I welded aluminum today

The rear window/frame on my pickup trucks shell is about 15 or so years old and is getting tired. The aluminum hinge/frame was starting
a crack along the hinge assembly, and is composed of a chunk of L aluminum, about 1/16" thick.
Not having any aluminum of the proper type on hand, Ive been pondering this for a couple weeks, and have been waiting for the entire window/hatch to fall off on the freeway....cringe.
So today..in an insane moment of bravado and balls..I decided to TIG weld up the 12" long crack, and also reinforce other weak areas.
So I drug the ground, tig torch, foot pedal and stainless steel brush over to the now backed intotheweldingarea pickem up truck..and thought about how to proceed. The crack was only acessable with the hatch open, and then from underneith. This meant I had to overhead weld the dreaded aluminum thin stuff...GACK!!!!! OMGODthisisgonna be a bitch..and it was.
I fired up the Airco Squarewave 300, rounded a 3/32 2% lanthanated electrode (per Ernie) on a chunk of stainless steel, Electrode positive, then switched to AC, scrubbed the snot out of the aluminum with a SS wire brush..then pondered the first problem...foot pedal.
The only way I could reach the crack, was sitting tailor fashion on the tailgate, facing the front of the truck and working overhead. No way to push the pedal..so I put it under my left thigh, and could push by moving my leg a bit. This of course lead to serious leg cramps..zapping myself with the HV at least once..sigh.
The frame was insulated from truck ground by the fiberglass of the shell, so I didnt have to worry about zapping the computer etc..which was a small blessing.
I started the arc..and started heating the aluminum..and found the current wasnt high enough, so I set it up for max 125 amps, with start current of 30%..made the best guess at the balance, backround and pulse, then assumed the position again..and again got a cramp..resulting in a flinch..sticking the electrode to the frame...sigh.. resharpening..I tried it again..
Pressing down with my leg..I could see the aluminum start to melt..and I fed in a little aluminum filler..which balled up, and fell onto my crotch. I could smell jeans burning...as I instantly fell off the tailgate in a desperate struggle to protect the family jewels. Now Im upside down, wrapped in ground cable, tig hose, the foot pedal teeters on the tailgate..then falls on my crotch. What the hot dingleberry didnt scorch..the pedal crushed.
Sigh...
Getting out my leather apron (hindsight is 2020)..I reassumed the position again..but a bit more gingerly...I fired up the arc again..this time waiting for the base metal to start to go all silvery, then gently dabbed the filler into the silver puddle...
SOB...it melted into the puddle..and stayed there...Fuck me running..its working!!! Im welding Im welding! Buawahahahhaha!
Paying close attention..I managed to run at least 10" of the 12" with a clean, neat bead. Not stack of dimes..but still nice (for me). Then I got a leg cramp, stuck the electrode into the puddle..filled the entire cup of the torch with melted aluminum and fell off the tailgate again as the cup exploded, raining hot shit all over me..including under my mask, down my neck. But my crotch was protected!!!!
Sigh.....
Brush off the singed chest hair, installed a new cup, regrind of the electrode, reposition, scrub vigorously with the brush again, fire up the arc, and finish the weld in a pretty matter of fact fashion..forgetting of course to creep up on the end of the material..and melting the last 1/4" completly, down into the cup of my torch again..which fortunately didnt explode this time.
Well Ill be damned..I actually overhead welded aluminum. Mostly. Had some icicles hanging, there at the end of the weld..which I took care of with a 4 flute 1/4" endmill in an air die grinder..worked really slick.
If Id been smart..and had a helper, I should have taken the 30 minutes to pull the shell off the truck, and turned it over..but hey..Ive been called a lot of things..but never smart..and there wasnt a helper handy.
Now I can reeeeely understand the utility value of one of those torch mounted controls and why spool guns are so popular. I have a mig..but not the proper liner etc etc though I do have several spools of aluminum mig wire (which I was using for filler.)
But Im totally tickled..Ive gone from Daubers Helper, to Daubers Apprentice 1.
Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks.
This just opened up a whole new can of worms for me..now that I can melt aluminum together. Sorta. Kinda. A little. Somewhat......
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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I must say that was one of the best bits of spontaneous writing I have ever witnessed. 2 thumbs up and I actually still have 2 thumbs You are one clever feller and a crafty wordsmith and a smith in the other sense. Have a happy life. Melt some aluminum for all of us. Hey it's fun and the most abundant element on earth so why not melt it,.? The earth is gonna do it anyway....
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On Mon, 28 Nov 2005 01:50:23 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (daniel peterman) quickly quoth:

I had just read his immigration post and thought this sounded familiar. Eet felt of the Mexican jumping beans, es verdad! Sounds like he needs to wear a -cup- when he overhead welds, huh?

Yeah, especially with all this horrible GLOBAL WARMING stuff. WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! ;)
--- - Sarcasm is just one more service we offer. - http://diversify.com Web Applications
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One heckuva story, Gunner! Well done!
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Outstanding! Does your truck still start? Is all electronics still working?
i
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On Mon, 28 Nov 2005 14:12:47 GMT, Ignoramus4324

Yup..and the window doesnt bobble anymore!! Yay!!
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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TeeHee... just don't mount any spare tires to it.... <G> Ken.
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On Tue, 29 Nov 2005 11:28:08 GMT, Ken Sterling (Ken Sterling) wrote:

LOL...blush. After rebuilding the new spare tire carrier..and properly welding it using something other than a HF Mig..so far its held up nicely for about 80,000 miles.
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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On Tue, 29 Nov 2005 17:56:09 GMT, with neither quill nor qualm, Gunner

OhmyBuddha! You've put 80k miles on since posting that a year or two ago, Gunner? Amazing.
P.S: Congrats on your newly-found non-lethal welding skills. ;)
--- - Sarcasm is just one more service we offer. - http://diversify.com Web Applications
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On Tue, 29 Nov 2005 17:02:32 -0800, Larry Jaques

I average about 65,000 miles a year. This year was a bit more.
The old girl now has 384,000 miles on it.
Gunner

"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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Gunner Asch wrote:

Didn't the cats applaud and hold up little signs like 7.9, 8.0, 7.8, 8.4, 8.2 ?
Ron
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Cats? You evidently dont have cats...
The best they will do is a mildly disinterested glance..followed by some tounge grooming, a yawn and several hours of sleep. Maybe..just maybe...a tail flick to indicate approval..if you are lucky.
Not exactly an interested audience <G>
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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wrote:

They have probably seen it all before :-)
Great story btw, been there done some of it!
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I think I better make a double sided half dollar now. Prolly start with a penny and work my up Gotta search the couch Oh here it is. i alredy have one no wait... it's a pocket watch looked like a coin fer a moment don't we all look like coins fer a moment? A phrase well coined will surely brighten someone.... and is that not what we are here for essentialy? Thank you all for the wisdom you have shared and letting me spew this utter nonsense occasionaly. Go commit some building on someones life. Gravity gets in the way. A wise woman once said... well, I can't think of a wise woman right now hasta la vista danny
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Cats? You evidently dont have cats...
Yep, got cats... 4 of 'em.
For some reason though, Monty Python's Confuse-A-Cat skit came to mind when I read your post..LOL.
And reminds me of the time a co-worker was TIGging a part, went to reposition the part, and sat the torch in his lap, accidentally hit the pedal...YEP, zapped him right on the 'lil fireman! Youch! Funny thing to have to explain/show the company nurse.
Ron
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good deal. So funny its gotta be true...
Gunner Asch wrote:

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Gunner, I've been wanting to try my hand at welding aluminum for a while now. Haven't really had a need to, but just something a person so led has to try. Just ask you. Now, with all your encouragement, I think I can ......... wait a little while longer. I'll have to wait a little bit, anyway. Everytime I'd start, your story would come to mind and I wouldn't be able to hold the torch steady for laughing so hard. Great tale. Somewhere twixt Twain and O'Henry. Respectfully, Ron Moore

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Gunner Asch wrote:

Definitely a rcm classic. Thanks for writing it out...
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"Jim Stewart" wrote: Definitely a rcm classic. Thanks for writing it out... ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Gunner, if any of this is made-up, you lose some points, but gain them back for imagination.
BTW, this is an example of why I haven't "plonked" you, in spite of the vast difference in our social and political outlooks. That, and the fact that I am also a cat lover.
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On Mon, 28 Nov 2005 18:19:12 GMT, "Leo Lichtman"

Actually all true. Im all too often laughing at my own screw ups..which may be a good mental health thing..but like learning from your mistakes..it only teaches you when to cringe the next time....
<G>
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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