Hobart develops new welding rod

The shorter length of the new Boilermaker 8018 B2 welding rod lets a welder work in tight spots with less rod waste.

Grateful for L-108 support, company names rod the Boilermaker 8018 B2

LOCAL 108 BOILERMAKERS (Birmingham, Ala.) played a key role in the development of a new alloy welding rod designed specifically for use in the power generation industry. The new rod comes in a shorter length: 12 inches instead of the standard 14. The shorter length allows the welder to burn the rod without bending it to reach restrictive areas. Too often when a rod is bent, part of the rod is discarded, leading to unnecessary waste.

The new rod offers low spatter and X-ray clear welds. It is also easy to burn, so even the newest apprentice can produce journeyman-level results, says Bruce Morrett, product manager for Hobart Brothers, the company that worked with Local 108 to develop the rod. He says Hobart plans to develop a series of rods designed for — and named after —the Boilermakers.

The idea for the new welding rod came about when the Southern Company — a utility company supplying electricity to customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi — called in construction specialist Dale Breckenridge of Airgas to review the problems Southern Company was having with the 14-inch rods at its plant in Gadsden, Ala.

With 900 locations in 48 states, Airgas is the largest distributor of welding equipment in North America. After a quick review, Breckenridge contacted Hobart Brothers, a manufacturer and distributor of welding equipment and accessories located in Troy, Ohio.

Hobart sent its district manager, Bob Wiscombe, to study the problem. Wiscombe found the existing rods had inadequate qualities and were causing porosity — the passage of gas or liquid through pores or interstices. He concluded that a new rod should be developed — one designed primarily for tube welding, that would provide a wider amp range and be easy to start and restart.

Hobart then contacted Local 108 for their help in developing the rod. Local 108 Bus. Mgr. Charlie Gamble and L-108 welding instructors Bob Henson and Joel Miller extensively tested rods throughout the development process. Engineers worked through 31 different formulas before arriving at the final product.

After nearly 12 months, the final testing was performed at Local 108’s training facility, where the final product was appropriately named the Boilermaker 8018 B2.

Gamble, Henson, and Miller performed the final testing on Oct. 17. Observers included Southern Company’s craft labor specialist Shawn Curtis; Alabama Power’s welding engineers Marty Sims and Andy Godley; Airgas reps Breckenridge and Frank Sartain; and Hobart reps Wiscombe, Morrett, Mike Arrington, and Hao Guo.

Sartain, who serves as regional vice president for Airgas, described the welding rod’s development as “a joint effort all the way. We’ve taken a tripartite [maker, supplier, user] approach to create and perfect this pressure rod.”

Morrett, product manager for Hobart, is excited about the new rod’s potential sales. “We’re gonna kick out the competition,” he said.

Godley, a welding engineer for Alabama Power, was impressed by the rod’s potential use. “The less-experienced welders need something they can work with, and this is it,” he said.

As business manager for Local 108, Gamble is grateful for being allowed input in a product that will make the Boilermaker even more efficient on the job. “This rod in a Boilermaker stinger will equal a good weld,” he said. “You want to be pleasantly surprised when you light up a rod; that’s what will sell it.”