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Thread: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

  1. #1
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    Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    I'm a novice and occasionally I contact the tungsten with the filler rod and - poof - there is a large spot of black soot/oxidation. My problem is that I have a difficult time recovering from this.

    I might grind with a cut-off disc, Al-oxide flap disc and/or a 3M red scrub pad, then use a stainless wire brush, some sand paper, and blow away the dust with compressed air. Recently, I watched some videos that suggested an acetone wipe, so I have tried this also.

    Often there is still some soot in the seam and/or pits; places that are very difficult to clean. The result is that it is difficult to restart the weld at that location; the puddle retreats from the soot and that soot seems to precipitate to the top, so it is a constant battle.

    Can anyone recommend ways to recover from this? I have not tried altering the AC balance, IIRC 10%. I'm using about 15 cfm Ar.

    TiA

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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Best thing is a hard grinding wheel especially for aluminum. Wire wheels, scothbrite and flap discs tend to smear the aluminum rather than completely remove it. There are acidic " aluminum cleaners" that work but some mechanical means I'd usually necessary to remove the oxide. When hand brushing only go in one direction to avoid smearing.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Carbide bits work really well for this...

    Just remove all the material until you get back to clean and start again (start forward of the repair and "back up" into it again before moving forward).

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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Quote Originally Posted by heas View Post
    I have not tried altering the AC balance, IIRC 10%. I'm using about 15 cfm Ar.
    If that means 10% cleaning, it's pretty low....I'd give 20% a try and see what happens.
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Removing aluminum oxide with aluminum oxide wheel. Is this a common practice?

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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Quote Originally Posted by heas View Post
    Can anyone recommend ways to recover from this?

    TiA
    Best way is to practice so that it doesn't happen in the first place, really. How is your eyesight? Are you using the right shade level? Can you see the tip of the tungsten clearly? You should.
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  9. #7
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    Removing aluminum oxide with aluminum oxide wheel. Is this a common practice?
    No, silicone carbide is much better on aluminum as it self cleans more and stays sharper better on gummy aluminum. The carbide burrs for aluminum work well too but aren't practical for larger flat surfaces.

  10. #8
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Try cleaning these areas with a dedicated grinding wheel that is for Aluminum. Also a carbide burr on a die grinder works great, Aluminum needs to be clean and only use cleaning tools designed for aluminum.
    It seemed like a good idea at the time!

  11. #9
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    heas,
    I find the smallest grinder sander to be too much to get the control needed to clean a contaminated bead of the site where there's junk, soot or back flecks on the bead.

    https://www.amazon.com/SpeTool-Carbi...9900590&sr=8-7
    I use bits like this in a die grinder to cut the poor quality area, as has been mentioned above, this give good control and a small site of excavation of the bead. Note the different profiles, and the very large flutes; like a Vixen file, instead of a cross cut file that will load up fairly quicky in aluminum. The different shapes allow you to dig into different sizes and spaces and bead contours and the big flutes cut aluminum with less loading.

    I personally spray 'pan spray grease' on these bits to keep them from loading up with aluminum. The 'Pam' (tm brand- I use generic) can be cleaned completely with acetone once the metal has been cut out.

    (IMO) It's important to 'stroke' these tools into the cut- don't try to push them in at any speed! Just a pull stroke with a light touch will give good control and the cut can be controlled pretty well.

    Once the contamination is excavated, you should be able to resume the bead and continue on with the weld. When Mig welding aluminum we usually dig out the starts and stops (except the ends of the tie-in last pass) with these tool bits to give best quality for tying one weld to the next.

    Cheers,
    Kevin Morin
    Kenai, AK

  12. #10
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Another vote for carbide burr in a die grinder.
    Dave J.

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  13. #11
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    I weld more Aluminum than anything else and was fortunate to find on eBay a guy selling used 1/4" (shank) carbide burrs that were specifically made for aluminum. Unlike any other bit I've used, they produce a "spray" of tiny sharp sticks of aluminum that get everywhere (they go through your gloves and stick you ) and never seem to clog.

    I use beeswax on everything I cut aluminum with...

  14. #12
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    I find that after dipping there isn't always a way to clean it all up. New tungsten, hit it with a stainless tooth brush, Go to 65% EN (35% EP) and hang back from the gap. I mean puddle back where you were doing well. Ease back to where you were when it all went wrong. Most of the gunk will float to the surface.
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  15. #13
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    Re: Recover from heavily oxidized aluminum weld

    Pita for sure. I fight it all the time. I think most of my issue is trying to run a weld too cold on amperage. If I can't get a weld to clean up enough to run then I have to remove the contamination. It usually takes a flap disc to clean it up enough to go forward. The deburing bits or a file others have mentioned I'll have to try myself. They could work good in areas a grinder can't reach...

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