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Re: Magnetized steel

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    <<  We have a project where we're welding steel plates to an existing steel gate at a dam.  >> 
Most modern lock gates have a cathodic protection system that utilizes low voltage DC current to "sacrifice" the more noble metal in order to protect the steel.  You might check to see if this system has been shut down during repair/modification of the gates.  Most welding problems of the type you mention using stick electrodes and DC current are overcome by simply relocating the position of the ground attachment from the welding machine.  Usually some types of magnetic arc blow are experienced at the ends of long members and at the corners of large weldments.
The previous advice to seek help from Lincoln Electric is sound.  They have some very competent and and field experienced personnel.
Jimmy  C.......(hisself)