Aluminum stick welding
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    SE PA
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    18

    Aluminum stick welding

    Anybody ever stick weld aluminum? Any pointers if you have? I met a guy that retired from our local power co. He's about 70 years old and started there out of high school. Anyway, he said that when he was an apprentice at one of the power plant's they made everybody build 3 foot square boxes out of 1/8 inch aluminum sheets and stick weld them together. He didn't remember much more about it like welder settings and rod used. I would like to fool around one weekend trying it but thought I may save myself some aggravation if anybody here can get me started down a good path on this.

    Thanks!!
    Patching farm equipment with 2 old 6 volt batteries, some jumper cables and a box of 6010 left out in the rain last night

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    4,157

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    Yep - it is done all the time. Hit the search button and type in your subject line. There were a few posts about this last week.
    John
    - fabricator extraordinaire, car nut!
    - bleeding Miller blue!

    http://www.weldfabzone.com


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Georgia on the GA/AL line
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    2,136

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    Yes you can weld aluminum with a stick. You need a good DC machine and will run on DC-. I keep some AL rods on the truck for quick repairs, and they come in handy. I will say they are pretty expensive. $10-$15/lb so its pretty expensive "playing"...
    I'm a Lover, Fighter, Wild horse Rider, and a pretty good welding man......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Las Vegas, NV
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    3,175

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    DC+ in my experience. Not the best way to do aluminum, but they work, with practice.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Marlborough, The Peoples Republik of MA
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    3,572

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    I use the sticks for quick outdoor repairs when I don't want to drag the TIG setup out. You just have to clean ALL the slag off, because it is caustic and will eat away at what you just welded.
    Disclaimer; "I am just an a$$hole welder, don't take it personally ."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Vietnam
    Posts
    9

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    YES..! Al stick welding is very difficult to do. You have to got a good machine (DC, Open voltage has to above 90 V). Al electrode is melt rapidly. It is very difficult for start and maintain arc.

    The solution is practice more.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    SE PA
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    18

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    Thanks guys! I'll post some pics when I get started-- I'm sure everyone can use an extra laugh or two in their day I get the impression it will be like learning to weld all over again. I've tiged aluminum before so I think some of that experience should make it a bit easier.
    Patching farm equipment with 2 old 6 volt batteries, some jumper cables and a box of 6010 left out in the rain last night

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    1,635

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    I don't think it's that difficult, and can make it look pretty aesthetically pleasing, but those suckers burn FAST. The first several times I tried it, I thought it would burn off at the same rate as a steel electrode, and boy was I wrong. You practically fall on top of the thing to keep that arc length where it needs to be!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    18

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    I'm sure that everyone with a stick welder, arc welder, SMAW welder, or DC TIG welder has wanted to weld aluminum at one time or another. The main problem with this is actually information, not technology. Most web pages and forum posts state that a MIG or AC TIG welder with argon shielding gas is required to weld aluminum, which is not accurate. What should be stated is that AC TIG is the slowest, cleanest, and most controllable way to weld aluminum, which makes it especially good for welding thin aluminum. MIG is much faster than AC TIG, but it is not nearly as controllable because you cannot melt the base metal without adding filler metal. MIG was designed for fast buildup and continuous welding and it is still relatively clean because of the shielding gas. Neither AC TIG or MIG can weld aluminum in breezy conditions.

    Stick welding aluminum is possible and actually works better than I expected. I used 1/8" Harris 26 Aluminum Welding Electrodes that I purchased from Cyberweld.com. The electrodes use different flux than more common steel electrodes, but the process is basically the same. They recommend DCEP/DCRP, which makes sense. AC TIG is able to remove the oxide layer on the base metal during the electrode positive portion of the alternating current. DCEP constantly removes the oxide layer from the base metal while the electrode flux keeps oxides from forming on the electrode metal and the molten pool. The flux protects the weld as it cools and forms a protective barrier, which works great even in windy conditions. They key is to move faster than you would with a steel electrode and not much weave movement is required since the aluminum flows better than steel. I welded a 3"x6"x60" aluminum box section out of 3"x0.125" angle for a storm grate extension and used less than 1 pound of electrodes. That works out to 60" x 4 seams = 240", which would have used quite a few TIG filler rods and a significant amount of argon from my 40cuft bottle. The following video shows the basic process and my newbie welding skills. This bit of welding was done with my Everlast Super250P on a bottom side of the grate extension near the beginning of my learning curve. My welding and my welds got better as I progressed.

    Here is the video:
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KELLTrgnUhc[/ame]

    Here are some photos of a nice section of weld that I laid down at 125A after shooting the video. The dotted line is from dragging the slag chipping hammer along the weld.




    So, my conclusion is that stick welding aluminum is great when a lot of structural (read not-perfectly-cosmetic) welding is needed. It should be possible to lay some beautiful welds and weld thinner metal this way, but my skills are not there yet. I was able to weld at near MIG speed without a MIG welder at or under equivalent consumable cost. The 1 pound of electrodes was about $25 shipped. One pound of aluminum welding wire is currently about $20 and my argon bottle costs about $15 to fill up.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Vandalia, Ohio near Dayton
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    1,884

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    I'll add one thought to this discussion. Stick welding aluminum works best on thin, clean base metal. Speaking from personal experience, it is a poor choice for heavy weldments or for use on cast aluminum. Even if you get lucky and the cast aluminum is one of the weldable alloys, the contamination present in most castings will make stick welding damn near impossible.

    AC TIG at least lets you 'cook' the contaminants out of the weld zone, and add an appropriate amount of filler metal to the weld joint....
    Mobile Welding at your worksite or place of business. Serving Dayton, Ohio and the surrounding metro areas.
    AWS Certified Welding Inspector (#XXX10731) and Certified Welding Educator (#XXX1008E)
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Burlington Ont. Canada
    Posts
    88

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    DCEN clean virgin stainless steel wire brush, dry hermetically sealed electrodes (rods are garbage when they start to look furry) try unsented uncolored acetone nail polish remover as an etcher/cleaner
    If you are welding cast aluminum stitch weld balancing your heat over welding area will help to tin the cast like you do with cast iron. Cast Aluminum is a real pig for sand contamination especially on thinner molds.
    This is one of the few metals I would use GMAW over any other process on, when you have a nice spoolgun or push/pull gun set up just right you can barely see the arc swirl.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    18

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    Oh yeah, I forgot to post a link to my page on this subject. I will post updates to my experimentation there and also try to update this thread when I remember.

    Stick Welding Aluminum

    http://www.hildstrom.com/projects/st...num/index.html

    Thanks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    14

    Re: Aluminum stick welding

    This is an inside/outside joint of aluminum. Starts out a little cold and I burned the edge out welding towards the edge thinking it was still cold, on the other side I started at the edge and it did better. Overall it turned out pretty nice I think. It's about my 10th electrode ever with aluminum. Burns so fast! I felt like I was just letting my hand fall onto the base plate, small weave motion used and at about 85 amps.








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