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Old 08-11-2012, 08:40 PM   #1
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Default Welding aluminum with spool gun

Hey guys, what are you using to cut down on spatter when welding aluminum with a spool gun? I still use the anti spatter gel that you dip the tip of the mig gun/spool gun into and it's preventing aluminum spatter build up as it should, but as I'm welding up aluminum frame work for my jon boat to make it more user friendly, the spatter generated it terrible. then as you know the spatter streaks are basically permenant stains, and then when you touch up the surrounding area's where spatter has flung and stuck, you're left with grinding marks on a otherwise finished aluminum surface.

Any tricks/tips would be very welcome. Obviously a guy would'nt use the spool gun for making a mastepiece engine part like we've all seen on here, but for basic "grunt" type welding, like my aluminum frame work in the jon boat, it works just fine, and is a quick/inexpensive way to make it happen.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

are you wire brush cleaning the oxide off before you weld

are you pushing the wire
or are you pulling the wire in direction of feed.../ travel...??
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Old 08-11-2012, 11:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Everything gets hit with a dedicated ss wire brush prior to welding. Only luck ive ever had spooling aluminum is pushing the bead to Keep it shielded. I'm only welding .125 wall 1" square and angle for all the frame work on my Jon boat, so not much cycle time when joining, plus all that is getting covered anyhow so looks don't mean a thing obviously as I just grind and buff the flat surfaces down prior to skinning. But the other day a buddy needed a clutch cover bracket reattached for his mud motor on his boat and the inside of this aluminum box was full of spatter I had to grind off and buff so it meet my aesthetic taste even though he was fine with all the tiny spatter boogers and white/blue/black streaking everywhere.

At a shop we used to customize featherlite trailers for customers, we always used a thin welding type paper and covered everything around our welding joints to prevent the streaks and spatter on the brand new panels we were working on, but I really don't want to invest and dedicate that amount of prep for no more often then I even weld aluminum......was hoping maybe there were some tricks out there to minimize this problem. Been using 4043 wire and 100% argon thus far, I have a new roll of 5356 but general consensus says the 4043 is a lot easier to use and produces better results.....but I just haven't loaded it up to try it as the 4043 is producing great penetration, flow, and looks as good as a spool gun can produce "pretty" beads lol. It's obviously no tig but is no worse than a really Nice MIG weld.
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Old 08-11-2012, 11:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Go over to welding tips and tricks website. Lots of good info about using a spool gun on aluminium.
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Old 08-11-2012, 11:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Make sure the tip isn't sticking out pass the nozzle.
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Old 08-12-2012, 01:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Setup is ABSOLUTE key with a spool gun. I started a working off an on for a local shop, and had never touched a spool gun. I kept listening to everyone else about how to set it up, then got irritated the second day and started playing with it. You can get it tuned up to literally run just like solid steel wire. Absolute no spatter, and almost no sparks. When you achieve this, you will hear a steady hissing type sound...no popping and banging.
Angle gun slightly in direction you're moving(ALWAYS). Keep stick out consistent(1/2" or so). Get amperage and wire speed in the right spot. Excessive spatter(without being there and really knowing whats happening), I would say is too little heat, or too much wire speed. Remember, you gotta haul ass on aluminum with a spool gun. Oh, and another false claim I always heard before experimenting by myself...regardless of what you hear, you CAN do a weave pattern, or circles are whatever you want. Its not mandatory to only push in a straight line. I can usually make spool gun aluminum welds look better than 80-90% of peoples TIG welds.
Get some scrap to practice on to get the settings correct...
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

yes curley..
agree on the sound...!!!

did not think that the guy had progressed that far yet..
but as you say,
have to hear the cackle and hummmmm

but oftentimes the heat if the parts will not get there before the length of weld is completed since the wire feed speed and travel speed is quite high...
but I do agree..
usuual issue is too much wire speed. that makes it pile on top of each other and the "melt" far away from the surface.
.........have well used different cobra units as well as others for a number of years.

but I still like the craftmanship look of an old style TIG.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Quote:
Originally Posted by CurleysRacecars View Post
Setup is ABSOLUTE key with a spool gun. I started a working off an on for a local shop, and had never touched a spool gun. I kept listening to everyone else about how to set it up, then got irritated the second day and started playing with it. You can get it tuned up to literally run just like solid steel wire. Absolute no spatter, and almost no sparks. When you achieve this, you will hear a steady hissing type sound...no popping and banging.
Angle gun slightly in direction you're moving(ALWAYS). Keep stick out consistent(1/2" or so). Get amperage and wire speed in the right spot. Excessive spatter(without being there and really knowing whats happening), I would say is too little heat, or too much wire speed. Remember, you gotta haul ass on aluminum with a spool gun. Oh, and another false claim I always heard before experimenting by myself...regardless of what you hear, you CAN do a weave pattern, or circles are whatever you want. Its not mandatory to only push in a straight line. I can usually make spool gun aluminum welds look better than 80-90% of peoples TIG welds.
Get some scrap to practice on to get the settings correct...
I've had mixed results, decent welds but like the original poster said the splatter stains and pits.What shield gas are you running with the aluminum spool gun. I've often thought part of my problem is there's a better mixture of shield gas for aluminum spool guns.

BTW, my best welds with the spool are when there's an arc between the fed aluminum wire and the aluminum being welded. I'm watching distance of the arc more than I'm watching the weld. A little different than regular mig welding of steel. But yeah, I agree with a little practice and the welds are almost as good as tig welds.

Last edited by bowtiewins; 08-12-2012 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Birdcage,watch out
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Quote:
Originally Posted by bowtiewins View Post
BTW, my best welds with the spool are when there's an arc between the fed aluminum wire and the aluminum being welded. I'm watching distance of the arc more than I'm watching the weld. A little different than regular mig welding of steel. But yeah, I agree with a little practice and the welds are almost as good as tig welds.
Thats called spray arc, vs short circuit used for most ferrous metals with smaller units ( big stuff with high feed rates can be spray arced as well, but it takes a big machine)
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Old 08-20-2012, 07:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

grab a couple of welding pads to lay close to the area your working....
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:25 AM   #12
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Default Re: Welding aluminum with spool gun

Can also try to pre-heat. Sometimes it helps.
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