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Old 10-10-2017, 10:21 PM
TriHonu's Avatar
TriHonu TriHonu is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: St Paul, Minnesota, USA
Posts: 420
Default Oh what we do for storage...

This is a little different fabrication and welding story.

We had a hail storm that damaged the west sides of my two canvas top storage sheds (20x12x8.5 feet). [Pic 1] The company no longer makes this model. The competitor’s models are much lighter/cheaper and reviews on them are bad. Covers rarely last more than two winters.

I saw an ad on CraigsList that offered the material from a decommissioned inflatable sports dome for free. I spent a day and a half salvaging 3 pieces big enough to make replacement covers (finished size is 26 x 22). The first thing I found when I showed up was all the easy to get material was gone. The next thing I found out was that dome was lined, and the liner was welded every 4 ft. It had been raining so the material had water on top, and water between the layers. It also had netting secured to the inner surface.

I measured out and cut the first piece and quickly found out I was not man enough to move it by myself. So I got it flipped over and had to cut the inner liner out of it. It was all I could do to get the outer layer rolled up and loaded in my truck.

I went back the next day and got two more pieces and a few smaller (12x10) pieces.

About 15 years back I bought a roofing membrane welder at a construction auction. [Pic 2] I bought it for the 75’ 240v extension cord. Nobody, including myself knew what the machine was. It needed the guide handle and a silicone tire. I dug it out and cleaned it up and made sure it was working.

A service center on the other side of the city installed a new tire for $95. He also verified the material and provided the weld parameters (heat, air flow and travel speed) so I could fine tune the weld settings. [Pic 3] The machine blows hot air between the sheets melting the PVC coating and then the presser tire rolls over the melted zone fusing it together. [Pic 4-5] PVC welds around 650-700 degrees F with the welder traveling at about 7 feet per min on this 30mil material.

So I ran a few welds and performed the destruction tests to insure the welds were fused properly. Tearing the two sheets apart should separate the vinyl coating from the woven base sheet leaving the two vinyl layers fused together. The welds were not perfect, but damn good with the exception of a bubble here and there in the middle of the weld.
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