150 spoolmate

Steel and aluminum boatbuilding. See: "Boatbuilding Methods", in left-hand column of the Home page, for information about alloys.

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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:22 am

Thanks for your help with the different alloys for welding aluminum. I am headed down to get some different wire now. One question about choice of wire to use is can I tell what alloy I am welding by filing it or non destructive testing?
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby Kevin Morin » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:44 am

Billy C, there is no test that I'm aware that we can make on aluminum to understand the alloy- except the mill stamp on the original sheets or printing on the extrusions.

But, with that said there are some rules of thumb in boats and trailers that can be reasonably assumed. Almost all extrusions/shapes are 6061-T6. Not all but most of the angles, channels, I beams, T's, bars, pipes, and rods are 6061 because that is a serviceable alloy bolted or welded and is pretty easy to extrude- from what I've been told. 5000 series is usually plate although I have seen Alaska Copper and Brass to stock some 5086 alloy extrusions. 5052 is very common in fresh water boats including pontoons, and other boats. 5086 and 5083 are most common sheet metal for saltwater use even though 5052 will perform well for many years- the latter two alloys have more tensile strength for the same wt. so are considered more desirable for salt water hulls and especially at higher speeds.

However, to confuse things a bit, 5052 will elongate or stretch farther before tearing.... so some of the Idaho River jet boat builders prefer '52 even if its less strong than 5086 because it will stretch in rock collision more and stay sealed than the other two alloys- which will tear quicker at 50mph over glacial river rock impacts.

Any given boat manufacturer, Lund, Gregor, Monarch will usually list their alloys- often chosen for the property of stretch forming or durability in pressing V's and shapes into the hulls.

Trailers would almost all be 6061 or maybe 6063 (similar alloy but has more copper and is subject to some serious corrosion issues if used in salt water or immersed in general for any length of time) are the majority of beam shapes including channels, I's, H's and angles, hollow rectangular stock that make up most aluminum trailers.

Embossed plate- "diamond plate" is available in 6061 at least on this coast, and also in one of the 3000 series alloys used in pick up truck tool boxes and other uses. I don't use embossed plate much so I'm not sure on welding 3000 series but it does weld as far as I'm aware.

Castings, outboard engine lower units, or even props and many engine castings fall under the general category of "cast" where alloy is not as critical to understand- the fact that it is cast implies both the 4043/4943 filler and the 5356 filler for welding although welding cast with a MIG torch is not very productive in my experience. I use TIG exclusively on cast aluminum because of the need to heat without filler just using the arc, and the need to vary the arc wattage and adjust the filler addition so often during a typical cast aluminum weld.

Hope these rules of thumb help- I don't know of a mechanical test for alloy- only chemical tests and they're not easily done outside a lab.

Just a note to remark about the most common weldable alloys and their general applications

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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:59 am

Did a couple samples on 1/8 with 5356. Could not get rid of the spatter. Will keep on with my practice material for awhile :roll:
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby Kevin Morin » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:13 am

Billy C, I'd say the weld voltage was too high for the wirefeed speed. Either drop the voltage a bit or increase the wire feed speed - generally that much spatter comes from a very long arc- where droplets of molten wire don't collect into a narrower area of the puddle.

The distance out from the gas cup where the arc happens, and the length of the arc itself from the weld surface and the angle of the gun and gas coverage are all related to one another. In this case the welds are too short to tell much- I'd test on longer welds- say about 2x the distance at least? By increasing the wire feed speed the arc gets shorter- but the rate of deposit goes up- so you've got to travel faster- it may be easier to just tone the voltage/wattage down a bit to shorten the arc to reduce spatter but critical to remember to keep the gas cup distance only 1/2" to 5/8" from the work- otherwise you'd need to increase gas coverage flow.

the craters at the end of the welds are from stopping the weld while its penetrating the parent metal- if you double back one puddle (one dime) onto the deposited weld you'll end 'on top of' the weld bead and avoid the craters.

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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:21 am

Thanks once again Kevin. I was using the auto settings, but will try dialing it in manually in my next session. That should give me more control of the voltage. I will experiment. ... I was about 3/4" from the gas cup, but another 1/8 at the contact tip. Will bring that distance in. I'm outdoors so have the argon at about 30, is that a good place to start?
Quite a difference from welding steel. :shock:
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:58 am

Fiddled with the manual settings for the first time was able to get the voltage to wire feed a little closer. That cut the spatter some too. Sooo getting there. Also treed to bring my gun back at the end.
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby chugalug » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:27 pm

:roll: Not sure if it matters for you but when I was welding aluminum coolers years ago,the aluminum had to be really clean.The plant had a metal wash system that cleans all oils and stuff off.I had alot of problems welding seems(welds had to be pressure tested underwater.)
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:56 pm

chugalug wrote::roll: Not sure if it matters for you but when I was welding aluminum coolers years ago,the aluminum had to be really clean.The plant had a metal wash system that cleans all oils and stuff off.I had alot of problems welding seems(welds had to be pressure tested underwater.)

Have been using acetone and Weldmark aluminum cleaner.
Virtually a beginner when it comes to aluminum.
Maineoxy where I do business has a school so I may go and get things sorted if this does not shake itself out. I have a feeling that some more time on this new equipment will do wonders
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby chugalug » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:52 pm

:D just takes lots of practice, I suppose :roll:
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:29 pm

Sure glad I'm not trying to build a boat :lol:
...yet :wink:
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby Kevin Morin » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:00 pm

Billy C, Chugalug, I agree that cleanliness is critical in aluminum prep but the arc overspray is not from cleanliness issues. This is a voltage that is too high or wire feed speed (still too low) resulting in too long an arc. I think I posted a MIG series here a while ago, perhaps those welds are still in the metal section somewhere. The reason is that I went over cleaning, brushing and then showed some various beads - that may help.

Also, Billy if you're not familiar with Welding Tips and Tricks Dot Com (https://www.youtube.com/user/weldingtipsandtricks) Jodi is about the most prolific uTuber/welder out there and has a bunch of good videos on MIG aluminum. The reason to consider this search is that you get a sight picture of what is correct and can tune your power supply and your bead from his references- visually instead of my text!

The arc length is still way too long, the wire feed speed to low OR>>>> another possibility is you're using too small diameter wire? For 3/16" and thicker its generally accepted that you'd run 0.045" or 3/64" wire to carry the amperage needed to melt thicker stock and for 1/8" down to 0.090" or 3/32" thick aluminum you'd use 0.035" wire. For thinner than 0.090" thick aluminum most MIG welders can't weld due to the very high travel speed required so.... they move to TIG so the travel can be slower and the welding heat more controlled. But 0.030" and 0.023" aluminum wires exist and are used in thinner sections. But I do caution this area of MIG welding aluminum- thinner than 0.090" is pretty specialized work; not commonly found welded with MIG.

Billy, try to cut the gas cup gap by 1/3 at least, and drop down the voltage, or increase the wire feed speed?

let me know how I can help?

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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sun Apr 23, 2017 5:22 am

Good morning Kevin and Tim (aka chugalug)
Thanks for giving me great pointers, link to Welding Tips and Tricks Dot Com and tips for working with my newest challenge. I printed out the posts, because i always go looking for this thread when i am not near my computer.There are so many things to work on! I love that and so does my wife cause to keeps me out of her hair.
The first is getting out of the auto setting mose on the Miller which worked flawlessly with the 4043 wire and start with the manual voltage setting.The cover flap on the welder has the basic settings so i will dial that in properly, then try to advance the wire speed until I eliminate the spatter. I did get the contact tip closer yesterday, but I ended up burning a few tips out so the wire speed must have been too slow or my rate of travel too fast. It is unnerving hearing the sound of the spatter, as i was use to a nice even hum with the 4043. Will be glad to get that part of the learning curve behind me :roll:
Got today off but i report back to work on Monday morning at Billy's welding. :D
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby Kevin Morin » Sat May 06, 2017 7:39 pm

BillyC, sort of looking for an update and some new weld bead images? If you're gearing up for a welded aluminum Glen-L design (?) we're going to need to see some welds before the Forum "approves" you to go forward with the build? :lol:

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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby billy c » Sun May 07, 2017 8:13 am

hi Kevin-
I have been "turning the knobs" to see what they would do to the weld bead. Also just got the 4943 035 wire yesterday so tried it out this morning.
May have to play a little more with the voltage. it got real hot on the last pass but I did it anyway, as I wanted to see if the weld at the start would pile up less. Ran at the same travel speed on the three so the only difference was the aluminum heat buildup. Seems like it takes a second or so to get the spray arc to initiate but got flatter in the third pass.
Not ready for prime time at Glen L or anywhere yet :roll:
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Re: 150 spoolmate

Postby Kevin Morin » Sun May 07, 2017 9:07 am

Billy, there are several points to note and some reflection on the beads too.

First, MIG naturally starts cold- where the rate of amperage on the wire, speed of wire being fed and travel speed are all coupled to the parent metal's original temp- to make fusion of the added weld work better "once you get going" and not so well at the very first few puddles or 1/2" inch of the weld.

What is generally done is a U turn- at higher than welding speed- to start. Let's say you're going to weld left to right - the U turn maneuver begins welding 1/2" into the final weld but... going to the right- that is opposite the final weld direction. Now after a very fast move to the right you slow down to final weld bead deposit rate as you U turn back to the left and complete the weld.

This does several things all at one time and they're important to be done at their own speeds to have the correct effect with aluminum wire. First this puts the start up coldest arc start area under a hotter slower welded over area of the weld. Second it heats up the parent metal with minimal deposit of weld- note you're going faster in the first 1/2" back to the right than after you turn 180 deg toward the final weld direction, and last is allows the balance of the rate of wire feed, amperage/voltage wattage and travel motion to stablize while the metal is preheated (somewhat) and your first few inches of weld will 'lay down' more than if you'd started cold a the extreme right and just welded to the left.

I explain this in a post on here somewhere- describing the "race track" course that is common to stand alone or stitch welds of the type shown in your post. As long as we're on that pic, my remark is that your test plate/coupon is WAY, way too small for MIG practice. I'd say 4x to 10x that plate area was needed otherwise as you've noted the last bead will preheat too much for the subsequent beads and that is going to make practice extremely hard.

If you were welding on a boat, the large mass of metal would warm up as you welded all day, but unless you were in a very hot climate on a hot day, nearly in the sun? the amount of welding heat retained would not be in proportion to what that tiny plate will retain heat when you put beads like you've shown on it during practice.

As you've seen a little in the past beads weld wattage is very influential to the beads' shape and penetration- well preheating is like turning up the voltage - so if you allow the test piece to continue to heat- then its like constantly adding wattage to the welds- its not allowing you to practice with constant conditions- so you'd become very frustrated by the results- while keeping all the variables the same.

Next to note; when practicing padding plates (beads upon beads upon beads all on one plate) besides having two to ten plates that can be rotated to cool (can be dunked in water but only for practice purposes) its also better practice to have a line to track the bead along. Marker pen, scribed lines, almost anything that will stay visible in the arc will help your begin to track the sides of the bead to one edge or guide.

As long as I'm discussing guides, I always use a hand steady rest of some type. I might clamp an angle to the bench to use the top edge of inverted V as a guide for my carry hand- I'm right handed so the torch is held by the right, my off hand or carry hand MIG cups the gun barrel and slides along carrying both my right hand and the torch neck/gooseneck/gun head behind the gas cup and near the torch body.

This guide for my carry hand /off hand (left in my case) also helps reduce the amount of muscle movement that has to be controlled to get a steady gas cup needed to put down the even bead. If you're not using stead rests and marked weld line guides- you'll spend longer getting an even bead than if you make it a habit to set up the practice beads this way.

MIG aluminum does take a little time get "your hand in" as the phrase is said; but there are some steps that I think will help you concentrate on fewer variables at one time as you practice. #1 Use cool or barely warm metal to practice: change plates (buy shop off cuts or scrap if needed). #2 set up visible (while welding) lines to track with one side of the weld; can't drive your car too well if you can't see the yellow and white lines! #3 set up hand guides to slide your hands on so the work to weld is reduced to using hand and forearm muscles and does not rely on combining arms, back and waist muscles too- simplify the number of muscles to coordinate at one time.

Where your beads are mushroom headed- the wire is too fast OR the travel too slow OR the welding wattage too low- correct one of those variables to get a 'flatter crowned' weld. Where your welds end is a crater- pause one bead's time (part of second) and turn back on the bead THEN let off the trigger. Where you're welds start to sag too much- STOP the parent metal is too hot. Always train yourself to stop welding when you see a problem- it won't get better doing something that puts down a less than acceptable weld: stop, fix the problem and then weld again- don't keep going. Seems easy to say but one of the hardest of wire welding habits to train into ourselves.

cheers,
Kevin Morin
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