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How to Stick weld Aluminum

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  • How to Stick weld Aluminum

    Need a little help from anyone who has stick welded aluminum. Have a 1'X1'X 1/4" base plate. To be welded on a 2"X2"X3/16" square aluminum 18 feet long. Have alot of past welding experiance,but not in stick welding aluminum. Anyone out there who could help me in welding this project. I know mig or tig is the prefered way to do this job,but all I have an arc welder AC / DC stright /DC reverse. Any help would be greatly appricated. Thanks Maineiac
    Last edited by Maineiac; 09-01-2008, 06:45 PM. Reason: Made a mistake in the title
    Lincoln Idealarc 250
    Millermatic 211
    Spoolmate 100
    Arnold

  • #2
    Practice on a similar joint. The rods will consume very quickly, I've always used a pronounced weave, progress fairly quick, and you'll never see the puddle as there is a lot of slag/smoke and things are happening quickly. I run them at smoking hot heat levels.

    Once you get it, you just trust that you're moving along correctly.

    I've made a lot of repairs in the field on aluminum castings and tanks with stick, on construction sites where a field expedient repair keeps production rolling along as opposed to taking the equipment out of service, hauling it to a (far away) town for a proper tig repair.

    Once you figure it out they run pretty easy and look very slick.


    JTMcC.
    Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

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    • #3
      What is the lightest material you can run them on?

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      • #4
        Repair of corroded thru/leaking alu tanks is where I learned to run them and those are very, very thin.

        Having a small can of alu rod on the truck, and being able to use it, gives you "hero" status at least a couple of times per year.

        JTMcC.
        Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

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        • #5
          Like 1/8" or are we talking 16 gauge thin?
          What diameter rods were you using?

          Stick aluminum is something I'd like to add to my bag of tricks!
          at home:
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          • #6
            Yes, I have a bunch of 16 ga alum pipe, the wire feed says its good down to 14 but I routinely do the 16 with it with careful fit and sometimes fitting with a socket style connection, but there is an occasional crack or even a hole, might be able to put a heavy washer over the hole to help with heat sink. At home its no big deal to remove the equipment and get it to the shop but I have some stuff that is in the field on rare occasions. I was interested in torch welding some of it, never tried that either but see some stuff from Aero and a couple guys here that looks pretty good. Would be a thing of beauty if it would work? can you run a light stripper kind of pass over it first? I do that with the feeder on real thin work then come back to make it strong and liquid tight.

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            • #7
              Pretty thin, I'd guess equal to or less than 16 ga. 1/8" rod.
              I would of never even messed with the stuff, but a good friend (superintendant for a worldwide construction company who sent very large amounts of work my way and treated me like the prince I think I am) ask me if I'd try fixing a leak in this little alu water tank on their trailer mounted power washer. Any tank thats corroded or worn thru is paper thin at the failure site and hopefully you can find just a bit of meat to weld to close by.
              They had a pinhole leak, I tried welding it and blew out a hole you could throw a dead cat thru ; )
              I wasn't about to let old Mr. Redd down, so I messed with it and messed with it until it finally clicked and I ran a pretty neat patch over the hole.
              Mr. Redd gave me about 20 lbs of alu stick rod because as he said "nobody else can run it anyway" and that's why I had to learn the stuff.
              It's paid off in large amounts of good will.
              I'm well aware it's not the prefered repair method but when you fix a broken piece of alu out in the sticks, for a foreman who REALLY needs the piece right now, you have a friend for life. You can't buy advertising like that.
              I welded a massive (over 12" long) crack in the bellhousing of my old '91 Dodge with a Cummins/5 speed, out in the fab yard, with the stuff and it's still trucking along out there in central northern Arizona, the Cummins was turned up well beyond common sense and had enought torque that it broke 2 or 3 bellhousing bolts per month. It broke a lot of other parts as well, but that's another story.
              So I keep it on my truck now for those rare occasions when some sad faced dude walks up and ask's "you can't weld aluminum can you"? Just to see them light up when I say "maybe, let me see what you got". ; )

              I run it downhill in the vertical position. And I stick weld for a livelyhood so I'm not scared of thin material.

              JTMcC.
              Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

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              • #8
                Thanks, thats been a little persuasion to give it a try. I will look for some electrodes, you run them on RP or straight?

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                • #9
                  The aluminum arc rod # is 4043, 1/8 Dia. DC reverse polarity. You can ask the welding saleman if there is something out there that is better than this rod for stick welding. Maineiac
                  Lincoln Idealarc 250
                  Millermatic 211
                  Spoolmate 100
                  Arnold

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                  • #10
                    I just start the machine, that (to me) means DC reverse or positive stinger.

                    I buy mine from Ram Welding Supply, they are the internet arm of Fresno Oxygen and have very good prices on quite a few things that I use.

                    Everybody and their brother will tell you you can't make a decent weld with alu stick rod. If you take the time to learn, (I spent about 30 frustrating minutes), you really can and all those guys will give you more credit than you deserve.
                    It's not hard, it's just different.
                    When you figure it out, that stuff runs so slick people will think you tig'd it.


                    JTMcC
                    Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JTMcC View Post
                      Pretty thin, I'd guess equal to or less than 16 ga. 1/8" rod.
                      I would of never even messed with the stuff, but a good friend (superintendant for a worldwide construction company who sent very large amounts of work my way and treated me like the prince I think I am) ask me if I'd try fixing a leak in this little alu water tank on their trailer mounted power washer. Any tank thats corroded or worn thru is paper thin at the failure site and hopefully you can find just a bit of meat to weld to close by.
                      They had a pinhole leak, I tried welding it and blew out a hole you could throw a dead cat thru ; )
                      I wasn't about to let old Mr. Redd down, so I messed with it and messed with it until it finally clicked and I ran a pretty neat patch over the hole.
                      Mr. Redd gave me about 20 lbs of alu stick rod because as he said "nobody else can run it anyway" and that's why I had to learn the stuff.
                      It's paid off in large amounts of good will.
                      I'm well aware it's not the prefered repair method but when you fix a broken piece of alu out in the sticks, for a foreman who REALLY needs the piece right now, you have a friend for life. You can't buy advertising like that.
                      I welded a massive (over 12" long) crack in the bellhousing of my old '91 Dodge with a Cummins/5 speed, out in the fab yard, with the stuff and it's still trucking along out there in central northern Arizona, the Cummins was turned up well beyond common sense and had enought torque that it broke 2 or 3 bellhousing bolts per month. It broke a lot of other parts as well, but that's another story.
                      So I keep it on my truck now for those rare occasions when some sad faced dude walks up and ask's "you can't weld aluminum can you"? Just to see them light up when I say "maybe, let me see what you got". ; )

                      I run it downhill in the vertical position. And I stick weld for a livelyhood so I'm not scared of thin material.

                      JTMcC.
                      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      I appreciate your way of explaining your methods. Please provide a little more detail on the last sentence in your post: "I run it downhill in the vertical position. And I stick weld for a lively hood so I'm not scared of thin material."

                      I understand that you weld with an aluminum rod using a DC Stick Welder that is commonly used with a steel, flux coated rod.

                      *Do you always weld downhill in the vertical position?

                      *Does this produce a better aluminum weld than from a flat, horizontal weld position?

                      *When you "run it downhill", do you use the "drag" or "backhand" welding technique by holding the rod perpendicular to the joint and tilt the top of the electrode in the direction of travel [downward] approximately 5 to 15 degrees?? If not, please explain.

                      *What size aluminum rods do you work with ?

                      *What are their numbers....like 4043, 5356, or Harris 26 Aluminum Welding Electrodes ?

                      *Do you always follow the recommended heat settings that come with the Aluminum electrodes?

                      These forums are a real blessing. Years ago before PC it would take a lifetime to get all of the help that the wonderful people on this site have provided. Thanks!

                      Larry Lou lrcdmc@sbcglobal.net

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