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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, it finally happened. My itch to be able to weld aluminum was high, and I had a buddy who was looking to get a simple, small TIG welder for little projects.

Now here we are, my trusty little Maxstar is sold to him, and I'm the proud new owner of an AC/DC TIG machine. I played around with it a little last night, and today I'm going to be tackling a welding cart build. Really basic, just to get me by for now. Built out of aluminum of course.

If anyone would like to critique my first ally welds, let me know and I'll post pictures.

Maybe nobody cares, but I'm excited.
 

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Comfortably Numb
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In all my years in Materials Engineering areas as a welding inspector, NDT tech, Titanium, Zirconium and Aluminum are the materials that presented the most flaws either subsurface or surface. Most defects were due to improper surface preparation or settings and weld spreed. Be careful with Aluminum. It can present a surface that is beautiful and hide serious flaws beneath. Congrats on lunging ahead. Remember your liability doing the welds. Enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice RubiCajun.

Even welding steel, I've done lots of little things for people, but all non-critical, non-life-safety stuff. Not only my own personal liability comes into play, but I also can't get around the feeling that it would be a bit irresponsible of me to say "sure, I'll weld that critical part for you" when I haven't even had any formal training.

The Hobart Institute is a couple hours from where I live, and some day I'd like to take some courses there. Have a professional tell me what I'm doing right and wrong. I'd kinda hoped it would be sooner than later, so I didn't get set in any bad habits, but life finds a way to make that much more difficult than I'd like.
 

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Post your pics. Lets see your cart.

Most important thing is prep. Alum has to be clean. Acetone is your friend here. Stainless wire brushes only. Never use a wire brush or grinder disk on metal and then use it on alum.

What welding machine did you get?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Post your pics. Lets see your cart.

Most important thing is prep. Alum has to be clean. Acetone is your friend here. Stainless wire brushes only. Never use a wire brush or grinder disk on metal and then use it on alum.

What welding machine did you get?
It was a late-ish night, so I didn't get any pics yet, but I'll take some and post them up when I get a chance.

The cart build went well enough. Yup, bought a new stainless brush. Had one already, but couldn't remember if it had been used before or not. Already had acetone from welding steel and stainless. Definitely a bit trickier than steel. Had some welds look a little poor due to lackluster fit-up (I got in a bit of a hurry because I was tying up a buddy's garage, long story as to why I was there in the first place). Still came out ok. Utility is far more important than looks, so it's fine. I still have a few things to finish up on it when I get a chance.

I'm almost embarrased to say, but I got a Miller Dynasty 210. Way more machine than I need, but I told myself that if/when I moved up I was going to get exactly what I wanted. I know myself, and I know if not I would be buying again sooner than later. Also, I can make a little money with it at my job occasionally (got them out of a jam with my little Maxstar once), so it's not like wasting money on a toy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Haven't had a chance to finish up the cart yet. I'll post pictures of the completed cart when it's done.

In the meantime, here are a couple pictures of the welds. Keep in mind, first time with a foot pedal (used a fingertip control on my Maxstar, and I may get one for the Dynasty as well eventually. Foot pedal is great, but not always possible, like when laying under a Jeep, haha), first time welding aluminum, and I was in a hurry. I was welding a little warm and going fast, so I wasn't getting super distinct "stack of dimes" ripples all the time.

These aren't the best or the worst, just a couple that were easy to get a quick picture of without having to move too much around this afternoon.



 

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Looks good! Your right, a bit too hot. But not a big deal. Play with the balance control, it comes in handy.

Miller has some good set up videos for your machine on their site too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looks good! Your right, a bit too hot. But not a big deal. Play with the balance control, it comes in handy.

Miller has some good set up videos for your machine on their site too.
Thanks. I'll finish the cart as soon as I get a chance and will post some pics of it complete. It's pretty basic, but should be very handy.

Next time I hope to have time to take it slow and play around a little. Should allow me to get things squared away a bit. I think I might have been using a bit too much CFH for the cup size I was running and getting some turbulence. I'll mess with that as well.
 

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keeping in mind I have minimal experience with aluminum welding ( but a great desire to have and be able to use a TIG welder ), yet am a big proponent of aluminum parts for my JK, I think those welds look great for a first project and I am hyper jealous of you being setup to burn the aluminiumz.....keep practicing & learning, man!
maybe I will add to RubiCajun's list of parts you can fab for us to include aluminum rear corner armor that is form fit to JK rear corners - not brake bent- that maybe doesn't cost a grand to own!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, do we have a finished cart?

It ain't going to weld itself together.:thefinger:
Ha, not yet. I did get some work done on my trailer this week, and made some filler rod holders. But I've been busy and I haven't gotten back to the cart.

Hopefully I'll get the cart finished up this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, the cart is pretty much done. Finally got to work on it last night. I have eight of those PVC tubes for holding filler rods and I was planning on fastening them to the side of the cart. I still might, but I'm not sure anymore.

I also have to fasten the cylinder, but I just set it in place when I got done because I wanted to see everything together.

Right now the cart is sitting on a cheap Harbor Freight "furniture dolly" I came across that just happened to be the exact dimensions of my cart's base. It was super cheap, so I picked it up for now. I may eventually get larger wheels, two casters and two fixed, but the furniture dolly works fine for now. I don't need to roll it around anywhere rough just yet.

I wish I'd had a little more time the first time I was working on it and hadn't been in a hurry. I'd have gotten things a little straighter, etc. But whatever. It works and was pretty cheap (I even got the diamond tread for free, some crusty spots, but I'm not complaining with free). If it bothers me too much I'll make another one some day, likely incorporating all the things I'll find that I wish this one had by then.



 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Also, it's not as tippy/top heavy as the pictures make it look. For some reason they make it look super narrow and tall. It's only twenty inches tall (not counting the dolly). Part of the reason is probably the short cylinder (it's only 60 CF).
 
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