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Thread: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

  1. #1
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    I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    So what if I'm easily amused.

    3/32 Royal 300 alum rod on 1/4" 6061. 110 amps DCEP.

    I've never run stick on aluminum, and I think this might be the first aluminum I've ever welded. I did Tig back in college but I don't recall welding aluminum, maybe I did. I don't remember now.

    In any event, 90a wasn't enough. 100a wasn't enough, but better. So I bumped up to 110a and gave it a whirl. That was quite the short "ride".

    For the joint I probably could have gone up to 120-130a - I didn't quite get full penetration, but close. That amazes me - thats a lot of amps for a small rod, but it is aluminum....

    For not being able to see the arc in the cloud of smoke and mounds of slag, the bead actually is pretty good. I just jammed the rod in there and held it back from advancing too fast to hopefully get some better penetration. That left a fairly tall profile, but I think the delay (funny to use that term with as fast as the rod burns) was appropriate so as to get more heat in to the base. So my assumption is if I crank the amps more I might be able to flatten out the profile and get better penetration.

    After a bend test the weld held with flying colors. I am aware the HAZ is weakened in the welding process (some grades of aluminum can be treated to bring hardness & strength back post-welding) so it makes sense that the bar bent at the weld (and if you look close - at the end of the test weld beads also). Most important to me, though, is there is no cracking - either in the weld bead itself or between the bead and base metal - noting that proper fusion took place and that the weld metal is ductile.

    If it weren't for getting rained out I would have played around some more.

    I do have a project coming up that I want to use aluminum with. I'm more confident in doing it with stick now. Yeah, I know stick is the bottom of the totem pole for aluminum welding but still.... It works and I have it, so why not?

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  2. #2
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

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  4. #3
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    I think it looks good. Definitely adds versatility to the welding toolbox.
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    I think 1/8" electrodes work better on 1/4" thick material.
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    It's really about technique, you really need to get that down because as you know by now,,,, there is no time to think when you drop that rod. About how long was a rod lasting you?
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freebirdwelds View Post
    It's really about technique, you really need to get that down because as you know by now,,,, there is no time to think when you drop that rod. About how long was a rod lasting you?
    As for how long the rod would last - I figure about 4-5 inches of bead. I am not sure how long the rods are, maybe 12-15"? I ran out of rod on the joint, actually - just barely got as far as I did but could have gone a bit more.

    As for technique - yep. I am looking at the pictures and one thing that just hit me is the blind side of the weld.

    Those pieces (bar cut then the two faces welded back) were clamped to a steel plate (vice base). So the base plate helped to wick heat from the weld, when the aluminum already was to require higher amps than would steel. However, that isn't what catches my attention in the picture of the blind side of the weld. It appears the weld is not fully penetrating. However, with the amount of slag that was produced, and very runny slag at that, I think what happened is the slag flowed under the base metal through the crack and prevented the weld pool from reaching all the way through the base metal.

    In the orientation of the picture of the blind side of the weld - the top of the picture is the front and the bottom is the rear. I welded that back to front, so bottom to top in the picture orientation. Note how much of the base is melted where the initial gap that was set was only about 3/64"-1/16". Then notice how high the weld bead sits/how deep the valley is between the parts. The only explanation I have for that is the slag prevented the pool from getting down there.

    That makes me wonder if I were to set parts like that up on blocks with space under the weld for the slag to drop free of the base metal entirely - would I get full penetration?

    If you look at the top of the parts in the picture - the weld is fully penetrated towards the end. So the heat was there. Something was preventing the pool from getting through the base - I suspect the slag.

  9. #7
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
    As for how long the rod would last - I figure about 4-5 inches of bead. I am not sure how long the rods are, maybe 12-15"? I ran out of rod on the joint, actually - just barely got as far as I did but could have gone a bit more.

    As for technique - yep. I am looking at the pictures and one thing that just hit me is the blind side of the weld.

    Those pieces (bar cut then the two faces welded back) were clamped to a steel plate (vice base). So the base plate helped to wick heat from the weld, when the aluminum already was to require higher amps than would steel. However, that isn't what catches my attention in the picture of the blind side of the weld. It appears the weld is not fully penetrating. However, with the amount of slag that was produced, and very runny slag at that, I think what happened is the slag flowed under the base metal through the crack and prevented the weld pool from reaching all the way through the base metal.

    In the orientation of the picture of the blind side of the weld - the top of the picture is the front and the bottom is the rear. I welded that back to front, so bottom to top in the picture orientation. Note how much of the base is melted where the initial gap that was set was only about 3/64"-1/16". Then notice how high the weld bead sits/how deep the valley is between the parts. The only explanation I have for that is the slag prevented the pool from getting down there.

    That makes me wonder if I were to set parts like that up on blocks with space under the weld for the slag to drop free of the base metal entirely - would I get full penetration?

    If you look at the top of the parts in the picture - the weld is fully penetrated towards the end. So the heat was there. Something was preventing the pool from getting through the base - I suspect the slag.

    Preheat the aluminum to 200į and give it a try,
    Last edited by Freebirdwelds; 05-07-2021 at 10:49 PM.
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  10. #8
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Beauty weld for sure. These things have been around for a long time, no magical juice here, and are not useful whatsoever other than for what you did. You can't really make anything with them unless you are a masochist with too much time on your hands. BTW, a year after you buy them they are only useful for white elephant parties.

  11. #9
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    That looks much better than my attempts at aluminum
    stick welding. I bought 3 or 4 rods in a blister pack from
    the local hardware store just to try it. Definitely not an
    economical way to practice , so I never went any further
    with it.
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  12. #10
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
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    Nicely done. Could you provide particulars on the machine? Reason being, I purchased BlueDemons and can’t get them lit. I’m assuming this is an inverter. Hildstrom here indicated his transformer machine was a fail

    http://www.hildstrom.com/projects/st...num/index.html
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    Last edited by Continuum; 05-08-2021 at 04:11 AM.

  13. #11
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    I think it looks good. Definitely adds versatility to the welding toolbox.
    Agree. This is an important nut to crack. I had a busted AL fence on my Delta wood miter saw. Tossed it in the scrap bin figuring I’d order a new one. Nope most of the parts are discontinued. Had I had even a rough weld method, the part could have been saved. In my opinion, this is an important rod for repairs.
    Last edited by Continuum; 05-08-2021 at 04:24 AM.

  14. #12
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Continuum View Post
    Nicely done. Could you provide particulars on the machine? Reason being, I purchased BlueDemons and can’t get them lit. I’m assuming this is an inverter.
    You are correct, it happened to be on my inverter - Everlast PowerArc 210STL. I do have an old Round Top (Lincoln Idealarc 250 AC/DC) transformer, also. I did not have the Round Top out yesterday at all.

    I don't recall the rest of the settings exactly. I ran 6010 on it earlier with the arc force and hot start max'ed out. Then I ran 7018 and I knocked the settings back. I want to say the hot start was somewhere around 60/1.0sec and arc force was around 50-60%, but I could be off.

    The rods are a bit tricky to light off, I will admit. The slag leaves a glassy coating on the end of the rod if you break the arc - sort of like 7018 but even more so. The flux is rather soft/powdery and the glassy coating on the tip is easy to break off. Using a file the tip is easy to open back up, but in doing so the flux breaks up the rod about 1/16-3/32". It doesn't seem to be much of an issue on restarts.

    I know there are a bunch of aluminum stick electrodes out there. I've seen the Hobart ones at Tractor Supply and Harbor Freight even has some of the import variety. I've never tried any of the others. When I got some rods last year at my LWS I asked if they had any aluminum rods. One of the guys that has been there forever and a day decided to check in the back warehouse thinking he might have seen some. Those crown alloys are what he came out with a while later. So it was just by chance I stumbled in to them.

    So far I am really happy with the results. From the start of things I know it will work. It wasn't one of those "this rod totally blows" deals - which is why I started the thread. This is cool stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yofish View Post
    BTW, a year after you buy them they are only useful for white elephant parties.
    The pack of rods is from last year. They work fine. Maybe your frame of reference is another type of rod.

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  16. #13
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    I'm guessing AC transformer would be a "no go"?
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  17. #14
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Good to have in the toolbox, for sure if you need it.

    Looks good/better than I thought it would if you had asked me before hand.
    Actually looks better than some spool gun stuff Iíve seen

    Pretty cool.

    Iím not sure what the point is bending it in a vice was.

    If itís 6061 it will probably break in half.

    I donít know much about testing aluminum weld but I donít think itís the same process as steelÖ

    As in bent tests.
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  18. #15
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Nice looking beads, I've tried them before. Never got good with it, ill just stick with my 30A spoolmatic.
    It seemed like a good idea at the time!

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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    I did some more farting around with the aluminum today. This time I ran my old Round Top.

    First up was some 1/8" or so aluminum. I think its either 6063, 6061, or 4043 but could be off.

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    The last 2 beads (towards the bottom) were about 40 amps (ropy, too cold) and 45 amps (about right). So that is what I ran with:

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    This time I set coupons up on 1/4" risers with a gap around the weld joint like I mentioned earlier - so the slag can run through and not prevent the pool from getting down through the base.

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  21. #17
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

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    Then I moved back over to the 1/4" bar.

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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

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    Since the weld wasn't complete to the full profile of the base I thought I would work on this one a bit and try stitching some more metal in to build up the piece.

    Something to mention, also, is there is no data on these rods - other than they are suitable for "any weldable aluminum". They don't have any ratings on penetration, ductility, tensile strength, etc, etc. So these rods were a bit of a wildcard for me from the start.

    I can say with a fair amount of certainty - these rods are penetrating and fast-freezing, sort of an aluminum version of 6010/6011, if you will.

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    Overall I think the results are pretty good. They are certainly workable rods with respectable results. Yeah, technique is a lot of it. However, just as with steel, being able to fix a blow out and build metal back up is an important skill with fabrication. These aluminum rods appear to allow you to do that pretty well also.

    Another note is for as much slag as there is it does come off pretty easy. I've heard you should let the welds cool with the slag on there, so no chipping slag right away. If you let the welds sit and cool the slag cracks up and sometimes it will brush right off with a swipe of a glove. Weird stuff, for sure.

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  24. #19
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Interesting.....would you say it was better or easier with the Inverter or the transformer?
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    I would say some type of run off tab would certainly help. Looks like it gets pretty much out of control at the stops.

  26. #21
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigb View Post
    Interesting.....would you say it was better or easier with the Inverter or the transformer?

    Didn't notice a difference. I didn't keep track of the amps between them, I just tested first to find what appeared to work and ran with it - the amps the machines were set to was somewhat irrelevant.

    I will say - the transformer puts more heat out. Higher OCV so for the same amperage the wattage going in to heat is higher, so it would make sense the amperage would be less. Looking at the pictures the amps were about 80-83 for the 1/4" bar, vs 110a on the inverter the other day.

    As far as how hard the rod is to run - it isn't. Getting it to light off is a bit tricky, but it is not like 6010/cellulosic rods that are "hard to run". Once its going it is very easy to run - on both machines. Lighting it off might just be another learning curve/technique.

    Another piece that is worth noting is these are 3/32" aluminum rods. They are soft = noodles. So as flexible as they are that can add in to the apparent difficulty running, but not in the same perspective of the arc and the welding performance like the 6010 reference.
    Last edited by FlyFishn; 05-08-2021 at 11:13 PM.

  27. #22
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    I would say some type of run off tab would certainly help. Looks like it gets pretty much out of control at the stops.

    That is a good idea. I will save my rod bits. A little extra meat off the edges might help keep the pool from blowing through the base there.

    Though, the first run I did the other day on the 1/4" bar was with it clamped to a steel plate that was solid under the weld joint (the run today was with the weld joint suspended). I am not sure just having a "tab" under the base metal opposite of the weld side would suffice. Extra metal on the weld side would help as that would be an area to get the rod going and heat to build ahead of welding the part, and the extra metal at the end of the weld joint would allow the heat and pool to get all the way through the end. That is unless the base melts apart at the corners regardless. TBD I suppose.

  28. #23
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Interesting and you make it look easy.
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  29. #24
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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Huh. Looks like you got way better results than I did the one time I burned an aluminum stick rod in welding class. When I tried it, it seemed almost unmanageable. Good on you.

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    Re: I'm excited. Aluminum stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelvin View Post
    Huh. Looks like you got way better results than I did the one time I burned an aluminum stick rod in welding class. When I tried it, it seemed almost unmanageable. Good on you.

    Go get you some Crown Alloys Royal 300 rods and give em' a whirl. Might be all in the rod. What you state was the experience I thought I was going to get too - hence the thread. I don't think I'm a good enough welder to make a nearly unmanageable rod run this well.

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