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Welding frustrations...

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by fortcollinsram, May 31, 2004.

  1. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    Weld, I have had my Lincoln sp135 PLUS and it has been awesome for the sheet meatl and thin plate that I have been welding... Well, I purchased the aluminum feed kit that includes the special drive rolls for aluminum as well as the special tips for aluminum and the special non-metalic liner for aluminum...Well, I took to welder to my families ranch yesterday to try to weld some split irrigation pipes. I cut a chunk of the metal I would be welding. It was the most frustrating thing in the world. I messed with wire speed and heat setting all around the board. This was my first time actully welding aluminum and from what I have always been told you weld aluminum "HOT AND FAST". Well I cranked the heat way up and turned the wire speed up there too and as soon as the arc began, it would melt the entire protruding part of the electrode. So I turned the heat way way down and the wire speed too..Well I was finally getting it to "weld" a little bit but it was VERY inconsistent. It seemd that at times the wire speed was too slow and the electrode would just burn up over and over again (creating a "Pop, Pop, Pop" kind sound) other times, I could feel the electrode push through to the base metal, and once and a while I would be able to sustain a decent puddle and maintian that "sizzle" sound...

    And when the electrode would just burn up and creat the pop, pop pop sound, it formed like a "dingleberry" (for lack of a better term) at the end to the electrode that would fall off once it got big enough nd then start to re-form...


    So what the deal here? Any pointers on MIG welding aluminum?

    BTW, I am using 100% Argon for shielding gas...

    Chris /forums/images/graemlins/dunno.gif
     
  2. 84gmcjimmy

    84gmcjimmy 1 ton status

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    Do you have the settings right for the thickness your welding with the thickness of the wire? I haven't even tried welding aluminum but your suposed to go faster then regular MIG welding /forums/images/graemlins/dunno.gif
     
  3. big jimmy 91

    big jimmy 91 1/2 ton status

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    Of all the welding I've done , alum. is a pain in the butt to get set up.
    Some tips I can give you are:
    It has to be very clean , I usually scrub the area with a stainless wire brush(new , not used on anything else)
    I spend as much time as I need setting up the mach. on the same type of material as I am welding(thickness)
    Weld hot enough to start to burn through , but not leave a big crater under your weld (just a mild deforming of the metal behind the weld for lack of a better description lol )
    Or a slght bulge of weld pushing through the other side
    Alum. welds are generally larger than mild steel
    I know others with more exp. and detailed advice will set me strait if I am wrong
    Hope this helps , good luck /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  4. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    I have found NO charts as to the heat and wirespeed for MIGing aluminum...I have (as I do with steel) just go by the sound of the arc and the look of the puddle...

    Chris
     
  5. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    I did clean the metal w/ a SS wire wheel that was BRANDNEW (even cleaned it w/ brake cleaner before hand)

    The weld I DID get that were decent were just as you said. Just barely poking through the backside fo the pipe. the others were poo poo and were all beaded up on top and I could pull the balls of aluminum off with pliers...

    Chris
     
  6. cybrfire

    cybrfire 1 ton status Vendor GMOTM Winner

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    I would be trying to figure out if your wire speed is consistant and smooth. Sometimes it will jam up in the liner. How long is your lead? Are you keeping your lead free from loops? Your voltage of course will be consistant but that doesn't mean that your heat is. Sometimes when you are welding alum. its better to burp it along. The heat will really build up in the aluminum in front of your puddle as you go and then Poof. You got a hole. That is about all I can suggest. I don't think I would use brake cleaner to clean the aluminum. Brush it clean and maybe some alcohol. Brake cleaner may leave a residue. Not sure though. I know when I tig welded aluminum we used alcohol to clean the surface and didn't really worry too much about it with mig welding.
     
  7. big jimmy 91

    big jimmy 91 1/2 ton status

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    OK , another thing to check is how tight your rolls are
    The only thing I have used is a millermatic spool gun that uses a small roll of wire (aprox 4")
    Your spool of wire also has to be very loose


    Also if you overheat your tip it will cause it to shrink and do really wierd things to your welding
    Are you using a long whip like a regular mig welder?
    If you are it has to be as strait as you can get it
    I'll look to see if I have any setting written down /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif
     
  8. Muddytazz

    Muddytazz 1 ton status

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    Try reading this /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  9. big jimmy 91

    big jimmy 91 1/2 ton status

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    A VERY good site , it explains things that I could not put into words myself and still make sense to anyone else /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif
     
  10. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    The torch is 10' long and it was straight as straight could be. It did bunch up a couple times and birds-nest at the drive wheels.I would be happy to be blowing holes in the aluminum as long as it is consistent. Some times, it will burn through, some times it will get NO penetration and ball up on the surface and sometimes it will be a decent weld (for all of about 3/4" of an inch /forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif)

    Chris
     
  11. big jimmy 91

    big jimmy 91 1/2 ton status

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    "I have always been told you weld aluminum "HOT AND FAST". Well I cranked the heat way up and turned the wire speed up there too and as soon as the arc began, it would melt the entire protruding part of the electrode"


    Sounds like you may be overheating the tip /forums/images/graemlins/dunno.gif
     
  12. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]

    Sounds like you may be overheating the tip /forums/images/graemlins/dunno.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    But it would do it from the get-go just as much as was after I had screwed around for 40min.

    Another thought...does anyone know what irrigation pipe is made of (what grade aluminum) I am using 4043 Lincoln SuperGlaze wire...Could the irrigation pipe I am trying to weld be a different grate that would make welding a PITA?

    Chris
     
  13. cybrfire

    cybrfire 1 ton status Vendor GMOTM Winner

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    I do believe welding aluminum works better when the alloys are close to matching. obviously it would not be economically sound to try to have that many different alloys of aluminum wire, nor would you probably know what alloy everything you weld will be. You may have found your problem though. Is the material you are welding a porous cast aluminum?
     
  14. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    No it is not cast... It I believe it is DOM aluminum, about 22 gauge or so

    Chris
     
  15. cybrfire

    cybrfire 1 ton status Vendor GMOTM Winner

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    Not sure what else I can suggest here. DOM aluminum sounds kind of expensive for that application. I guess just keep messing with it. Maybe try it on some other aluminum first and see if you can work it out. Good luck.
     
  16. namkrow

    namkrow 1/2 ton status

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    I have a millermatic 210 and this is what I've experienced...

    1. Use a stainless steel brush (as stated above), must be clean clean clean. The thinner the metal, the more critical this is.

    2. Push the gun, don't try to pull it. The angle should be about 15 degrees forward (like pushing a pencil with the tip first).

    3. You have to start somewhat slow and speed up. As stated above, the metal heats up in front of your weld puddle and you need to speed up a bit as you go along.

    4. The roller needs to be loose (I'm using a spool gun). Pushing alum wire through a 10' leader is difficult for the drive rollers. If it's too loose, you don't feed...if it's too tight, you can A. birdsnest....or B. flatten the wire and not feed.

    IMHO, 22 gauge is awefully thin aluminum to be welding with a mig welder (GMAW). The chart in my MM210 says that 14 gauge is about the thinnest I can weld. (at 3 taps, 55 inches per minute with .030" wire).

    I've never tried to weld anything less than 16 gauge and I doubt I could very well. It will burn through really quick (kind of like a cheap plasma cutter. lol)

    Here's some more reading....
    http://millerwelds.com/education/tech_articles/articles10.php
     
  17. ben427

    ben427 1/2 ton status

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    What Gas are yu using???
     
  18. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    What Gas are yu using???

    [/ QUOTE ]

    100% Argon...


    I am going to pick up a 4'x4' sheet from the metal supplier place today and mess with it when I get home from work. I have a feeling it is related to the driveroll tension so I am going to mess with that a bit and try to get adjusted just right...


    Chris
     

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