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Thread: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

  1. #26
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    So Terry uses his dynasty's everyday in a production environment. I don't care what machine you use in that environment, they all die and need repairs at some point. I'll take a quality inverter from Miller ANYTIME over any transformer machine no matter if they don't last as long which imo is pure bs. The weld quality is WAY better with the inverter technology versus a dinosaur transformer machine. Not to mention portability. To get the same thickness range from a transformer versus the Miller dynasty 280dx your talking being able to carry the dynasty by hand or using a forklift for a syncrowave 250. To each there own but I'm a professional and I'll take new technology period, I know what produces the results I desire.

  2. #27
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    I think the more important point here is the OP started out looking at a MIG set up. TIG is going to be much slower for this job. Time is money and he will be much better off ditching the idea of a TIG unit and finding an appropriate MIG with a spool gun
    Syncrowave 250
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  3. #28
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    I think the more important point here is the OP started out looking at a MIG set up. TIG is going to be much slower for this job. Time is money and he will be much better off ditching the idea of a TIG unit and finding an appropriate MIG with a spool gun
    Anyone who had go after a cracked up aluminum dump bed would quickly agree

  4. #29
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Yep depends what he is doing.

  5. #30
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    +1 on big mig and spool gun

  6. #31
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    There's a guy with an older ESAB Heliarc 352. He wants $1000 for it (700ish usd). Anyone have anything nice to say about those machines?

  7. #32
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    With regards to the question of how thin do I wanna go material wise. I have a 175 that I can use on thinner stuff

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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Kebab View Post
    With regards to the question of how thin do I wanna go material wise. I have a 175 that I can use on thinner stuff
    What 175 ? The suitcase or the welding machine with a trailer and flat place for a tank? A 175 will do ya, CRANK the boy.Get a jar with a lil heliium and tell them old guys said it'll work

  9. #34
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    1/4" stick electrodes and an SA200 would work. unless you need it to look good/hold alot of weight. then that'll take some serious practice and a preheat torch
    .

  10. #35
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonzoo View Post
    What 175 ? The suitcase or the welding machine with a trailer and flat place for a tank? A 175 will do ya, CRANK the boy.Get a jar with a lil heliium and tell them old guys said it'll work
    Sorry, should have been more specific. I have a Lincoln 175 square wave

  11. #36
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    I just found out that the ESAB 352 says max draw on 220v single phase is 152 amps.... That's a little more than I've got to supply it with. I guess most of the older transformer welders are gonna be quite power hungry like that, especially something 300+ amp.

  12. #37
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Sync 250 calls for 100A.

  13. #38
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    I'd be looking for a second hand good brand MIG welder, upwards of 250 amps, ideally an inverter like a Miller XMT 304, or a a proper 220v transformer Millermatic 252. The inverter XMT on three phase is the boy, but it will work on single phase too, just no real benefit over a millermatic as far as amperage and duty cycle are concerned.
    The whole inverter vs transformer is nonsense these days - just make sure you stick to a known good brand and model. They all break down now and again, anyways.

    Then for your budget I'd be making sure whatever you buy has a U groove roller feed with at least two driven rolls, and then you can whack on a short 3m mig gun with a dedicated nylon liner. Much cheaper than a spool gun and way better for lots of welding... if you can get away with the short range. This is where a separate wire feeder comes into its own.

  14. #39
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Kebab View Post
    First off I wanna say I had no idea what to title this thread with...

    I'm looking for a machine to weld some fairly thick aluminum with. Up to 3/8 of an inch is probably as thick as I'll need to go. I priced out a Lincoln 260 mig with a push-pull gun. It's a little more than I'd like to spend right now. I started looking at higher amperage tig welders and I was wondering what would be the best bang for my buck. Going with an older machine, no bells or whistles... but cheaper, or going with a new machine? I already have a 175 square wave that works great for thin stuff, I just need something with a few more amps for the thick stuff... . The work is mostly on rectangular tube, going to be welded in position and there's a fair amount of welding to tie all the tubes together. Just looking for some opinions. Thanks!
    Well I reviewed all of the responses and your post and came to a conclusion. For your budget the Lincoln 260 is a very good choice IMO. However I would hold off on the push/pull gun and purchase the accessory U-drive rolls and wire guide. Also make sure there are nylon liners available. If all works well DF-Specialties makes an alum friendly pistol grip straight gun and whip aircooled or watercooled doing away with complicated push/pull guns. I will be taking that route on my MillerMatic350P, and sell off the alumipro gun.
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    https://www.dfmachinespecialties.com...ooled-mig-guns
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  15. #40
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    On a secondary note wire selection should be considered carefully. You will in any case need the accesory drive roll kit. https://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-u...ncolnElectric)

    The 6061 tube you mentioned indicates a structural application. 4043 alloy wire is junk wire as far as I am concerned. It is highly dependent on base metal dilution to acquire any strength and toughness. Mig is notorious for fast freezing the puddle, high deposition, and little base metal dilution. 5356 is a much better strength match for 6061, does not require base metal dilution, and is much more ductile than 4000 series filler. It's higher strength and fast freeze will impart some strain hardening to the HAZ to restore some temper.

    4043 also is more abrasive in nature to the conduit and will impart more shavings as oppose to gliding through as 5356 tends to do. If you are dead set on a 4000 series alloy I highly recommend 4943 as it is stronger and also does not require base metal dilution as 4043 does. 4943 was developed as a replacement to 4043. It really is a wonder wire but still does not feed as well as 5356.
    Last edited by shovelon; 12-28-2018 at 06:03 PM.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  16. #41
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    "Well I reviewed all of the responses and your post and came to a conclusion. For your budget the Lincoln 260 is a very good choice IMO. However I would hold off on the push/pull gun and purchase the accessory U-drive rolls and wire guide. Also make sure there are nylon liners available. If all works well DF-Specialties makes an alum friendly pistol grip straight gun and whip aircooled or watercooled doing away with complicated push/pull guns. I will be taking that route on my MillerMatic350P, and sell off the alumipro gun."


    Why would anyone want to visit the misery of push-only AL what with whip length, wire diameter, wire alloy etc? Yes, yes I know people do it and so have I but having the choice, I wouldn't even think of it unless I sat at a bench all day welding heavy stuff. I don't think of 3/8" AL as 'heavy stuff'.

  17. #42
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Yofish View Post
    "Well I reviewed all of the responses and your post and came to a conclusion. For your budget the Lincoln 260 is a very good choice IMO. However I would hold off on the push/pull gun and purchase the accessory U-drive rolls and wire guide. Also make sure there are nylon liners available. If all works well DF-Specialties makes an alum friendly pistol grip straight gun and whip aircooled or watercooled doing away with complicated push/pull guns. I will be taking that route on my MillerMatic350P, and sell off the alumipro gun."


    Why would anyone want to visit the misery of push-only AL what with whip length, wire diameter, wire alloy etc? Yes, yes I know people do it and so have I but having the choice, I wouldn't even think of it unless I sat at a bench all day welding heavy stuff. I don't think of 3/8" AL as 'heavy stuff'.
    What misery? I now have the recipe again for success. I have owned both. An Airco push only machine with adjustable upslope in the 80s which drove alum through a short torch and nylon liner that performed brilliantly. Like an idiot I sold it. I gave up using spoolguns on mediocre machines and not until I got alum specific machines with troublesome push/guns did alum mig make sense again. After driving thousands of pounds of alum wire and only needing short whip lengths I have come to the conclusion that I will move back to push only and dispense with calibration headaches. The only mig push/pull alum mig capable machines I consider user friendly are the slave primary drive and calibrated pull drive units that do not require calibration. My MK CobraMig is one of them. A keeper. All others are a cruel joke. Miller admittedly did come out with thier MillerMatic350P-Alum that was specific built with slave drive primary for the pull gun. But the original poster does not want to spend $6k.
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  18. #43
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Yofish View Post
    Why would anyone want to visit the misery of push-only AL what with whip length, wire diameter, wire alloy etc? Yes, yes I know people do it and so have I but having the choice, I wouldn't even think of it unless I sat at a bench all day welding heavy stuff. I don't think of 3/8" AL as 'heavy stuff'.
    The Lincoln PF44 feeder as sold in the UK has a really bad design for feeding AL since it has two U rolls and two idler flats, and you can't back the tension off far enough. But we made it feed 4043 all day long with no problems.

    If we can do that on a BAD design of feeder, imagine what you can do with a GOOD design feeder where you have 4 driven U rolls and can back the tension off properly. If you set it up nicely, trim the liner properly etc, there's no reason it won't work unless your gun is too weedy for the amperage/duty cycle.

    We only ran into issues with that wire feeder because we wanted to run 1050 pure aluminium in it, and that stuff is just ridiculously soft. But if you're running 4043 or 5356 it should never be a problem for a well designed 4 roll feed.

  19. #44
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Munkul, do you know any aluminum boat builders in the UK that use push only? My point is; that though it certainly works, the set-up is not conducive to field work or crawling around below decks. I've been told that some of the pontoon builders here in the US use push-only. All with very short whips. Wheel welders too. But in my trade, I've never encountered that method in use. Of all the push-pull feeders that I've had, only the Hobart Linear I-II were a headache. I've set up my latest Everlast 275P to run push-only with 1/16" wire but I just never use it. The great advantage to me with push-pull is the wire control at the gun, which I adjust frequently given the changing weld position; uphill, down, over and horizontal, potentially all within minutes of one and another and all with the same volts.

    I would very much like to see pix of what kind of work you do with your set-up.

  20. #45
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Yofish View Post
    Munkul, do you know any aluminum boat builders in the UK that use push only? My point is; that though it certainly works, the set-up is not conducive to field work or crawling around below decks. I've been told that some of the pontoon builders here in the US use push-only. All with very short whips. Wheel welders too. But in my trade, I've never encountered that method in use. Of all the push-pull feeders that I've had, only the Hobart Linear I-II were a headache. I've set up my latest Everlast 275P to run push-only with 1/16" wire but I just never use it. The great advantage to me with push-pull is the wire control at the gun, which I adjust frequently given the changing weld position; uphill, down, over and horizontal, potentially all within minutes of one and another and all with the same volts.

    I would very much like to see pix of what kind of work you do with your set-up.
    Don't be so quick to judge. I burned hundreds of lbs of 4043 with a short whip, nylon liner, U-groove rollers, and standard gun with good results. I had a gun for steel, and a gun for alum. Nylon liners were cheap and I knew how to change them fast. All on an old fashioned Airco DipPak power supply with adjustable up and down slope. Over the years I have found that soft wires are much more abrasive than harder wires. Oh what I could do with that Airco and better alum wires like 4943 and 5356.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  21. #46
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    sovelon, hardly am I being too quick to judge. I am ALWAYS interested more in pix of work when someone claims something that I'm not either familiar with or does not jibe with my experience. There was nothing judgmental in my query. That's cool that you have had these experiences. I'm a boat builder, therefore that's what i'm interested in and hence my question to the poster. OK, now, show me some weld pix of the work you've done thusly. I've shown rather numerous examples of what I do because it may or may not have value to others. After all, one can say anything about anything but to show is, for me, the break. Everything I said in that post is true - as I know it and in my collection of experiences with boat builders in the Pacific Northwest: NO ONE USES PUSH ONLY. But! I'm ready to see otherwise....just show me.....

  22. #47
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    Nah you are right, the only thing we use our push-only setups for is for welding on the table where you can pull the welder cart around to anywhere you want. Any job more awkward than that, you'd want a portable wire feeder, or really like you say a proper push-pull setup.

  23. #48
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    Re: Welding 3/8 aluminum with cost in mind

    So Terry, let me get this straight, are you saying you prefer a shot whip and a push only set up to a spool gun? That seems to go against common wisdom.
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