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  • aluminum welding

    Is there a difference in the weld quality with a spool gun for aluminum welding as oposed to using a regular mig gun. The welding rep at my local Acklands Grainger store said that ther is a stiffer aluminum wire that can be used in the regular mig gun, as long as there is no kinks in the hose. I realize that a spool gun pulls the wire and with regular mig gun it pushes the wire, but is this the only difference.

  • #2
    I have never used a "regular" mig gun to try and push al wire....what he is talking about is 5xxx wire....it is stiffer than 4xxxx wire.....however from working on an al tool box for my trailer I can tell you it would be no fun trying to use a mig gun and hold it just right.....what MIG machine do you have and what kind of stuff are you planing / wanting to MIG weld (thickness and items)?
    George W. Bush was saving your butt whether you liked it or not!
    Fear is temporary, regret is forever
    HH210 with SG

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    • #3
      I did a test one day i had two exact alum parts to weld. So i set up my mig welder with a small roll of 4356 wire and proceded to weld. It went great for about 5 minutes then the birdnest's started one after another so i figured i wasted enough wire and went to the spoolgun and finished the job. If you can keep the birdnests down and find a teflon liner to fit your gun you will be doing great. I welded for years where i used to work with a regular mig but we were running 1/16" wire that was pretty stiff compared to .035 stuff....Bob
      Bob Wright

      Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.
      http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...php?albumid=48

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      • #4
        I had good luck pushing 53xx wire through a standard mig gun. It was a Home Cheapo lincoln 220v and i never really had an issue, i didn't change the liner either. I did always try to keep the gun hose strait or at least with big curves.I keep meaning to try it with my MM175 but havn't gotten around to it yet.
        Dynasty 200 DX
        Millermatic 175
        Spectrum 375
        All kinds of Smith OA gear

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stomper View Post
          Is there a difference in the weld quality with a spool gun for aluminum welding as oposed to using a regular mig gun. The welding rep at my local Acklands Grainger store said that ther is a stiffer aluminum wire that can be used in the regular mig gun, as long as there is no kinks in the hose. I realize that a spool gun pulls the wire and with regular mig gun it pushes the wire, but is this the only difference.
          84Z and Bob Wright both gave you good info, although I'm pretty sure Bob meant to say that he loaded his MIG with 5356 as opposed to 4356.

          A spoolgun is simply a very small MIG unit. Both a "regular" MIG gun AND a "spool gun" use two or more rollers to "push" wire from a spool, through a contactor, and out a nozzle surrounded by injected shielding gas. The only difference is that a normal MIG machine is "pushing" that wire 10', 12', or 15' whereas a spool gun is pushing it approximately 2.5 inches. There is, however, a "Push-Pull System" on the market....Miller's is known as the MM252 Push-Pull, and they are the "dream team" for aluminum GMAW. However, you definitely pay for what you get.

          Bob described the most-common problem with attempting to push aluminum wire through a 10' or 15' "regular" MIG gun...birdnesting. There are also issues with the wire "breaking" at the feed-rollers. Depending on your MIG gun, you may be able to adjust the speed or amount of "feedback" or "burnback" on your gun (My HTP2400 has this feature) and you can use it --along with wire feed speed {{WFS****-- to decrease the amount of "jerking" that goes on when you pull the trigger and engage your rollers.

          Search this board for suggested ways to use aluminum wire in your MIG gun for specific details, but in short, use 5356 wire (because it's stiffer than 4043 and less prone to breaking) and use it in a maximum of .030 size. THEN use a .035 (or better, an .045) contact tip....this gives your wire room to expand as it heats up and decreases your risk of "sticking" your wire to your contact tip. THEN, after you've got those first two things ironed out, stretch your gun hose ALL the way out without any kinks or sharp bends...keep your nozzle as close to "inline" with your hose as possible....and finally: pull the trigger. Also good to remember (or to start remembering) is that in most cases, WFS and travel times are MUCH faster with aluminum than they are for the same thicknesses of steel.

          It can be done, but do your homework first.
          sigpic
          Clint Baxley
          Baxley Welding Service
          Rembert, SC 29128

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          • #6
            Thanks guys for all the info, Thats why I like this site so much, lots of knowledge. The wire in question was a 53xx. My machine is a millermatic 210 and I will be welding 1" sq tube 3/16" wall thickness. I will give it a try because I don't plan on doing a lot of aluminum and the cost of a spool gun in canada runs just over $1000.00.
            Thanks again, I will let you know how it works out.

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            • #7
              darbukey

              There is no differance! But watch the length of mig gun. The best one would be a push & pull welder if you are doing big jobs. But if you are welding stuff like new or replacing floors in dump trailers or tri-axels the 1# spool gum works great!.

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              • #8
                If you absolutely have to use a regular gun, using the shortest possibe (say, 9 feet) cable would help durastically, along with the rest of the recomendations.

                If you try this, good luck, you'll need all you can get.
                Dynasty 200DX, first generation
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                Whole bunch of hand/air tools.
                and a wish list a mile long

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                • #9
                  Update Please

                  Originally posted by Stomper View Post
                  Thanks guys for all the info, Thats why I like this site so much, lots of knowledge. The wire in question was a 53xx. My machine is a millermatic 210 and I will be welding 1" sq tube 3/16" wall thickness. I will give it a try because I don't plan on doing a lot of aluminum and the cost of a spool gun in canada runs just over $1000.00.
                  Thanks again, I will let you know how it works out.
                  Just wondering how you were coming with your 1" X 3/16" project with your MM210? I saw someone doing this yesterday (with a MM210) with amazingly good results. Then again, he's been welding for 18 years so he's had plenty of practice. And both of his spoolguns were out on other jobs and fitup was an issue so TIG was out of the question.
                  sigpic
                  Clint Baxley
                  Baxley Welding Service
                  Rembert, SC 29128

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                  • #10
                    right equipment

                    I realize that money doesn't grow on trees, but you get what you pay for. To do the job right you need either the spool gun or a push pull.

                    It does bring up the cycle of it costs money to buy the part and I need the part to make the money.

                    Go ahead and try all the tricks we come up with to get around the issue, the issue though is still there (aluminum is soft and hard to push). When you finally do get the right tool for the right job you'll wonder what took you so long to get it.

                    Good luck

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                    • #11
                      Previous person got a roll of 4043 .035 to fit on our wire feeder. Couldn't get it to work cause of the dreaded bird nesting thing. Went back to spool gun. Should have been tigging the part but alas no tig in the shop. So with a 15 foot tesgaskis gun, Teflon liner, .035 tips, and u groove rollers it turned out sweet. Bird nests to a minimum and those usually at start. Al is not steel and you can't weld with it as if it was.

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