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Thread: Aluminum Stick welding

  1. #1
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    Aluminum Stick welding

    So I was at the skate park this weekend and when I went to lean on the railing on one of the ramps noticed that someone had broken the entire section (about 5' or so) off and pretty much just sat it back in place to make it seem like it was there. Its an aluminum square tube used as the top hand rail with aluminum pipes as supports about 3/32"-1/8" thick. All of the original mig welds broke somehow. I'm guessing some bmx guy tried a bike plant on it and hit with so much force that it broke. I was thinking about welding it back together since this is a park thats owned by the city and the only maintenance done to it is done by the guys who use it. The city ain't spending any money to help us out, so unless I can find some guy to come and tig it up for free I may have to drag the stickmate down there and do it myself. I was looking at some old threads (one of those being ricks thread) on Aluminum stick welding. I do realize that it would be the last resort type welding repair process and that the welds will probably not be the best. I saw that most people claim that aluminum rods run better Electrode positive. .

    I would really prefer to mig weld it but seeing as how this will probably be the only Aluminum repair I plan on doing and will not be getting paid for it I really can't afford to go get a spool gun for 5 inches of weld. If I could run a 1 lbs spool through my lincoln 180 with the stock gun on it that could be a possibility as I have some experience mig and tig welding aluminum, but I'm unsure if the wire will bind up in the liner. The only thing I've used the lincoln for is flux core and alot of it at that (at least 40-50lbs of wire ran through that little machine), so the liner may be a bit worn.

    So If the lincoln can't push aluminum on some scrap I found I'm gonna have to learn Aluminum stick with the stickmate pretty quickly. I was wondering if any one had any advice for doing actual in the field repairs with aluminum stick as most of the aluminum stick I've seen has been practice plates. I was planning on using Hobart 4043 rods either 3/32" or 1/8" in diameter depending on how thick the base metal is after measuring it this week.

    Also I have a big aluminum loading ramp used to put heavy machines on stepdeck trailers I was gonna practice welding on before attempting the weld on the hand rail. I found it on the side of the highway after a trucker forgot to tie it down and can think of no better purpose for it at the moment.

  2. #2
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Thin stuff like that O/A welds real easy.
    Just clean it up good first.

  3. #3
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Make a 90 degree "saddle" out of a couple pieces of thin pipe or angle iron and attach with self tapping screws.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Based on what you stated and the fact your are in PA here is some serious food for thought. I am presupposing this is a public park of some kind? and that you are trying to be a nice guy and fix it before someone is injured? If so kudos for your desire to help BUT- having gone to 'law school the hard way' in PA- in our state if you 'touch it' you OWN it- translation by your own queries about 'how to do it' a Tort lawyer would have a slam dunk should you repair it and it fail and there be even the most MINOR injury. I can't speak for other states but anyone who 'repairs or attempts to repair' has accepted tortious liability for their actions. Translation- kiss anything you own good bye.
    You would be far better off to hang a sign saying 'This is damaged do not use or similar' - and contact whomever is in charge of that park- and let them take responsibility for the repair. I know it is not the answer you want to hear, but just to answer a suit filed against you would cost you THOUSANDS- far more than hiring someone licensed and insured to do the repairs. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but should you choose to go ahead and to the repair you are 'skating on thin ice' and your query here if found by a lawyer would all be seal your fate in front of a jury.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Damn bureaucratic, lawyer driven, safety first, everyone gets a trophy, I’m offended, bull crap life we live in. Guy is trying to do something nice for the facility he uses and could loose his house because of it. It just sucks.

    Ok rant over... as far as stick welding aluminum, it’s kind of like the spook gun. It likes to be run on the ragged end of out of control hot. Pre heat helps on thicker stuff. Like a spool gun, it will start out cold then end too hot so short runs are better then trying to burn a whole rod in one shot.

    It may be entirely easier to bring a few pieces and brace it back to together and either bolt or self drilling sheet metal screw some more metal to it. Then you won’t need to drag your welder down there.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    being a nice guy is commendable !!!!! maybe there is a welding shop in town that knows how to weld and brace it and would do it foe free or little money. doesn't hurt to ask around. do it at a time when no one is around like early int he am. thats what i would try first. then hang a sign on it use at own risk

  7. #7
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Its one of those cases where someone broke it, but put it back sorta in place, and left it for someone else to hurt themselves on it.

    If you call the city, they will just remove the rail,, or close the park.

    If it broke on top,. you could possibly just bracket it up, without any onsite welding.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonzoo View Post
    Make a 90 degree "saddle" out of a couple pieces of thin pipe or angle iron and attach with self tapping screws.
    100X Bonzoo's answer.

    esp - if aluminum out in the open, running a stick and for general public use isn't your 9-5. you have to protect yourself - and others. seems you could bang out a bracket and screw it in and DONE - 100% all around. just takes one family with $$$ and a lawyer to take your good samaritan (of which the world needs more of) and make your life miserable.

    best thing I did (in similar baseball field bleacher repair on aluminum pipe) was measure it up, make it in my garage - then bolt it in place with confidence it was done safely (even though a non-critical piece) and even had an appearance that someone who had more experience than I did the job.

    (hell - I was going to suggest duct taping the sheeeeeeet out of it until the town took care of it! LOL)

    best of luck - and good for you for being willing to do the right thing for the kids in your area........

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    If you decide to attempt to stick weld it, those rods burn FAST and quick. Just make sure to clean the piece very WELL with a stainless steel brush. PS - Those rods get slag built up on the end similar to a 7018, so it can be tricky to restart.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Quote Originally Posted by 131re View Post
    You would be far better off to hang a sign saying 'This is damaged do not use or similar' - and contact whomever is in charge of that park- and let them take responsibility for the repair.
    +1

    In my limited experience with them (I think I've burned a total of one, in a welding class where the instructor was showing us how FUBAR they are), aluminum stick welding rods are good for making a mess, and little else. I certainly wouldn't trust them for anything structural...YMMV.
    Last edited by Kelvin; 07-02-2018 at 09:08 PM.
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    ...this is a park that's owned by the city and the only maintenance done to it is done by the guys who use it.
    The end solution is to get the city to do it's job. Call the local news station to come see the broken dangerous equipment not being maintained by the city, putting all the children at risk.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Time invested in making a nice Broken Railing sign with all the local politician's names and numbers on it like they put up every time .gov builds something would be better invested.
    Put the sign up on Thursday and alert all the local "news" stations.

  13. #13
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Thanks for the input yall. I may be able to find a scrap piece of aluminum angle or I beam that I can make into an angle and rivet it on from the bottom. then find flat bar of some sort and get it from the sides. It may still have to be welded on the top to take the abuse of someone jumping their bike on it but at least getting rivets in it for now will stop someone from falling off just by leaning on it like I did.

    As for those saying that I shouldn't do it because of liability, most of the skateparks get forgotten about by the municipalities there owned by and the skaters end up fixing most of the broken stuff themselves anyway. Since I kind of know how to work with and repair metals I was gonna take on the railing before someone got hurt or someone else rigs it up so bad that it becomes a bigger problem. If I do have to stick weld it I think theres people that mentioned preheat and a stainless brush. I will be using that method if it comes to it, Thank you.

    I also saw someone said to oxyfuel weld it, does that mean like braze? I was unaware that you could weld aluminum with oxyfuel without melting it through. I do have an oxyfuel welding set up with both an old Airco and Victor torch set that I pulled out of the yellow brass bin at work. so If it is possible to weld aluminum with oxyfuel that would be a possibility.

  14. #14
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    I've done some 1/8" aluminum tubing with stick. It's not fun.

    Expect to practice for quite a long time before making welds that will stand up to abuse.

    Yes, aluminum can be welded with oxy/acetylene - it's even more difficult to learn.
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    I should also add that this particular park is supposedly getting replaced/rebuilt with a bunch of concrete ramps and features and such once they get all the funding and plans worked out, so the city really won't be to eager to spend money on the old stuff. But since I know how governments operate the new park could still be 5-10 years away from being started. If they even do follow through. The last park they tried making out of concrete around here got 2/3s of the way done and they just sorta like stalled out. they made it so we can use that 2/3s but it just feels really unfinished.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post

    Yes, aluminum can be welded with oxy/acetylene - it's even more difficult to learn.
    I can Imagine. I know from cutting scrap that aluminum really isn't that fun to work with around a torch. I can only imagine what it must be like when your actually trying to save the metal your working with.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    A lot of WWII aluminum airplanes were oxyfuel welded before heliarc became the norm.

  18. #18
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Scrapman
    Couple of things, since I was the one that brought up the liability issue I wanted to add a few more comments. While others at other parks may take over said repairs that doesn't make it 'legal' in the eyes of a court. At a minimum- you should take pictures. In todays world virtually all in political offices have emails. Compose a nice letter explaining via the pictures the damage and what needs to be done and ask when they feel it can be resolved since it is a hazard and they are legally Liable. Should they then not give you a satisfactory reply as has been mentioned the media would swoop down in a heart beat.
    Here is what is wrong about your repairing it- You have already established that most likely Billy BMXer was who damaged the railing. That shows the railing is not sufficient for this abuse. It needs to be redesigned and made stronger. If you go and repair it with OUT the cities WRITTEN authorization- you repair it- Brainless Billy comes back hits it again but this time he manages to injure himself either via your repair or because the design as I said is bad. He is really busted up and despite prior comments it is NOT the lawyers that are the vultures- it is the damn Insurance companies- they want repaid for Brainless Billy's medical bills so they 'encourage' him and his family to sue- Because- and most people do NOT know this- when you get a Tort settlement part of the award goes to the INSURANCE company to pay back their expenses.
    As it stands now the City SOLELY is liable for any injuries. You jump in and repair it- you just added your name to the list. And if you do not have written permission- guess what happens next? In the court room it goes like this- After basic questions about who you are etc (to establish to the jury you are indeed the defendant named) the Lawyer will say- Mr Scrapman - on such and such date did you perform a repair to the railing at the XYZ Skate park? You would reply Yes- next Question- WERE you AUTHORIZED by the city to do this? Answer- NO-- You now just took on ALL liability and basically resolved the city in the eyes of the jury you are the guy responsible for Brainless Billy's injury. And to further add to your woes- the city can file charges against you for 'damaging city property'.
    Believe me I think what you want to do is great- but- you have to ask yourself- is it Worth the risk to me financially? The other thing most people do not know is- they have the attitude of 'well I don't own much- they cant' get blood from a stone' --Wrong- if you get your clock cleaned in a tort action- and owe big money- the court will decide how much of your wages or self employment earnings- you will pay out each month. Kind of like child support or alimony. You are free to do as you see fit, I am giving you the 'gee I wish someone would have told me first' . Start with making the city aware- if that fails- take it to the media-no politician wants to be painted as the bad guy who didn't fix the park.

  19. #19
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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    could also be katie BMXer. But I dont know if the rail was ever intended for bmxing/skateboarding/etc. Not that people don't do it on those, just saying it was not designed for that type of force.

  20. #20
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    Aluminum Stick welding

    Weld it SMAW or OA, add some brackets etc for reinforcement. Do it anonymously problem solved. A little practice helps. Idgaf about those lawsuits. Those parks are use at your own risk anyways. Not saying something like a lawsuit can’t happen but with a lot of these kids not using proper safety equipment and or using extracurricular mood or mind altering chemicals all you’d have to do is have them do a piss test or prove they weren’t being safe and they’d lose the case. Btw, any repair like that, you’d want to be anonymous anyways. Just do it and don’t go telling everyone the “nice thing you did”.


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    Last edited by bobhdus; 07-03-2018 at 05:55 PM.

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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Too bad you are not looking for an excuse to purchase a spool gun. Should you proceed with the repair... Do lots of practice on the type tube you plan to weld and positions. Welding with aluminum rods sucked for me. Just plan on buying at least 10 lbs to practice. Don't waste time with the small packs.

  22. #22
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    Aluminum Stick welding

    Btw, those Aluminum welding rods used for stick welding also work great with oxyacetylene welding. The flux does exactly as it would on any other flux coated OAW rod. Only issue is making sure the rod is not thicker than the aluminum so you don’t overheat the base metal and sometimes the blue “cobalt” welding glasses (make sure are UV rated), help to see the puddle better.


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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    all you’d have to do is have them do a piss test or prove they weren’t being safe and they’d lose the case.
    It's quite obvious you've never been in a courtroom and have no idea how tort jurisprudence works -other wise you'd not be so cavalier in your 'advice'. As they say you may beat the 'rap' but you won't beat the ride- translated that means-you may prevail in the end but it is going to be a long bumpy and expensive trip to get there. Tort law follows French law and not English common law like our criminal justice system does. As a point of evidence by the time you'd be sued all 'piss tests' would be of no value at such a later date.
    The majority of people offering advice on how to perform the repair are forgetting one important fact this is Not his 'stuff' that is being repaired. The OP is free to do as he wishes, I am merely pointing out how his good intentions as they say pave the road to hell and he might want to reconsider 'fixing' something that is not his- especially since he lacks the knowledge and skill base to do. I jumped in because I saw he is located in PA- as I am and as I stated I learned the hard way how it works and all I did was sell the item and I know what the settlement was for doing just that- One of the first questions asked in a deposition is 'did you 'touch' the product in any way INCLUDING repackaging. Oh and one final comment- if the railing was a purchased item by the city and the OP 'fixes' it and things go badly as I have suggested- Not only does Brainless Billy sue him - the Mfg of the railing does too and most likely the City as well. I don't make the rules- I just learned by experience how they work. As they say the school of hard knocks is the best teacher- it also has the highest cost of tuition I am trying to save him that cost.

  24. #24
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    Aluminum Stick welding

    I understood your point. Its why I said, to make sure he didn’t have any witnesses.


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    Re: Aluminum Stick welding

    Like I said until you sit hours in depositions where some where along the line it would come out who did the repair. That is why it is called 'discovery' and it can be grueling and they are allowed to ask you ANYTHING- even things not directly related to the case. Refuse to answer and you go sit in jail until you decide to answer. Believe me someone would know who did the repair-even if it was a 'guess' - that guess would allow them to subpoena that person and remember when they ask you a question you are under oath and you lie- its call perjury. In reality it is the City's liability and they should take care of it is the point. City could always lease to the people using it then anyone they want can fix it until then the City is who needs to resolve the problem.

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