Thursday, August 16, 2007

Roadside Blind Welding - Mulanje Malawi

Next to an intersection with the main road to Mulanje works a group of men with basic tools. One of them was actively welding with a scratch built arc welder.

Wire was wrapped around a group of metal plates, and the whole thing was housed in a basic wooden frame.

To turn it on, the power wires to the transformer were connected to the AC electric supply coming out of the store room.

There was one guy doing the welding, and he was also alternating between bashing away at a brake disk from a toyota, trying to remove a part of the wheel hub. The banging was what originally caught my attention. He was beating away at it with a hunk of steel, fatiguing the metal of the hub for removal.

While I was there, he repaired two bikes, one by welding the pedal post back on to the crank.

The welder used no goggles. I didn't realize it until later, but his technique was to do 'blind welding' He would attach the ground to the bike, close his eyes, and scratch at the point he wanted to work with the electrode. When the current flowed and the electrode melted, he worked it until it was close, then would stop, open his eyes, check his work, and continue on or finish up.

Since most Malawians have little or no access to the energy of fossil fuels, people get around by either walking or using bicycles. These bikes are used for everything, carrying heavy loads, personal transportation and serving as taxis. They almost all have sturdy steel racks on the back. The bikes are made in China or India, Humber was a common brand name.

While I was there, I interviewed one of the guys about the welding being done. At some point I will edit and post the audio.

Photos - Flickr set

change in concept - Fussing With Stuff

In this post I am shifting away from my previous concept with this blog. What I was doing before was using the blog only as a way of showing the podcast material. Every post had to have a picture from my flickr account and had to connect to the fussing with stuff podcast. While this did help for a while, the personally imposed restrictions have held me back from posting for over a year now. Basically, it was too complex. I have still continued to make audio recordings, some video as well, and also shoot lots of pictures. But having to make each entry tie to the edited, xml enabled audio file is too cumbersome. It is my hope that relaxing some of the requirements will enable me to use the blog to point out interesting things found online and in the real world. At times there will be audio or video to go with the entries, other times there won't.

Let the postings begin!