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Cutting Copper Pipe with Little Clearance

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  • #16
    You'd also have to cut out the many books and magazine articles on these subjects too.

    But let's face it, there are some people who think they can do everything and some who who just don't give a hit as to how good it is, or even whether it's totally right. Over the years I've uttered more than a few choice words when I've run across work that not only isn't right, but just profoundly stupid. While most of that is surely by some amateur, I suspect some has also been done by a hire... I wouldn't call them "professional" though.

    My Dad was sort a "jack-of-all-trades"... took pride in his work and as an older adolescent and teen I worked with him. It wasn't until after high school that he got into the local plumbers union though. After a few years he was a licensed "steam fitter". He worked on many of the big construction jobs in the area and the nuclear facility down in Johnstown, PA.

    While I learned to solder copper, lead cast iron, and thread and fit iron and galvanized, I simply didn't like the work. While doing a new project had it's satisfaction, plumbers (God bless them all) spend most of their time repairing and replacing. That's simply nasty work, and I openly admit that I did not like it one bit. Instead, I took my talents and became a technical illustrator and writer and I added photography, and a few other skills related to the technical publishing business. (You get to know a lot about a lot, even if you don't directly practice it yourself.. but to write and illustrate instruction and parts manuals you do get to become fairly knowledgeable as everything you do has to be not only approved by engineering, but also by the legal department.

    Today I can and have done much of what makes up a house... wiring, carpentry, drywall, etc. BUT, I read everything that I can put my hands on and stay within the confines of "Code". The one thing I absolutely won't do is "plumbing"... and except for maybe replacing a washer or faucet cartridge I gladly will call my favorite guy. Even doing something minor, I personally think plumbing is way to complicated, too much garbage with poorly made faucets and fittings. Unlike wiring or carpentry, plumbing just seems to be prone to ill-fitting parts and eventual failure. It's like I have to keep a plumber on retainer... "Hello's me again, how's your schedule?"

    But for the things that I know, the things that I've done, and even the things that I've "learned lessons from"... I will be glad to offer advice if I think it's wanted or needed. Helping where one can is simply a nice thing to do. (Also recognizing that a guy has a right and a need to make a living, and I would never want to interfere with that.)

    Last edited by CWSmith; 09-30-2017, 07:04 PM. Reason: Typos and clarification


    • #17
      I have quite a number of those books as well but I've always enjoyed reading all sorts of material including encyclopedias. I'm sort of curious about many thing I suppose.

      There are many who do shoddy work but I find most of the time it's not intentional at least for a typical DIY', they just don't understand the fundamentals well enough. Then there is the professional types that do varying levels of mediocre work often because that how they were taught some because they don't place high enough importance on quality.

      My own dad was a jack of all trades as well and I have admit he didn't do to bad for a pharmacist in his day, but a lot has changed and he was about getting results, today's higher quality standards would probably make him crazy, but I'm for improved building standards (within reason).

      When I applied at our shop many years ago I was struck by the acrid stench of sulphurized cutting oil. My clothes and skin would reek of it by break time and the oil would soak through our gloves and splatter all over as we threaded pipe. It was very rewarding despite the difficult conditions and I learned with the help of great mentors the art of the possible.

      Being in the trade i was able to make friends with many tradesmen who were happy to share their knowledge with you. Tile setters coached me through a mud float shower and while it just about killed me, it was very rewarding to see it finished. Wood framers were helpful with tips on layout, plumbing walls, straightening studs. Painting while seeming easy is really not if you do it well especially oils or lacquers but I learned a lot from painters and I'm pretty decent with a brush and seldom use tape. I don't recommends doing carpet, you don't get second chances. Being in the construction industry allowed me to see it all come together from start to finish.

      I think for the most part everyone feels the same as you CW, thanks for all of your expertise, it's what makes this forum great to be part of.


      • CWSmith
        CWSmith commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks, but I really have no "expertise", just experience... some good and some bad. When I post to a forum like electricians or plumbers, I'm not sure how welcome that is and I try to first state that I am in neither profession.

        As mentioned with regard to plumbing, I have experience with my Dad and know how to do a few things (back in the day when blow torches (before Bernsomatics [sp?]) were used and we used sectional cast iron that had to be caulked with hemp and molten lead poured around the connecting flange. There was no such thing as Pex back then. Joint leaks and soldering to fix them to some knowledge and I learned it was best to do it right the first time. Fixing an inline leak took some knowledge.

        I don't like that work and have really great respect (praise) for most plumbers. Electricians not so much, the few that I've known seem sloppy and too quick to finish, leaving much to be concerned about. There have been a couple of good ones though, but I've had guys skip out, not show up, and leaving jobs that later discovered, needed fixing. I have an old childhood friend who later in his career was the head of the local Electrician union. He agree's with me.

        The thing of it is, that I don't like to contract with people because of this kind of sloppy work. On those occasions when I do, I respect their space and stay out of their way. I don't quibble price unless it appears out of line, and I've been know to ask an someone to look at it again if it seems too low. I don't want anyone loosing on a job for me.

        I've learned what I've learned only because I was forced into it. I'd much rather be doing what I really know how to do and have a talent for. Electricity isn't one of them. But at least as far as home owner stuff goes, I'm relatively familiar with the code and I think I know a bit about electricity (I'm also a ham radio operator). With the help of a friend, I had to put in my own service, from the meter box to the panel, ground rods, bonding, etc. and I've completely rewired two homes, with electrical inspections passed first time on both.

        But "expertise", no not really. I just read and do and worry about what the inspector might say about my work. I'm pretty sensitive with regard to not wanting to fail.

        Thanks again,

        Last edited by CWSmith; 10-01-2017, 07:01 PM. Reason: Just lousy typing, hopefully now corrected.

    • #18
      Experience is path we take in developing our expertise this includes planning, doing, checking, acting in a never ending cycle in daily work life. We take raw apprentices of varying degree of competence either in mechanical, numerical, creative abilities and help forge them into journymen.

      As a Journymen I'm not concerned on the path you took to arrive, but more on wether you'd can do a given task in a no nonsense, timely and workman like manner, but most of all try.

      My years in the trade were for me a way to earn a living and provide for my family and through it do the things I love doing, fishing. Standing in ice cold a trout stream searching for elusive shadows moving slowly in the riffles of fast running stream, that for me is living ufortunately it doesn't pay to well.

      Doing things well requires the will to do it and not everyone is up to the task, I've seen it on projects and at home. Some just don't have it. Our hourly rates are scary high and my goal is to earn it. The last thing we want is a customer that feels like they got ripped off. So we go the extra mile even if it means eating some a legitimate cost, the long view seems to work quite well.

      Even in our trade there are several code books that apply, hundreds of sprinklers with specific applications, different pipe types and fittings many different types of fasteners and seismic attachments so I learned to get good at reading very dry elements of the business. If you don't continue to educate yourself in latest changes you really just become an installer. Some go there entire careers without reading an NFPA code book. First rate Journymen make there respective crafts a lifestyle. It's not a stretch to read the NEC if your driven.

      I use to get nervous about inspections but I began to see the job of the city inspectors from their point of view and strived for perfection, going above and beyond the code requirements goes a long way to put an inspector at ease. Exceeding code requirement isn't really that big a deal in terms of cost and goes far in providing a quality product and making your reputation as a journyman and business, word gets around.

      We aren't born craftsmen, wether your Vin Sculley, Dwight Eisenhower, Grace Hopper, or Clint Romesha. You work at getting better than you were yesterday.


      • #19
        Thanks everyone for the comments. I was away in Europe the last couple of weeks and was not able to respond. The project has not been given the go-ahead so I'm not sure if it going anywhere but if it does all the comments are useful info.