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Old 10-14-2021, 07:49 AM   #1
LeanMachine
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Default Tig Aluminum question

I borrowed a small Miller 110v tig welder from a friend to learn on and eventually make some repairs to a jon boat. What size filler rod do I want? Any particular alloy?

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Old 10-14-2021, 08:02 AM   #2
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i use er4043 3/32
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:49 AM   #3
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Make sure you thoroughly clean every spot you weld, and all around where you are welding, both sides of the metal where you are welding, if you can. That was my biggest problem, I fought when I first started TIG welding, both aluminum and stainless. The metal would look clean, often brand new metal, but would form a crust on the surface of the metal, as I was heating up the metal with the TIG. Then I would wind up, getting the metal too hot and make a mess. Use sand paper and a clean stainless steel wire brush, to clean the metal.

Then you can not weld if there is any breeze, such as outside or in a shop, with a fan blowing towards you. It will blow the gas away. That gas is very important. You should always TIG or MIG inside, preferably with the doors closed, or at least closed on the side the wind would be coming from.

Then hopefully he taught you about how to sharpen the TIG rod, on a bench grinder. If not look that up on youtube.
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by RifleBowPistol View Post
Make sure you thoroughly clean every spot you weld, and all around where you are welding, both sides of the metal where you are welding, if you can. That was my biggest problem, I fought when I first started TIG welding, both aluminum and stainless. The metal would look clean, often brand new metal, but would form a crust on the surface of the metal, as I was heating up the metal with the TIG. Then I would wind up, getting the metal too hot and make a mess. Use sand paper and a clean stainless steel wire brush, to clean the metal.

Then you can not weld if there is any breeze, such as outside or in a shop, with a fan blowing towards you. It will blow the gas away. That gas is very important. You should always TIG or MIG inside, preferably with the doors closed, or at least closed on the side the wind would be coming from.

Then hopefully he taught you about how to sharpen the TIG rod, on a bench grinder. If not look that up on youtube.
Thanks for the tips. I did actually read the manual about sharpening tips! Otherwise I would have had no clue.

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Old 10-14-2021, 09:10 AM   #5
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AC machine?
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Old 10-14-2021, 09:23 AM   #6
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AC machine?
It is a Miller maxstar 150 stl. I think it is ac but not positive. I did watch a video that talked about the benefit of ac. Another related question, I also have an older snap on mig machine. It has tig ability but I don't have a torch for it. Does that tend to be DC since it is a stick/mig machine also? No fancy electronics to switch modes. It is a snap on ya212a

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Old 10-14-2021, 09:57 AM   #7
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It is a Miller maxstar 150 stl. I think it is ac but not positive. I did watch a video that talked about the benefit of ac. Another related question, I also have an older snap on mig machine. It has tig ability but I don't have a torch for it. Does that tend to be DC since it is a stick/mig machine also? No fancy electronics to switch modes. It is a snap on ya212a

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Sounds like a DC machine if there is no switch option.

As others mentioned AC, 4043 wire, no wind, clean weld material with a tiger disc- weld area and at least an 1Ē away from it. old school way I learned is arc your tungsten on a penny for aluminum instead of a sharp point.

Also donít get mad if the first weld looks bad. Especially when repairing a boat. It will pull the electrolises/ impurities out of the base material. Grind it down and run another pass.


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Old 10-14-2021, 10:23 AM   #8
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Sounds like a DC machine if there is no switch option.

As others mentioned AC, 4043 wire, no wind, clean weld material with a tiger disc- weld area and at least an 1Ē away from it. old school way I learned is arc your tungsten on a penny for aluminum instead of a sharp point.

Also donít get mad if the first weld looks bad. Especially when repairing a boat. It will pull the electrolises/ impurities out of the base material. Grind it down and run another pass.


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Can you explain arc your tungsten on a penny?

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Old 10-14-2021, 10:38 AM   #9
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Can you explain arc your tungsten on a penny?

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Put a penny on a grounded surface. If you have foot control- keep your tungsten about 1/2Ē or so away. Arc across til tungsten gets a rounded tip almost like a drip then break arc.
If you scratch start- scratch then pull tungsten away to the 1/2Ē or so distance.
I havenít seen this method done is sometime but thatís how I learned and did it. Learned from older experienced welders. Itís been a few years since I heliarced aluminum and sure they have better ways by now.


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Old 10-14-2021, 10:44 AM   #10
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Gotcha it did show a rounded beaded tip as an option in the manual but did not explain how to achieve it.

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Old 10-14-2021, 10:49 AM   #11
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You need green tungsten (pure) or lanthinated. Do not use 2% thoriated. And yes you will need an a/c machine.
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Old 10-14-2021, 10:51 AM   #12
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You need green tungsten (pure) or lanthinated. Do not use 2% thoriated. And yes you will need an a/c machine.
Can you elaborate? Does the green refer to the color on the end of the rod?

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Old 10-14-2021, 10:54 AM   #13
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I think the Miller Maxstar 150 is a DC Machine.
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Old 10-14-2021, 10:59 AM   #14
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Can you elaborate? Does the green refer to the color on the end of the rod?

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Yes. Green is pure and red is 2% thoriated which you use for carbon, stainless, ect just not aluminum. You can use lanthinated which is blue. Also after you sand the area using a tiger disk or flapper wheel, you need to wipe the area you sanded with acetone, denatured alcohol or something similar to clean it.
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Old 10-14-2021, 11:03 AM   #15
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Ok got it

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Old 10-14-2021, 11:30 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by hogslayer78 View Post
Yes. Green is pure and red is 2% thoriated which you use for carbon, stainless, ect just not aluminum. You can use lanthinated which is blue. Also after you sand the area using a tiger disk or flapper wheel, you need to wipe the area you sanded with acetone, denatured alcohol or something similar to clean it.
You actually can weld aluminum with 2% tungsten. Need to ensure your machine is AC or you are chingalayed from the get go sir.
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Old 10-14-2021, 11:43 AM   #17
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You actually can weld aluminum with 2% tungsten. Need to ensure your machine is AC or you are chingalayed from the get go sir.
Dug around and confirmed it is DC only. Whomp whomp. Guess it's back to the spool gun.

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Old 10-14-2021, 11:49 AM   #18
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You actually can weld aluminum with 2% tungsten. Need to ensure your machine is AC or you are chingalayed from the get go sir.
You can drive tee post also with a ball peen hammer but there's better tools for the application. I tig weld exotic steels every day all day for a living for petro chemical applications and would not nor have I ever used 2% thoriated for aluminum welding. Been doing it for 25 yrs now. You do not use 2% thoriated(red) for aluminum welding. You can use 2% lanthinated (blue)but pure tungsten(green) is best for aluminum welding. I am trying to help him make the welds possible
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Old 10-14-2021, 11:50 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by hogslayer78 View Post
You can drive tee post also with a ball peen hammer but there's better tools for the application. I tig weld exotic steels every day all day for a living for petro chemical applications and would not nor have I ever used 2% thoriated for aluminum welding. Been doing it for 25 yrs now. You do not use 2% thoriated(red) for aluminum welding. You can use 2% lanthinated (blue)but pure tungsten(green) is best for aluminum welding. I am trying to help him make the welds possible
I need all the help I can get! And apparently a different machine.

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Old 10-14-2021, 12:07 PM   #20
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hogslayer beat me to it as usual! Good info here, and good luck! Now… I prob don’t do it as much, and I’m confident I’m not as good at it, as hogslayer… But, I also Tig weld daily as part of my living, as well as on the side, and there are SOME instances I’d rather use a spool gun for what you’re gonna be doing. And basically the only reason… I completely refurbed my flat bottom jon a few years ago, and there were several of the welds that would’ve really sucked/been near impossible, with my tig. Like laying on my back up under the front platform, welding the underneath side to the tubing frame. It was just easier to tack it up with the spool, and weld it out with the Tig where I could. Hope ya get it worked out! Good Huntin, and God Bless, Rusty

Last edited by spidermonkey; 10-14-2021 at 12:08 PM. Reason: No grammar expert…
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Old 10-14-2021, 12:42 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by hogslayer78 View Post
You can drive tee post also with a ball peen hammer but there's better tools for the application. I tig weld exotic steels every day all day for a living for petro chemical applications and would not nor have I ever used 2% thoriated for aluminum welding. Been doing it for 25 yrs now. You do not use 2% thoriated(red) for aluminum welding. You can use 2% lanthinated (blue)but pure tungsten(green) is best for aluminum welding. I am trying to help him make the welds possible
All good sir and not here to argue. I owned a fab shop and welded for a living as well. Always used pure tungsten for aluminum. Went to a shop as a CWI for a customer and witnessed it first hand, 2% thoriated and sharpened. The welder preferred it over pure tungsten on thinner aluminum. After seeing it done, I have welded with it as well with good results. Good luck to the OP on his project.
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Old 10-14-2021, 01:00 PM   #22
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All good sir and not here to argue. I owned a fab shop and welded for a living as well. Always used pure tungsten for aluminum. Went to a shop as a CWI for a customer and witnessed it first hand, 2% thoriated and sharpened. The welder preferred it over pure tungsten on thinner aluminum. After seeing it done, I have welded with it as well with good results. Good luck to the OP on his project.
Not here to argue either bud but I know what im talking about. Im sure the guy was using 2% lanthinated sharpened not thoriated. no where in this guide do you see thoriated even listed.

10 Best Tungsten For Aluminum Welding: [Extensive Guide]
https://weldsmartly.com/best-tungste...minum-welding/
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Old 10-15-2021, 05:45 PM   #23
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There has always been a debate about what kinds of tungsten to use on different types of metal. I've been using 2% thoriated on aluminum for well over 20 years now. Some of it X-ray quality. Most of it in the aircraft industry. I also use it on Ti6/4 and lower, 625 and up inconel, all kinds of stainless, borium, and what ever else I need to. I keep my tips sharp, until they just wear down or get to dirty, if it's not x-ray. I've also use ceriated, pure, and a host of others. But for the money, thoriated is hard to beat for staying clean and concentrating heat with minimum time down for tungsten sharpening. Especially on thin delicate metals where precision is needed.



After a while, welding becomes an art. And every artist learns to use different methods and techniques, pending the job requirements, be it aircraft, structural, pipe, or other. Aluminum was the first metal I ever learned to weld, back in 1976 when I was 18 yoa.




Edit: And OP, yes, I will recommend 4043 filler for boat repair. It will handle the flexibility and vibration boats need better than some of the other fillers. I did Structural Warranty Repair for Tracker Marine, Lowes, and a few others for the 5 state region for a couple of years. Ir will melt at a lower temp and is easier to work with. But doesn't penetrate as well. Also, it makes a wider weld, which can or can not be a good thing pending circumstances. Most hulls on jon boats are .065" or less in thickness, until you get into the welded hulls. Then most jump up to a .100" or more.

Last edited by Texas Grown; 10-15-2021 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 10-15-2021, 08:17 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Texas Grown View Post
There has always been a debate about what kinds of tungsten to use on different types of metal. I've been using 2% thoriated on aluminum for well over 20 years now. Some of it X-ray quality. Most of it in the aircraft industry. I also use it on Ti6/4 and lower, 625 and up inconel, all kinds of stainless, borium, and what ever else I need to. I keep my tips sharp, until they just wear down or get to dirty, if it's not x-ray. I've also use ceriated, pure, and a host of others. But for the money, thoriated is hard to beat for staying clean and concentrating heat with minimum time down for tungsten sharpening. Especially on thin delicate metals where precision is needed.



After a while, welding becomes an art. And every artist learns to use different methods and techniques, pending the job requirements, be it aircraft, structural, pipe, or other. Aluminum was the first metal I ever learned to weld, back in 1976 when I was 18 yoa.




Edit: And OP, yes, I will recommend 4043 filler for boat repair. It will handle the flexibility and vibration boats need better than some of the other fillers. I did Structural Warranty Repair for Tracker Marine, Lowes, and a few others for the 5 state region for a couple of years. Ir will melt at a lower temp and is easier to work with. But doesn't penetrate as well. Also, it makes a wider weld, which can or can not be a good thing pending circumstances. Most hulls on jon boats are .065" or less in thickness, until you get into the welded hulls. Then most jump up to a .100" or more.
Great info. Thanks for sharing.

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