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My first aluminum project a gold dredge.

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  • My first aluminum project a gold dredge.

    I've watched a lot of videos (welding tips and tricks) and read a few forums, as well as working around some aluminum welders for a couple weeks last year on a similar project that I managed, but as far as welding aluminum myself I have about 10 min on a mig gun my boss let me try last year after he dialed it all in. I figure it's time for me to learn, and what better way than just jumping right in. I've always been good with my hands in fabricating, but I didn't know quite what I was getting into until now. My largest learning experience so far without any schooling is finding out the hard way that flash burns are not just for your eyes, but it's burns your skin too. I welded all day without gloves in a short sleeve shirt and man was that stupid. Two layers of skin are peeled now and it seems to be healing so I live and learn. Here are a few pictures of the progress over the last couple weeks. I'll post more as I have time.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    That's your first Aluminum project, ever?

    Man you got a big set.

    I made a 4" box out of .060 scraps for mine.

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    • #3
      After diving 100 hours below 7 feet of ice in 29 degree water with topside temps being as low as negative 36 and my regulator freezing 10x before building a hot water shroud; I was told the same thing.

      I did not build the boat in the first post. I'm just modifying the platform into an ocean dredge, but for a first project it was very daunting. I've put down over 50lbs of 3/64 5356 and I'm really starting to get the hang of it and my welds are looking a lot better. I especially like weaving verticle 90 degree joints.

      Attached is a picture of the project I managed/fabricated last year. We built that dredge in 15 days starting with only the pontoons. We had 3 welders working 12 hours a day to accomplish our deadline. The boat is 14'x40'. I learned a lot from the guys that were welding for me.
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        The sluice box is finished. It pivots up on some 304 stainless I welded with some 1/8" 308 rod recomended by the welding shop. The 308 gets super hot and you have to keep moving or it will blow through pretty easy. It sure looks nice when you get a good bead. The tailing end of the sluice raises up to gain access to the underside trays with a simple hand winch and some super strong rope. The little blue rope is rated at 3800 lbs! Last couple days we have been welding up the hand rails. Using 5356 .035 wire since the 3/64 just blows right through 1/8" wall pipe. Welding in wind is really frustrating. Boosting the argon flow helps a little.
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
          The sluice box is finished. It pivots up on some 304 stainless I welded with some 1/8" 308 rod recomended by the welding shop. The 308 gets super hot and you have to keep moving or it will blow through pretty easy. It sure looks nice when you get a good bead. The tailing end of the sluice raises up to gain access to the underside trays with a simple hand winch and some super strong rope. The little blue rope is rated at 3800 lbs! Last couple days we have been welding up the hand rails. Using 5356 .035 wire since the 3/64 just blows right through 1/8" wall pipe. Welding in wind is really frustrating. Boosting the argon flow helps a little.
          2nd pic of you smiling, you oughta be smiling kevin,that's some fine work you've done there! Did you keep the drawings around?

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          • #6
            No drawings this time. It's all in my head, and we modify and tweak as we go. I also have some pictures I look at for reference and my buddie and I talk each phase through before we start each section. The basic premise is take something that works and try to improve on it a little. We finished welding the supports for the motor and pump. Using a 140hp Isuzu Diesel and a 8x6 berkeley pump. Gonna try to get the motor mounted tomorrow.

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            • #7
              You live by the motto 'go big or go home', I reckon.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by PortlandGuy View Post
                You live by the motto 'go big or go home', I reckon.

                when you see aluminum boats being built they take a lot of time trying to eliminate sharp corners/edges and for good reason. if someone takes a fall on your unit there better be some bandaids and gauze on board. it's rare that you don't see an edge that's either been turned or had some pipe added to it.

                i built some small river sluices back during the carter administration when gold went to the astronomical price of 800 dollars an ounce. they were for some guys trying to pull gold out of the colorado river.

                good luck.

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                • #9
                  Now that's a dredge!!!! Sweet looking and no doubt gonna be sweet working.

                  Reminds me of an old timer I knew back in the 80's, he said he got all his money mining the miners.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fdcmiami View Post
                    when you see aluminum boats being built they take a lot of time trying to eliminate sharp corners/edges and for good reason. if someone takes a fall on your unit there better be some bandaids and gauze on board. it's rare that you don't see an edge that's either been turned or had some pipe added to it.

                    good luck.
                    Yeah I agree. We have found that a thick walled 3/4" garden hose works pretty good for sharp edges. We slice the hose lengthwise, slide it over the edge, and secure it by drilling holes through the aluminum and using heavy duty zip ties.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sandy View Post
                      Now that's a dredge!!!! Sweet looking and no doubt gonna be sweet working.

                      Reminds me of an old timer I knew back in the 80's, he said he got all his money mining the miners.
                      No doubt there is a lot of that going around with the price of gold being as high as it is. To be honest most people who go into dredging on this scale go broke. I was offered a job working for a company to build big dredges like this one, and I turned them down. I am building this dredge for myself.

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                      • #12
                        Dredge

                        Where is this being built? Near where it is intended to work, I'm guessing? How much mula you got into it?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by captkipp View Post
                          Where is this being built? Near where it is intended to work, I'm guessing? How much mula you got into it?
                          This goes along the lines of asking an older woman her age.

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                          • #14
                            Ok.

                            I didn't realize I had done that. I wasn't meant like I wanted a dance from you.
                            I work on marine stuff (mostly aluminum) every day. Please forgive my welding curiosity.

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