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Welding aluminum-stick or mig??

902 Views 9 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  **DONOTDELETE**
I've scrounged up some nice Aluminum channel (3"x4", 3/16 wall thickness) that I'm planning on using for that trailer idea I've been kicking around (light, won't corrode, strong, purty, etc.) and here's the question. I've welded quite a bit of steel, iron, etc. with the mig and stick welder, but I've never attempted aluminum. I heard from a friend of mine that mig welding aluminum is challenging becaue the tips plug easily with the different wire that you have to I want to try the mig and prove him wrong, or will I be happier buying some aluminum rods and going at 'er with the ol' forney???

Trying to come up with a witty line to end all of my posts...
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Im not sure on Mig or Stick, Id guess MIG as long as its really MIG and not flux core, and has good adjustablity..

I welded some Beer ( errr COKE) cans together at work using a TIG, stuck them into a water tank to see if I had any voids, and MAN did they bubble! ( lots of VOIDS CRACKS HOLES!!)

that stuff smeels like Beaver piss too, and puts a funky white dust over everything

awsome idea for a trailer though!!, now ive really got a project idea!!!

NW Arkansas, need a CJ rear seat
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what does beaver piss smell like??? LOL

New England 4x4 Club
79 Jeep CJ7
Can you use any stick welder to weld aluminum? Or does it take a different kind of welder?

87 wrangler - 258
You can weld alum with a mig if you have the right tools. You should have a migit gun and you need a different gas for shielding.
Alum also takes more power to weld with. Tou can use a regular mig gun with a teflon shield but it doesn't work as well. This is where
a tig unit is better.

I wont describe the Beaver Piss odor, just pray you never know!....

Ive only welded AL with TIG, so I dont really know about MIG welding AL, but ill tell you I turned the current WAY down ( Like 40 amps) for the beer cans, it wants to burn away even more than thin stainless. I really think youd have to be pretty practiced with a MIG to weld AL well...

NW Arkansas, need a CJ rear seat
You really need to know what alloy of aluminum you have before a decision on welding can be made. Your welding shop can tell you what process will work best with the aluminum you are planning on using. I have welded aluminum with: oxy-acetylene, mig, tig and stick, IMHO choosing the correct alloy is more important than the process you use, mig is the fastest and the most aggravating due to wire feed problems, if you already know how to gas or tig weld these are my favorites because they give the best appearing welds, tig has a slight advantage given the cleaning action of the high frequency. Stick welding is also perfectly acceptable given the correct aluminum alloy and the correct rod, but it takes a little more than beginner skills. Overall my best advice is get the correct alloy, remove all grease and oil!!, use only stainless steel wire brushes, don't contaminate the weld area with abrasive, use a chemical aluminum cleaner, make cuts with a bandsaw, vee welds with a die grinder using carbide burrs, think clean clean clean and be patient.
good luck, jjc

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There were a couple of site I found last year when I was trying to decide which welder to buy.
The first site is a good reference for all of the processes.
The next two are by a couple of aluminum boat builders, not exactly Jeep stuff but I found it interesting.
This site has an interesting email by Bruce Cope, one of the pro boat builder here on the Island.
I've been out in his boats and they're nothing like the riveted stuff.
Another Islander, have a look at some of his log pages
("Construction Log and Photos")
and you'll see a lot of pictures of his welding.
(not recommended if you have a slow link)
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with a stick welder,doesnt it have to be one that has direct (dc) current?

Sorry, I have to correct myself.
As I understand it they use DC (electrode positive) for the Mig and stick, and AC for the TIG. The AC is used because it cleans the oxides off when the polarity reverses.
They also make a squarewave welder which allows you to adjust the duty cycle to balance the cleaning action.
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