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Welding aluminum without a TIG

Old 09-14-2018, 10:31 PM
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Default Welding aluminum without a TIG

So my spool gun on my MIG is totally useless, any other options to welding 1/2" plate AL without buying a 300W AC TIG, very expensive? There must be a way to get a nice cheap aluminum weld without springing for a $4K machine.
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Old 09-14-2018, 11:53 PM
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Get someone else to do it for you, or buy a cheaper machine? what about hire, does anyone hire that type of thing near you? can you just buy a new gun for your machine?
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:41 AM
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Welding 1/2” plate would require a big machine. 4K would barely get you covered there. Unless you’re going to be doing a significant amount of work, I’d take it to someone. What in the world are you building? Make sure they bevel the edges and get good penetration on the welds. Aluminum is a huge heat sink

Brett
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:53 AM
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I have never welded aluminum but I thought even my cheap wire feed, with the right wire and gas, could do aluminum? Mine is only 110 and struggles with 1/4 steel but the 220 version is not all that much more expensive.
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by makonnen View Post
So my spool gun on my MIG is totally useless, any other options to welding 1/2" plate AL without buying a 300W AC TIG, very expensive? There must be a way to get a nice cheap aluminum weld without springing for a $4K machine.
You can stick weld it.
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Old 09-15-2018, 06:09 AM
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Pre-heat? Which welder? Which gun?

I have this one, it works well with everything just right..

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Old 09-15-2018, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by makonnen View Post
So my spool gun on my MIG is totally useless,
Have you tried taking the wire out of the cable and cleaning out the inside of the cable? Also is the wire tensioner adjusted correctly Assuming you don't have any bends in the cable.
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Old 09-15-2018, 07:24 AM
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Two option fix your spool, which you need to do anyway, or take it to a welding shop.
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Old 09-15-2018, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by makonnen View Post
So my spool gun on my MIG is totally useless
You don't say what machine, but spool guns work just fine. Sometimes the Indian is more important than the arrow
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Old 09-15-2018, 07:47 AM
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110v and aluminum won't work too well. there are aluminum stick rods, but getting a full penetration weld with them is very difficult if not impossible. take it to a pro and be done with it.
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Old 09-15-2018, 08:03 AM
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If it's 1/2" AL plate, go with a shop that has the equipment to handle it. !/2 inch AL is out of the range of home shop welders
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Old 09-15-2018, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by makonnen View Post
So my spool gun on my MIG is totally useless, any other options to welding 1/2" plate AL without buying a 300W AC TIG, very expensive? There must be a way to get a nice cheap aluminum weld without springing for a $4K machine.
What kinds of projects have you had success using the 110 spool gun? Been contemplating one for awhile. Already have a torch for preheating.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by noelm View Post
Get someone else to do it for you, or buy a cheaper machine? what about hire, does anyone hire that type of thing near you? can you just buy a new gun for your machine?
Yea but when you're fabbing something, can't bring it to someone to weld every time... there must be another way to get a decent AL weld.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rustyshakelford View Post
Welding 1/2” plate would require a big machine. 4K would barely get you covered there. Unless you’re going to be doing a significant amount of work, I’d take it to someone. What in the world are you building? Make sure they bevel the edges and get good penetration on the welds. Aluminum is a huge heat sink

Brett
No I realize that, trust me I watched all the videos and talked to people about this. I understand AL dissipates heat quckly and therefore requires a large transformer.

The only reason I said 1/2" is because I have some 1/2" plate that I'm testing out. Maybe I'll try some thinner stuff but I would have to go out and buy it.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BACKTOTHESEA View Post
I have never welded aluminum but I thought even my cheap wire feed, with the right wire and gas, could do aluminum? Mine is only 110 and struggles with 1/4 steel but the 220 version is not all that much more expensive.
No with AL you need huge power. This is because AL dissipates heat very quickly and you need a machine that can keep pouring in the heat. Plus you need an AC TIG welder. I've watched all the MIG / spool gun videos. I sprang for a spool gun and a small 20 cu-ft gas bottle of Argon. My welds looks like bird poop. But I just realized my 110 MIG is way under capacity for the 1/2" AL, I will try to get some 12GA AL or something.
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:11 PM
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did you try pre heating the work before welding with your machine?
sounds like you are just playing/learning anyway
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Old 09-15-2018, 06:38 PM
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If your dead set on doing it yourself try cuttin a big bevel and fill it with 3 or 4 passes with your spool. If you keep it good and hot you might be able to make it happen. I wouldn't trust that weld with your life though.
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Old 09-16-2018, 03:57 AM
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As Jersus pointed out they make AL stick rod, pre heat the joint and run a lot of amps or the weld comes out looking like bird s%@#t. Option 2 is you can gas weld AL, they do make AL gas welding rod and I have done it twice,need a big tip, use a circular motion and always keep the end of the AL rod in sphere of the flame so it does not get contaminated by the atmosphere. When I went to the UA Ins. weld school, had to gas weld a AL SHC 80 pipe joint.
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Old 09-16-2018, 02:05 PM
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I have a Miller EconoTig I use for basic repair work but on heavier projects on bigger machinery, I just call a mobile welder and have them come with their truck. I figure they are much more experienced and if I need something heavier than what I've got can handle, probably best to let them do it. I had an old skidsteer that had a bunch of structural cracks when I bought it. Cost me a few hundred bucks to have then prep and weld. I understand the instinct to want to do it yourself but often times it is simply not worth it unless you've got enough work to justify it. I can do aluminum but the quality of the welds from someone who does this for a living are far better than mine.
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Old 09-16-2018, 02:48 PM
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The machine we would use to weld that is a Lincoln Powermig 350 with a Python/Cobra push-pull whip.
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