If you’ve ever imagined doing your own metal work, “Basic Welding for Farm and Ranch” by William Galvery could cause you to go out and get your own welding rig. If you’ve got one already, but have only a modest amount of experience with it, the book will help you be a better metal worker. And, if you’ve been doing on-farm welding for a while, but don’t have any formal training, the book is going to give you a deeper understanding of welding technology.
“As a novice welder, I found the book inspirational,” said Colin King, a sheep and vegetable farmer from Long Prairie, Minn. “All my life I’ve been told you can’t weld cast iron. Galvery showed me that it can be done. It’s not easy, but his clear, easy-to-read text showed me how to do it. I liked the helpful photos too.”
The book is organized as if the reader were taking a welding class. That’s because the author is a welding instructor with a Bachelors degree in vocational education. He’s also written several other books on welding.
“Basic Welding…” has eight chapters, starting with “An Overview of the Welding Process” in Chapter One and “General Tools, Materials, and Safety Equipment” for Chapter Two. The other chapters include deep dives into Oxyacetylene welding and cutting, shielded metal arc welding and cutting, wire feed welding (including MIG and flux-cored arc welding), and brazing and soldering.
Chapter One is — and isn’t — for beginners. It’s true, it briefly introduces the reader to the three basic types of welding: oxygen-acetylene (OAW), electrical arc welding, and wire feed MIG (metal inert gas) welding. Then, using a weld bead comparison chart, the author shows the novice what a good weld looks like and what a weak weld looks like. He then proceeds, with great detail, to show you how to make a basic groove weld. When you're comfortable with that you can dive into fillet welds, plug and slot welds, tack welds, intermittent welds, joggle joints, boxing, and stringer and wave beads.
If you knew how to do that all before, you probably don’t need this book. But if you’re even a half competent do-it-yourself welder who is not certain what a joggle joint is, I’ll bet you’ll consider getting this book and leaving it in a handy place in your shop.
A good welding instructor will give you a project suited to your abilities. If you’re a novice, Galvery shows you at the end of chapter one how to repair a garden rake. With three steps and six large photos, he shows you how to use your arc welder and locking pliers to make the rake stronger than it was when it was new.
The book is full of practical projects for you to try out your news skills or improve your existing skills. In the arc welding chapter, Galvery has projects to add hooks or a bale spear to your tractor’s front end bucket. He’s also got a project on how to repair the under carriage of a hay wagon using arc welding to cut steel and weld it back together. And another on how to repair the union between a mower deck and its gear box using grinding tools and OAW.
The cast iron welding project is towards the end of the book.
“The challenge in terms of welding cast metal is that it expands during the welding process because of the heat, then contracts as it cools, often creating new stress points that crack,” Galvery, who recommends using a nickel rod for cast iron welding, writes.
Each project is carefully photographed and each photo is numbered, step-by-step, with simple clear directions.
It’s hard to say whether the projects are the meat of the book or the chapters on welding technologies are. Whichever it is, the projects and the chapters are like hand and glove. Both are well illustrated, detailed, and easy to understand.
The chapter on oxyacetylene welding (OAW) for example, includes information and illustrations of tank safety, tank size, regulators, torches and tips including a cutting head attachment. It has information on torch tip sizes including a table on matching torch tip sizes to the thickness of the material to be welded. There’s a section on cleaning torch tips. Another on selecting the welding rod and safely setting up the equipment for OAW. There’s even two pages of text, photos, and charts — including flame temperature chart — on lighting and adjusting the torch.
“Producing a good weld bead is a combination of four factors: the distance between the torch tip and the work, the angle at which you hold the torch, your speed when moving the torch along the weld area, and the heat produced by the torch. Getting it right takes practice, so always test your technique on scrap metal first,” Galvery writes in the OAW chapter.
Some of the many charts and tables may not seem relevant upon first reading, but may become useful later. Colin King suggested it would be ideal to have two copies of “Basic Welding…” — one by your reading and dreaming chair in the house, and one in the shop to answer on-the-spot questions.
You can get a copy of “Basic Welding for Farm and Ranch” from your library, independent bookstores, or various on-line sources. It was published in 2019 by Storey Publishing and sells for $24.95.