Restricted Pipe Welding Certifications and Test Positions

Restricted pipe welding positions are the most difficult type of welder qualification or welding certifications a welder can pass. These welding certifications and test positions are designed to test your ability to weld in tight and confined spaces.

Access to the weld joint is limited in three ways:

  • Forcing the welder to find unusual stances and body position.
  • Other pipes, a ceiling or walls, and restrictive rings are some of the various obstacles used to block access to the weld joint.
  • Blocking visual access of the welding area by forcing the welder to use a mirror to see the weld joint.

Many times it is a combination of the obstacles and visual restriction that the test will incorporate. Restricted tests come in the 2G, 5G, and 6G positions but most of the time it will be a 6GR or 6G restricted test positions.

6gr restricted pipe test position

6GR Restricting Ring Pipe Welding Certification Position

The 6G restrictive ring test position is typically an 18″ restrictive ring placed 1/2″ above the weld joint. I have seen this illustrated in welding books and the AWS code. The picture is of a practice test I took and was going to get this welding certification. Unfortunately when looking for a welding procedure this test is not available. It was shown but not tested. Other codes may use it and have a procedure that is tested.

6GR Restricted Boiler Tubing Test Position

The 6GR boiler tubing test is restricted by placing a boiler tube on each side of the coupon to be welded. You have exactly 1 inch of clearance to weld on the side of the tube. This is probably the most difficult tests to pass. Boiler tubing tests are typically TIG welded and must be free-handed at all times.
You are also required to weld half of the tube right handed and the other half left handed. Walking the cup is not allowed and will cause an instant failure of the weld test!

Another type of boiler tubing test I took had only has 1/2 of an inch of clearance and all I could say is “Wow that was tight” but after being on the job a while it is no big deal.

6GR Box Type Restriction Pipe Welding Certification Position

Shipyards typically test pipe welders using a box type restricted position. There restricted 6G test does not use a ring or other pipes to block access. Instead it’s more realistic for the type of work being done in a shipyard. The pipe is put into the 6G position inside of a welding booth that has a steel grating ceiling. The pipe is placed on the right side of the booth (if you are right handed) 12″ from the right wall. Then 12″ from the ceiling and 12″ from the back wall. If you are looking at the pipe straight on, the right side of the pipe from the 3 to 12 o’clock positions is almost inaccessible. 12 inches of clearance sounds like a lot, but that is 12 inches to the center of the weld joint. So a 6″ pipe has only 9″ of clearance. The restricted area is too tight to put your head in there or too see anything.

I recently passed this type of test for my current job using a TIG root and hot pass with the rest Stick welded out. The hardest part of this test is the TIG welding part. To pass you need to weld the first quarter of the pipe right handed, the second quarter left handed, then the third quarter right handed using a mirror, and finally the last quarter left handed using a mirror. Finally the weld had to pass an x-ray test. Unfortunately I could not get permission to take any pictures.


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