Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    minnesota
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    1,864

    Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    Hey everyone I am curious what everyone does to clean aluminum prior to welding with a spoolgun. Most of the aluminum welding I do is repair work on aluminum dump trailers and tanker trailers. I try to go at it with a carbide burr or grinding wheel or wire brush depending on the situation. The problem comes from the crap coming out of the crack or from between layers of material. Machine is a miller 252 with a 30a spool gun. 100% argon. Using .035 wire. Any help would be appreciated thanks
    Millermatic 252
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    108

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    That’s always a tough situation. I often try to heat it up with a torch to boil out the water and other crap before welding.


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    30

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    Make sure your wire brush is stainless steel...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    NW New Jersey
    Posts
    206

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    X2 on the above mentioned. Goof off works well on removing road tar, stickers, grease/oil.
    Airco 250 ac/dc Heliwelder Square wave
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Bossier Parish La.
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    5,337

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    Quote Originally Posted by Dodgediesel2 View Post
    Make sure your wire brush is stainless steel...
    And has NOT been used on any other material except aluminum. Any other use can imbed contaminates into the brush which then can be transferred to the aluminum and contaminate it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Pasco Fl.
    Posts
    236

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    ***********************

    CR

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    2,962

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    Quote Originally Posted by CrookedRoads View Post
    Streamline's Aluma Brite Concentrate (Concentrated Aluminum Brightener)

    This item is a corrosive material and can only ship in 55-gallon drums outside of Utah and Idaho. so how do you buy a gallon outside of those 2 states????

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Pasco Fl.
    Posts
    236

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    That was just a brand that popped up, all the truckers use this on their trucks. I've been getting this Power Brite at my welding supply down at the port, next week thay may have some other brand.

    Name:  Alum brite.jpg
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    ***********************

    CR

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    SE Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    292

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    I have found that on old aluminum, (despite doing all that you can do to clean and prep it) the end result often is to grind out the first (and usually second) weld passes. The puddle will "float out" the crap and rise to the top. Grind out 80% of the weld and weld again. Grind the top 50% off the second pass and the third pass will be okay.

    Its extra work, expense and heat input but often its the only way.
    Lincoln Ranger 305G
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    minnesota
    Posts
    1,864

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    I have been doing what saskwelder says. It has been working but is slow. I was hoping someone had a miracle cure all
    Millermatic 252
    millermatic 175
    miller 300 Thunderbolt
    lincoln ranger 250
    smith torches
    lots of bfh's
    If it dont fit get a bigger hammer

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    NW New Jersey
    Posts
    206

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    Thats the challenge of repair welding vs. new fabrication. So many times I'm given something "ready to weld", and half way through the weld it erupts like a volcano(silicone, grease, who knows what?). It happens a lot on stainless(people like to sneak silver solder, or braze in lap joints that were previously spot welded), as well as Aluminum jobs. Sometimes its easier to remove a brace or bracket completely and fully prep area , then weld a new piece in , if thats an option. Most of the time on trailers you try and grind real deep before welding, and hope for the best. The different types of road salts really do a number on the aluminum. What kind of grinding/flap wheels do you use on your aluminum?
    Airco 250 ac/dc Heliwelder Square wave
    Miller Synchrowave 180 sd
    Miller Econo Twin HF
    Lincoln 210 MP
    Dayton 225 ac/dc
    Victor torches

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    583

    Re: Cleaning aluminum for spool gun welding

    Quote Originally Posted by SaskWelder View Post
    I have found that on old aluminum, (despite doing all that you can do to clean and prep it) the end result often is to grind out the first (and usually second) weld passes. The puddle will "float out" the crap and rise to the top. Grind out 80% of the weld and weld again. Grind the top 50% off the second pass and the third pass will be okay.

    Its extra work, expense and heat input but often its the only way.
    What this man said. Along with heat that can evap some of the goo. If you have a nice laboratory setting, caustic soda is the BEST degreaser known to man but it also turns AL into hydrogen gas and white residue over time. Throw a chunk of say, 3/16" AL into a concentrated solution and in hours only some residue will be left. Nonetheless, if you have the space and can be cautious as it is extremely noxious to work with, and must be flushed thoroughly with water, it is a wonder.

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