best sys to weld aluminum plate?

Old 03-05-03, 10:33 AM
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Question best sys to weld aluminum plate?

I want to fab a small trailer out of aluminum and weld the joints etc...what's the best way to weld aluminum...Tried those propane sticks you get at the swap meet...forget it...never gets hot enough to melt...

do i need a big TIG rig or will a MIG with gasless wire be ok?...someone out there get my drift?Or would a OxyAcet rig work with them rods?...

Any help Thanks,
Old 03-05-03, 02:07 PM
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Unfortunately, You need a mig welder with a spool gun or a mig welder with a short gun on it with a teflon liner, as for gas you need 100% argon. I've seen aluminum arc welding rod but have never used it, this may be another option.
All the shops like myself use mig aluminum, Good luck.
Old 03-05-03, 02:19 PM
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I think MIG is a good way to go. I've used the aluminum arc rods some and found them to spatter alot and are hard to control, not like steel rods at all. And if the metal is thin, forget it. The arc rods will burn through quickly. I think TIG is another alternative. Especially for aluminum under 1/4" thick. It will make some real nice looking welds and is relatively easy to control.
Old 03-05-03, 02:50 PM
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Its going to be pricey to fab one small trailer. One thing I did before I had stuff to do it with was to do all the fab work and have it clean before I ran it to another shop to be welded. I have also bolted alum, as it is so easy to drill. You can make clip angles to fasten with. You will need a clean new wire wheel on a grinder to clean.
Old 03-08-03, 12:06 AM
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I have got good results with Aluminum arc rods but I have quite a bit of experience with them. Itís not something you pickup over night. You can make some VERY strong and pretty welds with TIG on aluminum, in fact I think TIG welds are the best looking Aluminum welds, but once again itís a skill that takes some time to learn. I think for your purpose MIG would be the way to go for ease of use and function. Your welds might not be as pretty as TIG but they should hold up quite nicely of done decent.
Old 03-09-03, 12:09 AM
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Smile Great advice!

I found aluminum really likes to expand.
My advice: clamps, clamps, and more clamps.
Old 03-26-03, 05:18 AM
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I have a mig welder and tried the aluminum liner kit, but had nothing but grief. The thing would weld ok until you put some pressure on the wire as it was coming out of the gun. I spent more time untangling wire than welding and didn't want to spend the money on a spool gun.
The project I was doing was to make a 16' Tracker, plain old boat, into a deluxe fishin' machine.
I raised and reinforced the transom, built a rod locker and storage compartments along the sides, cut into the middle seat and put in a livewell, made a casting deck and storage compartment at the bow, installed a built-in gas tank, built a console for depth-finder and gps and electrical switches for pumps, and lights.
With all the grief I was having with the welding, I was able to bolt and rivet all but the live-well liner which I farmed out.

An aluminum trailer would be nice, but one thing to consider is stuctural integrity.
Aluminum is not very forgiving if the project is not engineered correctly.
With some clever design a steel trailer could be made to be light but tough.
Old 03-26-03, 06:37 AM
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You may have finished the trailer by now and this note may be too late to be of any value; but I have also found that aluminum is quick to accumulate heat, and that it also does not usually exhibit or show any of the same signs and colorings that steel or iron demonstrates as it reaches higher transition temperatures - it's melting point. As such, your first experiences with welding aluminum can result in some ruined pieces because you might blow through the piece not knowing that it got that hot. I hope your trailer came out nice.
Old 03-28-03, 06:22 AM
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Here about 4 years ago I supervised a shop that took care of their own oveer the road fleet of 75 rigs and 125 step decks/RGN's plus we sold Featherlite trailers and took care of warranty work. Featherlites are a huge name selling the product trailer, but are poorly built. For everyone we sold we had 3 or 4 outside in the lot waiting to come in for repairs of all sorts of problems. If your making a trailer with aluminum make sure it is extruded aluminum, much stronger than the tyipcal stock you can purchase. We also used the spool gun-I found I liked welding aluminum better than steel, but it does take some practice as ANY welder of any welder will tell you. Aluminum welds FAST!!! Everything must be super clean in order to avoid coids in the bead and maximize penetration and be prepared to drag or push the spool gun at speeds at least double that of steel welding with a mig. Usually the wire comes out of the gun in a swirling motion (just the way the wire is) so you don't have to use the tip of the gun in a side to side motion to form the neat beads like you have to with steel. Use rubber spacers between the steel axle assembly to where your going to mount it to the aluminum frame. And be prepared to (depending on amount of usage) to make a religious schedule to thoroughly inspect the trailers under carriage for stress cracks. Featherlite aluminum framed trialers are really bad in this department-and this is what they do daily so for a one time home built trailer, I would be doublely cautious in this aspect, escpecially if your here asking what to weld aluminum with. I'm not knocking your welding skills, but if you've never done it, there are many other things that could turn this project into a catastrope and become a saftely concern for not only yourself, but others on the roadway and or sidewalks.

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