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Lincoln Electric (UK) Ltd.

Harris Calorific Division

Flame straightening Technical information
Flame straightening is used for correcting deformations which occur in welded constructions. Shrinage
in the weld itself and the surrounding material due to cooling occurs in all welding. Shrinage causes
deformation and !ucling in the surrounding "late# even at some distance from the welds. Deformation
can also stem from thermal stresses created !$ rolling or thermal cutting. %he e&tent of the deformation is
largel$ de"endent on how welding is e&ecuted. Distortions are es"eciall$ visi!le on "ainted or lac'uered
surfaces. (t is usuall$ im"ossi!le to stretch areas that have shrun due to welding. )ne solution is to
attem"t to shrin the over*e&tended areas# a +o! for which flame straightening has "roved to !e suita!le.
Flame straightening is "articularl$ convenient since no e'ui"ment other than a !low"i"e is normall$
re'uired. %he o"erator however# must !e well aware of how the wor"iece will react to heating and how
shrinage forces can !est !e utilised for straightening. (n contrast to mechanical straightening# the results
of flame straightening are not evident until the structure has cooled.
%he "rinci"le of flame straightening is !ased on using the hottest flame "ossi!le (,refera!l$
)&$-.cet$lene) for ra"id heating of a limited "ortion of "late to a tem"erature of a""ro&. /00 degrees
Centigrade# at which "oint the "lasticit$ of the steel has !een su!stantiall$ increased. Since the
surrounding material remains cold# the heated "arts will !e restrained during the heating and u"set so that
the e&cessivel$ long "arts will shorten during cooling. %he "late ma$ also !e restrained !$ e&ternal
means such as clam"s or loads.
%his e&am"le illustrates the "rinci"le of flame straightening.
(f we first e&amine an unrestricted steel !ar which is uniforml$ heated (Fig.1)# we find that it will e&"and
in all directions. 2hen the flame is removed the wor"iece will cool and contract to its original
dimensions. (f the !ar is restrained during heating (Fig.3)# longitudinal e&"ansion is "revented. %his will
lead to a !uild*u" of com"ression stresses which increase as the tem"erature increases. Finall$ the
com"ressive $ield strength limit is reached and the material is "lasticall$ u"set. %his u"*set is e&"edited
!$ the fact that the u"set limit decreases as the tem"erature increases. During the cooling the wor"iece
will !e shortened due to the u"setting.
,age 1 of 10 4% 5une 3000
Heat Source Heat Source
%he !est straightening effect is o!tained !$ a num!er of local heatings. %his has led to the use of multi*
flame "late straightening !low"i"es with three flames. %his t$"e of !low"i"e greatl$ facilitates flame
straightening# "ermits the !est "ossi!le control of the straightening "rocess# is the most economical and
"roduces the smoothest surface. 6ulti*flame !low"i"es are es"eciall$ suita!le for straightening large
areas of "late such as decs and dec structures on shi"s. For straightening !eams and sheet metal less
than 7 mm thic# a single*flame !low"i"e is most suita!le. Single*flame !low"i"es of var$ing si8es can
!e connected to the same t$"e of shan as the multi*flame !low"i"e. %he three*flame !low"i"e is
suita!le for straightening "lates from 7 9 13 mm. %he o"erator should also have a straight edge of
a""ro&imatel$ 1.: meters to determine the a""earance and si8e of deformations.
Different constructions with different t$"es of deformation demand different straightening methods. (t is
therefore im"ossi!le to "rovide a general descri"tion of the flame straightening "rocess. Such factors as
residual stresses due to rolling# thermal cutting and welding greatl$ affect the results of straightening.
%olerance re'uirements can also var$ from case to case. . few e&am"les of how flame straightening can
!e e&ecuted will !e given here. %he straightening involves a dec section and the wall of a dechouse#
!oth with a "late thicness of a""ro&. ; mm. <oth of these constructions are flame straightened in the
same manner e&ce"t that the dec can usuall$ onl$ !e reached from one side. <egin !$ straightening the
"late directl$ a!ove the stiffeners. Straighten the side of the "late which is too long# i.e. the conve& side.
,age 3 of 10 4% 5une 3000
7 mm
%he !low"i"e should !e held so that the ti"
of the inner cone of the flame is a""ro&. 7
mm from the "late surface.
6ove the !low"i"e directl$ over the stiffeners
(Fig.3) so that the intermittent heat !ands !ecome
dar red in colour (tem"erature a""ro&. /00 deg
Centigrade). .lwa$s locate one of the flames directl$
a!ove the stiffener while the remaining flames are
dis"laced according to t$"e of deformations in the
surrounding "late. %he following e&am"les illustrate
the location of the !low"i"es. 2here the "late has
!een s$mmetricall$ deformed on !oth sides of the
stiffener (Fig.4) either u"wards (>) or downwards (*).
%he <low"i"e is then located s$mmetricall$ with one
flame on either side of the stiffener# des"ite the fact
that this is the concave side of the stiffener.
%his "late is as$mmetricall$ deformed (Fig.5) it is deformed u"wards on one side of the stiffener and
downwards on the other. %he !low"i"e should !e a""lied eccentricall$. )ne of the outer flames is located
directl$ a!ove the stiffener while the remaining flames are over the side of the stiffener where the "late is
deformed u"wards.

,age ? of 10 4% 5une 3000
Fig.4 Blopipes * *
! !
Fig.5 > *
%he heat !ands should !e a""ro&. 100 mm long on a
7 * / mm thic "late and a""ro&. 3:0 9 ?:0 mm long
on an ; 9 13 mm thic "late. %he distance !etween
heat !ands should !e a""ro&. 100 mm.
Deformations which are as distinct as those shown in the two e&am"les (Fig@s. 7 A :) are rare. (t is
therefore essential that the deformations in the vicinit$ of the stiffener# i.e. the area directl$ affected !$
the flames# !e carefull$ studied.
(n this case (Fig.#) the !low"i"e is located ecentricall$# since the "late is flat in the middle# the "late
there will rise and then revert !ac to its original sha"e. .s in the "revious case# the flames are "ositioned
over the high sections.
%he stiffeners are distinctl$ visa!le in this case (Fig.$) since the "late has !een deformed downwards on
!oth sides of the stiffeners. )nl$ one flame located directl$ over the stiffeners should !e used in this
(n this case the "late in the middle is not deformed. (n an$ case# the o"erator should a""l$ the !low"i"e
eccentricall$ while carefull$ o!serving how the "late reacts to the heating. (f the "late droo"s down# the
!low"i"e must !e returned to the normal "osition with the centre flame directl$ over the stiffener.
,age 7 of 10 4% 5une 3000
Fig.# ! !% & !%
* > * >0 * > *
2hen flame straightening near the stiffeners the o"erator should tae care to ensure that as large an area
as "ossi!le is treated in order to "revent the individual heating "asses from adversel$ affecting each
%he following illustration (Fig.1%) "resents an e&am"le of a correct heating se'uence.

First the "late a!ove ever$ other stiffener is straightened (1#3 A ?). %hen the "late a!ove stiffeners 7# : A
/ are straightened# !ut with the heat !ands somewhat dis"laced.
(f e&treme deformation still remains after the first straightening "ass (1 9 3)# further straightening ma$ !e
necessar$. %hese "asses are mared with the num!ers ? 9 / (Fig.11).
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& !0 ! & & ! !
1 7 3 : ? /
* >0 > * * > >
(n cram"ed areas# the !low"i"e can !e dis"laced !$ half the distance !etween flames (see "ass ? A 7
fig.12) as heating the same area twice is not recomended. During the second straightening ensure that
there is s"ace !etween the heat !ands otherwise the stiffener ma$ !end. %he a""earance of the "late after
the initial straightening with the !low"i"e eccentricall$ located must !e studied carefull$.
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1 ? : / 7 3
Fig.12 ? 7
1 3

1 A 3
? A 7
4e"eated heating is not alwa$s advisa!le in ever$ case. <ucles with large !um"s# for e&am"le# are
difficult to straighten.
Fig.13 shows a !ucle which is suita!le for renewed heating. %his !ucle has the smooth contour which
is necessar$ for a second straightening "ass to !e "ossi!le.
(traightening )uc*les
.fter the area around the !eams is straightened# the remaining !ucles in the intermediate "late surfaces
must !e heated. Conve& !ucles on the dec must !e straightened first. %o o!tain the smoothest "ossi!le
finish on the com"leted wor# the small !ucles must !e treated !efore the larger ones.
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.fter the 1
straightening "ass
.fter the 3
straightening "ass
%he e&am"le in Fig.14 illustrates this method.
Firstl$ 3 or ? s"ots are heated (=o.1 in fig.17).
.fter these have cooled their e&tended areas are
then heated (=o.3 in fig.17). (t is im"ortant that
heating is not resumed until the first s"ots have
com"letel$ cooled down.
? ?
(f the deformation is not corrected !$ heating the middle of the "late# new heating !ands (=o.? Fig.1:)
must !e a""lied to the sides.
Continued heating is now carried out de"ending on the t$"e of !ucle "resent in the "late# according to
either Fig.1/ or Fig.1B !elow.
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7 7
(f the !ucles are uniforml$ distri!uted over the entire "late# heat !ands are a""lied in accordance with
Fig.1". (f the !ucles occur mostl$ in the middle# the new heat !ands shall !e a""lied within the
"revious heat !ands as in Fig.1#. 6an$ of the "reviousl$ concave !ucles will disa""ear as the conve&
!ucles are straightened. %hose !ucles still remaining on the wall are now straightened from the inside
in the same manner as descri!ed a!ove.
!0 ! 0
? ?

3 3


(f there are an$ sections where the u""er "art is
conve&l$ distorted and the lower "art is
concavel$ distorted# straighten in the following
se'uence. Firstl$ the conve&l$ distorted section
is straightened from the outside (=o@s. 1 A 3
Fig.1$). %he lower "art is then heated from the
inside (=o@s. ? A 7 Fig.1'). )!serve that the
heating !ands on !oth the outside and the inside
form a common "attern and that heating is
e&ecuted from the conve& side of the "late.
2hether the final heating (=o.: Fig.2%) in the
transitional area !etween the (>) to (*) is to !e
done from the outside or the inside must !e
determined in each individual case. Heating
shall !e carried out from the conve& side of the
"late# which in this case means from the outside.
(n this case the !low"i"e should !e moved
u"wards. (f heat has to !e a""lied from the
inside the !low"i"e is moved in the other
direction (alwa$s towards the conve&l$ distorted
(n most cases the flame*straightened section will now !e within tolerance and straightening is concluded.
However there ma$ !e some s"ecial cases such as short !ucles which re'uire further treatment as
(hort )uc*les
Short "rominent !ucles can "rove difficult to straighten !ut if treated in the following manner the
!ucles can !e e&tended# there!$ lowering their rigidit$.
%he flame is a""lied in the middle of the !ucles and directed forward. %his "reheats the material over a
large area and the "late will then rise toward the flame (Fig.31). .fter the !ucle has !een e&tended in
one direction# the !low"i"e is directed at the middle and the !ucle is e&tended in the other direction. %he
!ucle then loses its rigidit$ and !ecomes easier to straighten.
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7 7

? ?

: :
of travel
Starting "oint

Starting "oint
of travel
Flame straightening of pre&fa)ricate+ parts
,re*fa!ricated "arts to !e flame straightened must !e firml$ fi&ed to "revent movement. (t is therefore
im"ossi!le to straighten o"en "late surfaces efectivel$. (t is 'uite common for shi"$ards to construct
dechouses as se"arate units from the shi" and then "lace them on the dec with all straightening
com"leted. %his construction method is onl$ "ossi!le if the !ottom "lates that are to !e welded to the
dec are sufficientl$ stiffened during straightening.
Flame straightening cannot !egin until all welding is com"leted. %he dec "lates in the dechouse should
!e straightened first and then the underl$ing walls (Fig.23).
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