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Welding Aluminum

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  • Welding Aluminum

    I am looking into building a custom Light Bar for my Bronco and I want to use Aluminum to keep the weight down. I was wondering before I start working with the materials and possibly screw something up and have to get new material, can you dress the welds on aluminum like you can with steel, (ie blend the welds so they are not visible)?

    Rick

  • #2
    with a flap wheel, you can grind the welds down. however, the weld will be slightly darker than the parent metal. the only way to cover that up is to paint it
    welder_one

    nothing fancy, just a few hot glue guns for metal
    www.sicfabrications.com

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    • #3
      Grind your welds????

      Why on earth would you want to make your welds invisible, they are a badge of honour and pride! To grind a weld unecessarily is to desacrate something holy.
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      • #4
        I learned from my grandfather who was a welder on several ships and a body and frame man working on automotive collisions that to get people asking questions about where you made your welds is to blend them into the surrounding metal.

        Rick

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        • #5
          If you're interested in a light bar like what you will find on the Miller Industries (tow trucks) trucks, let me know. I might be able to get a deal on one for you.

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          • #6
            Not meaning to steal the thread but good to hear from you Engloid. Engloid is well versed & experienced in the welding trade & I respect his advice. By the way what projects have you got going on these days?
            252 Miller Mig
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            • #7
              No Engloid, I'll keep you in mind when I'm in the market for one of those type of lightbars. But the type of Light Bar I'm looking for/going to build is the Off Road Variety. It's going on a 90's Ford Bronco thats been lifted with a 4" Skyjacker Lift kit and sitting on 33" Mickey Thompson Baja Claw Radials. And I wanted to try to keep the weight down so instead of using steel I'm planning on trying to use Aluminum for the first time. I've welded before but with steel. I've built the light bar already but using steel, so I could have the main idea in front of me so if I decided to make any changes I could before moving to aluminum and possibly making mistakes and having to go purchase more aluminum. Unfortunately I dont have a digital camera right now so I can take a picture of the steel light bar I built or the jig I built to duplicate the steel light bar using aluminum.

              Rick

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              • #8
                You can grind them down but I hate the way it scratches up the surrounding area, even with a fine grit flap disc. Looks better if you dont grind, just my 2 cents worth
                Scott
                HMW [Heavy Metal welding]

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                • #9
                  welds ............

                  I would not grind your welds down on aluminum. It says your hiding something. most welders are proud of thier welds so they leave them to showcase thier craftmanship. it just looks nicer. if your going to powder coat or paint then you could grind them down if you want but I would still recomend leaving them. People want to see the stacked dime look when dealing with aluminum, painted or not. I know i wouldn't buy anything aluminum with the welds ground down. Hope this has helped.
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                  • #10
                    i build signs out of aluminum and most of the time i have to grind welds down to allow sheeting to set flat on the frame. if you really want to grind your welds down and "blend" them in you'll have to use a flap wheel to get the bulk out of the bead, then go back over with 180 grit paper on a d/a sander and finish the smoothing to get all of the rough scratches out. will you be using a mig to weld this? if you'll send me a pm, i will tell you a secret about keeping the welds flat and smooth to aid in this process.
                    welder_one

                    nothing fancy, just a few hot glue guns for metal
                    www.sicfabrications.com

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                    • #11
                      aluminum light bar

                      Just thought I would get in on this if I might? If your going to make it out of alum I would really like to see you do it all with tig welding because like the other guys say once you start to grind on your welds that means you might be trying to hide a (BAD WELD JOB) AND THATS NOT GOOD so I would rather take the time and tig weld the thing up and really put sume good weld beads down then show it off and maybe your buddys will want you to make them one also. But if your going to grind it down to make it smooth you should use a small 3" fine or scotch brite pad to blend in the welds but DON'T grind so much that you lose the weld strenght and when you grind only grind the very spot you want ground to keep it looking nice. just my opinoin Get-r-done and post some pics asap! so we can see your work.
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                      • #12
                        I have learned quite abit about welding from my grandfather. And it was my grandfather who got me into his thought line about the welds. I know theres going to be people out there that are going to say "Oh, those must be bad welds" but there are also people out there that are going to say, "Where was this welded at, it looks like it was cast" But I'm with my grandfather on thinking that its a badge of honor and pride to make people think when they look at my welds. And as soon as I can get a new digital camera I will get pics up.

                        Rick

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