PDA

View Full Version : Pile Buck, Thinking of joining the Pile Drivers



gwmotorsports
01-13-2006, 03:38 PM
First let me tell you a little bit about myself. Im 19 years old and I've been welding for about 2-3 years. The welding training in British Columbia consists of 3 different levels: C, B, and then A. For each level you need to complete the in school hours combined with a certain amount of work hours to reach a years worh of experience before you complete the level, and can move on to the next. Theres no aprentiship for welding though, and you can stop your training whenever you want or take as long as you want to advance to the next level. A year ago I started my level C which was 7 months long and also completed half of the level B because I finished level C early. After that I got a job working for a Tug and Barge company and spent 5 months there. I went back to school and finished the 2nd half of level B in 8 weeks. It was right around christmas time when I finished level B, and Ive been somewhat looking for a job since then.

A few days ago a friend told me that the Pile Drivers Union were looking for welders so I went down there to see what they had to offer. They told me that to get started I would need to get certified for CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) flux core - self sheilding, and stick. Once I have that, and take there hazerdous materials and safety course I would be able to sign on with them. However its a 3 year aprentiship, the first and second year have 6 weeks of carpentry, and the 3rd year has a 8 week course on Pile Driving / Bridge Building. So its not all welding that I would be doing, I would have to do other types of construction work as well. The starting wage is $23.40/hour and that is 70% of journyman wage.

Pile Buck, or anyones whos been in the Pile Drivers what would you be able to tell me about this industry. What did you like, or dislike about it? What percentage of your time would you be welding, and how often would you be doing something else? What advice would you have for someone getting into this trade?

Here is a link to the union: http://local2404.org/index.htm

Pile Buck
01-13-2006, 04:31 PM
Well you can specialize if you want or do it all, I recommend you learn it all. At least have a basic knowledge of it all. Myself I would rather stick something sharp in my eye than do carpentry work. I went through the Millwright apprenticeship in CA, but when I moved up here the Millwrights and Carpenters were dispatched out of the same hall. Being a certified weldor I got sent out on pile driving projects. One day I got sent out on a derrick to build or repair something. After being out there for a day or two, one of the members of the pile driving crew didnít show up. The foreman had me help out, until this guy returned. If you donít know it now you will soon find out, construction is survival of the fittest. When the absent pile driver came back to work the foreman fired him, and I took his place. That right there pretty much ended my welding career. From that point on when it came to welding I basically only did repair work, or when there were no piling being driven and a welding project was going on I would be sent to that project. If it was slow through out the company I was sent back to the yard to built things, hard face buckets, or what ever to keep me on the payroll. As time went on I was trained how to drive concrete piles, and once I was giving the green light by the companyís pile driving superintendent, I was made a pile driving foreman. I didnít hardly step off a derrick for years, did a few highway projects, but mostly water pile driving. Youíll find that very few members of any Pile Drivers local know how to drive pile. I know guys who worked 40-years in the pile drivers, and never drove one pile. It is a very close-knit group! You have to look at it from the ownerís eyes. They have a multi-million dollar derrick, every pile you touch could cost thousands of dollars just laying on the barge before you touch it, you donít think they just turn that over to anybody out of the hall do you? Itís that same ol story, ďDonít go near the water until you learn how to swimĒ. Well sooner or later someone has to teach you how to do it. Donít kid your self. YOU WILL NOT LEARN HOW TO DRIVE PILE IN THE APPRENTICESHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will only learn how to do that on the job. If some how you learn to drive concrete pile on the water, and can weld, and fab things, youíll never miss a paycheck. I went over 20-years with out missing one.

If youíre smart youíll find another way to make a living, but if you think this is for you, Iíll help you if I can. ;)

gwmotorsports
01-13-2006, 05:14 PM
Thanks for the advice Pile Buck. Obviuosly what I really like to do is welding, especially stick welding. I wouldnt mind if I had to do other work here and there if it was nessecary to keep myself working. It sounds like from your post that you really didn't do that much welding though. Would you say that this isn't a very good industry to get into if the main thing I would like to do is welding? Do you think its worth it to atleast try it out for a while and see if I like it?

Wyoming
01-13-2006, 05:24 PM
Just a few words by another ex-steel carpenter. I'm quickly approaching 52 and haven't been on a carpentry jobsite since I was 24. Half my life ago I blew my ankles and knees out not realizing what those jobs were doing to me. As Carl says, "...if you're smart you'll find another way to make a living." That said...those years working construction were some of the best times in my life and even if old bones hurt in the morning I'd do it all over again.

As for the welding. You would be better served if you are looking to just do welding by going into straight construction as a welder. The profession has its own set of hazards and rewards as well, but you'll quickly find out if you want to stick with it or not.

Pile Buck
01-13-2006, 05:52 PM
Oh I did nothing but weld for years. I can think of at least 50-guys right now, that all they do is weld. But I only know of 3 or 4 that work day in and day out welding. You have to be locked into a company to expect 2080 + hours a year as a weldor in the Pile Drivers. If youíre just a hall rat who depends on the union to get you your jobs you will see a lot of unemployment. The more you know, and the better you are at it, the more valuable you are to the companies. If all you want to do is weld, consider yourself a tool. When your not needed, back to the shed you go. Shed being the union hall. In my opinion you want to find a nitch, and get better at it than anybody else. Itís a long hard road to be one of the best weldors, the ones who never see unemployment! I got bored with welding, I love to build things, but those jobs of running 70-pounds of wire a day, 5 and 6 days week were getting old real quick. But to be honest driving pile is just as boring, but at least your not stuck behind a mask breathing smoke all day. True youíll be pulling on rigging until you think youíre going to break your own wrist. And you run the risk of being a cripple like me. There is no part of the Pile Drivers that isnít hard *** work. I was the only one of the actual pile driver (people who drove pile) that came from a true welding background. Every one of these guys are convinced that weldors are the biggest dead beats, **** all they do is set there and weld right? I use to tell them until you run 70-pounds of wire through a gun I donít want to hear about it! See that only has merit with those guys when they know I could put footprints on their back. A weldor in the Pile Drivers doesnít get the respect he deserves, but then again most of them are hacks.

RadMan
01-13-2006, 06:17 PM
Thanks for the advice Pile Buck. Obviuosly what I really like to do is welding, especially stick welding. I wouldnt mind if I had to do other work here and there if it was nessecary to keep myself working. It sounds like from your post that you really didn't do that much welding though. Would you say that this isn't a very good industry to get into if the main thing I would like to do is welding? Do you think its worth it to atleast try it out for a while and see if I like it?


Come to Alberta young man, you can find a welding job pretty quick here, if you are NOT a crack head and reasonably sober you'll do well here.If you follow Pile Buck's formula, IE show up for work everyday, do what needs to be done, after all this is constuction too, inside of 12 months you will be driving a new pickup and have men under you, I've seen it many times.

We need fabricators and pipeliners, but most of all need good reliable people.

Sberry
01-13-2006, 07:17 PM
You gotta love rain pants and mud boots though.

RadMan
01-13-2006, 07:24 PM
You gotta love rain pants and mud boots though.


LOL!! oh yeah! If you are afraid of dirt don't bother, But I kinda think a pile driver isn't. ;)

TRG-42
01-13-2006, 07:32 PM
The big guys where you live are Vancouver Pile Driving and FRPD ( Fraser River Pile and Dredge ) followed by Griffith and West Coast

They are all screaming busy with all the civil construction . If you want to be welding I assure you that all the welders at these places spend 90 to 100% of their time welding simply because there is so much welding but not enough qualified welders . BTW the 90% time is for lunch...the 100% comes from the fully auto sub arc in their yards

You need to know welding with NR212 , NR232 / NR 233 in the 3o' clock ( splicing in the field ) with these companies , and if you want to be stuck in the yard its all submerged arc now

Great job security in Vancouver because there is a huge lack of qualified welders, especially in the piling industry .

Pile Buck
01-13-2006, 07:46 PM
You gotta love rain pants and mud boots though.
Well if you really want to do this, you might as well get prepared for it.
Drag all your crap in the bathroom. Throw the welding leads through the bathroom window. Place your practice plates in the bottom on the bathtub. Put on your muck boots, pull on your rain pants, then your raincoat. Stand in the tub, and turn on the shower, ONLY COLD WATER! Bend down, and make sure the shower hits you right in the back of the neck, so it runs down your back, and down the crack of your ***. Then stay there for 8 to 10-hours. Do this for a couple days! Then get back to me, and Iíll give you some more fun stuff to do. ;)

RadMan
01-13-2006, 07:50 PM
Well if you really want to do this, you might as well get prepared for it.
Drag all your crap in the bathroom. Throw the welding leads through the bathroom window. Place your practice plates in the bottom on the bathtub. Put on your muck boots, pull on your rain pants, then your raincoat. Stand in the tub, and turn on the shower, ONLY COLD WATER! Bend down, and make sure the shower hits you right in the back of the neck, so it runs down your back, and down the crack of your ***. Then stay there for 8 to 10-hours. Do this for a couple days! Then get back to me, and Iíll give you some more fun stuff to do. ;)


<shiver>...

Sberry
01-13-2006, 08:29 PM
Yup, I can remember some of those quality moments thinking to myself,,, if I would have just listened to my mother I would be slaving away under a hot secretary in a warm office instead of outside the office hanging by your toenails trying to get circulation back in your fingers. Sometimes I forget why I quit my job in one of those reminicing moments,, it only takes a few days, 2 weeks back at it to come back to me though.

toolaholic
01-13-2006, 10:27 PM
i was also a pile buck for about 2 yrs as a cert welder. this is my 44th year as a carpenter, that welds plumbs, wires. ect.
while reading your post i was reading you. good attitude, probable a good welder
ect. my take is you're too valuable as a welder to do much pile driving. go for it! join the p. drvs.
it doesn't matter where you go ,you'll do well good luck-tool

calweld
01-13-2006, 11:48 PM
Well if you really want to do this, you might as well get prepared for it.
Drag all your crap in the bathroom. Throw the welding leads through the bathroom window. Place your practice plates in the bottom on the bathtub. Put on your muck boots, pull on your rain pants, then your raincoat. Stand in the tub, and turn on the shower, ONLY COLD WATER! Bend down, and make sure the shower hits you right in the back of the neck, so it runs down your back, and down the crack of your ***. Then stay there for 8 to 10-hours. Do this for a couple days! Then get back to me, and Iíll give you some more fun stuff to do. ;)

don't forget the part about making sure you are part of the weld circuit so you can get constantly re-energized during the day. Saves on coffee . . .

toolaholic
01-14-2006, 10:40 AM
cutting off concrete pile sideways with a jack hammer[urban logger] TIMBER
trying to outrun 5000 lbs of concrete BUT WHERE? :confused:
in pancake mud up up to your chest welding a bottom splice on a wide flange
getting raps through your wet gloves[fun changing rods] :D the good ol days :)

gwmotorsports
01-14-2006, 05:27 PM
Thanks for all the advice you guys, I really appreciate it. I'm gonna go ahead and get my CWB tickets for flux core and stick, and start up with the Pile Drivers union. Atleast it will be a good paying job for now and an opertunity to learn new things. If its as bad as some of you guys have made it out to be, who knows, maybe I wont last there very long.


getting raps through your wet gloves[fun changing rods] hehe, ya I have some experience with that. I used to get shocked all the time at my old work, some days almost everytime I went to change a rod. One trick I learned is to wear those latex surgical gloves underneath my welding gloves. Ever since I started doing that I never got a single shock, even when my feet were wet and my gloves were completly soaked.

Pile Buck
01-14-2006, 05:35 PM
Well good luck! Like I said if I can help in anyway just let me know. ;)

Donít know how the boys play up there in Canada, but Iíve worked from Alaska to Long Beach CA one thing they always try to do, is burn you out right away. They will give every **** job they can think of, trying to make you quit. If you get on a concrete piling job avoid getting in the cut off crew at all cost! :eek:

Portable Welder
01-14-2006, 06:39 PM
Pile Buck you make your job sound so exciting, after listening to you I would rather go to fedral prison and make liscence plates for .05 cents an hr and sleep with buba at night than be a pile driver,
I sure am glad I have my job, I weld in the mudd on my back about 10% of the time and the rest is a mixture of cleaner things inside things like pharmasudical plants, steel plants, chemical, conveyors, heavy equipment, iron work, restaurants etc. You make my job sound pretty cussssshhhhhy.
I'm trying to figure out why gymotorsports would even consider this ?????????????
Thanks for the wake up call pile Buck, I often tell people when I work out in the fancy $ 1,000,000.00 neighbor hoods I think to myself wow life sucks I wish I had a house like that, but all I have to do is drive through Detroit Michigan on my way home to realize just how good I've got it when I get to my home in the suburbs.
However in the spring I am breaking ground to build my house on 8 acres out in the country where my new welding shop sits, Life just keeps getting better as time goes on.
Good luck in the Pile drivers gwmotorsports and listen to Pile Buck learn to be a steady and not a hall rat, a reputation is one of the most important things and is key to making alot of money.

Pile Buck
01-14-2006, 06:58 PM
:D :D Ah itís not as bad as I want you guys to believe! :rolleyes: Here is a picture of a Delmag hammer coming off a concrete pile. The cushion block is about to catch on fire (every pile event)! That hammer is really bright red, and the life jacket are / were bright red also. Just a little bit of grease & diesel sprays out of those hammers every time they hit. In the summer I would go through 3-pairs of bib overalls a week. We had to have a separate washing machine and dryer at home just to do my work clothes.

Sberry
01-14-2006, 07:52 PM
Man, that looks like so much fun,,, day after day,,, hr after hr,,,,

Pile Buck
01-14-2006, 07:57 PM
Man, that looks like so much fun,,, day after day,,, hr after hr,,,,
Cary, drag your *** on out here, Iíll hook you up! I still have lots of connections. You could be working Monday morning 7:00 A.M. :D :D :D :D

Sberry
01-15-2006, 12:35 AM
Ya,,, I go if you go,,,, hahahaha

fyoung
01-15-2006, 03:01 AM
Pilebuck, I hope you make big money for all that dangerous, hard, nasty work...Good luck!

Pile Buck
01-15-2006, 06:00 AM
Pilebuck, I hope you make big money for all that dangerous, hard, nasty work...Good luck!
Hi fyoug in my opinion they donít pay near enough :mad: . And they canít figure out why no one wants to do it. They pay somewhere in the mid $30.00 range, but Boeing pays almost that much to set in a building stuffing rivets in little holes. :confused:

Then thereís the part you risk live and limb to do that kind of work. All my life I heard that saying, ďAt least you have your healthĒ. I would think WTF does that mean? Well my heath was taking away from me by doing that type of work, so now I know exactly what that statement means. Generally you only have to hit me in the forehand once with a 20-pound sledgehammer before I catch on! Somewhat of a slow learner I guess! :p

Hereís a picture of the little pins pile drivers stuff in holes.

Pile Buck
01-15-2006, 06:09 AM
Ya,,, I go if you go,,,, hahahaha
You know Cary Iím just stupid enough that if I were healthy enough, I probably would go back, but only as a hand, maybe as a foreman. Iíd never go back as a superintendent! After I quit working it took me about a year or so to go through withdraws. I still miss the challenge of the big jobs! That male ego is a powerful emotion! :D

fyoung
01-15-2006, 08:29 AM
PileBuck, Wow! That is some kinda big pin..what does them weigh? I'll stick to the $12 an hour stuff welding on the ground *LOL* That's some huge stuff to work around!
Thanks for sharing the picture.
Thanks!

Sberry
01-15-2006, 08:44 AM
Carl, I have tried going back to work a couple of times and its tuff to get on someone elses schedule. I try not to delude myself too much, after about 2 weeks I usually figure out why I quit. I have done a lot of heavy hard work and I know its really more fun to sit around thinking about it than actually do it,,,, and the weather pile driving would really add insult to having to get up in the middle of the night to punch a timeclock.
I agree about the super job, gang foreman or even GF on occasion would be about the right speed. There was a proposed big power plant about 30 mins from my house, I was kind of hoping that would fly, I might have jumped back on the wagon for that one.

toolaholic
01-15-2006, 10:06 AM
my nephew got elec. on a job site because of a boston edison screw up!

he still hurts, but is back with the tools. he collected around 1 mill$ the hard way

i hope they took care of you Carl, you earned the hard way! Tool

RadMan
01-16-2006, 11:53 AM
Great pics, Carl, I have seen some big iron as well but that is the biggest clevise I've seen to date, woudn't want to drop that pin on my toe. :eek:

gwmotorsports
02-10-2006, 06:52 PM
I took the Self Sheilding Flux-core all positions test a couple weeks ago, and I finally got the results today. The coupons were all 1/2" thick, 8" wide plate, machined bevel on one side, flat edge on the other side, 1/2" gap and 3/8" backing plate. The welds were x-ray tested (I thought the test would only be $150, but since the welds had to be x-rayed it ended up costing an extra 80 bucks :mad:, ouch! ) and I passed every position. I was pretty worried when I did my horizontal because I ended up getting some perosity on a few passes, I aksed the instructor if I could grind it out (since they don't allow any grinding on the test) and he told me not to worry, there just pinholes :rolleyes: and usually you just try and work the wire into it a bit. Well he let me grind the one pass with perosity out a bit, but not the other one. Which is kind of retarded since it must have just been a ****ty spot in the wire, seeing as it only happened for those 2 passes and its self-sheilding wire. Anyways I passed so its all good...

I also got a call from the Pile Drivers this morning and they could be starting me as early as monday, I just have to take some computer safety / hazerdous materials test. Waiting for a call back now... probably gonna have to wait till monday. I havent worked in long time now, I can't wait to start working again (haha, never thought I'd say that), but hey its been rainning everyday for the past 2 months and its finally been sunny for the last few days. So I can't really complain about skipping the huge rain spell :D

Mike W
02-10-2006, 09:30 PM
Glad to hear that it is working out. What size wire and how many amps were you testing with?

Pile Buck
02-11-2006, 08:59 AM
Hi Will, thatís good news about the test:cool: . Always gets the heart rate up when something goes wrong during a test!

My opinion on rain gear, get the nylon-backed stuff, never by the cotton back gear. When wading through water, the water will climb right up the cotton-backed gear, by 10:00 A.M. your legs will be wet anyway. The water will not climb the nylon-backed gear. I never did like the Haley Hansen gear, too expensive, tears easy, too heavy, and too hot. I always liked light weight nylon gear, if your working hard the heavy, hot gear will make you sweat too much, next thing you know your all wet anyway. If all your going to be doing is welding, donít be afraid to buy your overalls / coveralls 1-size to big, and wear your rain gear under them. I have yet to see a set of rain gear that didnít burn.

May take awhile before you can figure it out, but I would sure be interested in hearing how the retirement works up there. My nephew was telling me a few months ago everybody here just took a huge cut in their estimated retirement. The US government informed the Carpenterís union they had to have enough money on hand, if every member decided to retire today, they could payout. So what the Carpenterís union did was cut everybodyís planned retirement amount in half:mad: . It did not affect me so far; I took an early retirement in 2001. Iím sure the guys setting on retirement are next tho.

Good luck, like I said, if I can help in anyway just ask!;)

gwmotorsports
02-12-2006, 06:23 PM
Thanks Pile Buck,

Is any of the raingear on this website: http://www.marks.com/ctwnew/markprod.nsf/ProductListViewSearch?SearchView&query=FIELD+characteristics=menswear+AND+FIELD+cha racteristics=rainwear&Brand=marks+windriver&Count=7&Start=1 the kind that your talking about? I'll try to let you know about how the retirement works when I find out.

Pile Buck
02-12-2006, 09:28 PM
This stuff here looks pretty good, but Iíve always been the kind of guy who sees better with his hands:D . I personally never did like hoods on my raincoats. Never did like dumping that gallon and a half of water on my head:eek: when the hood filled with water.

In the Seattle local, if youíre a certified weldor the companies will replace your rain gear when you burn it up; hopefully itís the same for you up there.

I personally donít believe in steel toe boots, and never wore them. The things youíre about to deal with. All that steel toe is going to do for you is delay how long it takes for you to get out of the ER. Most likely the Dr. will have to look for a hack saw to cut it off your foot:eek: .


http://www.marks.com/ctwnew/markprod.nsf/ProductListByID/E361114A7659B94687256DE8007333C2?OpenDocument

Pile Buck
02-12-2006, 09:30 PM
Oh and another thing, never buy yellow or bright color rain gear, when welding it will blind you. ;)

Sberry
02-13-2006, 01:25 AM
I wanted to bump this up before I forgot about it, I want a bud of mine to read this thread, I was telling him he should visit Carl and he would fit right in with that outfit. I know some pile drivers, he would be a star among these guys,,, ha