The arc of welding

Two things you will notice as you traverse the surprising streets of Hà Nội: men pissing in the street – occasionally women – and welding.

Every other day as I travel around the city I see the bright flash and hiss of welding. Either there is very little pre-fabrication happening in Vietnam or Scotland is simply too damp and windy to contemplate welding on the street.

Land Rover 2A pick up

By Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland (Land Rover) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

I once did a welding course at night school as I was restoring a 1963 Land Rover llA pick up. I wasn’t that brilliant at it to be honest. I could join two pieces of metal together but sometimes this was at the expense of setting myself alight slightly and, one time, setting off a proper fire.

Luckily I had had the foresight to invest in a fire extinguisher and was able to put out the mini blaze behind the dash board in short order.

I had been welding the bulkhead and hadn’t taken into account the heat build up on the other side. Evidently the geriatric wiring didn’t like the temperature and burst into flames a bit.

I intended replacing all the wiring anyway so it wasn’t a disaster. But it took what seemed like hours to clean up the aftermath. Fire extinguisher foam gets everywhere.

Anyway, what surprises me is the number of guys welding in Hà Nội without a proper mask. Most use googles that aren’t really dark enough or none at all. As my welding instructor oft repeated, “There are no jobs for blind welders.”


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