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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
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    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
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    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

    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Default

    scotchbrite, you can omit the acetone.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2007
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    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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  7. #7
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    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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  8. #8
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    Default

    It sounds like your trying to add the filler to soon before you have the puddle hot enough or your melting the filler in the arc above the puddle instead of in the puddle. You should not have to clean the filler. My filler sits in the shop in an open container & in 20 years have never had a problem with contaminated filler.
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  9. #9
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    Default

    I agree with MMW.
    Nobody has this sort of problem that welds aluminum everyday.
    I would say you are "frying" your filler before it gets to the puddle.
    #1...change your torch angle
    #2...watch your filler rod much more carefully and sneak it over to the edge of the puddle and let it stream in. From there you can learn better dipping techniques. Or just make a puddle and then just quickly jab the filler in.
    Aluminum requires much more heat to weld than steel but the arc required to do this is so much more hotter it will waste the filler long before it gets to the puddle if it is in the air close to the arc.
    You would be better off IMO to leave everything nasty and just work on technique. Just learn how to run beads on metal using filler. Then you will appreciate and know the difference cleaning makes on aluminum. It is not near what many would make it out to be.
    I do many welds that appearance is quite important and breaking the patina with a bunch of sanding and brushing leaves areas that would have a worked over appearance. By learning how to weld aluminum that is less than perfect has become quite desirable in the long run.(for me, not everyone) It can make the item seem more original ie. not repaired, once the welded area oxidizes. A welder can tell but the average Joe can't.
    Btw I wipe my rod on the cuff of my glove by wrapping the glove around it and pulling the rod thru. It will leave a black mark on the cuff. Old timer trick. Down and dirty and works when you ain't got nothing else.

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  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Lightbulb

    I use a #8 cup (1/2" ID), for better argon coverage.

    Stickout no longer than 1/2 the cup diameter, shorter is better; again for better coverage. Alum is more fussy about this than mild steel. If you have gas lens, use them.

    A steeper torch angle was mentioned; because an angled torch will push the heat out in front of the torch, melting your filler (the gray ash you're probably seeing). This is much worse with 1/16" filler, it has little mass and will overheat and oxidize quickly. I'm much better with 3/32" filler, or even 1/8" filler.
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