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  • Aluminum Wheel Welding

    Im a Newbie in both ways "site and welding" , I own a auto repair shop and have always repaired and fixed some bent wheels, lately the guy that welded them for me is just to busy so here I am. I bought a 190 Hobart with spool gun and have welded a few fine but occasionally sometimes I weld one it almost like it just runs from one side you are welding , I know the difference between forged and cast, learned that quickly when straightening them. Is preheating aluminum a necessity , also someone told me about using a piece of cooper under the weld, I don"t get this. Could you guys drop me some tips. Using straight Argon and aluminum wire. Thanks for all the info you guy's can share.

  • #2
    I weld 10-15 a year and have for the last 30 years. Some i just won't do depends where the damage is. 99% of them are cracked on the backside as its the weakest spot. I don't bother fixing a crack in the flange. I take a wiz wheel and cut the crack out about a 1/4" wide, some preheat and fill it with wire. Most are a PIA especially the ones where the owners smear the area with JB weld which won't work. Sometimes you need to weld then cut it out again because of the impurities floating to the top. Just remember it has to be strong plus hold air and most guys can make it one or the other...Bob
    Bob Wright

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

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    • #3
      aluminum wheel

      Originally posted by aametalmaster View Post
      I weld 10-15 a year and have for the last 30 years. Some i just won't do depends where the damage is. 99% of them are cracked on the backside as its the weakest spot. I don't bother fixing a crack in the flange. I take a wiz wheel and cut the crack out about a 1/4" wide, some preheat and fill it with wire. Most are a PIA especially the ones where the owners smear the area with JB weld which won't work. Sometimes you need to weld then cut it out again because of the impurities floating to the top. Just remember it has to be strong plus hold air and most guys can make it one or the other...Bob
      Metalmaster, Thanks a lot for your input , I am very new to this and I have a little more respect for you guy's , It is not as easy as I thought although it does seem like the cleaning of the wheel is so important, do use any cooper behind the weld, I had a welder tell me that would make a difference, I have mostly just been straightening wheels but have welded a few, maybe just luck but all have held so far with no leaks, I did have someone tell me not to weld below the bead lock on either side. Thanks again for the advice.

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      • #4
        I would never use mig on the aluminum wheel, plus the fact that your not a skilled welder.

        If you: ( Try and get lucky that it holds air ) and the customer is driving down the highway with his wife and 3 kids and your lucky weld decides to be unlucky as they are going around the curve at 80 mph which strains your unlucky weld that only has 60% penetration along with the contamination in the weld because you used a mig instead of Tig so it only as 30% of its original strength which in turn causes a blowout and they all die.

        You will be looking at prison time.

        Leave this kind of work for a professional welder that can pull the contamination out of the aluminum and do a 100% penetrating weld.

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        • #5
          I have done some. Some were easy, some were a pain. Biggest problem is that it is often difficult to tell where the damage stops. You vee out and weld the crack you see, but dont see the crack beside it. You could likely use a dye penetrant to check.
          Personally, for the price of a wheel, it is not worth the time and liability to fix. Make sure your insurance covers you for it.

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          • #6
            I normally tell them if isn't worth $150 then better get another wheel.
            That sorts 'em out pretty quick for me
            I don't wanna take the risk for people who only want to spend 50 to get out of paying less than a hundred for a junkyard wheel. The aftermarket wheel guys are grateful.
            Then I can cut it out big, pre-heat completely, straighten it, tig it up, and grind it to perfection.
            I have the insurance.... But I never repair like I do. And on wheels, it is cash only and no receipts. And even then I turn some down

            www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
            Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
            MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
            Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
            Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

            Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
            Miller 30-A Spoolgun
            Miller WC-115-A
            Miller Spectrum 300
            Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
            Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

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            • #7
              Originally posted by FusionKing View Post
              I normally tell them if isn't worth $150 then better get another wheel.
              That sorts 'em out pretty quick for me
              I don't wanna take the risk for people who only want to spend 50 to get out of paying less than a hundred for a junkyard wheel. The aftermarket wheel guys are grateful.
              Then I can cut it out big, pre-heat completely, straighten it, tig it up, and grind it to perfection.
              I have the insurance.... But I never repair like I do. And on wheels, it is cash only and no receipts. And even then I turn some down
              Fusion, That is the approach I have taken also, the issue in our business today is the wheel company's discontinue so many styles today, popular one year gone the next, so you got a guy with three good wheels and one bad, as you say if money is the issue I run. In this day and time I had to have my attorney draw up a letter and release liability on the few I do decide to tackle ,"probably still won't hold up", 99.9 percent of this business is just bending out pothole bends, I also have the insurance and Inc. the tire manufactures are requiring us to carry 1.5 million liability today which I have done for the past 40 years. I guess I am like you I pick and choose the battle's, just trying to help people out in a bind, and sometimes in today's environment it get's you nowhere, but after all these years in my business I can handle that part. You have a good weekend and thanks so much for your insight.

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              • #8
                Insurance

                Originally posted by walker View Post
                I have done some. Some were easy, some were a pain. Biggest problem is that it is often difficult to tell where the damage stops. You vee out and weld the crack you see, but dont see the crack beside it. You could likely use a dye penetrant to check.
                Personally, for the price of a wheel, it is not worth the time and liability to fix. Make sure your insurance covers you for it.
                Insurance was my first call,attorney was second, they were ok with it, the one's i have done are the one's I thought I could tackle and the one's that are discontinued and the guy cannot find a replacement, which unfortunately in the wheel world happen's on a daily occurrence. My brother TIG's frequently and occasionally I will let him look at it and do. Like anything, some bit you and some are good. I agree with you on the price, I won't touch a fix for less than 80 and a weld is 150, and I am very careful and have them sign all the paperwork. I appreciate your response and good luck, as I said the few weld's I do are the occasional person that has discontinued wheel. As far as quality of my repair , I have not had a issue, I am afraid this country has sold out "for another day", all the wheels we see today are mass produced China stuff that lacks quality control " my belief" . The day of the 2 piece forged wheel's are about over, it all comes across the sea in container's . Thank's again and have a good one.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Portable Welder View Post
                  I would never use mig on the aluminum wheel, plus the fact that your not a skilled welder.

                  If you: ( Try and get lucky that it holds air ) and the customer is driving down the highway with his wife and 3 kids and your lucky weld decides to be unlucky as they are going around the curve at 80 mph which strains your unlucky weld that only has 60% penetration along with the contamination in the weld because you used a mig instead of Tig so it only as 30% of its original strength which in turn causes a blowout and they all die.

                  You will be looking at prison time.

                  Leave this kind of work for a professional welder that can pull the contamination out of the aluminum and do a 100% penetrating weld.
                  Portable , Did not try to come off wrong and sorry if I did, the strength issue you bring up is definitely a concern to me, I certainly would not want to cause harm to anyone or end up in prison. I actually will rewrite my release statement with the strength line addressed, I am sure you no the liability in anything us hardworking stiff's face everyday, sure don't want anymore "liabilty". Have a good one.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wdmack View Post
                    Portable , Did not try to come off wrong and sorry if I did, the strength issue you bring up is definitely a concern to me, I certainly would not want to cause harm to anyone or end up in prison. I actually will rewrite my release statement with the strength line addressed, I am sure you no the liability in anything us hardworking stiff's face everyday, sure don't want anymore "liabilty". Have a good one.
                    There would be no prison for a failed weld. It would possibly be a civil matter which would bring up the issue of negligence. That is, you had a duty to do the work properly, you failed in that duty and it caused foreseeable damages or personal injury to the user of the wheel. In negligence, there is no intent to harm a person, just the breach of a duty which results in damage or injury. The penalty for negligence would generally be money damages. That's a good reason to be incorporated in a small business.

                    That said, there are at least two things that I won't weld anymore. One of them is a fuel tank. The other one is a wheel. There's just entirely too much risk on either of them.

                    If I had a cracked aluminum wheel ( I have had a couple of them) I'd go to a wreckng yard or to a dealer for another one. Too much risk for me.
                    Miller Syncrowave 200
                    Milermatic 252
                    Lincoln AC/DC "Tombstone"

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                    • #11
                      aaahhhhh......welding fuel tanks.
                      You just had to bring that up didn't ya

                      www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
                      Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
                      MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
                      Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
                      Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

                      Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
                      Miller 30-A Spoolgun
                      Miller WC-115-A
                      Miller Spectrum 300
                      Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
                      Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by FusionKing View Post
                        aaahhhhh......welding fuel tanks.
                        You just had to bring that up didn't ya
                        Yes, I couldn't resist. I used to be a safety consultant for a large workers compensation insurance company. I had many accounts to visit to set up safety programs and do mock OSHA inspections. Some of the accounts were weld shops. One of them was a company that was very old. It was so old that they had a carbide/water generator outside in a shed. It generated acetylene that was piped to a manifold where the weld stations were. That's old.

                        Anyway, they had an accident when they were welding an old fuel tanker truck, the kind that only had two axles. There was a leak in the side and when the welder touched it with his torch, the side blew out of the rear of the tank. Apparently there was a compartment inside into which fuel had leaked. He wasn't killed but it was a serious accident with some burns.

                        I also had a British Matchless motorcycle tank welded once when I was a kid in Chicago. The welder filled it with water and left the cap off. The instant that he used a torch on it, it blew a flame out of the cap straight up that sounded like a stick of dynamite. The flame shot about 20 feet in the air and it was hair-raising for sure. After that, he finished the job with no further problems.

                        So much for welding fuel tanks. I've tossed a few Harley tanks that had bad cracks in them. It's not worth it.

                        I'm well awre that many people on this forum are expert welders and have probably welded fuel tanks and worse. I'm only talking about my experiences and what I won't do. I guess that tanks can be welded safely, but there's always that one time that something happens, if you catch my drift.
                        Last edited by Synchroman; 07-20-2014, 06:12 PM.
                        Miller Syncrowave 200
                        Milermatic 252
                        Lincoln AC/DC "Tombstone"

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                        • #13
                          I follow you.
                          But as far as liability goes....when welding a fuel tank, chances are you're only gonna blow your own head off. Unless someone is gonna hang around and watch. (I don't usually let many jobs get done while people wait).
                          Trailers and trailer hitches are dangerous things that only get worse from the day you make them. There are other things as well, such as steering components on about anything. Sending something out of control that weighs thousands of pounds into oblivion is a liability nightmare.
                          Welding a wheel isn't as big of a deal as many people make it out to be. When they come to you, all the customer knows is it doesn't hold air. I have been in the tire biz more than once. Worst case scenario is it leaks still. It's not gonna fly to pieces unless you are making it worse than it was and the guy who mounts the tire is dumb enough to let it out the door.
                          Every time a tire shop patches a tire they are assuming the same risk.
                          If you weld a wheel and it is fine, yet a year later for some other reason a tire on that wheel blows, and that wheel has obviously been welded....it could be your a$$!!!
                          Welding is SERIOUS BUSINESS when you do it for money. If you are going to be in the welding business you better KNOW exactly why things broke and how they can fail after you repair them. Or else you can expect to have your butt sued off sooner or later.
                          Understanding metallurgy, components and why they fail, insurance liability, combined with how ignorant the general population is..... all in a days work for any welding shop.
                          These are some of the reasons why so many of us "old guys" on the forum have a reputation for being grouchy and seemingly negative towards less experienced people at times. Not always trying to be unfriendly. Simply trying to open people's eyes to the obvious dangers, to us, that the average person would never think of. Then there are things that seem dangerous and scary that we have to deal with on a regular basis. Things like basics of electrocution, working with acetylene and oxygen, pressure checking. If these things aren't treated with as much respect as the topics we are discussing here, you can be just as dead as welding a gas tank.
                          IMO welding has become much much more commonly dangerous since all the welding machine companies have made so many low priced, light duty machines that makes everyone think welding is easy. All over America it is a DIY society.
                          Welding is cool and trendy these days. But because of that, many things are taking place that probably shouldn't.
                          I'm sure there are building contractors out there seeing the same trends in their trades as well. Anywhere you shortcut the basics of formal occupational education you're gonna have this.
                          Just my opinion from my experience and observations and it is subject to change with time.

                          www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
                          Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
                          MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
                          Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
                          Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

                          Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
                          Miller 30-A Spoolgun
                          Miller WC-115-A
                          Miller Spectrum 300
                          Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
                          Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

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                          • #14
                            Fusion King, Very well said.

                            I sometimes work on really big gas tanks that hold about 13,000 gallons.

                            Its for a company that rents Pumps, tanks, filter boxes, Etc., I never know what one of their customers may have put in one of these tanks so I treat every one as if gasoline has been stored inside.

                            Just the other day I was in their yard and they said, can you cut off a plate on a 3" nipple welded to the tank and put a new nipple on, I said, not today, so I opened the port hole doors and brought in my 12" blowers that pump fresh air inside which change the air out every 60 seconds, I'm not talking about a window box fan either, these are blowers with 20' hoses that pump outside air in.

                            Here another scenario, If a inexperienced guy tries to do this and he puts the fan inside the tanker, the sparks from the fan motor can cause it to blow up, Its knowing things like this which is required so you don't kill yourself and others.

                            Not to mention going another step farther because this is an over flow pipe which is about 30' long so I take a argon tank inside the tanker and slip my argon hose 20' inside the pipe to make sure the pipe is purged before making the cut.

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                            • #15
                              Oh man do I ever hear ya!
                              When I do gas tanks I get really pricey. If they don't wanna pay for my pickyness they can simply leak fuel. Or buy a new factory tank.
                              Heck, the place I use for metal and braking won't even sell me anything if they know for sure it's on a fuel tank. They suspect but don't ask.
                              And it's a cash only no receipts deal too. Plus I have THE correct insurance for the job. Not gonna test it.....no way no how.

                              www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
                              Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
                              MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
                              Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
                              Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

                              Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
                              Miller 30-A Spoolgun
                              Miller WC-115-A
                              Miller Spectrum 300
                              Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
                              Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

                              Comment

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