stick welding aluminum help
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  1. #1

    stick welding aluminum help

    Hey guys im fairly new at welding and am having some trouble stick welding aluminum. Im pretty sure that my electrodes are 3/32 4043. The aluminum im welding is 1/8" thick and im pretty sure the type is 4043 also? I am using the best 120v stick welder that I could find. It maxes out at 100 amps. My problem is that it seems when I start my arc I'm not putting out enough amps and the arc just dies out. I can weld 1/8" steel with 3/32" electrodes no problems. I figured that steel needs more amps than aluminum but I could be wrong. Any suggestions.
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  2. #2
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    I'm guessing you're using an AC machine, not a DC welder? If so, this is most likely your problem...What welder are you using? What polarity do you have it set for?

    The one time I used some aluminum SMAW electrodes, I remember teh current being pretty low, 60-70 amps, and I think the machine was set to DCEN(if I remember correctly).
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  3. #3

    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Now im sad......... It is an ac welder. So there is now way to weld aluminum with an ac welder????? I do have a 120v dc mig but i do not have an argon setup. Is there anyway to get a solid aluminum weld with mig without argon. I know they sell fluxcore steel wire but i cannot find anything like that for aluminum. thx guys
    Last edited by bkrider113; 07-08-2009 at 04:34 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Your going to have a vary hard time stick welding aluminum with with a 120v ac arc welder. That's not the machine for arc welding aluminum. I see very little metal deposited at all on that plate your attempting to run a bead on.
    Stick welding aluminum is for thick material only, no thin stuff.
    I've stick welded thicker aluminum with decent results with my Idealarc in DC+ polarity (I believe). I prefer Tig over stick however.
    Jason
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  5. #5

    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    So why cant i use a 120v. Are you saying im going to need more than 100 amps??? please explain why a 120v welder will not do besides because it being an ac welder. And why is 1/8" aluminum to thin to stick weld with. Can you explain that theory also please. thx for your help guys.
    Last edited by bkrider113; 07-08-2009 at 08:40 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    One issue with alum is that it disipates heat very quickly, so you usually need more amps than you do if you weld steel the same thickness. Thats why alum is used for things like heat sinks.

    Even with argon a 120v mig probably won't do what you want for several reasons. 1st is the amps the machine is rated for. If its less than a 140 amp machine, just quit and don't bother. You don't have the power in the machine. 2nd alum wire is soft and very flexible. Usually the prefered method is to use a spool gun for alum because the distance from the drive roller to the tip is very short and straight so the wire doesn't jam and birds nest.


    More info on just what machines you do have will help greatly. Post picts or detailed description with make and model.

    Also go up to the top and put your location in your used CP so we all know where you are from. I know several guys here that are relatively close to me. You never know someone might be just down the street and willing to give you a hand to get this done cheaper than getting dedicated equipment.

  7. #7
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    As stated you need the correct machine. You should not have problem welding 1/8 in with the correct current/polarity. With those rods 80-90 amps should be enough to weld, though you need to preheat the metal. Too many amps and it will be difficult to keep up with the rate the rod is consumed. I have some photos of stick welded Al somewhere on this forum.

    If you really want to do aluminum regularly you should choose a different process.

    Good luck

  8. #8

    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    I will post specific info about the two welders i have tomorro with pictures but i have a few questions for now. Is it possible to stick weld aluminum with ac current? Has anyone herd of aluminum mig welding with no gas. Like a flux core type of aluminum wire or anything similar. I am young at the age of 20 and very new to the world of welding and metal working but am loving everything about it. If not for sites like these and guys like u most of my projects probaly wouldnt have happend so thx again.

  9. #9
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    I looked in the sources I have... All the alum stick rods run DC+ that I could find from several mfg's. I did not see any flux core alum wire listed.

  10. #10
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    http://www.omnibraze.com/wire.html

    I don't know anything about this company. However they do sale the flux core Al wire.

    Depending the size of your machine they you might not be able to drive the minimal size wire 0.47".
    Last edited by tapwelder; 07-08-2009 at 10:39 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Where did you get your rods? Are they flux coated? Flux coated alum stick rods are pretty expensive.

    Like DSW said, alum dissipates heat away from the weld so fast, that you need more amps. 110v welders, whether MIG or stick, just can't produce the heat necessary to weld 1/8" (or thicker), aluminum properly.
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  12. #12
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    http://www.omnibraze.com/wire.html

    I don't know anything about this company. However they do sale the flux core Al wire.

    Depending the size of your machine they you might not be able to drive the minimal size wire 0.47".
    Thats brazing material, not welding.

    Geesh you guys think that anything on a spool goes in a mig welder

    So what exactly are you trying to weld? A repair? A project? What types of joints?

  13. #13

    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Well I have made a motorized bicycle but was not really impressed because of the bike frame, drive setup and just the lack of planning. I have an awesome aluminum bike that i would like to make a really nice build out of. I need to weld some aluminum square tube 1/8" thick onto the frame. From what i gather I think I'm going to be purchasing an argon setup for my 120v mig unless you guys can convince me that I wont get the results I want.
    If it would help I can measure the actually amperage my mig tops out at while i gather all the other info from it including make model ect. Please dont suggest to buy another welder because.... well.... duhhhhh If i had the money to wire a 220v outlet and purchase another welder i would.

    O and yes they are coated so if anyone needs a couple pounds of 4043 36" 3/32" rods let me know cuz apparently i wasted $80 on them

    I do have a spool of solid aluminum mig wire but once again no gas. Should i even bother trying to get a solid weld out of it if i can find the spool?
    Last edited by bkrider113; 07-09-2009 at 01:04 AM.

  14. #14
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Your AC welder doesn't work with aluminum stick electrodes because the arc is extinguished every time the polarity switches from (+) to (-). When the arc goes out, the slag freezes on the end of the rod, which is why your first attempts look like, pardon the expression, 'bird droppings'. (This is not a criticism of your welding skills, nobody could likely do better under those conditions).

    You might be able to weld aluminum with your 110 volt MIG, but the odds are stacked against you. Here's why:

    1 - Aluminum dissipates heat faster than steel, so you need more current than required to weld the same thickness of steel. Your 110V power supply might generate enough current to melt the aluminum wire, but odds are it will stack up like chewed bubblegum on the base metal, without properly fusing into it.

    2 - Your MIG machine pushes the wire from the feeder to the gun, through ~10' of cable. Aluminum wire is like cooked spaghetti, compared to steel wire. Ever tried to push a piece of cooked spaghetti in a straight line across your plate? Aluminum is normally welded with spool guns; which incorporate the drive mechanism into the gun, eliminating the 10' of cable that the wire must pass through. The minute you bend the gun cable the friction on the aluminum wire will cause feeding problems; birdnests, erratic wire feed speeds, and erratic arc.

    3 - Your MIG machine gun liner is likely filled with small pieces of steel and flux(from any flux cored wire), and wire lube from steel wire you've welded with in the past. Getting all this crap on the outside of your aluminum wire(if you're lucky and it feeds reliably), will contaminate your aluminum welds and make them ugly and weak. At the very least you're probably going to need a new liner, assuming the gun with your machine can have the liner replaced. If not, it might mean a new gun.

    Your best bet is to borrow or rent a DC stick welder and go with the electrodes you already bought. Although hearing the end use application, you're going to have your work cut out for you...Or find a friend with a AC/DC TIG welder and bribe him to do you a favor.

    Consensus seems to be that DC(+) is the correct polarity for aluminum stick electrodes; which means my memory is failing. Sucks getting older...

    BTW, Did you really mean to say that the rods you bought were 36" long? I've never seen stick electrodes that size, outside of flood welding applications for repairing large dies.

    Quote Originally Posted by bkrider113 View Post
    Well I have made a motorized bicycle but was not really impressed because of the bike frame, drive setup and just the lack of planning. I have an awesome aluminum bike that i would like to make a really nice build out of. I need to weld some aluminum square tube 1/8" thick onto the frame. From what i gather I think I'm going to be purchasing an argon setup for my 120v mig unless you guys can convince me that I wont get the results I want.
    If it would help I can measure the actually amperage my mig tops out at while i gather all the other info from it including make model ect. Please dont suggest to buy another welder because.... well.... duhhhhh If i had the money to wire a 220v outlet and purchase another welder i would.

    O and yes they are coated so if anyone needs a couple pounds of 4043 36" 3/32" rods let me know cuz apparently i wasted $80 on them

    I do have a spool of solid aluminum mig wire but once again no gas. Should i even bother trying to get a solid weld out of it if i can find the spool?
    Benson's 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)

  15. #15

    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Huh...... Well it turns out that i found some really cheap 230v ac/dc stick welders on ebay that will push out 140 amps($100). About the outlet. My stove is electric and im pretty sure its 220. My only question for you guys is if I can find a long enough extension cord ( I think 50ft is needed) Will it be able to carry the voltage appropiately.

  16. #16
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    A_DAB kinda summed it up.

    Sounds like you're trying to make chicken salad from chicken s--t.

    Bottom line. You don't have the right equipment for the task at hand. Do yourself a favor and find someone local that can tig that bike up. That is, if you don't want it falling apart.

    Based on the questions you've asked, I have to say that you've got a lot more studying to do and a lot more practice before you're ready to take on a project of this nature.

    I would recommend you order a copy of Miller's Student Pack (available on their website, Millerwelds.com) and study the information regarding recommended processes for joining aluminum and other metals.

    You'll get a lot of good information from the boards, however you'll also get a lot of bad information also. Hard for a newbie to distinguish the difference.

    You're never going to learn to weld by asking a bunch of "half baked" questions on a message board.

    BTW Aluminum is considered by most to be "much harder" to weld than other metals no matter what process you use. Get proficient at welding steel before you make the move to aluminum.

    Having a couple of "welding machines" does not may one a welder.
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  17. #17
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    if you do manage to learn to weld a bead on that plate..... then think you can try on the bike frame, the difference in mass will almost insure you blow a big irreparable (for you) hole in your frame.

    you need to consider other methods of attaching.

    try brazing. it's cheap. can be bought at harbor freight.
    use with with a mapp torch. cheap alternative. total investment about $12 rods, $50 nice torch,

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=44810

    which is essentially this stuff. read there instructions/videos.
    http://durafix.com/
    http://www.aluminumrepair.com/


    or perhaps you can weld up some little steel brackets which have a relatively close fit to the frame. then sand both parts, JB weld. also you can then wrap wire about the parts to hold them even better. with care you can do a really nice looking and very strong job.
    Last edited by dsergison; 07-09-2009 at 01:26 PM.

  18. #18
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Quote Originally Posted by bkrider113 View Post
    Huh...... Well it turns out that i found some really cheap 230v ac/dc stick welders on ebay that will push out 140 amps($100). About the outlet. My stove is electric and im pretty sure its 220. My only question for you guys is if I can find a long enough extension cord ( I think 50ft is needed) Will it be able to carry the voltage appropiately.
    Yes, a 50ft cord is possible to use if it is a thick enough guage. I would be skeptical of welding any thin wall frame out of aluminum with a mig welder, or any welder without some serious practice.
    It's good to learn, and it is a lot of fun to build your projects to be sure; 90% of us, that's how we started welding. Small mig and stick welders are good machines, and they are the most likely way a new weldor will get involved. The lack of advanced features that keep the cost down will be one of the things that will make welding aluminum much more difficult. I also agree you should post your general area, you may find a local weldor here who will be happy to help you out, teach you some things, and you can make your project more successful....... or safer!! Good luck, Paul.
    And then, after so much work...... you have it in your hand, and you look over to your side...... and the runner has run off. Leaving you holding the prize, wondering when the runner will return.

  19. #19
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    Re: stick welding aluminum help

    Your kitchen stove is 220v, as is your electric clothes dryer. You will need an adapter plug as the welder plug will be a different design than the plug for the stove or dryer. Yes, a 50 foot cord will work just fine as long as it is heavy enough gauge.
    Jason
    Lincoln Idealarc 250 stick/tig
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52
    Miller Bluestar 2E
    Torchmate CNC table
    Ironworkers Local 720

    Owner/Operator Devlin Metal Works
    Custom CNC Plasma Cutting and Welding

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