Beginner welder setup for aluminium
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    15

    Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    I recently purchased an all aluminium pop up trailer, and now have the itch to weld up another one. I have only done gas Mig welding in the past. I am wanting to know what would be a good setup to start trying aluminium. SOme parts are pretty thick. I would say the main frame raises a 1/4" wall square tubing.

    It looks like most of it was welded using a spool gun on a mig. I say that only because the welds don't look like TIG welds.

    Would a spool gun on a 240v MIG be the best set up, or should i go TIG? Can a Mig make good looking Aluminium welds?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    81

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    I got a Lotos 200A ac/dc tig/stick thinking to try Aluminium.

    I still can't figure out Aluminium welding. I could teach myself doing steel, but for AL, could not even do a single bead. Need to figure out how to do it.
    For thick stuff, a spool gun may help but I have not tried it so can't say.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    3,330

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    TIG would work, but honestly you would be slow as molasses and you need to get good at welding out of position, and typically without a foot pedal, both of which add to the challenge. Most of the commercial aluminum trailers I have seen are MIG welded. For quarter inch aluminum, you are going to need a 250 amp class machine. The 200-220 amp machines (Hobart 210 MVP, Millermatic 211, Lincoln Powermig 210MP, and similar) are only going to be good up to 3/16ths of inch at the top of their ranges. But any decent 250-300 amp or higher MIG set up with a spool gun should do fine. The thing is, its not beginner priced. About the cheapest I think you could do new would be the Hobart Ironman 230 with a spool gun for around $1900, and you still need to invest in a tank of argon (roughly another $300), at a minimum.
    Millermatic 252
    Syncrowave 250
    Purox Metalmaster

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Port Orchard, WA.
    Posts
    10,133

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    I haven’t used my spool gun in years. Here is what it can do on 16-GA, and 1/4-inch.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

    Dynasty 300
    V350-Pro w/pulse
    SG Spool gun
    1937 IdealArc-300
    PowerArc 200ST
    3 SA-200s
    Vantage 400





  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    81

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    Very interesting, thanks. I have to try a spool gun on my Lincoln 180. I already have the argon bottle.
    If spool gun works well for me, I will probably not bother with AC TIG any more. On the plus side I can a better Tig machine down the line. Probably a DC Tig/stick/plasma combo from Everlast and sell my lotos tig and lotos plasma cutter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    15

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    i was looking at something like the Hobart 210 MPV with a spool gun. 1/4" may be more than i need, but i figured i would be using it for gussets and things.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    CT
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    3,330

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    Aluminum needs two things: amps and duty cycle. The 210MVP may work in short spurts, but honestly I am willing to bet you will be disappointed in the end because of thermal overload, etc. If you want to do aluminum, you will be happier with a larger machine.
    Millermatic 252
    Syncrowave 250
    Purox Metalmaster

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    15

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    whats considered a short spurt? on this project i am thinking longest weld is about 5"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    479

    Re: Beginner welder setup for aluminium

    Quote Originally Posted by nikb View Post
    whats considered a short spurt? on this project i am thinking longest weld is about 5"
    welding aluminum you'll likely be maxing out a 210mp which has a duty cycle of about 18-20% at max output, so you'll get maybe 2 minutes of welding time every 10 minutes depending on how cold it is where you live, you'll be hitting that thermal overload ALOT.

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