bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding
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  1. #1
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    bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    Would bead blasting with fresh glass beads, then wiping with acetone, be sufficient to prep an old intake manifold before tig welding on the thing. Of course all grease, etc. would be removed before the bead blasting.
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  2. #2
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I’ve had better results using a wire brush.

    I’ve had a problem with beads peeling a residue into the aluminum. Even starting with fresh class beads, there may be a residue inside of the siphon hope or nozzle that gets transferred to the aluminum.
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  3. #3
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    The areas I'm thinking of would be darn hard to get to with a wire brush. I suppose I could use a Dremel with the little stainless wire wheels.

    Your point about the residue coming out of the pickup hose and tube is something I didn't think of.
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  4. #4
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    Glass bead blasting as a prep for welding aluminum is not a good idea. It makes for real dirty welds. What I suggest is using "Black Magic" lignite coal slag grit. Just turn the air pressure down so it's not so aggressive.

    On an aluminum casting though I'd just use a wire wheel, flapper disc or the carbide burr I was using to make my grooves to clean up the surrounding surface of where I was going to be welding.

  5. #5
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I've tried it on a forged piston and it welded horrible. Use a carbide burr

  6. #6
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    if you have a good amount of grease and oil I would heat it up with a propane torch to bleed the oil and grease out of the pours on cast aluminum then wipe with acetone till clean then wire brush and clean again with acetone...

  7. #7
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I have to say that I have had good results from blasting aluminum. But as stated earlier I used Black Magic . If you have grease or oil contamination heating is needed to burn out impurities but on irregular surfaces that are hard to clean any other way blasting will do the job.

    On a side note I have found that blasting aluminum and then painting it within a few hours greatly improves the durability of the paint on the aluminum surface. The aluminum needs to be painted before the aluminum can reoxidize wich happens in about 12-24 hrs after blasting.
    Last edited by thegary; 04-14-2018 at 11:41 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    Quote Originally Posted by jerje View Post
    The areas I'm thinking of would be darn hard to get to with a wire brush. I suppose I could use a Dremel with the little stainless wire wheels.

    Your point about the residue coming out of the pickup hose and tube is something I didn't think of.
    Usd a small wire cylinder (kinda like a cone, but not flared out as much), about 3/16" diameter, and chuck it up in a compact drill, not a dremel, and run it both rotational directions, while dripping/spraying acetone in the area. Use low rpm's of course. I had to do this with some small crevices on the outside of an aluminum engine block, and it ended up pretty clean.
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  9. #9
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    We do a great deal of this sort of welding.
    If it isn't painted, I would use Super Clean (purple cleaner) on it until all grease was gone. You may need to use Gunk engine cleaner first. This is done with Rinsing with water and drying with air between products. The last thing is Aluma Brite. I buy it by the gallon. Also Aluma clean is made by the same company (Power Service).
    If I had to use stripper (for paint) or wire brushes or whatever, the Aluma Brite would be my final step. It will make it look like new. Acid based wheel cleaner will do the same thing, it just costs more, but it will save the hassle of buying a dedicated spray bottle.
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  10. #10
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I've done lots of welding on over a hundred manifolds. I second the idea of a carbide burr. It not only removes the surface staining, it reveals fresh clean metal under a usually oxidized skin of old aluminum. Lube the burr with WD-40 and it will cut fast and clean and WD-40 can be welded over with just a wipe.

    I also use a stainless brush if I don't think there is a skin of old metal to worry about.

    On nasty stuff, I'll do a "tig wash", I'll torch the area with the tig like I was going to weld, but I don't add any filler. Any crap in there will come to the surface and can be easily removed with the same burr. this also burns off any residue that will off-gas into the weld area which can cause problems.
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  11. #11
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    Show off some manifolds chad!! I figured you would be using new metal for that which would only need a acetone wipe if that

  12. #12
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I appreciate all of the responses. I've restored hundreds of carburetors and dual quad setups so know how to clean the components of grease and paint, etc.; just never tigged an intake before and bought the tig machine last fall so I could learn how to do it. I've always taken the manifolds I've had that needed help to a marine prop service and never stayed around to watch what they did, and until I got on here and Jody's site, and watched his videos, never knew tig welding aluminum required the kind of cleanliness that it does.

    Yes chad I would like to see examples of your work if you get a chance.
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  13. #13
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    Quote Originally Posted by motolife313 View Post
    Show off some manifolds chad!! I figured you would be using new metal for that which would only need a acetone wipe if that
    I import FWD G54B Mitsubishi Magna TN manifolds from Australia and modifity them for use in RWD G54B powered cars here in the states. Takes about 3 hours of modification, but I make pretty good $$ on them.

    The Magna is a cheap economy sedan over there, they aren't well taken care of. Thus they often have nasty oily stuff on the outside, and lots of galvanic corrosion inside the coolant passages because it seems they don't use antifreeze. I don't even try to clean all the gunk off, it's too much labor. I just get the grime out of the general work areas and rotary file the weld area.

    I save the fresh material for my fabricated manifolds.
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  14. #14
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

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    The runner pass through the plenum flange for the formed bell mouth velocity stack runners
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    Without injectors or throttle body
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  15. #15
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    thats purdy looking..nice!!

  16. #16
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    That's beautiful work. The stuff you work on is a tad newer than the stuff I work on. Here are two items that I need to weld on and two of a restored '61 Pontiac 421 Super Duty setup I recently shipped to someone.
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  17. #17
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I'd be worried about that carb not being a weldable alloy, AKA pot-metal. You can't go wrong trying since it's garbage if you can't fix it, but don't be surprised if it does some crazy things when you strike an arc on it. There are several types of pot metal and zinc based alloys that are used because they machine very well, better than aluminum, but they can't be fixed with normal welding methods.

    If I were you, I'd grind a good patch off the broken area and strike an arc, see if you can form a controllable puddle, then if so add a little filler and see how it responds. If it takes, then plan on removing a good bevel on both pieces so you can lay some good penetrating welds in there since it's pretty big area than can only be reached on the outside. The whole thing is goign to be very hot, so you will have to remove as much as you can from it. If you don't have a big amps machine, count on pre-heat in an oven (or BBQ).

    In all honesty, epoxy may work better if it's not under a lot of stress, then bead blasting would be a good way to prep the surface.

    My manifolds are for 1980's motors, so not all that new. They get used for getting rid of very crude throttle body injection, and converting to modern aftermarket fully programmable multiport injection.
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  18. #18
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    The carb is a Carter AFB and the AFB stood for "aluminum four barrel" back when they were made. Here are two pictures of a foot that was welded onto one of them by someone.
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  19. #19
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    I guess it's just really oxidized, in that pic it is a pretty dark looking surface. You'll want to remove all that oxidized metal, atleast where you plan on laying a bead. Might help to keep some of it intact to keep the parts mated up. Cook the carb body to 300* long enough to be sure it's up to temp, but no longer than that. This will help penetrate a lot easier/better. You will end up dumping less heat into it that way too because it will weld faster/easier.
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  20. #20
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    U do good fab work nice job!

  21. #21
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    Re: bead blasting to clean aluminum before tig welding

    It came to me without the foot and I plan to just weld a slightly oversize tab onto that area and then machine the excess off so it looks as close to original as I can get it. This is a very rare carburetor so I plan to break that foot of several scrap AFBs and weld and machine them before tackling this carb.
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