Can you ground something to aluminum? - Off-Road Forums & Discussion Groups
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Can you ground something to aluminum?

need to ground the a few wires and the edelbrock intake would be perfect. can you ground to aluminum? thanks Mike
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 08:08 AM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

1. Aluminum is a conductor.
2. Aluminum corrodes and an oxide layer forms on it.
3. The oxide layer is an electrical resistance.
4. IMHO... I'd never use alunimum as a conductor and rely on it.
5. May I suggest:
a. Installing a stud(s) on the intake.
b. Using the studs and star washers as a ground point.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 08:31 AM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

Aluminum is a good conductor, they wired houses with it, especially during the late '60s and early '70 when the price of copper went through the sky. My house is wired with it. It's still in use but not as much since the price of copper has come back down.

One of the problems is running current through the dissimilar metal connection if copper is connected directly to it. You shouldn't have any problem using the coated crimp on ring terminals.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 12:48 PM
 
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

Use good copper wire and terminals. The copper and the aluminum will exists with each other just fine.
Aluminum is a great conductor, and is still used on most high dollar switch gear. And it is used in conjunction with copper all the time.
In short, Yes, your manifold will work OK as a ground.
But due to its gaskets that seperate it from the block, it will not be as good as going straight to the block(If your primary grounds are at the block).
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 02:18 PM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

They make airplanes out of aluminum. They are also neg. ground. Make sure area is clean and corrosion free. Attach ground wire with a connector to bolt or stud, then seal around with rtv or clear paint or epoxy.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 02:39 PM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

RTV is OK, but common silicone caulk is not; it gives off acetic acid as it cures, hence the vinegar smell around it. With electrical stuff, or anything sensitive to acid, you need silicone that is designed for the purpose. It's kind of pricey and can't be found at the corner hardware store.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 03:19 PM
 
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

I use liquid tape, on all of my electrical connections, where I need to avoid accidental shorts. It works awsome, and holds up very well. You can find it, in the electrical section of most hardware stores. It costs about $5 for a can of it, and lasts for years of electrical modifications. They also have it in different collors, I keep a can of Black, green and red in my electrical projects box.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 04:22 PM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

Let me chime in here again.

House and Mobile Home wiring has been made from aluminum between about 1960 and 1972. The inherent problems of aluminum is that it expands and contracts with heat, current flow, etc. This presents problems with outlets and even screw-down termination points in the distribution panels.

To avoid problems in the distribution panels a paste is used on the wire to help conduct the electricty.

I've seen where circuits in a home would fail to deliver electricy only to find the terminating screws were backing out of the lugs due to vibration of the heat/cool cycle of the aluminum wire. Paste helped this problem.

I've responded to numerous house and mobile home fires in the 70's/80's that were traced back to the outlet/aluminum wire connection. The connection would heat, and over time crystalization would occur in the outlet, and oxidation in the wire. This forms resistance, which furthers the process faster.

This is where I formed my opinion for aluminum wire in homes.

I extend that to vehicles. Homes have a protected enviroment for the wiring. Jeeps do not. The aluminum is always under stress from heat to cold, vibration, etc., and IMHO using aluminum for a ground will likely end in electrical problems.

Most grounding in these cases occur through the steel bolt inserted into the aluminum.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 04:46 PM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

Putting a ground wire or strap under an aluminum manifold
bolt should be fine.

But if you are using aluminum bolts, I'd put it somewhere
else. (Huh?)

The 12 or 16 steel bolts go right into the block. That
manifold's as grounded as it can get, even though it's on
gaskets and gorilla snot.

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post #10 of (permalink) Old 11-09-2002, 08:39 PM
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Re: Can you ground something to aluminum?

Adding to that, the aluminum wire is starting to show up again in force with cheapo/imported light fixtures. I just hung a new porchlight last week, and sure enough, it was aluminum.

As far as a grounding plane goes though, the big haulage trucks in the copper mines use aluminum bus bars in the main panels, since the airborne copper/acid solution would turn copper bars into miniature SX cathodes. They also use stainless steel wiring on ancillary circuits.
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