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Aluminum truck body

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Aluminum truck body

Postby Popeye the old miner » Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:58 pm

A coal hauler stopped this evening and asked if I would be interested in welding some aluminum liners in his dump body this summer when I'm done building my rig truck. Told him I might have time on the weekends, cant really say for sure as it depends on how hard these shovel operators beat up their buckets and such.

Anyway I don't have a lot of experience with aluminum, did some light fab work and used alumnum stick welding for it. That went quite well. Not thinkin stick welding would work so good on a truck body and would take a lot longer than what it should. I don't have the right equipment to weld the stuff either as far as wire feeders go...don't think a Miller xtreme 12 vs will work with aluminum.

So if I get the right equipment and the gas and so on...is it hard to teach yourself? Most everything Ive learned in this busness I was self taught, but Ive heard all kinds of horror stories about aluminum, gotta pickle it or somethin whatever that is, its gotta be clean shiny and all that, and clean chemically, how the heck do you get a coal truck clean? I mean geez, its coal dirt, acid and all that is in it. Any advice from you aluminum guys is appreciated. Thank you
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby PeteM » Sun Apr 16, 2017 1:02 am

I've done some aluminum- anodized extrusions, and it wasn't that difficult. For mig it just had to be lightly ground to remove the anodized finish and free of dirt and oil. The molten pool is just a little more liquid than typical steel.

Since you're already a pretty well experienced welder you can probably teach yourself pretty quickly.
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby Otto Nobedder » Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:17 am

Popeye, aluminum MIG is done in spray-transfer, rather than short-circuit, and requires 100% argon.

For really dirty aluminum, I'll start with a degreaser and pressure washer, then treat the areas to be welded with Alumabrite or similar. The etching will help release imbedded material. A good rinse and blow-dry, then just a wire brush or wheel as a final prep before welding. While I've not dealt with coal dust on aluminum (I have on steel railcars, and that stuff get in every tiny opening!), I've done TIG repairs on aluminum that's spent 20 years behind the wheels of a semi-trailer getting blasted with road grime, salt, oil, etc. and the process I described gets it clean enough to TIG reasonably well, so should work as well with MIG. (I haven't done Al MIG in many years, and that was on clean aluminum repairing molds for vacuum forming.)

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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby cj737 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:54 pm

Any good quality MIG machine can usually accept a Spool gun to run aluminum wire. MIG welding aluminum is not much different than steel except you push, not pull with aluminum. There will be soot as a result, but that brushes right off with a stainless brush.

I'd suggest knowing the grade of aluminum on the truck body. I would hazard a guess it's 5000 series, and then I'd use 5356 wire. So make sure the spool gun you buy will run it. You can use 4043, but 5356 welds on 5000 better with less cracking.
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby Popeye the old miner » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:10 pm

cj... your saying that a spool gun will most likely work on my miller 12vs? that would be good...probly need some different rollers...I got hose and regulators for argon...I will have to get one of these spool guns and experiment with it...get this truck of mine done first though
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby cj737 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:31 pm

Popeye the old miner wrote:cj... your saying that a spool gun will most likely work on my miller 12vs? that would be good...probly need some different rollers...I got hose and regulators for argon...I will have to get one of these spool guns and experiment with it...get this truck of mine done first though

No, the 12vs won't support a Spool Gun. It's a "spool gun" in effect as it's a self contained MIG process welder that uses a separate power supply.

edit: Actually, upon doing some research and checking with my buddy who uses a 12VS, you can use the 12VS. You'd need to change the liner and use heavy wire 0.045 because its not a push-pull gun and aluminum is pretty soft wire. Its probably easies to run a separate Spool Gun plugged into whatever you have powering the 12VS though.
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby Popeye the old miner » Sun May 28, 2017 10:47 pm

One of my neighbors clued me in about this cat that wants these liners welded into his dump body. The neighbor is a heavy equipment mechanic who does work on the side like I do. Anyway this neighbor did some work on the motor of one of his loaders and never got paid for the work. What this shitbird will do is get some fella like me or my neighbor to do the work and then stick him for the bill, comes up with some excuse that this or that isn't right and says no he don't wanna waste any more time or money on downtime. Bein as how we are kind of flying under the radar there isn't much we can do about it except beat the crap out of the little shit with a sleaver bar or other weapon of choice. It don't look like I'm gonna invest any money on this aluminum welding stuff, but its all good I got enough work on this mining machinery to keep me bowed up like a rooster in a henhouse for quite some time.
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby cj737 » Mon May 29, 2017 6:53 am

Same crap happened to me recently: fishing guide calls around, gets a good buddy of mine to place a panic call to me. Has some cracks and dents/holes in his pontooned fishing boat. Can I fix it up as he has charters already scheduled up. Sure I say, for you, I'll bust my hump to do the favor.

Guy drops it off, I put my sh!t on hold. Fix his bashed up, broken, cracked, scummy-filled aluminum pontoons and strakes and braces and everything else. Takes hours to do it. I had already told him a fixed price to be "considerate". I was leaving town for a week for work, left the boat done, said come get it and we will square up when I get back.

I get a ranting phone call from the prick 2 days later: its crap! it leaks, you can't fix sh!t. I'm embarrassed and tell him, bring it back, I'll fix it (knowing full well I pressure tested everything). He blows me off and tells me to f**k a rabbit. Okay, well, that was worth my time. Come to find out, its all horsecrap. He pulls this dog on everyone. Sounds as though he also runs a hauling business up your way, Popeye :x
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby motox » Mon May 29, 2017 8:27 am

cj777
sometimes you need to load the 12 ga and do him a favor by shooting the deadly snake thats in the
bottom of his boat. thats just being a good neighbor.
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Re: Aluminum truck body

Postby Popeye the old miner » Mon May 29, 2017 7:07 pm

The only time I ever really got stuck was my own fault. I did a job for one of the contractors doin a backfill job in the mines. An old friend gave me the skinny on these guys that do this backfill work for DEP or DER or whatever government agency runs that show. These guys all run on a shoestring budget because there is only so much in the budget from the govt for this work...the miners pay for permits and bonding and so on to do the mining and get a bunch of it back when its all backfilled planted and so on...whats left goes into a fund to reclaim the old pits and mining areas from the early days of mining. Anyway my buddy warned me about these guys and told me not to take the job, but I did it anyway, just because of the job was a challenge and I figured it would be fun. It was fun I admit it, I built and put a new moldboard on a dozer after cutting the old one off put new cutting edge on it and removed the old skin and welded a new one in place. Did all this in 6 days, worked around the clock, only time I stopped was when the old Big 40 ran out of gas, when it ran out I went and got gas at the truck stop and ate breakfast or dinner whatever time of day it was and went back up the mountain to work.

Spo I give them the bill payable in 30 days. 30 days go by no paymentcall em up we will get you next week...after 3 weeks I'm talking with buddy about this crap...he says I warned you and gives me the number of a federal or state mine inspector, ( I forget which exactly, this was 20 years ago) give him a call. Turns out if these cats don't keep up with their bills they wont get paid either and they owe about 8500 for fuel and a few other bills they have outstanding. I says well add another 6300 for me and what I did...ahhh he says your the guy who did their dozer...yup that's me...they owe a bunch to a fabricator who rolled the steel for the dozer blade and the steel for the moldboard and they owe caterpillar for the cutting edge too.

Don't worry he says it will take awhile but you will get paid, if we get too hard on these guys and withhold payment from them they cant pay anyone so we have to give them enough to make payroll and pay some of the bills...you might get 300 this month and 200 next month and so on till its all over but you will get paid.

17 months later I finally got the last of it
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