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  1. #1

    Default cleaning aluminum filler rod necessary?

    I clean the base metal really well (1/8" 6061) by sanding it, and then wash it in soapy hot water. When I arc, the pool looks very shiny and clean, but as soon as I go to add the filler, total crap. The filler rod obviously is oxidized and contaminating the weld. I then sanded the filler rod really well too, and washed it in hot soapy water, but I got the same thing. Dirty black welds, and the filler rod gets nasty before I can even add it to the puddle by just balling up into crud. How can I clean my filler rods before welding? My filler rod is in a plastic case, but probably had it for months. Should I just buy new filler rod? If it wasn't for this problem, I think I could do quite well on my aluminum welding. Any tips appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Michael

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Delhi, Ontario:
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    1,971

    Question Aluminum !

    Quote Originally Posted by MSM69Z28 View Post
    I clean the base metal really well (1/8" 6061) by sanding it, and then wash it in soapy hot water. When I arc, the pool looks very shiny and clean, but as soon as I go to add the filler, total crap. The filler rod obviously is oxidized and contaminating the weld. I then sanded the filler rod really well too, and washed it in hot soapy water, but I got the same thing. Dirty black welds, and the filler rod gets nasty before I can even add it to the puddle by just balling up into crud. How can I clean my filler rods before welding? My filler rod is in a plastic case, but probably had it for months. Should I just buy new filler rod? If it wasn't for this problem, I think I could do quite well on my aluminum welding. Any tips appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Michael
    Michael, Hi; I'm new to this Aluminum Welding as well, But I don't think sanding Aluminum is the way to go .

    I was told to clean it well with a Stainless Wire brush & acetone, then weld very soon after cleaning the oxides off or it will oxidize again quickly !

    ........ Norm

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
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    494

    Default Be a clean freek!

    Micheal,yes all aluminium involved in your weld has to be cleaned like Norm said.As far as sanding,beware,most sand papers have aluminium oxyde(the sh!t you're trying to remove) as abrasive,Frank

    Stainless brush and acetone or lacquer thinner are your best friends on that.
    Last edited by Frank Motoweld; 10-01-2009 at 08:22 PM.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Lodi, CA
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    Default

    scotchbrite, you can omit the acetone.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2009
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    Default scotch brite yer rod

    Quote Originally Posted by JSFAB View Post
    scotchbrite, you can omit the acetone.
    +1 ...I don't like using acetone or other fast evaporating liquids for cleaning because of fire danger.....But then I welded on aluminum gillnetters ....Manual cleaning always works.....sometimes it takes more that one or two attempts...Cleaning your rod is a basic..If you have greasy gloves you may have to clean your rod often if you want those welds that shine on and on..good luck...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Montana, USA
    Posts
    235

    Default

    Try to shorten the arc by holding the tung closer to the puddle; suspect you are melting/balling the rod before it hits the puddle, as others have said. Keep the tip close to the puddle and back up a bit (but don't pull away), as you dip the rod to the puddle. By keeping a shorter arc the heat is more confined to the area, so hopefully, the rod will hit the puddle before melting.

    Suggest you watch some of the videos at http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/ to see how a pro does it.
    Last edited by Goodhand; 04-14-2013 at 11:25 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    29

    Default

    I bumped up to a 3/4 " cup and I think it solved all of my Woes.
    Acording to the miller Tig Calculator I should use 1/2 to 3/4 cup on 1/4" butt welds.

    I had 5/8 cup but couldnt run a bead larger than a pea with out contamination.

    When in doubt go up a cup size.

  8. #8

    Default

    I do brush it with stainless, and the base metal is fine. It pools and gets shiny with no contamination. If I just run the arc along the base, it appears fine and tweeking the balance gets a good cleaning on the base, but its just the filler that seems to be my problem. I tried feeding the filler at different angles, and same result. Months back when I did some practice, the beads were fine, but the filler was new.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Deltaville, VA
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    2,239

    Default

    Dang,

    I didn't realize that Norm was such an "accomplished" tig welder. Not that the advice is bad, but does that come from personal experience or something you "read on the internet"?

    OP,

    Sounds to me like you've got bigger problems than "contaminated" filler.

    As has been mentioned, a SS brush, not sandpaper, is recommended for cleaning your base material. What you're trying to do is break up the oxide layer that coats the aluminum.

    With filler, a SS brush really isn't very effective. If I feel that my filler may be slightly contaminated, I'll run a scotchbright pad over it and then wipe it down with acetone or alcohol.

    Can't say I've ever had filler contaminated enough to cause the problems you're having though. Most filler contamination issues I've seen in the past with new guys comes from removing the filler from the covering gas while the filler is still molten (at the tip). Then, when you go to add filler, you're adding contaminants to the weld bead.

    You sure your filler is compatable with the base aluminum you're welding? What filler/size are you using?
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    southern California
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    1,783

    Default

    Are you pulling the filler rod out of the torch's gas flow while the rod is still hot between dips? That will contaminate the end of the rod and the next dip adds the contamination to the weld pool. Keep the end of the rod in the gas flow between dips.

    I grind aluminum with sandpaper flap wheel and it works fine. Brushing with stainless brush and wiping with acetone works fine too. I don't grind or sand the filler rod, just wipe it down with acetone on a rag if it's been out of the tube for awhile.
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