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  • Newbie with a problem TIG welding Aluminum

    The problem i'm having is that I can't get a puddle going. The machine is a Lincoln TIG 185. I've only used it for personal projects which is pretty much the limit of my experience and it has all been steel except for two attempts at aluminum with the same result. I'm using a 1/8" 2% thoriated tungsten, a #8 cap, and straight argon. A/C balance is on Auto. The workpiece is an exhaust expansion chamber for a jet ski and I'm trying to relocate the outlet. This is what it looks like just trying to get a puddle going at 100 amps:





    I would appreciate any advice you guys can give.

    Thanks,
    Larry

  • #2
    Doesn't look like that RED machine welds too good.

    Shoulda bought a BLUE one.


    Looks like you're trying to weld cast aluminum. Gonna be tough. Need to keep "buttering it up" til you get clean material to weld to.

    Doesn't look like you did a very good job of cleaning the base material. Still see paint next to where you're trying to get a bead.

    Don't know what the heck you're talking about when you say you've got the balance control set on auto. (no such BS on a blue machine)

    Thoriated tungsten is not your best choice for AC welding.
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    • #3
      Clean/grind it with a carbide burr first(not a sanding wheel). Then stainless brush then acetone. Both parts. Turn up your amps all the way. Is your gas on. If so what is the CFM, the black indicates oxygen in getting in there as the gas might be swirling around the edge and pulling the oxygen in. Your CFM(gas flow) should be about 10 to 12. Are you using a gas lens. I would.
      T.J.
      Miller Dynasty 300DX
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      • #4
        EEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK, paint close to where your trying to weld aluminum!

        Your pictures are worth a thousand words, Like the previous guys have said you can not have paint close to where you are gonna weld. That paint is contaminating your weld puddle. Could you lightly sandblast that part then give it the Acetone treatment? I know that's what I would do
        I have a welding addiction

        ...the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask

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        • #5
          Clean clean clean. From your picture, neither the base casting nor the plug you are welding in looks clean.

          Not sure about Lincoln's lineup, if the machine you are using is an inverter, the thoriated tungsten should work acceptably.

          Based on your first picture, looks like you are trying to melt down the patch, to somehow magically fuse into the base, it won't happen, this is the wrong approach, I suggest you avail yourself of some of the learning resources available on both this site (look above), and on Lincoln's site, or better yet, take a community college course.
          Obviously, I'm just a hack-artist, you shouldn't be listening to anything I say .....

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          • #6
            Originally posted by SundownIII View Post
            Doesn't look like that RED machine welds too good.

            Shoulda bought a BLUE one.
            Ok, that was funny.
            Nothing welded, Nothing gained

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            • #7
              I have very good luck with 6010 running over paint.
              Caution!
              These are "my" views based only on “my” experiences in “my” little bitty world.

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              • #8
                That's bad, sonora, really bad.
                Obviously, I'm just a hack-artist, you shouldn't be listening to anything I say .....

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                • #9
                  That 185 even have enough juice?

                  Looks like pretty thick AL for a 185
                  Ed Conley
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                  • #10
                    dooooood...... cleanliness = godliness when it comes to aluminum..... with the trash shown in the pics, you will NEVER get a decent weld.... second thing is aluminum is a natural heat sink (spelling)... it has a bad habit of sucking the heat away from the weld.... AFTER you clean that up (alot) using the previously mentioned methods (except the sandblasting part, i dont agree with that) then use a torch to pre-heat that casting to around 200 degrees...

                    after doing that, then post up some pics....

                    like i and others have said, you gotta clean that up or it will always end in epic FAIL
                    welder_one

                    nothing fancy, just a few hot glue guns for metal
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                    • #11
                      Rule # 1 for TIG is CLEAN!

                      Rule # 2 for TIG is CLEAN!

                      Rule # 3 for TIG is CLEAN!

                      CLEAN means no paint, no oil, no any kind of crud, no dirt, no kind of scale and both the base metal AND the metal to be welded onto the base metal have to be CLEAN! Wipe your filler rod with at least acetone. Don't eat french fries and contaminate your hands/gloves and then touch anything to be welded or the rod. When you use a wire brush, use a NEW stainless one and not one that has been contaminated by brushing anything else.

                      Oh, yeah..Rule # 4 is CLEAN!

                      Are you using AC? You should be (it sounds like you are...I hope). What size tungsten and what color? I'd say, judging by the thickness in the picture, you should be using a green and at least 3/32 inch if not 1/8". If, after you follow all the suggestions about cleaning, it still won't make a puddle, turn up the heat and try again. Don't be afraid to experiment on some scrap pieces of similar metal (both size and physical make-up) to see if you can get it set hot enough to make a puddle. The reason I say try it on scraps is if you manage to get it too hot, you will melt it and make HOLES, and you don't want to do that on actual pieces, eh?
                      Don J
                      Reno, NV

                      Never pick a fight with an old guy. Old guys are too smart to fight and get hurt. They'll just kill you and get it over with.

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                      • #12
                        All of the above as mentioned, if the machine you are using doesn't have enough juice to heat the components adequately, then pre-heat is a must.

                        A little trick for pre-heating if you don't have heat indacating crayons or a thermocouple / gun. If you have oxy-acetylene available, light the acetylene, add NO oxygen, and cover the part with the black smut from the un-balanced flame. Adjust the torch to a neutral mix, and heat the part evenly, for goodness sakes don't concentrate it anywhere or it will melt onto the floor. As you heat the part the black smut will burn off and the shiny aluminum will show, at this point you should have enough preheat in it to get a good bead started and do the weld. Make sure you burn off all the black smut before hitting it with the TIG, and give the parts a quick SS wire brushing before welding.
                        Jonny

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JonnyTIG View Post
                          All of the above as mentioned, if the machine you are using doesn't have enough juice to heat the components adequately, then pre-heat is a must.

                          A little trick for pre-heating if you don't have heat indacating crayons or a thermocouple / gun. If you have oxy-acetylene available, light the acetylene, add NO oxygen, and cover the part with the black smut from the un-balanced flame. Adjust the torch to a neutral mix, and heat the part evenly, for goodness sakes don't concentrate it anywhere or it will melt onto the floor. As you heat the part the black smut will burn off and the shiny aluminum will show, at this point you should have enough preheat in it to get a good bead started and do the weld. Make sure you burn off all the black smut before hitting it with the TIG, and give the parts a quick SS wire brushing before welding.
                          Not the best advice. That will actually anneal the aluminum to a butter soft condition, bit what you want for the whole part. I'd heat it up until it is too hot to touch with your bare hand, which should be enough to help the puddle form if the machine is a little under powered.
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                          • #14
                            So the consensus is clean it better, preheat the aluminum, and try again? The paint isn't as close as it looks in the pictures. The aluminum plate is 1/4" thick. The other thing is that the tungsten get's really hot and melts back a little. The other aluminum piece I tried welding in the past was a BOV flange to an intercooler pipe and those were both bare aluminum and the result was the same. I'll cut a new plate and clean it up with a SS wire brush and wipe it with acetone and try again. Thanks for the help guys. I'll let you know what happens.

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                            • #15
                              http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...Book_Chpt6.pdf


                              Take a look see at the parameters for 1/4" ALoominum
                              Ed Conley
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