24' DYI alloy remodel

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Tfitz
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24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 2:31 am

I bought this custom aluminum boat last summer with big plans to make it fit my needs. I can weld steel ok so I thought I could buy a spool gun and figure out how to weld aluminum to make the modifications I want. Turns out it's not so easy as it sounds.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 2:59 am

First off the paint had to go. Peeling paint and oxidized aluminum not only looked bad, it was destroying the aluminum. I learned allot about what causes these issues on this forum. It was pretty apparent the boat builder did not understand them. Unfortunately I did all my research after I made the boat purchase. But luckily I think I did ok on the deal. Removing the paint was a bigger job than I expected. I found multiple coats of applied paint stripper was my best / cheapest option.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:10 am

I like the bare aluminum look anyways. And learned to hate paint on aluminum boats after struggling to remove the paint on this boat. I used the boat one fishing trip and decided I needed to make some pretty substantial changes to be happy with this boat. I wanted to raise the cuddy roof 5 inches. Install a drum winch, lengthen the cabin area by 2 foot. And Modify the deck to be a self bailing deck. But like I said....first I need to learn how to weld aluminum.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:23 am

I gutted the boat. Under the cabin floor I found the hull had been completely foamed. I removed all foam below the floor and luckily I found no putting and very little oxidation on the hull, even though some of the foam along the keel was wet.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:34 am

I bought a drum winch and decided to recess it into the cuddy roof so it blocked my forward view less. Now was the time raise the cuddy roof along with the drum winch install. I havnt learned how to make nice aluminum welds yet but I'm commited now! Nothing like having to learning with your feet in the fire!!
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Chaps » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:31 am

There are some good alloy welders on this site who should be able to help you get started. I found that welding fresh plate was one thing but welding a weathered, brined, oxidized boat was another beast entirely. Try to initially learn with clean, new alloy then go from there.
1987 24' LaConner pilothouse workboat, 225 Suzuki
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Tfitz
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:53 am

Yea I've been reading allot about AL welding and doing some practicing. I can stick things together alright but making those beautiful, even welds on 1/8" is beyond me right now. I have recruited a retired welder coworker to weld the most visible welds for me at this point. So I've been cutting, fitting, and tacking things together to get ready for him. I am very aware of the cleaning I need to do before welding, to get rid of all contaniments (I read all Kmorins posts). Today I'm cutting the hole in the cuddy roof where my drum winch recess box gets welded in place.
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kmorin
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by kmorin » Sun Dec 21, 2014 5:28 pm

Tfitz, just a little confusion in the photos? One looks like the entire cuddy (or trunk cabin) was removed then another seems to show the (old?) cuddy on top of a srtip of new metal, requiring a very 'pain in the back' seam along the trunk's lower topsides. I don't see the extra weld and finish worth the short narrow strip of replacing the entire trunk side with new material??

If I were taking out the trunk and redoing it to a little taller profile, I say it was a lot less work to make the new piece one- skip the long seam that seems to be present in the 2nd photo?

I can see a seam at the window band or top of the house to keep the original, but it seems like make work on the truck's long seam half way up the very short trunk sides?

If the cut out for the anchor winch is carefully cut, that piece can be trimmed & adding an edging/coaming/trim it might form a nice looking (and form fitting) cover for the winch locker, helping to restore the trunk's lines with a cover.

I also suggest considering a short toe rail along the break in the deck forward. It may look stylish without one; but I think it would be a nice thing to have if you asked me to go forward to stow the hook!!

Let us know if we can give more opinions ( :soap: ) on how to- what to.... the Forum has plenty of opinions and we only need pictures in return!!

Welcome to AAB.com, I'm glad you took off the paint, the photos show it wasn't put on very well. What about the rub rail, is that bedded correctly or are there corrosion cells under that as well?

cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:21 pm

Kmorin thank you for the comments. I will always listen to any opinion you have. You know your stuff without any dout. But that "narrow strip" of new metal is as high as it can possibly go now. That raised the cuddy roof 5 1/2" on the cabin end of the cuddy roof. That's the difference in being able to sit in the cuddy with your head up instead of cocked to one side. That 5 1/2" made the difference in being able to put a small angled window on each side to let some light into the cuddy. That 5 1/2" is the difference in how your wife describes the cuddy "it feels like a coffin in here" too
"hey I can sit up and read a book by this cozy little window". That Mr Kmorin is a HUGE difference!
That existing cuddy roof is well constructed . It's arched, and has good supports, partially foamed already. nice rounded edges. I didn't want to throw all that away and start over just to raise the roof a few inches. I think I can weld those strips in and grind the welds down to blend them in with the existing sides. You can see in the photo I put 3/16" backing strips in behind every splice point to give me more metal to weld too. Besides, welds that I have to grind down are my speciality. Ha.
I have a good bow rail already look at the first photo. And under that rubber perimeter rub rail was major corrosion and deep Pitting! But It's 1/4" material at that point and I plan to replace the rubber rub rail with AL half pipe. It will span over all corrosion where the welds will be on good aluminum. I didn't pay big money for this boat. And I don't plan on it looking factory new when I'm done. But what I see is a good hull, good trailer, and ok motor. What I'm doing now is shàping it to fit my needs. All opinions welcomed. I came here for ideas and help because I'm pretty new at this and I want to be fishing this spring in it.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by kmorin » Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:23 am

Tfitz, I see the idea behind the trunk cabin adder, I didn't ever not agree to the raised or taller design, I was just wondering why you didn't just make the new seam at the cabin top, there was always going to be one at the deck. I wasn't looking at the idea of keeping old parts, I'd just build new ones but I can see with the added pic what you're thinking.

I see how you've arranged the weld joint, I'd leave the flat bar backer just stitched, say a hot "six dimes" (1-1/2" to 1-3/4") weld every 4" top and bottom staggered. On the outside I'd groove out with a carbide burr, or saw if you're handy with that tool, so the weld can 'grab' or fuse to the backing bar.

What is hard to picture here is that the weld will super chill or cold lap to the backing bar if the sides are not V'd open. The reason, and your welder may realize this or not? a Constant Voltage (MIG) power supply will vary the arc's voltage as a function of the gap from the contact tip to the work. So the deeper groove's sides will "lie" to the power supply's control circuit and the backing bar won't be fused. When you sand the top or crown of the butt joint MIG bead, these can crack and leak and make a mess.

So.. give your welder a nice 3/32"- 1/8" gap at the bar, and the shoulders of the original trunk sides lower edge and the upper edge of the new strip of cabin side can be back beveled or V'd open to about 30-40deg's. The MIG bead should be a drag-type bead, overly hot and twice as fast as reasonable, but just slow enough to fill the 1/8" cabin side seam to the top. Hot and Fast is the ticket then when you sand off of fair the cabin sides the entire edge of both parent metal strips are fully face fused and they won't crack.

I was afraid of the rub rail's base material. I'd suggest the pipe you're planning is a good 'cure'. One other idea is to make a sliding jig or guide that holds a saw or router if you prefer. This holds the tool to cut two cuts, one upper and one lower. Using the guide on the sheer, cut out 16"-24" of the 'rotted' or pitted 1/4" backing material and replace jut that much at one time. NOT in long strips but in small short pieces so the entire strip is replaced but not all at once- if you're putting a 1/2 pipe over it... then the pieced in materials won't show, they'll have a fully welded, outside continuous, extrusion to tie together the sheer and the boat's shape won't distort if you only take out short lengths.

I did see the bow pulpit railing, and I have found myself hanging from similar 'trapeze rigging' over the Cook Inlet in less time than I could blink because I didn't have a tow rail to stop my feet. I did catch myself, and I'm thankful I did, but I'm not going forward to tend the hook for you when you're in Homer for flat fish- if there's no toe rail to keep my old feet from sliding off your deck! (that's final don't call me as deckhand if there's no toe rail)

[I don't think it will take more than once for Mrs.Tfitz to go forward and end up hanging under that bow hand rail before you're shopping for some flat bar to weld along the break in that deck? "Honey, run up and get the anchor will you? I want to move over to that rock pile before the flood....."] Just my take on this little guard deck's design limits.

Home Depot usually has a roll of 3M traction tape, they stock in Kenai so I'm assuming(?). If you're not painting, this stuff is worth putting on; it's about 3" wide and it will stay on even on skiff bottoms. It would go along way to making a rain wet aluminum deck more work wise especially with that 6" wide sill on this boat's cabin sides. Not all that attractive- basic black- but does help with boot traction.

Looking good,

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:27 am

I like that groove idea I am going to do that. Thank you for that sugestion! I guess I don't fully visualize were or how your toe rail looks. Maybe I would do it if I could see it. I was planning to do the 3M traction stick on's. I know it won't look great but this isn't a "looker" kinda boat. But you seem to be missing the plan on this bow set up...I just spent the big bucks on a drum anchor winch so I won't have to GO on the deck to deal with the anchor! I can't wait to press the anchor switch and watch it all happen from the captains chair!!
Photo is of my progress tonight. Cut hole in top, make pieces to fill the gap. I am incredible slow at this fab work but can't think of a better thing to do on shortest day of a Fairbanks winter :thumbsup:
PS I did cut the top out carefully and plan to incorporate it some how in the winch cover.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:16 am

That pitted 1/4 x 2" Al perimeter strip has allot of integrity left yet. It only has a few deep pits that maybe 1/8" deep. 99% of the rest is surface and shallow pitting. The 2" pipe I bought is 2 3/8" OD, so it will span all of the oxidized Al. The side walls are 3/16" and top is 1/8" so really the 1/4" is overkill. I have so much other work to do I don't need anything extra. Wait until you hear my ideas about expanding the cabin and building a "semi" self bailing floor. You'll probably choke on your doughnut and spill your coffee when I share them with you. But time for bed now and go to work tomorrow. Thanks for all the help.
Todd

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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:45 am

I think I made some progress on my welding today. I needed to weld up the 3/16" anchor winch box inside and out. I thought, this will be good practice. Heavy material, out of sight welds, new material to weld on. I first I wire wheeled SS brush to clean the corners. Then I applied acid cleaner that is for cleaning oxidation from aluminum just prior to welding, then I wiped the corners down with acetone. As I welded I could see the puddles weren't flowing, a skin of floating contamination floating on the bead. It was bad. So many aluminum BB's spatter it hard to finish the bead into the corner! So I would grind it out and weld it again. I changed the wire speed, volts, moved the ground clamp, changed the gas flow rate. Nothing really changed. Was not any good welds. Then I thought I would try what Kmorin suggested about back chipping a V grove in the joint and use a carbide bit to clean along the weld area. Wow. That made all the difference. Not much smoke or spatter and the aluminum wire just melted into the base metal nice. The problem was contamination and the wire brushing, acid, and acetone didn't clean good enough for welding. Carbide bit is what seems to work for me so far.
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:28 am

A little more practice and I'm starting to get the hang I this aluminum welding! This bead is just after welding it and no spatter, no soot. Carbide bit cleaning / welding prep is the way to go!! My thinking now is maybe I don't need a welders help. I can do this!! :beer:
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by gandrfab » Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:56 am

Like almost all things once you know how it's easy, but even saying that I still get WTF moments welding

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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:27 pm

It looks to me like I could stack my puddles alittle closer but overall I am happy with how it welded up so clean! At least now I know my welder can do the job and the possibility to do it correctly is there. I just Have to fine tune my technique. I looked for 2 years trying to find a deal on a Millermatic 252 with 30 spool gun and I'm glad I waited. I could have bought many, many smaller machines but this welder melted that 3/8" like butter after it was cleaned with a carbide bit. Clean to the base metal is the key to this process. I wish someone would have told me this sooner! Oh...I guess they did but I now I get it. Waiting for Kmorin to give me some more pointers? :deadhorse:
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by kmorin » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:57 pm

Tfitz, looks good! A few notes about the post above this one?

Welding into a corner can be a problem because the hot argon is blowing the junk/oxides/contaminants off the puddle and if that stream gets turned around then the welds can become very 'super contaminated' by the corner's blow back. Most of us weld out of corners- its considered more reliable practice, start in a corner and work out. Start 1" to the left of the corner then weld into and out of that corner, or to the right 1/2- to 1" and weld past the corner, lean the gun back, lead the puddle more, and when you get to the corner don't stay, get out and leave that puddle small(er), so the vertical weld can fill it, beginning there and going upward.

Terms are important sometimes. The words machine bead, sometimes called a 'drag' bead even if the torch leads the weld(!) refers to a bead put down without any pattern, just the settings of the power supply, and the wire feed rate and a steady even bead along the weld zone. This is the type of bead you show in the first weld post #1 & #3 welds, and it can be more difficult to weld due to the freeze rate of aluminum.

The patterned, or whipped, bead you show in the last few posts is often helpful because the puddle is molten for much longer time, therefore more junk is gassed out, the argon can clean for longer (fractions of a second but still longer than a machine style bead) and the arc's heat/wattage is applied for longer so the fusion is greater.

This sort of slows down the time of deposition even when you're traveling fast, because the puddle is wet longer and therefore the argon cleaning works for longer time. The arc time being longer often, as your beads show, melt the entire puddle area better, giving a much better " toe and top " fusion line, and you can compare the first post's curled under tops and tow sections to the hotter beads of the following pattern welds to see why this type of bead is used by boat builders.

As regard the deoxidizer, it was my understanding of these products they were for exclusive use of un-assembled parts? I was under the impression from reading about this type of surface treatment that these chemicals were not used to clean tacked up pieces due to the fact the liquids would wick into crevices and not clean off when wiped with the open flat surfaces. I have not used them, personally, so I'm not saying I have any experience- but I'd argue they were potentially harmful to a good weld if this chemical was introduced to joints instead of un-tacked component pieces which could be cleaned on all sides- thoroughly.

To get a little more detailed on surface prep, the carbide cuts to a fresh layer of metal, that oxides to a thin film in a few seconds and that oxide can be disturbed with a tooth brush (SS not used in any other shop function but aluminum weld prep; dipped in acetone periodically) so the oxide is scarified and lifts better with the hot gas.

Wire brushing will give the same results from scratch as the carbide cut edge if you use power wheels that are 304 with 0.014" wires- not any larger, and these SS power brushes cannot (should not) be used on any other materials or they will contaminate the aluminum welds.

Acetone is a two edged sword that has to be used intelligently. It can smear the contaminants and leave them on the metal, so a clean rag is needed, cotton is the best, not paper towels, or synthetic cloth as both will leave behind some contaminants. Using the acetone before any buffing/wire wheeling, and only using the rag for two or three swipes before rolling it to another clean surface is important, otherwise the solvent will spread contaminants as much as degrease. Lots of people don't seem to understand this?

Last an alloy check, you're using 5356. 0.035" or 0.045" wire for the 50series and 60 series aluminum? I hope you're not using 4043 or one of the silicone wires since they are brittle and don't work well at all with 50 series (sheet and plate). You may have already said all this, just making sure of the trivia so that you end up with a solid rebuild.

Welds look good,

Cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by gandrfab » Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:17 pm

kmorin IS the MAN on this site. Can explain so much that I would have to show. :thumbsup:
And Knows so much more than I do. I'm glad he's here. :clap:


Mig'ing on anything more then sheet metal I'll start the arc 1/2" to an 1" ahead of my weld start point. Run back kind of fast to get the heat up then weld on.

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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:46 pm

Holy Smoke I sure didn't expect to get a "welds look good" comment out of Kmorin this soon. Thank you! I will definitely try your corner technique next time. Without any doubt I had the super contaminated blow back happening on my corner job.
When I did the machine bead I was just trying to do what you said in a earlier post about making a beveled groove with a carbide bit then when welding fill in the groove and "go like hell". I was planning to just grind the weld down flat anyways.
Yes I am using 5356 .035 on 5k marine aluminum. I do have all .014 SS dedicated wire wheels and tooth brushes. But I think it was the acid cleaner the screwed me up. Know doubt some was left in the joint between pieces. I am on a welding roll right now using carbide cleaning methods only so I will keep doing that until I have no choice but a wire brush. I really thought you were going to burst my bubble somehow and slam me about something Kmorin? Come on...you don have to be nice :gunner2:

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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by kmorin » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:22 pm

gandrfab, thanks for the kind words, not necessarily true but very well received none the less! :beer:

Tfitz, the welds look good, they're uniform steps (dimes) the fusion is great and the fill is good, not to bulging and not too hollow... what's to say, you're getting the welds you want. (I'm the site Mill Scale Gnatt-Zee not the Welding Ogre.) While we're on the subject, the first few welds did need some work!!

I'll remark about the concept of dressing or fairing aluminum welds. This will apply where you plan to sand off any MIG bead, it also applies to TIG beads but, depending on prep not as much to TIG as MIG. MIG beads, machine drag style OR patterns puddled both happen pretty fast when compared to steel, as I've noted before. The other item that is super critical to aluminum welds being considered for dressing/fairing/sanding is the difference in penetration of the arc in the two metals.

Aluminum's arc does not dig a crater into the parent metal, it may melt or turn a certain depth of parent metal molten but in steel the arc itself will actually excavate a portion of the parent metal. The reason is, again, the rate at which aluminum moves heat. Aluminum moves heat 7 times faster than steel so the arc's heat is being conducted away from the arc foot print (arc cone's molten circular area) so fast that the surface metal is all that gets 'wetted'.

So a pair of plates/sheets/edges of steel can be butted close up, tacked and welded and the weld sanded flat and there will be some weld fused metal left. But in aluminum if you use that technique the (MIG) weld will almost always crack due to the very thin layer of fusion left after sanding the two butt joint surfaces flat. To cure this problem, gapping the two pieces, beveling the two pieces or even gapping and backing the two pieces to be butted in a weld joint will allow the weld's arc to heat up the entire edge of the two adjoining pieces or parent metal. Now that a mechanical weld groove is available, when the MIG arc of sprayed aluminum droplets follows the arc under the hot argon shield; there is a deeper weld.

When the top is sanded off this deeper (mechanically grooved) weld there remains enough of the weld metal after sanding to resist cracking, but if these groove prep methods are not used; most often the sanded off MIG well will fail in aluminum due to the lack of penetration. This can happen with TIG as well but lots of times the slow pace of most two handed TIG does allow a much deeper zone of the heat of fusion; but not always.

Its best to prepare the weld zones for their eventual use, where a hull panel butt joint or a cabin side that will be sanded smooth are grooved before welding.

Last remark about machine, drag-style welding (I know that we lead these puddles but the term came from steel coated electrode welding where some rods are dragged along to weld without whipping) is that it is somewhat more susceptible to "cold edge curl unders" than patterned welds. The reason is the amount of time the argon is available to wash hot gas over the parent metal's surface is reduced over a patterned weld- that means the wetting of the puddle is less available. Therefore it seems hard to understand- but is true- well placed machine type welds are harder to do consistently than puddled or patterned welds. Doing these welds at higher speeds, higher wattage and with higher wire feed speeds turns out to be the answer. But it does take some practice.

Looking good, more pictures!

cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sat Dec 27, 2014 3:40 am

Since were talking about butt up welds in places that need to be ground down and blended in smooth again. Let me show you the job I have ahead of me that will require a huge amount of sanding and blending. So much so that I'm considering leaving the welds show and live with a "Frankenstine" boat. But I need to hear from a guy like you if this job is a big problem or do-able. I think I could let the welds show and just mount rod holders over it or something. But I would like to know what your opinion is of doing this job. If I cut out and move the intact section of roof, sides and back wall up 12" and back 2' that will give me a raised cabin end that will have an angle that kinda matches the front window slant angle. What do you think? Will this be the goofiest thing on the water or can you see it working out. Why am I doing this you might ask? I want to raise the back deck floor 9". I want to describe that to you, but later, after we hammer this out. I also have 5 holes like the hole photo that I need to weld up and blend in, all of this work is on 1/8" material. Seems like to fix the holes I could just bevel the edges like you said and maybe use 3/16" material for the patch, just keep it flush on top. This would give me a little more metal to weld into? What do you think?
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:41 am

Here will be the new boat "lines" as I invision it. Nothing is to scale. It's only approximately right.
And a photo of the back wall. I may have to adjust the door and window opening after raising this back wall section 12".
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:43 pm

Here is the tool I've been using the most and I love it! It's called the MANEATER. Garrot at Frontier Fabrication told me about it. He says all the aluminum fab guys use them. Pretty good quality and reasonable price $75 on amazon. You get precise cuts and can reach into corners. You just can't be thinking about anything else when it's running in your hands. Pretty obvious...the potential for injury is huge. I have probably 10 hrs on it with no close calls. I have on heavy welding gloves, face Sheild and laser beam concentration. PS. Never set it down plugged in to your air hose. (Those are Garrots words of wisdom not mine) and he said it like he ment it!
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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by Tfitz » Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:22 pm

I'm not sure what "cold edge curl unders" is. Can you explain that please?

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Re: 24' DYI alloy remodel

Post by kmorin » Sat Dec 27, 2014 3:24 pm

Tfitz, lots to discuss, I'll start with the tool because I think we recently discussed this here and I know where the photos are.

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I use three 4" blades stacked to keep the tool from being able to grab, I feel this is safer and I use electrical tools because the air driven tool has a little more variable speed than I prefer. The guard has been extended with a little bit or steel that allows the tool to be pulled along the weld zone on the guard edge and not ride the cutting edge, which is a control step I prefer to the bare blade.

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close up of the staggered teeth of the three blades stacked. This keeps the blades from spacing one another but also means there is always some carbide in the aluminum so the cut seems smoother and safer to me?

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Flat view showing the two guard extensions TIGged on to the factory's steel guard. The lower extension is just some thin steel curved like the housing but it has a little piece of UHMW tape on it, to keep the glide of a smooth stroke when dragging to back gouge welds. The upper piece is just some 1/2" (or so?) angle rolled to the shape and welded to cover some of the edge. I find I like the sort of square cut groove this combination offers, like on outside corners where I'm just taking out the bulge of the inner welds on tanks or other outside corners. I tend to use the die grinder with a free hand burr to most other close work.

I tend to use this tool in two modes, one is lubricated with generic Pam (cooking spray) and the other is dried and rinsed in acetone and cutting dry. The first is for larger volumes of removal or when the blades are getting a little dull and the metal sticks to the tips, the second is when I'm using this as the primary weld prep and don't want to acetone the Pam off before welding.

I've used the meataxe/widowmaker/single blade tools but decided to go with the wider blade combo shown after some close calls! :shocked:

The blades are Freud's Diablo line, for a small format saw, and aluminum rating, but due to the grinder rotation the print is on the inside surface of these blades.

cheers,
Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK
kmorin

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