery time that is 'livable' for strains and sprains when I get too energetic during the longer days these systems have given me "back".

Worth a look, if you've quit working but would rather "get something done" instead of sit around?? Not cheap, but I'd have spent twice their costs to enjoy another few years of building.

cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

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gandrfab
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#2

Post by gandrfab »

Out of curiosity and for conversation have you looking into acupuncture?

Is this what you are talking about?
https://www.litecure.com/medical/2015/0 ... r-therapy/

I'm still mid 40's and have few aches and pains to complain about.

But after the fact, watching my Dad who has had a stroke and it looks like it pains him to be mobile could what you are talking about be helpful?
Last edited by gandrfab on Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kmorin
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#3

Post by kmorin »

G&R, yes that is one of the lasers I'm mentioning.

I went to a therapist for muscle issues, back, legs, arms... seems like it all hurt like the Dickens? He used a LLLaser on me for a couple treatments and then helped me locate a vendor to buy one. I use it all the time and it has made working not only possible- but enjoyable again.

The brand I purchased was from Echonia Lasers. But there are quite a few companies selling them. Ridiculously expensive, but after the treatments convinced me of the value of having one- I don't regret the high cost.

Like using a new and wildly expensive Blue TIG power supply- before I had used one; all the bells and whistles seemed extravagant? But after I learned to tune the bead to every application? well, it seems money well spent- now.

The only issue is to find a decent stand so you can hold/align/apply the hand held laser to parts of the carcass not easily reached on the front of you. But still the back relief, shoulder, knee and feet pain relief has been very much worth it- IMO.

Yes, if someone's had a stroke or even just injuries this technology is very helpful in recovery.

Worth exploring? I'd say so.

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

kmorin
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#4

Post by kmorin »

G&R,
I've had to deal with an injured back since I was 19 and thought I was a fork lift- only to learn I wasn't. Since then I've become more and more 'stove up' in the back as the original injury aged and became chronic.

Not unusual for a certain percentage of workmen, but last year I learned more about the 'SI' joint and an aide to that joint's mechanical alignment. https://www.serola.net/

I wear mine everyday, over my shorts under the levis and at night too. First (back) pain free year I've had in 40 some years. When I was shown the belt, worn around the hips below the belt on your levis, I was completely skeptical but after a week - I've purchase a few to give to friends who's backs are like mine. They all doubted what I had to say and now all have ordered a spare to have on hand!

Just an adjustable elastic belt around the hips will relieve a major part of back aches! Who knew?

If I'd known then what I know now? I might have skipped forty years of aching in the morning and limping once or twice amonth for a day or so. Worth a look, especially if you're young enough to still have a back that works!

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

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gandrfab
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#5

Post by gandrfab »

Thanks

kmorin
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#6

Post by kmorin »

G&R,
if what you learned saves one hour of aches and pains, it was worth posting! You're welcome.

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#7

Post by Tfitz »

Kmorin, have you consistently been wearing a respirator while welding aluminum during your career? Sometimes i wonder if all the welding smoke and shop dust will effect me later in life. I do have and wear a respirator at times....but only about a 1/4 of the time. Mostly when im in a tight enclosed area without the possibility of much air circulation. You hear about the aluminium/alzheimers connection and wonder about the risk. I bought my MIG from a professional welder who got alzheimers so bad he couldnt work anymore. Most of my welding happens in short bursts and i ventilate when it starts to get "hazy" in my shop. Probably not the smartest practice. You seem to have most of your mental faculties in place yet. What is your typical work practice referring to welding fumes and dust?

kmorin
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#8

Post by kmorin »

Tfitz,
i use a HEPA (level) filtering, North brand, half face air purifying respirator for grinding, sanding, MIG and saw dust and i do have a welding fume extractor and several shop dust collection systems for wood or sanding in general.

I began using APR's in the later 70's but that was before the HEPA level particulate filters were available. I did develop a cough back then, and when tested learned I had begun to develop 'small airway passage' disorder- the precursor to "welder's black lung". So I redoubled my efforts in regard filtering and ventilation.

When I had employees they would always put aside their breathers and I'd have to be the 'APR cop' - bugged me to no end. But I've tried to keep one handy for about every second of contamination - wood, metal, plastic or welding 'smoke'.

The really REALLY bad part of aluminum MIG smoke is the vaporized metal. If you look at the 5356 weld smut on the sides of the weld zones (?) that is what we're inhaling ! I had a very dramatic adventure once- didn't wash/rinse a tank from the MIG smoke inside- it was TIG welded outside. The gasoline rinsed the welding soot out, (then) coated a filter and we almost lost the boat on a lee shore with a arising tide! That filter was then carried, in a bucket, to my shop where it dried out over nite and then was blown out with an air hose. The layer of soot was so thin it was like paint. But the filter worked fine once it was 'blown clean'. That tiny layer of wet soot entirely blocked and gas line filter!

Lesson? The MIG smoke/soot is about the worst thing in the shop!

I'm not sure about other links- Alzheimer's, or other diseases/conditions? But the lung risk is enough for me!

I use TIG 98% of the time, due to my current shop work relationship where the Skipper does most of the MIG and leaves TIG to me. But even then, if he's going to MIG weld- I put on an APR and get out the elephant nose fan's duct and try to keep out of the smoke!

I've worn hearing protection since I started and I'm hard of hearing.
I've worn breathing protection (almost) since I started and have diminished lung capacity.
I've tried to keep from getting burned (radiation) but have had plenty of sunburns (mainly neck from being in tight reflective spaces w/o the cloth over the back of the hood)
I've tried to lift right and not 'over-do' the work but have a couple of low back discs that aren't intact!
I've tried to protect my eyes with the latest in hoods and that has been somewhat successful as I can still see the welding smoke of MIG welds in a #10 glass but it used to be #11?
I've tried to keep safety glasses on - all the time I'm in the shop- but have had some particles in my eyes from being lax there too.
I've tried to keep my hands from being exposed to burns by having gloves for each task and to some degree. I've been successful there- as well- but did have some neck/spine damage from wearing a hood for so long- and that impacted the nerves in my hands. We used to snap our heads to drop the hood, but now with auto darkening hoods that isn't needed. My neck got damaged like many others' from snapping neck to lower the hood for years.

So, while I've tried to 'take care' I haven't always gotten it done - but I think it/s important to use PPE all the time and I do pretty well- it took a couple years to get in the habit but I'd say it was 'best practice'??

cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#9

Post by Tfitz »

Very good! I will try to be more diligent about my PPE on the next project. Hey heres a photo i took this summer while down in your area with my boat. Im sure you've been across to Poly Creek clamming before. It sure was a different world from the Prince William Sound. We spent 3 nights across the inlet in the boat and It was a very fun and interesting trip!
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kmorin
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#10

Post by kmorin »

Following my advice column for Senior boat builders, like me- and thank you if you prefer to think of us 'seasoned' boat builders and not Geezer Boatbuilders.

A report from my topic of welding for the geezer boat builder begins just before Christmas when I had a very short, but deadly serious discussion with Gravity- about the topic of Friction. My ice cleats were on the transmission rise next to my seat, but I didn't need to stop and put on cleats for a couple- three at the most- steps from my truck door to the dumpster to add a bag of trash to the dumpster.

Of course everyone reading knows that Gravity was telling me the truth about the rain on the icy parking lot just after the 3" of snow. I knew better than some silly harping- physical law! so I got out and the first step was cake- confirming I was right and Gravity was wrong and Friction didn't matter!

The second step was when I fell on my right knee using the right hand to help cushion the slip and fall. Not good. Knee, hand, elbow, shoulder and back- all got some fair impact and I will consider that Gravity was right and I was wrong, and I have the swollen joints to show for my stupidity. My 84 year old texted me from Arizona, where he spends the snowy months- "If you're gonna be clumsy; yah gotta be tough!" I know he was thinking- "if you're gonna be stupid....."- but too kind to say so.

Long story short, I'm still in physical therapy and have had some bone crunching too! I've welded again for this past week, working up from 2 hours to 5 or pushing 6 but .... this thread is about welding when you get hundreds of seasons and thousands of tides under your keel; or in my case, under my stove-up old stern.

My post is about the gains to be had from the deep tissue type of massage therapy coupled with chiropractic and exercise. I went from not being able to hold a tooth brush or feed myself right handed to getting back to a decent (livable for 70) bead and not having constant pain - didn't happen over night but... i skipped the recommended 'cutting on the carcass' approach suggested by the AMA members.

If you happen to be welding and find your hands no behaving as they used to? I you're developing a shake/palsy/tremor ? I highly recommend investigating the various body therapy disciplines now widely available - might not be covered by insurance?? - as my personal experience has been very good- with no surgical involvement!!!

Just a word to any fellow geezer metal boat builders who're experiencing pain, shakes or problems doing what used to be easy!!
#1 Wear you ice cleats- one step or 100- wear 'em!
#2 Gravity is always right, and never sleeps, and is a gruesome force if not respected.
#3 Unless a bone is sticking out of your hide- there may well be a less intrusive method of recovery, even if act like you're an idiot like me.

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

kmorin
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Re: Welding Aluminum Boats after your 60's

#11

Post by kmorin »

Update:
IF you TIG weld regularly you'll recognize some of my remarks' content more than if you don't weld at all? MIG happens pretty fast, so these remarks would show up there- however the results could be more subtle as the slow motion TIG movements seem to exaggerate these weld puddle indications.

This is an esoteric post; the ideas expressed are addressed to those older welders who may find their puddle/bead/weld control to be 'decent' but NOT what it used to be?

Full Disclosure: the Forum should be reminded that I use a cold wire feed TIG gun, for 99% of my TIG welding so I'm holding the torch like a MIG gun, but the welds being discussed are TIG Welds.

After a long (years long) break from welding regularly with my TIG gun, I began a boat project a few years ago (34'x10' sport fishing boat for the Sound of Prince William) and began to reawaken my welding skills.

At the best level I could reach- after more than a year of ramp up, my bead was acceptable and even decent in the first few hours of the day. However, to tell the truth, and all welders who saw the beads will have to agree (?) the welds weren't what they used to be! I will explain that we're discussing the 1/64th inch variation of width, that makes for the really consistent weld versus the 'good' weld.

I realize this is splitting hairs if you're not a long hour welder, or one who is starting out. The point is; I'd sort of peaked in terms of regaining my bead. No one in the project, no one that saw the welds was anything but complimentary but.... they weren't what they could have been by a younger (me) welder.

Enter the injury (above) and a woman who wears 'iron thumbs' and isn't even remotely shy about finding 'trigger points' or 'spasm-ing nerve sheathes' and other terms that I lost in the fog of pain while she 'worked on these problems'.

What I will remark about is that my weld consistency has improved very much (In my eyes) over what I was putting down just before the injury on the ice!

So, my point in this post is: if you're an older welder, if you're working with tooling that requires hand skills; I'd suggest you consider investigating what gains might be had if you had some "deep tissue" massage therapy?

At this point, no body is going to offer a job to a 70 year old welder in much more than a one-on-one job type setting. But.... I honestly think I could work up to test for pipe, plate or other common job requirements. And I'm positive it is due the physical therapy I experienced due to the fall injury mentioned above.

Just an esoteric niche- a note to the welder who's muscles aren't what they were in the past- and wants to keep on melting the Miracle Metal- there might be a Tune UP available to help move your bead back a few decades- and that's really satisfying if you've had a case of the wobblies that won't go away?

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

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