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.
Results 1 to 10 of 22
10-01-2009, 06:14 PM #1Junior Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2008
cleaning aluminum filler rod necessary?
10-01-2009, 06:40 PM #2
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 !
Sunrise Outside My Shop In Delhi, Ontario
- Arcair- K 4000 CAC.
- LN-25 Wire Feeder
- Lincoln Ranger 8- Engine Drive- CC\CV:
- Lincoln Power Mig 180C
- DeWalt Chop Saw .
- DeWalt Compressor - 13cfm, @ 100 psi.
10-01-2009, 06:50 PM #3
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.Millermatic 252
Hobart spoolmate 3035
10-01-2009, 06:50 PM #4Junior Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2008
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.
10-01-2009, 06:51 PM #5Senior Member
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
- Lodi, CA
scotchbrite, you can omit the acetone.
10-01-2009, 06:56 PM #6Senior Member
- Join Date
- Mar 2007
- Deltaville, VA
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"?
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?Syncrowave 250 DX Tigrunner
Dynasty 200 DX
Miller XMT 304 w/714D Feeder & Optima Control
Miller MM 251 w/Q300 & 30A SG
Dialarc 250 AC/DC
Hypertherm PM 600 & 1250
Wilton 7"x12" bandsaw
PC Dry Cut Saw, Dewalt Chop Saw
Milwaukee 8" Metal Cut Saw, Milwaukee Portaband.
Thermco and Smith (2) Gas Mixers
More grinders than hands
10-01-2009, 07:23 PM #7Senior Member
- Join Date
- Dec 2007
- southern California
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.Millermatic350P/Python, MillermaticReach/Q300
PowCon 300SM, MK Cobramatic
ThermalArc 185ACDC, Dynaflux Tig'r, CK-20
Hypertherm PowerMax 380
-F350 CrewCab 4x4
-LoadNGo utility bed
10-01-2009, 07:25 PM #8
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.MM250
Lincoln ac/dc 225
MM200 black face
Whitney 30 ton hydraulic punch
Lown 1/8x 36" power roller
Arco roto-phase model M
Vectrax 7x12 band saw
Miller spectrum 875
30a spoolgun w/wc-24
10-01-2009, 08:00 PM #9
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.
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 Spectrum 300
Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400
10-02-2009, 12:38 AM #10
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.RETIRED desk jockey.
Hobby weldor with a little training.
Craftsman O/A---Flat, Vert, Ovhd, Horz.
Miller Syncrowave 250.