That is the title for an article from the New York Times, November 2007.
The Article web page on the New york times site displays an image of shirtless and barefoot foundry workers in India carrying ladles of molten metal. Did you hear what I said? Barefoot and carrying ladle pots full of red hot molten metal. Dont believe me? check it out for yourself...Check it out.... New York Times Article on Manhole covers Why is this even worth writing about? Well, I will tell you. It started out as an internet search about welding manhole covers.
I have a friend who asked me about the best way to weld them because he was trying to help out another friend whose business is struggling in these hard economic times.
I got to thinking about this and did some internet searching for welding manhole covers and discovered that theft of manhole covers is on the rise and is really a big problem.
I mean think about it, a 2 or 3 foot hole that leads to who knows what at the bottom. Children could fall in, lots of bad things could happen. That is the main reason that lots of cities and municipalities are contracting to having them welded.
Not welded completely, but tack welded so that it would be noisy and difficult for anyone to steal them.
I also discovered that another reason manhole covers get welded is for security as is mentioned in the youtube video above that describes the welding of manhole covers in St. Paul Minnesota before the 2008 Republican convention.
whole scenario is jacked up....What do barefoot foundry workers in India have to do with the theft of manhole covers in New York?
Why are people stealing manhole covers in the first place? If you had a manhole cover sitting in your carport, would you carry it inside at night for fear of it being stolen?
Manhole covers are stolen because scrap metal prices rose to the point where someone looks at a 200 pound chunk of iron and all of a sudden, it looks like money instead of a hernia. Maybe its a guy out of work, trying to feed his kids...or maybe its some crack addict. Maybe its a steel worker that lost his job because the steel mills shut down...now that would be jacked up.
So what makes scrap metal prices get so high? Demand. Demand by countries like India and China who are getting into the manufacturing game big time.
All powered by workers making about a dollar a day who aspire to make 2 or even 3 dollars a day.
So Manhole covers in the good old USA get stolen...and then a City purchaser places an order for more manhole covers.
The order goes to a Foundry in India because apparently, not having to worry about OSHA and EPA laws along with paying your workers a buck a day allows them to be really competitive. Manhole covers are shipped back to New York on a boat that burns fuel...which then helps drive demand for oil.
In the US, if you get injured on the job, you can just pick up the yellow pages and call a lawyer to get your check, I wonder how many lawyers in India will step forward and represent the workmens comp case for the guy who burns his feet in the foundry.
Anyway back on point... As times get tougher, We can expect more theft of manhole covers, not less.
Welding manhole covers is a business opportunity for someone willing to work. And the Equipment for welding manhole covers is pretty simple and inexpensive. You could get by with a portable generator welder like a Miller bobcat or you could use any generator along with a portable inverter welder like a miller maxstar 140. It only takes about 120 amps to run a 1/8 stick rod and the welds for a manhole cover are typically only a few inches long.
Duty cycle would not be an issue with either of the scenarios listed. I would recommend stick simply for the simplicity , portability , and forgiving nature when welding in windy or wet conditions and for dirty metal.
You could pretty much park your truck, unroll leads, fire up, and five minutes later...done.