When the writer first started to carry the tools for a plumber and to prepare joints for wiping, the remark was often heard that joint wiping would soon be a thing of the past. I have heard this many times since from many different sources. Personally, I fail to see the passing of the wiped joint. More lead pipe is being made today than ever before, which goes to show that lead pipe is being used and the only successful way of joining is with the wiped joint. Some plumbers' helpers of today seem to think that joint wiping is of no account. To a certain extent, I can sympathize with them. Most of these boys are learning a trade in large cities and working for concerns that do nothing but a large contracting business. This large work is carried on differently from the small work. Wrought-iron or steel pipes are used to a great extent in this work and a very small amount of lead is used. Sometimes the job will be completed without the use of lead. The boy who works continually on this kind of work soon comes to think that lead pipes are no longer in use. The writer has found that a boy who has learned to do nothing but screw-pipe work is absolutely lost and cannot perform the duties of a plumber, other than screw-pipe work. It must be borne in mind that lead pipe and cast-iron pipe work are being used today in all parts of the country and in some parts more than in others. Therefore, the boy must grasp all branches of the trade that he has chosen to follow and not be a one-sided man. Joint wiping belongs to the plumber alone. The plumbing trade differs from all other trades in that it has joint wiping for its distinctive feature.
A few attempts at joint wiping will convince the beginner that it is not the easiest thing in the world to learn. Let me caution the beginner not to get discouraged. He must have patience and a firm resolve to master the art of joint wiping and not let it master him and keep him back.
So, as we now start on exercises of joint wiping, let the beginner constantly keep in mind that all boys must become perfectly skilled in the art of joint wiping before they can be considered plumbers. Keep in mind also that the examination that one must take to get a plumber's license contains an actual exercise in joint wiping. The one word of advice is not to get discouraged. Continued practice is the only way to success.
The soldering iron is, or should be, conquered by this time. As joint wiping is the next exercise, I shall go over a few general points that experience has taught me and cannot fail to be of assistance to the beginner if they are heeded. In fact, to become proficient, the beginner should remember all the points suggested under this heading. It is necessary in wiping to have good solder. In the chapter on solder, I have given the correct mixtures and how to recognize the proper mixtures. The place where wiping is to be done should be considered. No draught should be allowed to blow across the work as it tends to chill the solder and pipe. Proper support for the work should be procured. If gasoline is to be used for fuel to heat the solder, make sure that the tank is full before starting, otherwise the fire may go out just when the heat is needed most and the solder in the pot has become too cool to wipe with. Have a catch pan and keep all the solder droppings to put back into the pot, otherwise the solder will pile up and the fingers are likely to be pushed into the pile and badly burned. Hold the ladle about 2 inches above the work, the catch cloth about 1 inches below. Do not drop the solder in the same place. Keep moving the ladle. Do not pour the solder on the pipe in a steady stream, but drop it on. It is not a large amount of solder that is wanted on the joint at first, it is heat that is needed. This can be secured better by dropping the solder on than by pouring a large quantity on the pipe. The edges of the joint cool very quickly; therefore heat the edges well and keep them covered with molten solder until the joint is ready to wipe. When preparing joints for wiping, always do the work thoroughly and fit the pieces together tightly so that no solder can get through.