Metal Repair Reduces Downtime and Saves Money



Production is a mighty force, especially in the workplace. Having personally run crews of machine and equipment operators, I know how stressful and expensive it is to have 10 people at $XX.XX an hour standing there staring at you while you try to figure out a plan to get their machine fixed. This can add up FAST!

While my example today is mundane, the theory is still the same. My dad owns a couple of pieces of land, which makes him responsible for taking care of it. The last time he was brush-hogging around the property he encountered a branch that was a little stronger than the exhaust on his old tractor. The key lesson here is that IF the part is available he would have to place the order, wait for the order to be processed, wait for it to ship, wait for transit time in shipping, receive the parts, and install the parts; which could take days or even weeks.

This is where the niche of the small machine and fabrication shops come in. Instead of the customer having to wait for the part, a machine or fabrication shop can simply make a replacement part and have the crew back to work within HOURS not DAYS or WEEKS!

On to the pictures!



Broken exhaust elbow that has been welded before and is ~45 years old....

Cast iron broken exhaust elbow that has been welded before and is ~45 years old…. We can weld it back together but it will most likely break again.

Exhaust Repair

Tracing the part to make a new flange out of  some random 1/2″ thick steel (gotta be resourceful!).

Rough cut flange before cleaning up and drilling

Very rough cut flange before cleaning up and drilling (hey, nobody’s perfect). Also notice that we broke off all of the old rusty manifold studs trying to get it apart.

As a result of the broken studs, we decided that it would be better to drill the broken studs out and enlarge the holes slightly so we could use grade 8 fine thread bolts instead of trying to find replacement studs. In addition to new gaskets and locking washers.

Flange finished and welded on.

Flange finished and welded on. Is it perfect? no. Will it work great on a 45 year old tractor? absolutely!

There is no doubt that we could have spent more time making the flange “perfect”. But this comes down to a subject that I have been dealing with and thinking about a lot lately. As the old saying goes “Your options are fast, good, or cheap but you can only pick two”. More on this in a future article.

Completed exhaust pipe with some leftover tubing that already had a bend in it.

Completed exhaust pipe created with some leftover tubing that already had a bend in it.

Reinstalled and back to work!

Re-installed and back to work!

The lesson of the day here is that you do not always have to have the exact factory part to make repairs. Often times an experienced “doityourselfist” can come up with a solution that can shave off days and weeks of repair downtime. That is assuming that somebody still makes the part that you need.

I can hear your thoughts now, and my answer is “no do-it-yourself-ists do not always fix things with bailing wire and duct tape”. Oftentimes a well thought out and executed repair can exceed the quality and design of a factory part.

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