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welding/fixing billet aluminum grill

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  • welding/fixing billet aluminum grill

    i need some help. i have this billet aluminum grill for my truck that of course being aftermarket it didnt quite fit correctly. so when all else fails.... weld it. well i figured i would just pick up some aluminum from homedepot since i only needed a small piece and cut it to the correct size i need for new mounts. i took it all to work since they just picked up a new tig and have them weld it up for me since i havent learned how to tig and im not gonna start on this. well i showed them what i needed. no problem. come back later, and they said they stopped and proceeded to show me why. he said that as soon as he started to weld the new piece of aluminum to the grill, the grill started to warp, according to him he had the settings as low as he could. so it ended up warping the bar below the one he was welding on. i dont know how to weld aluminum nor tig but ive heard of being able to weld the aluminum cans together. so why would this happen? and how can i fix it? is there certain ways to weld regular aluminum and billet aluminum? i already cut the mounts that came on the grill off. and now the second bar down is warped and "flops" back and forth when pushed. id hate to say its ruined because these are hard to come by for my truck.
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  • #2
    My guess is that the weld put so much tension on the top side of the top bar, that it is drawing the connector bars closer together. This is what is causing the second bar to warp. It is possible that if you carefully grind the welds and remove the welded-on piece, the top bar will relax and straighten out the second bar. Then you can figure out how to bolt your new brackets on.
    Welcome to the world where knowing how to run a bead doesn't mean you are a weldor.

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    • #3
      X2 the weld shrunk the top bar. To avoid warpage in the future, you can preheat the entire part, or work on it in only very small sections at a time with a cool-down period between, or use strongbacks and jigs to keep the part from moving while heating and cooling. There isn't much mass in the top grill slat so It's will heat up and cool off very fast. The faster a hot weld cools - the more it shrinks.

      To fix it you must stretch the top slat to it's former length, or shrink all the other slats to match the new length. I would stretch, because it's a much easier fix. When the second slat down straightens out - you know you have the right length.

      There's a couple ways to stretch the top slat back to it's former length:
      You can peen a few areas on the top bar to stretch it. If done carefully it wouldn't be visible from the front. You'll need a piece of bar stock thin enough to go between the grill slats to use as an anvil. This is the simplest way to fix it and it allows you to work slowly.

      Alternatively, you could heat the top grill slat to expand it out and then SOLIDLY clamp the far ends to a section of heavy steel angle iron while the the aluminum slat is still in it's hot/expanded state. The angle iron acts as a strongback and does not allow the grill slat to contract while cooling. The AL will remain in an elongated/stretched condition when cooled.

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