Motorsports Welding Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Indians baseball team, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Lincoln Electric's world headquarters, the site where I spent a week learning about motorsports welding.
When you hear the words "welding school," you automatically think of the obvious: learning how to weld one piece of metal to another. While the Lincoln Electric program allows you to do plenty of that, it's much more than a simple hands-on course. The program is geared toward teaching proper welding theory and metal composition in the motorsports field. Even if you think you know a thing or two about welding metals like stainless steel or chromoly, I'm willing to bet you'll learn plenty more by taking this course. That's why the attendees vary from skilled welders and fabricators, to people such as myself who are more hobbyists than professionals and want to learn how to weld different metals properly in hopes of one day becoming capable automotive fabricators.
The classroom portion of the school is jam-packed with information about the physical and chemical behavior of metals and how they react during welding. A good portion is also spent explaining why certain types of metals are used in motorsports and how to effectively weld them to ensure proper, safe, fully penetrating welds. Techniques of proper TIG, MIG and ARC welding are discussed as well as how to choose the right filler metals. You better have your thinking cap on because there's plenty of information to absorb in a short amount of time.
The hands-on welding portion of the school enables you to practice what you've just learned with a teacher at your side. I went from not knowing how to weld chromoly and aluminum, to throwing down some decent, properly penetrating beads.
The final day of the program was spent preparing a T-bar for a stress test with the knowledge and skills we had gained from the week. The bar is placed in a lever that slowly stretches it apart until the bar fails. If your welds are proper and strong, the bar breaks at a high load and not at the welds. Thankfully, mine passed the first time, and while my welds may not be the prettiest, I know they're solid and robust.
Taking the Lincoln Electric Motorsports welding school was one of the best things I could have done, since I want to get more into fabricating and welding parts for my vehicles. The in-class portion was worth the expense alone, but add the hands-on aspect, and all of a sudden, I learned more than I could've in years of experimenting and welding on my own or at the local community college. If you're into fabrication, this course is a must-attend, in my opinion. The skills and knowledge you gain are invaluable. For more information about the school, check out http://www.lincolnelectric.com/focus/motorsports/school/school.asp.