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Tig welding a aluminum motorcycle frame?

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  • Tig welding a aluminum motorcycle frame?

    I am purchasing a 2001 gsxr 1000 , and it has 2 small hairline cracks in the frame near the steering stem area. I was going to have it welded or I might even try to weld it if I ever get my welding down to a art and am confident enough to weld it. I am just not sure what filler rod would be best on this type of frame. It is a suzuki motorcycle notorious for frame problems. Has anyone had experience in the area of welding this type of aluminum frame before? I have heard about people using 4043 and 5356 fillers but just not sure. Here are a couple pics
    Attached Files

  • #2
    suzuki is not notorious for frame problems. most likely the bike was dropped hard from high again and again or even crashed. you may want to have a expert look at that before you part with cash.


    • #3
      Originally posted by mikecwik View Post
      suzuki is not notorious for frame problems. most likely the bike was dropped hard from high again and again or even crashed. you may want to have a expert look at that before you part with cash.
      I have to agree. One too many wheelies slamming down on the rear brake and break it did.

      It should be a repairable condition since it was welded in the first place. I would not trust it to a novice welder.


      • #4
        I agree that it was probably dropped,A crack around the steering stem area is pretty dangerous,I would take it to a shop and have it assessed.Mike


        • #5
          Im not saying all suzuki frames are notorious for frame problems but certain models were. The 1986-90's gsxr 1100 frames were known to crack around the steering stem from coming down from wheelies to often. Also suzuki had a frame recall in 2005-2006 for there gsxr 1000 frames to replace frames that cracked and the ones that didnt crack already they designed a brace for dealers to put on. Also the 2001-2002 gsxr 1000 frame was redesigned. But its a 2000 dollar price tag to buy the redesigned frame.
          Last edited by waffenampt; 02-11-2010, 09:44 AM.


          • #6
            Does anyone know if after welding is complete the factory does any type of heat treating on the Aluminum frame? Mike


            • #7
              Hey waffenampt,
              I will attempt to provide you some information & advice to, perhaps, save you some serious problems & maybe, your naive a$$ from physical destruction of your bodily parts. My response is to, hopefully, try to engage some "gray matter", if you have any, to really consider your endeavor into such a project.

              To allow you an understanding of my qualifications to give you a response & opinion, I have owned/ridden motorcycles for 56yrs & welded as a profession for 47yrs. My opinions are based on experience, not on conjecture.

              First: You post indicates you have no idea of the parameters that a motorcycle frame is designed & fabricated to meet the specifications of strength &, primarily, SAFETY! Since you know this motorcycle is damaged at the most critical point of stress & fabrication, that would certainly indicate abuse by the owner. Apparently, it means nothing to you.....probably because you think you're going to get a real good(cheap) price to own it. Your thought patterns are typical of the youngsters & newbies who "think" they know-it-all, yet fail to do some serious homework to understand the total forces engaged on a motorcycle frame. Those forces are generally applied over-excessively by you youngsters who have to test your mettle with speed & stupidity that eventually results in injury to yourselves and/or others.

              Second: You post a query on the discussion forum regarding the differences between 4043 & 5356 weld filler.....DUUUUHHHHH! Pure evidence that you know nothing about welding & associated parameters to have a solid & secure weld that would meet the specifications the factories employ with their engineering, design, & construction of their motorcycle frames. You make a dumb statement that these frames were manufactured with defects......another DUUUHHHH! No factory in this world would risk this kind of liability. The you latest post that: "I'm not saying all Suzuki frames are notorious for frame problems but certain models were." Then you clarify the reason is because of the "wheelies too often".......DUUUHHHH!

              I'm sure any experienced welder here or any other forum is going to give you advice or suggestions to do a repair that may entail a liability because of mis-information. You walk on extremely thin ice youngster.....if you fall thru, it's the result of your choice/decision..... so you have to live with the results of stupid choices.



              • #8
                Sorry Denny


                • #9
                  my 2 cents

                  I worked for one of the largest motorcycle, dirtbike, 4wheeler, ect (cant say who because of confidentiality agreements) repairing rejected frames including aluminum dirtbike frames which believe it or not were designed to take much more abuse than their aluminum street bike frame. If this happened in house I would have repaired it and customers would never have known. I have actually seen one that I repaired at a local dealership. This is all I will say about it, I cant afford a law suit or 12 year prison sentence


                  • #10
                    Not knowing the condition of the alloy ( heat treatment ), not knowing the base alloy, and having a "tenderfoot" do the work..........yikes. This is a no-brainer........either find out EXACTLY what your working on, or DONT DO IT. Of course there is probably some "buddy" of yours that will weld it up for you.....there always is. If a couple of us seem harsh, thick of it as a warning shot for your own safety to "engage brain before performing work" , and if the task is too difficult, find someone qualified to make the determination for you. And please for the love of God, dont ask an internet forum what the alloy of your frame is and if its heat treated.


                    • #11
                      TIG welding aluminum to beef up case covers?

                      Not to jack the thread, but I'm new to the site and can't send a PM:


                      I'm looking for some facts on whether TIG welding stock aluminum case covers on my 2000 R6 could actually weaken it ...

                      For this year, stock aluminum case covers aren't allowed so some guys (including me) whose bikes are too old for Woodcrafts (and can't find NRC covers for their bike) were advised to have their magneto- and impulse generator covers TIG welded (by a reputable b-pressure certified welder) to build them up bar steel to pass tech ... BUT one of the guys on the tech committee is an engineer (not a materials engineer) "speculates" that the cooling after the welding might weaken the covers. He doesn't know for sure, so now there's a chance they won't pass tech. Since a lot of guys with older bikes have already taken this option, it's going to be discussed by the tech committee (which comprises said engineer, a firefighter, and a couple other racers, none of whom are welders). Anyway, I need to do some homework and wanted direction on how to get facts, not conjecture. What's your take?

                      I'd appreciate any advice because I want to be able to race round 2 and I can't see any other options if the committee decides the work I had done on the covers was for naut!__________________
                      Last edited by bluekat600; 05-25-2010, 04:52 AM. Reason: Added more info


                      • #12
                        Hey bluecat,
                        Your query lacks much information regarding the alteration you need to do.
                        1) Are you inquiring about the possibility of weakening the present cover with welding it?
                        2) Are you indicating you have to change the present alum. covers with steel ones?
                        3) Are you experienced with TIG welding? Do you have an adequate TIG unit to accomplish this project?
                        4) What are the qualification parameters set by the regulating agency that allows said usage of your bike?

                        You have to understand that knowing the cover metal grade will dictate welding process & possible damage from heating/cooling. Aluminum is the most finicky regarding cleanliness & since the cover has been immersed in oil or other lubricating fluid, your success ratio has been significantly reduced with contamination unless you can have it chemically cleaned to virtually "germ-free". Any welding produces a HAZ(HeatAffectedZone) that surrounds the weld joint & will alter the metallic properties & possibly induce cracking. If you have to change from alum. to steel, the regulating agency would have to indicate acceptable grades of steel & process/certification engaged. An example would be such as Nascar/Oval/Drag/IHRA ruling that TIG only or TIG & MIG is acceptable. The ruling bodies set the parameters & are strictly enforced.

                        Post your intentions as detailed as possible. Pics will be the best way to view your project and will allow other members to offer a suggestion or comment.



                        • #13
                          Thanks Denny,

                          According to the 2010 Edmonton Motorcycle Roadracing Association Rulebook:

                          Engine case covers must be suitably reinforced, or be of heavy duty type specifically intended for racing use.
                          Alternate suitable protection for engine cases, such as frame mounted sliders, may be permitted (subject to suitability
                          and at the discretion of the Chief Technical Inspector) where suitable aftermarket reinforcement or race specific
                          covers are not commercially available.
                          So my inquiry has to do with the basis upon which the technical committee may deem TIG welding to weaken stock sportbike aluminum covers.

                          The welder is b-pressure certified and uses a Dynasty 350DX TIG Runner.

                          I searched for an hour trying to find what kind of aluminum alloy was used to form the cast OEM case covers. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find out that info, but for argument's sake, let's say it's 5052.

                          I took some pics of the completed job (I low-sided the bike during the last race weekend, hence the rash on the magneto case cover).
                          Attached Files


                          • #14
                            I am not a bike guy, that said, those engine case covers appear to be cast aluminum, nothing special. There should be very little pressure on them, so I don't see why a welder would need a pressure certification to weld them. The reinforcement seems to be there just in the event the bike hits the ground to keep the oil in the case. Any tech guy who gives you fits for welding on that has no idea what he is talking about.


                            • #15

                              I think you're right about not needing any special certification to do the rather simple job I described; it just so happens that the guy who did the welds passed the Alberta Boiler Safety Association's Grade B Pressure Welder test -- he works on pipelines and knows his stuff but doesn't want to get involved in defending himself to non-welders -- he does welding repairs on race bikes on the side, more as a hobby than as a source of income (I was charged only $75 CAD).

                              The question the engineer on the committe brought up seems to be baseless theoretical speculation about whether the welds I took pics of may reduce the integrity of the cases (which, as you're correct in thinking, would pose track maintenance issues if they failed during a crash). It would be rare for a bike to highside and land on the track, fracturing a case cover and spewing oil onto the track ... I've never seen it, but I think it's much more likely that a previously "crash rashed" stock cover would scrape right through during a long slide (again, something I've only heard about and never seen at the small track we race on, the longest strech of which is less than half a mile long).

                              So ... I'd like to post something on the EMRA technical forum before the committee meeting that's coming up (without pointing a finger at one of the chief tech inspectors) and I'm wondering what a knowledgable welder would include in a post regarding the likelihood of harming the integrity of stock case covers after they were welded for the purpose of reducing the possibility of scraping through the pot stock aluminum ...

                              Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my question. It's much appreciated!



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