Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:26 am Post subject: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
Goodmorning ladies and gentlemen!!
So, I'd had a number of requests to try welding some aluminum with those specialty electrodes you can buy, and to see how well they work, exactly...
One afternoon on my to school, I stopped by the local Tractor Supply and bought a box of Hobart's finest, 1/8" 4043 aluminum electrodes... I got some scraps of 1/4" plate, and some thinner stuff, and got to work.
How'd it go, you ask? Not too well, honestly... At first I couldn't get these things to run at all, and through the course of the night had virtually every stick welding problem known to man, and several known to monkey.
They were hard to strike...
They were hard to keep lit...
There was slag, epic slag.
It was hard to remove.
It got trapped in the bead.
It snuffed out the arc.
My main problem was with cold lap, lack of fusion, and tie-in. These electrodes burn FAST, not fast as in 7024 or flux-core fast, fast as in they pretty much just vaporize. You have to move along the joint very fast, much too fast to get adequate tie-in. Sooo... "Why don't you just slow down?" One might ask...
Because if you do, the metal just piles up on top of itself and is still too cold. The slag piles up too, and gets into the bead and eventually just snuffs out the arc. One can't simply "slow down" like you could on steel...
I'm no good with these things... And honestly, I don't feel too bad about it. I know it was my first time stick welding aluminum and all, but I dont think these particular electrodes will work out well under the best of circumstances.
Atleast for me, 99% of aluminum repairs I've seen involve a nice spool gun, or a tig machine, and I now know why that is. A bunch of people in the comments section of this video claimed to try stick welding aluminum, with the same results I had. One guy said he could get good results with the process, but the particular electrodes I used, were among the worst he'd ever bought.
I know, I know, blame the tool, right?
Either way, Im sure someone out there, at some point in time has gotten beautiful welds with aluminum stick electrodes, but what was I hoping for?
I was hoping that this was something that a guy with a little previous stick welding experience could try his hand at and weld up his broken aluminum lawn mower deck. Or fix the crack on the bellhousing of his project truck. Annnnnd, its not that easy, as it turns out.
I hope you guys enjoy the video, and yes, I do expect to get somewhat flamed for it. For the record, I'm NOT presenting this as a How-To or anything like that, its just "I got this... This is how it worked for me".
Like I said, I hope you guys enjoy it. Despite my "less than perfect" results, it was honestly pretty fun to make
Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:38 am Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
I tried using them years ago. Several things I found:
1) The Hobart rods where the worst to use. They did not work well in any condition. The best one I found then where Forney rods. They where not great either.
2) You have to preheat the aluminum before you have any type of luck at all. Then the penetration will be better.
3) You have to hold your rod at almost 90 degrees to the weld. Not at the lower drag angle like you usually do. It almost is like running a vertical down in a flat position.
4) I found that my DC portable welder did a much better job than the Electric buzz box DC welder with them. I think the buzz box welders do not really put out the correct cycle in higher amperage conditions. I know cycle is not the correct term but I can't think of a better way to explain what I say happening. The Portable just ran the rod smoother. Now that is not really right in that the finished product looked terrible.
The aluminum stick rods just prove that a MIG or TIG machine is the better ways to weld Aluminum. It just takes a different environment than a stick rod/welder can provide.
Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:11 am Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
Interesting video, I'll have to find some of your others on youtube when I get a chance. I have only a little welding experience (most of it back in high school) but never gave much thought to welding aluminum with a stick welder. Doesn't look like I've missed out on anything by never trying it.
Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:22 pm Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
That wasn't a failure. That was a well run demonstration of a product that might not be useable by anyone. You were able to experiment with a surprising number of variables in trying to find a way to make those electrodes work. I thought you pretty much narrowed it down to unworkable. I thought it was a great video, as many of yours are. Keep up the good work.
Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:26 pm Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
Preheat as much as possible. What you fight when welding aluminum with a stick arc is temperature. Aluminum is like most non-ferrous metals, they try to be all the same temperature at once. That makes for what you found, cold welds, poor penetration and such. Aluminum rods burn fast enough without needing to use the flame from them to heat the mass of what you are trying to weld.
When possible to aid preheating, have enough kitty litter(oil sorb) to bury most of the parts in then preheat them and let them cool in the kitty litter. Works well with cast iron also.
Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:21 am Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
I gave it another go this morning. I don't know why, but preheat made it easier to weld. The picture doesn't seem to do the weld justices, it looks better in person.
The slag is still a beach to get off!
Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:17 am Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
At the request of a member on another site I tried one this morning, but preheating to 400-degrees. I didn't notice a whole lot of difference. One thing I notice if you let the weld cool until just warm to the touch, the slag comes off a little easier, but you still beat the crap out of the weld!
Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:57 am Post subject: Re: Aluminum Stick Welding (Pics and Video)
I knew welding aluminum with stick could be done, but never actually seen it done. I only saw the end result.
About 40 years ago I worked at a GM loading facility where they loaded GM cars onto railroad tri-levels. There would be as many as 5 or so of these tri-levels in a row that were connected by aluminum bridge plates.
Those bridge plates were always getting banged around, and once in a while a hinge on a bridge plate would get broken.
They would be sent into a RR shop for repair and would come back out repaired with nice looking weld beads, like yours.
I knew they were stick welded because the weldors would sometimes leave part of an electrode laying around somewhere.
I don't remember the brand of them, but I do remember that they had a bright blue flux coating.
After your post, I think now that they may have used pre-heat.
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