Welding Pipe: Another Look at “5G”
When Dante first started to learn welding, he probably had different thoughts on how or when he would ever start to weld pipe. I’m sure that on his journey to get here, he had some serious doubts. Some of these he shared with me on a few occasions. I never had any doubts or illusions about how he would arrive here because I knew that consistent practice would solve his problems.
For those of you who don’t know what “5G” means, it is simply referring to the pipe being fixed in a horizontal position with the weld being done overhead, vertical and flat. The “G” is referring to the type of weld. In this case, it is a “Groove weld”.
Pipe preparation is very important before the welding ever takes place. The more consistent your root opening is, the easier it is to weld. Larger than normal gaps require substantial time and electrodes to fill up. Trying to maintain the electrode pointing at the center of the pipe as you go around will help with “toenailing” problems or excessive build up.
Some common problems I see most people make at welding pipe:
1. No penetration on the overhead portion of the pipe.
2. Too much penetration on the flat position of the pipe. (the top of the pipe where everyone thinks it is easy because it is in flat position)
3. Too steep of an electrode angle on the vertical portion.
4. Staying way too long in one spot and not maintaining the key hole size. This always causes too much root reinforcement. Some codes do not allow more than 1/16″, so be careful.
5. Lack of judgement on when to put the cap on or biting off more than they can handle and the finished weld is vastly under filled.
6. Peer pressure
7. Of course “Arc Strikes” Thinking that this is no big deal will one day get you fired.
Pipe welding is no joke. It can be rewarding but also very frustrating. Don’t be tempted to take the easy way out and have other people do the thinking for you. It is easy these days to watch youtube and you will somehow pick up the technique by osmosis.
If you have never welded pipe before, by all means, get some foundation work done in all the plate positions you can master including fillet welds. Afterwards, you and your pipe need to get acquainted and let it teach you new things about welding that nothing else will.
If you get frustrated welding pipe, try your best to keep working on it yourself and be careful of outside suggestions. I’m not saying to never get help when you need it, but try to let your own mind work it out. Practice, practice, practice and keep practicing and then one day out of nowhere, you will find you own “this pipe welding thing”. So give yourself some credit and get to work!