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Thread: cant weld aluminium for shit - advice ??

  1. #1
    GTFO of my ED doctor ed's Avatar
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    cant weld aluminium for shit - advice ??

    best advice wouldbe stop and give it to some cunt who can weld - which for my current parts is what im doing. i dont even trust myself to tack the tubing

    in the meantime for entertainment purposes id like to try and figure out wtf im doing wrong

    ill put up some pics later, but essentially it goes something like:

    - parent alloy gets dull/matt and starts to pit, leave it a sec longer and the material starts to sag
    - filler rod doesnt take onto the surface, instead just balls up and sits as a blob
    - 3sec later it all turns to liquid and all falls to the ground

    at no point do a see a weld pool. i cant feed filler rod into anything. the filler doesnt take, ist just stubborly sits as a separated ball of Slop. i cant progress the 'bead' anywhere to let the material cool down as there is no weldy-sticky action to move away from. i just end up with a line of dull pitted slightly saggy and melted material with blobs of filler left and right (which arent really bonded, just sitting on the surface)

    material is acetone cleaned. rods and tunsten are clean/new. gas is sitting around 12. tried pretty much twiddling every knob to see if i can get it to make a difference (even to just the initial weld pool formation) and i get jack all.

    ideas?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Duckworth View Post
    "I think that in a racing engine, the closer it is to disintegrating, in general the better its performance will be "

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    Have you got the machine set to AC Ed? What type of tungsten are you using?

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    GTFO of my ED doctor ed's Avatar
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    have tried both zirconiated and thoriated

    and yeah, AC, tried shifting the cleaning balance and frequency, tried different starting ramps as well as final amp power, all mixed and matched to frequency etc so not to just blow massive holes in things.
    Mit freundlichen GrŁŖe

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Duckworth View Post
    "I think that in a racing engine, the closer it is to disintegrating, in general the better its performance will be "

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    What are you actually welding?

    - Go and grab yourself some thick 6mm or so alloy plate and make sure it's big (so it will take a heap of heat if you go gun happy with the amps).
    - Try running a bead on the plate. Your torch should be on a 45*ish angle or so (if you're right handed the torch should run right to left). If you have a weird angle then it's going to struggle to form a weld pool. Tungsten should be 10mm out from the end of the torch.
    - How are you sharpening the tungsten? Belt sanders are good, you want to sharpen it so the grooves from the sander / stone wheel run in the same direction as what the gas would.
    - Keep your filler rod well away from the torch, until your weld pool has formed. From what you described your filler is too close and blobs up. You want to wait till the weld pool forms and feed the filler into the pool.

    Sorry if some of this seems basic but I don't know exactly where you're at with it all.

    But yeh get some plate and try that, only because I don't know what your welding and if its shit material you won't get anywhere.

    Also make sure your earth is good, gas is actually reaching the torch etc. What amps do you have it set on and what thickness was the material? Some photos would be handy or a video would be even better (just simulate how you would do the weld obviously not with the welder on)

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    GTFO of my ED doctor ed's Avatar
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    ill get some pics

    1.5mm aluminium intercooler tube presently (obviously the edge of a 1.5mm tube makes me extra nervous). have previously run good beads on chunky ass old cast intake manifolds no probs, but have never had any luck whatsoever joining thinner aluminium tube.

    can tig carbon steel and stainless a-ok. dont have heaps and heaps of torch time, but enough that i can bang out a half decent steel weld on demand

    not brag worthy, but the bits stick together:

    Last edited by doctor ed; 16-04-18 at 10:58 PM.
    Mit freundlichen GrŁŖe

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Duckworth View Post
    "I think that in a racing engine, the closer it is to disintegrating, in general the better its performance will be "

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    Quote Originally Posted by doctor ed View Post
    - parent alloy gets dull/matt and starts to pit, leave it a sec longer and the material starts to sag
    - filler rod doesnt take onto the surface, instead just balls up and sits as a blob
    - 3sec later it all turns to liquid and all falls to the ground
    Go get some stainless steel toothbrushes. You will never, ever, ever, use these for anything other than alloy. Ever. Wire brush the parts until you feel the brush start to drag, you'll feel it once all the oxide layer is off.

    Any kind of extruded thin wall tubing has more oxide than normal on it and it's a bear to get through, and if it's "shiny" or polished up tubing it's an extra pain in the dick to get it all off. The stainless brush will change your world, and make you a much happier guy.

    See that black gunk on your weld above? That's the tungsten that's been dipped in aluminum or the aluminum was dirty.

    Crank your A/C balance up to full tungsten meltdown, and then back it off about 25%, this will help if you're using the normal 2.4mm tungsten.
    Last edited by Xnke; 17-04-18 at 12:53 AM.

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    GTFO of my ED doctor ed's Avatar
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    Yep, polished thin-walled alloy tube of dubious origin. I picked up some stainless brushes on the way home this evening, along with a new grinding stone for my tungsten. Starting fresh, try again

    And yep, material above was filthy (welded a v-band to a used cat). Cleaned it, but was still filthy. Welded pretty well all things considered.
    Last edited by doctor ed; 17-04-18 at 06:30 AM.
    Mit freundlichen GrŁŖe

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Duckworth View Post
    "I think that in a racing engine, the closer it is to disintegrating, in general the better its performance will be "

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    Registered User Rz's Avatar
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    anodized?

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    Ease Up Turbo Commotion's Avatar
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    I welded intercooler pipework for someone a while ago and they supplied the material. Iím guessing they got one of them kits from eBay with the polished looking bends. It didnít weld too bad but had a skin to it. Was an interesting material. I didnít gind the surface down. Just chopped in bandsaw and deburred. Iíve never had too much need to remove the oxide layer for tig. I find the cleaning action of the phase seems to work adequate. I normally have to spend a bit of effort cleaning if itís older or dirtier material. Thatís my other tip. Donít use abrasives to cut ally, use a band saw and circular saw blade and use carbide burrs to clean up and deburr. A small hand operated bandsaw from trade tools was one of the best tools for welding ally that I bought.

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    yep, stainless brush or wire-wheel is your friend. That cheap polished crap is a pain to get though the skin. Accidentally used a section of it when doing the cooler pipes for my daily as an offcut had the right angle

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    Bannered takai's Avatar
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    Anyone found a stainless wire wheel that fits into a 1/4 hex holder? I use a brass one for stainless, but would love a stainless one for alu. At the moment im using a massive cup thing which is hard to get into crevices or brushing AN weldons etc.
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    Commotion brings up a good point-never use aluminum oxide grinding or sanding materials on alloy you want to weld, aluminum is soft and it will embed hard oxide bits into the metal. Then when you weld it, that crap gets pulled into the puddle and causes problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by takai View Post
    Anyone found a stainless wire wheel that fits into a 1/4 hex holder? I use a brass one for stainless, but would love a stainless one for alu. At the moment im using a massive cup thing which is hard to get into crevices or brushing AN weldons etc.
    there's a snapon brush that's not hex but works really well in a drill etc that I've used for getting into crevices, looks like https://www.wire-brush.co.uk/wirebru...6mm-Arbor.html

    I got a box of small stainless wire wheels that I use in the drill for cleaning alloy prior to welding, has fairly soft/compliant bristles and works really well. Looks a bit like https://www.wire-brush.co.uk/wirebru...6mm-Arbor.html
    Last edited by jasonp1977; 18-04-18 at 05:41 PM.

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    Bannered takai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonp1977 View Post
    there's a snapon brush that's not hex but works really well in a drill etc that I've used for getting into crevices, looks like https://www.wire-brush.co.uk/wirebru...6mm-Arbor.html

    I got a box of small stainless wire wheels that I use in the drill for cleaning alloy prior to welding, has fairly soft/compliant bristles and works really well. Looks a bit like https://www.wire-brush.co.uk/wirebru...6mm-Arbor.html
    Yeah, those little wire wheels are what im after, but with a 1/4 hex shank. Maybe i should just buy another cheap $30 drill for leaving wire brushes on in the welding drawer, rather than using the old impact driver.
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    Gas Turbine enthusiast da9jeff's Avatar
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    Have a look on wish/banggood etc. They always have random shit mounted on 1/4 hex.

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    My tig has a amperage dial on the foot pedal (god knows why), on occasion it gets accidentally wound down and the machine doesn't see the full power have set it to. The result is a dull grey surface and I can't get the puddle to form and go shiny, eventually the metal slumps away.

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    What size filler better to be adding more smaller filler then trying to melt too big of filler wire.
    Much like steel etc in that larger wire needs more heat to melt.

    Another is what grade of filler the norm is 5356 but if not chasing outright strength 4043 can be easier to weld with and is the pick for welding up cast parts or parts to be anodized.

    Was messing around a while ago cutting slithers of the parent material and that was also easier to make flow and seeing how much gap i could fill on some scraps i had laying around.

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    Shit I thought I was starting bad but feel better now (2 inches of tig welding experience)

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    5356 filler is good for wrought aluminum, like 5000 and 6000 series alloys, as all of these contain magnesium. 5356 should not be used if the weld site will be in service over 165*F, due to cracking issues.

    4043 is a high-silicon alloy and works well with just about everything, but can't be anodized as the extra silicon in the alloy will go black, but it works very well on castings. 4047 is another good casting repair alloy.

    Best all-around, fixes everything alloy that I have used and continue to use is 4393. It's heat treatable, does not need base metal dilution, and is roughly equal to 6061 in strength.

    2000 series high strength alloys are right out. Can't be/shouldn't be welded, nor used outdoors unprotected (or at all...)

    7000 series alloys are the aluminum equal to "superalloys" and are all a little special. Read the alloy sheets for proper welding rod, but if it's not critical, 5356 will probably do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by takai View Post
    Yeah, those little wire wheels are what im after, but with a 1/4 hex shank. Maybe i should just buy another cheap $30 drill for leaving wire brushes on in the welding drawer, rather than using the old impact driver.
    small drill chucks with 1/4 hex on the back of them pop up cheap from time to time. i got one in a cheap kit of drill bits one. might be an option?
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    Bannered takai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briney View Post
    small drill chucks with 1/4 hex on the back of them pop up cheap from time to time. i got one in a cheap kit of drill bits one. might be an option?
    Funny you mention this, i was going to buy one of these: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1-4-0-5-...k/161962996854
    But ended up just getting a spare brushed Ozito throwaway drill for $19 to keep with the welding gear.
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    Registered User Dimi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morcs View Post
    What size filler better to be adding more smaller filler then trying to melt too big of filler wire.
    Much like steel etc in that larger wire needs more heat to melt.
    I dissagree. Because unlike steel you cant just hang around with the puddle and add more filler rod till your happy, you're overheating it.
    Personally 2.4mm 4043 for the above pictured Vband flange to tube.

    I cut with abrasive grinder discs and give no fucks
    Clean everything up with zirconia linisher belts not the red oxide shit ones
    Grind tungstens on the same belt to as much of a point as i can be bothered achieving for Al
    De-burr with a proper tool
    Get acetone and wipe everything down
    Cleaning action does the rest
    Welds perfect.

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    That's Sir Cunt to you... krisr's Avatar
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    I also find that if I do get contaminated pools when everything is clean swapping to a gas lense and 6 or 7 cup helps keep the tungsten shielded helps quite a bit too. I pretty much leave the gas lense on now and just mess with gas pressure which seems to work.
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    Whats the reason for the tig ark to be all over the place, instead of concentrating in one small dot/area?
    So if i want to start making a pool in a certain area, but the jumps are all over the area and not where i want it... whats csusing that?
    P.s. just a novice trying to teach myself with a new tig welder.
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    Gas Turbine enthusiast da9jeff's Avatar
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    Being a novice you might be too cautious with the amps? Does the welder have a basic setup guide for different thicknesses?

    Others reasons could be too low a frequency, blunt tungsten or contaminated with alloy.

    Get some scrap and just play with the settings to see what each one does, then try to hone in on a set up for that material. If you find something that works (at this stage just practice getting a pool going and moving it in a line, add filler later) then note it down for reference.

    And as always, most important thing is hood time and.... YOUTUBE!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MAZMAN View Post
    Whats the reason for the tig ark to be all over the place, instead of concentrating in one small dot/area?
    So if i want to start making a pool in a certain area, but the jumps are all over the area and not where i want it... whats csusing that?
    P.s. just a novice trying to teach myself with a new tig welder.
    On steel a blunt or contaminated tungsten will do this.

    On aluminium, dunno..... I have not got to that yet.

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    Da9jeff,
    Its a unimig razor 200.
    Ill try all those suggestions.

    What would be good if someone was willing, to get a couple guys together (for me in sydney but can be done anywhere), and teach/show us the basic stuff and how to start welding basic 2x pieces together, kinda like a welding course.
    Everyone chip in some $$$ to cover the cost of gas and consumables plus the teachers time 😁
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    Aluminum will always have a bit of dance to it unless you have a nice high-frequency squarewave machine. It's caused by the polarity reversal, the arc is extinguished and re-ignited every time the polarity reverses and the voltage crosses zero-this is the hum you hear. The plasma contained in the arc doesn't loose much heat from it, and doesn't immediately disspiate, but the arc current hits zero and re-strikes.

    Old transformer type machines that ran 60hz sine-wave outputs would tend to ball up the tungsten, and you had to run a green-tip pure tungsten electrode. The reason is that you're running a fixed 50% duty cycle, so half the heat is directed to the work, during the heating portion of the cycle, and the other half is directed to the tungsten, during the cleaning portion of the cycle. It's a handicap. But, it does work.

    That's not the case with a modern square-wave machine, you can take advantage of a dark blue 2% lanthanated, or gold 1.5% lanthanated, or a brown 2% ceriated, or orange 2% zirconated tungsten, grind it to a nice needle point like you use for steel in 1.6mm tungsten or a truncated cone in 2.4 or 3.2mm tungsten. The narrow tip will help keep arc dance to a minimum, and the adjustable duty cycle allows you to direct the heat to the workpiece while still getting the needed cleaning action. By adjusting the duty cycle to less cleaning, your work needs to be cleaner or virgin material, but you don't melt the tungsten down nearly as fast if at all. If you have dirty material, you need to run more cleaning-this heats the tungsten more and the work less, for the same amperage, but blasts off the oxide layer more effectively. If you have very thin aluminum with a thick oxide layer, you can use this relationship to your advantage, at the cost of tungsten life.
    Last edited by Xnke; 09-05-18 at 11:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MAZMAN View Post
    Da9jeff,
    Its a unimig razor 200.
    Ill try all those suggestions.

    What would be good if someone was willing, to get a couple guys together (for me in sydney but can be done anywhere), and teach/show us the basic stuff and how to start welding basic 2x pieces together, kinda like a welding course.
    Everyone chip in some $$$ to cover the cost of gas and consumables plus the teachers time 😁
    I'm in for that. Also in Sydney, and have the same welder, Razor 200.

  30. #30
    Problem? sssgtr's Avatar
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    I had similar issues with my tig starting out.

    Run the highest frequency for cleaning your machine will allow.

    Use a gas lens, reduce your gas flow. Turbulent gas flow using a normal collet and cup does make a difference at the weld pool because you have to run a higher flow rate to get the same coverage as a gas lens. Less shielding gas use too.

    Minimise your cleaning cycle to the bare minimum on thin material. I found that too much cleaning was putting too much heat into the material, causing it to drop away before I could get filler near it.

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