ALUMINUM PIPE WELDING FOR BEGINNERS - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-30-2014   #1
 
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2011
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ALUMINUM PIPE WELDING FOR BEGINNERS

Hello Buzzards

I am looking to start experimenting with some aluminum welding this winter. I will be welding 1'' and smaller 6061 pipe for now. I am trying to decide if I should get a TIG or MIG machine. For my first machine capable of welding aluminum I want something less expensive, and I want something that I can plug into a standard outlet, possibly a 220 outlet if I wire one in to my shop. My question is should I start with a small MIG machine with a spoolgun for aluminum, or should I start off with a decent TIG machine? I plan on having both machines someday but for now I will be welding small diameter aluminum pipe almost exclusively.

Thank you

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Old 10-30-2014   #2
 
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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Spool gun. It will get you up and running. You will be welding in days. Learning to tig is a commitment that requires devotion.
You will be welding after 100 hours of practice.


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Old 10-30-2014   #3
 
Bayfield, Colorado
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I would opt for a tig simply because thats what all the raft frame people do. If you can go watch a good tig welder, the stacked dime weld results from a timely addition of rod. I too am looking into getting a aluminum welder. A buddy of mine (rafter and ex production welder) says there's a cool welding web site called tips and tricks or something like that that has tons of good information. I have not made the time to check it out.
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Old 10-30-2014   #4
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
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I picked up an old Lindy Tig with a Bernard cooler for $950. It's a monster but will weld anything you put in front of it. It took me about 10hrs practice the a 30min lesson and another 5 hrs practice to be able to put pipe together. I don't stack dimes but still looks good and is quality. You will need 220 though. I would also recommend a pipe notcher like the syncro notcher jr. Syncnotcher tube notcher
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Old 10-30-2014   #5
 
Front Range, Colorado
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TIG. You won't get the strength you need in an aluminum pipe joint with a spool gun. Better for T joint and laps. TIG is really not that hard. Pick up some 1/4" plate and run beads with 4043 filler. Look for a used Thermal Arc 185 or greater. Make sure it works. The last one I bought new was 2500.
A) Practice feeding rod with your off hand while watching TV. Master it.
B) Clean the alum joint areas with a clean SS brush.
C) Hold the torch at roughly an 80 angle to the plate, for best argon coverage.
D) Strike the arc and slowly add heat until the puddle forms
E) Feed rod and start moving
Do things like spell your name. Then make some T and lap joints.

Pipe will obviously be more difficult but, you can do it if you practice. Back purge it if you can.

You might need to wire off your breaker box with a weld style outlet. They sell them at home depot and it's actually pretty simple with some 600 volt SO cord. However, I would suggest you find an electrician who will do it off the clock for some beer.... This is somewhat dangerous if you don't know electricity.
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Old 10-31-2014   #6
 
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vancouver, Washington
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I have a miller diversion 180. I can do much nicer welds on aluminum than I could ever do with a spool wirefeed on steel. Its pretty idiotproof as long as you keep the electrodes from making contact and you don't mess up the shielding gas rate. Still not perfect but could pass for a good weld by someone I know who inspected them.

I would go somewhere you could try out first though. You'll either learn you have the knack for it or you are better off paying a welding shop.
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Old 10-31-2014   #7
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TIG! You may as well start with what works best. You don't get the penetration with the MIG welder. Start with thicker Aluminum and run strait beeds.Then start doing butt welds and move on to lap welds. Doing round pipe takes alot of practice. Use a hole saw to get your fish mouth joints, and be sure if it is anodized...gride back the anodizing. Do some welds and cut the pipe then do over and over. I clean the aluminum with MEK before welding. Aluminum has to be 100% clean. The most important thing is YOU just have to see (with your eyes) when the puddle is ready for filler rod. Too late and you burn a hole, and too early the weld sits ontop. We have a Miller Syncrowave 250 DX with a Miller Coolmate 3. 100% Argon. Welding @ 175 amps for 1/8 wall thickness...18 seconds of post flow. You can always go back over with the torch to smooth out the ugly welds and not use filler. The aluminum will follow the heat. Good Luck!
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Old 10-31-2014   #8
 
Front Range, Colorado
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There is no need to have such a long post flow on alum. Yes, for steels and Ti. It's throwing away an expensive gas. You have a nice rig that is water cooled as well so, torch cooling by gas is not necessary. Your gas supplier appreciates it though.
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Old 10-31-2014   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hey Zeus View Post
There is no need to have such a long post flow on alum. Yes, for steels and Ti. It's throwing away an expensive gas. You have a nice rig that is water cooled as well so, torch cooling by gas is not necessary. Your gas supplier appreciates it though.
Hey Zeus, Thanks for that info...I'll try it. I was taught in school that you want 1 second of post flow for every 10 amps. Yes that is expensive gas and my supplier loves us.
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Old 11-01-2014   #10
 
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Can you pre-heat before using spool gun to get good penetration?


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