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Thread: Chapter Workshops

  1. #1
    Hangar10's Avatar
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    Chapter Workshops

    As an alternative to the SportAir Workshops, which require travel and a bit of a financial investment, our chapter has decided to put on a series of workshops at our hangar. Our first workshop will be Oxy/Acetylene Welding next Saturday, March 24th. We intend to start around 10am by covering some of the basics... components of an Oxy/Acetylene system, safety, proper adjustment, etc., and then break into a couple of groups for some practice. We will break for lunch around noon (simple hot dogs, chips and cold drinks) and then pick back up with some instruction on proper fitment of tubing clusters and such. Cost has been set at $15 to help cover food and materials (steel and rod) AND to get people to commit to attending and learning... not just hang around because it doesn't cost anything, basically turning it into another bull session.

    We are fortune in that we have several skilled builders and craftsmen in our chapter, so finding qualified volunteer instructors is not a problem. Not only are we able to count on volunteers, but we will also have two welding rigs to include steel tables, fire brick, safety glasses, etc. I'm sure that the SportAir Workshops are great, but I think we'll be able to focus on the task with a small group (we currently have 15 signed up), and perhaps encourage a ferw more people fire up their torches and get to work. Just had another person e-mail that he would like to attend while I'm typing this... perhaps we'll end up with 20 or so. That would be great!

    Anyhow... aside from just describing what we are attempting to do, and hoping that it might encourage other chapters to do the same... I'm interested to know what other chapters might have done, or have found successful. At this point we are testing the waters with Oxy/Acetylene welding because it is easy to set up and it seems that several people would like a refresher. We are also considering courses on electrical wiring, fabric covering, sheet metal and other common topics based upon feedback from our membership. Does anyone have any suggestions on what we might consider? Things we should or should not do? Things that have worked well for your group?

    I contacted Miller, Lincoln, Victor and Smith and they were happy to send us marketing material and catalogs, so that will help to spruce the event up a bit and give the attendees something to carry away. Hopefully some will place some orders. I know that I'm looking for a new torch, but I'm waiting to try out a few during the workshop before I make my decision.

    So, without dragging on too much longer, I would appreciate any suggestions that others might have in order to put on the best programs that we can while still keeping them affordable. Hopefully this thread will inspire others to organize similar events, so your comments will be put to good use!

  2. #2
    Treetop_Flyer's Avatar
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    This is great, Mark! I really like the idea you have presented here and I will be very excited to hear how your first workshop goes. Our chapter has discussed doing something similar for either composite fabrication or something along the lines of basic aircraft construction techniques. Our idea is in the "half-baked" stage right now whereas you guys are full steam ahead! Having a cadre of skilled builders in your chapter who are willing to volunteer to put this on is a huge help.

    Have you contacted EAA HQ at all to see if they have any information they can share to make your event more successful? Perhaps the EAA Aeronautica site would be able to help with some discounted or donated merchandise related to the topic you are covering? Also, are your instructors putting any kind of manual together to send home with the attendees? Not saying by any means that you have to, but I always like to walk away with some "how-to" information when it comes to technical workshops.

    Overall, I think you have a great start here and I am really excited to see how the event turns out for you. Hopefully you will have inspired others to look at doing similar things as chapter activities!
    Dave Sterling
    1957 PA22-150/160
    N6929D
    Website

  3. #3
    Hangar10's Avatar
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    Great idea Dave... but no, I did not think to contact HQ to see if they would help with materials and such. We did follow their lead on a few things by making a dozen or so face shields with tinted glass and such, but hopefully we can discover how they might be willing to help out before our next workshop.

    As for documenting the process... I'm not sure exactly what the instructors may be preparing... I've basically asked them to teach us the basics or whatever they deem important, with emphasis on safety. I did however receive plenty of safety DVDs from Smith, so that will help drive some of the important stuff home.

    I'll try to remember to follow up next week sometime. You can see our advertisement on our chapter web page... link is in my signature.

  4. #4
    Jeff Point's Avatar
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    Here at Chapter 18 in Milwaukee we've done exactly this for a few years now. We run one workshop a year, usually in winter when there is not as much going on. In the past few years we've done sheet metal, welding, and moldless composite (ie. foam core.)

    A couple of things that we learned:

    1. I like the idea of charging. We made ours free, invited guests from other chapters and paid for it out of our treasury. People find more value in something that have to pay for. Paul wrote about this concerning the early days of the EAA fly-ins. At first it was free, but after a couple of years they started charging a fee and attendance went up. Same idea.

    2. Sheet metal was our most popular. We got one of the popular sheet metal kit vendors to donate (at cost) several of their practice kits.

    3. Gas welding was also popular. EAA was gracious enough to loan us their gas rigs from the Sportair workshops (we are close enough that it didn't require shipping.) They also donated a bucket of test coupons (flat plat and tube) from the workshop. You'll go through lots of them. Have a bucket of water at each workstation to cool parts (never do this on real parts!) and for emergencies. Two stations for 15-20 people is not going to be enough. Sorry, just being honest. One of the draws of Sportair is that there is one workstation per student, you should get the ratio down as low as possible so everyone gets plenty of practice. Try to beg, borrow or steal a couple of more torches. You can run 2 torches off one set of bottles with an adapter. You could also set up non-welding stations (snips and grinding wheels for tube shaping, joint jigger etc) to keep people busy when they are not welding. The key is hands on as much as possible.

    4. EAA was also able to get for us the Aircraft Spruce discount order forms that normally go with the Sportair workshops (5-10% off and free shipping.) Contact Mark Forss at EAA HQ about this.

    Good luck with your workshops.
    Jeff Point
    RV-6 built & flying/ RV-8 tail done
    RLU-1 underway
    Tech Counselor & President, EAA Chapter 18
    Milwaukee, WI
    "It All Started Here!"

  5. #5
    Hangar10's Avatar
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    Thanks Jeff... some good info there. I will definitely get a couple of buckets with water, and I suppose having a fire extinguisher nearby wouldn't be a bad idea.

    As for the equipment, I may be able to get another rig, but the workshop is this Saturday so we'll probably have to do with what we've got. I think we'll probably do it much like a forum at AirVenture... no one should expect to become fully proficient, but we'll all learn a few things and be able to take some basic skills back to our shops. I ordered some 3" x .032" strip and cut fourty 3" x 4" coupons. That should be enough for everyone to push a flame over at least two pieces (pushing a puddle, butt welding, etc.), just for familiarization purposes. Another station will be set up for fitting tubing clusters.

    Thanks for the suggestions, we'll definitely keep them in mind as we plan other workshops.

  6. #6
    Hangar10's Avatar
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    Well, we had great weather yesterday and all but two people were able to show up for our workshop, which gave us a total of 18 students and 3 instructors. I haven't requested feedback from the people who attended yet... that is something I will be doing this evening via e-mail, but from the comments that I heard and the fact the most of the group asked what the topic of our next workshop would be, I'd say that it went well. Three people in our group had a fair amount of welding experience, two of them were professional certified welders and supervisors at one time, but none had recent experience and the rest of us were beginners with little or no experience.

    Our instructors were very knowledgeable, two of them were accomplished builders and the third was a welding engineer, so we had qualified people leading the way. We started with the most basic of safety information to include transporting cylinders, how to check for proper hydrotest stamps, how to recognize proper regulators and install them, and progressed through opening cylinders, adjusting regulators, lighting and adjusting a proper flame and finally got to pushing puddles and adding rod. I'm really leaving out a lot... the instructors were very thorough and fielded many questions along the way.

    A couple of the wives volunteered to prepare our lunch so that we could keep on working. They made hamburgers and hotdogs and everyone rotated through as we got time, which kept the torches lit and people learning. At this point, I can't think of anything we would do differently. It work out just about right for the number of people we had in attendance... everyone seemed to have a good time and we are already looking forward to the next workshop.

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