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Ducatichica 04-20-2021 07:55 PM

Beginning welding aluminum
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Hello Folxs. Want to say I admire this forum, I have learned so much.
I bit the bullet and got the meco midget from Kentís fine place. I had been trying to put myself of track with an old henrob I had inherited. I find myself still struggling with setting the torch up.
I have seen hundred of video and bought dvds galore. I watch folxs that lay in tack super quick and easy. I can not get a simple tack with out filler rod to save my life.
I am working with .063 3003 H14 aluminum. The torch chart says to go up to a N3 tip. I can make it super hot and my heat zone is the entire coupon it seems like. The coupons are 4x8 inch. When I watch videos Kent talks of 3-5 torch lengths of flame. Are we talking about the inner cone or the oxygen feather?
I want to believe we are talking the inner cone, as a large feather washes backwards when I am close to the plate.
I can not seem to build heat up with this inner tip unless I get almost carburizing like flame. Just off feather takes a long time to do the tack like I witness in the videos and all the super experienced people

After using the N3 tip and trying over and over again is has turned black. Is this normal (yes smart guys I know heat and coloring) my question is a I trying to get it to hot. I donít feel like I have the pinpoint control I see peoples having

Thanks for helping a woman out in a man heavy industry. My goal is I would like to incorporate more compound curves for some art projects.

Here is a shot of my first few attempts of a full weld.
This was done with the N2 tip I was not just melting with this, however it seemed slower than the old pros

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Chris_Hamilton 04-21-2021 12:26 AM

Here is a link to Kent's site on setting up the Meco torch. I'm sure Kent will reply with some good info for you as well. Keep practicing.:)

Setting up the Meco

skintkarter 04-21-2021 04:19 AM

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Paloma, I too am trying to learn to O/A weld aluminum. More heat and move faster has been the key for me. Our tip sizes in New Zealand are quite different from the US sizes, but I started off with a #6 thinking that the stuff would immediately fall on my jandals and gradually worked up to a #12. 12 was bit quick for my skill level, but #10 seemed fairly controllable. I didn't seem to have much trouble tacking without filler - torch agitation seemed to be the key (much the same I think as mashing the peddle when using tig) to create fusion, but then the welds were very difficult with lower heat. I was trying to use slivers sheared from the edge of the sheet as filler rod and this hampered me somewhat due to the rectangular section and resulting high filler deposition per dab. I'm about to try some real panels with some 16swg 4043 filler on the 5005 16swg sheet. Apparently this filler rod is more forgiving than the 5005 parent metal. As with all skills, time in the seat is probably the key :)

Which particular Ducati affliction do you have?

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heinke 04-21-2021 09:49 AM

Paloma: my experience with OA welding on aluminum is that different people have different techniques that work for them. While I can weld fine with a Meco torch, I still am challenged making tack welds with it. So my approach is to make the tack welds with a TIG and then do the full welds with a torch. One advantage to doing it this way is that I have a nice even, clean layer of flux for making the weld because it gets applied after the tacks are in place. Also on a large compound curved panel requiring overlapping the sheets near the joint in order to keep the joint tight for tacking, I had challenge with knocking the flux off while adjusting the panels between tacks. With TIG, no such issue because no flux.

Like I said at top, different techniques seem to be successful for different people. I'd encourage you to experiment a bit to find out what works best for you. The one thing that seems to remain constant though is it takes a good bit of practice to get the knack of OA welding aluminum. I've found welding small coupons to be quite different than welding larger panels as well. The dynamics for heat soak and thus tip sizing are different. I encourage the use of larger pieces when practicing so you can get the real feel for large panel welding.

heinke 04-21-2021 10:00 AM

On the tip sizing part of your question, I use a #5 tip on .063 3003 with my Meco. With the smaller tips, I seem to be challenged in getting full penetration on the backside. I've found a larger tip with less gas pressure works better than a small tip with higher pressure. It's a delicate balance between enough heat for full penetration and not blowing the molten puddle through because the gas pressure is too high. I adjust my torch so there's no "whistle" from it when welding, so it's a soft flame. Thus the larger tip size to get the heat.

fciron 04-21-2021 06:33 PM

I can't tack aluminum without filler rod. I just don't let it worry me.

Not much to add to the previous advice.

BTromblay 04-21-2021 08:26 PM


Gas welding aluminum can be the most frustrating and rewarding process to learn. For all of the different weld type processes it is 10% knowledge and 90% practice, IMO. I recommend to tack with rod first and work your way into fusion tacking and welding in time. For O/A welding i use a inner cone 3 times the material thickness for tacking, 2 times the thickness for welding. You will find the process becomes easier and slower when you use a larger test coupon, I recommend 12" x 12" piece to start with. Pre-heating the panel will help expedite the weld process and having patience is key. Pre-heat and in direct flame on the flux tends to cause the flux to melt and stay on the surface, instead of direct initial flame on the flux, causing the flux to pop off from the surface.

If you wish to tack with no filler rod, this is what I found that works for me. The panel seam needs to be tight, any gap and it will tend to melt back. Be sure that the torch is lined up down the seam and you are creating even heat to both sides. Have the filler in hand, in case it begins to open and add as needed. As you fuse tack down the panel, pull open, or push close the seam to maintain the tight joint.

Hope it helps.


Ducatichica 04-22-2021 10:18 PM

Thank all of you for the advice, I am gonna try larger coupons tomorrow. Perhaps give Kent more of my money for 4 and 5 tips.

I might be focusing to much on the tacking with no filler. I seem to be able to tack fantastically with filler rod. My thought was if I can dupe what I see the veterans then I have the correct flame control.
I played for a bit yesterday morning and seemed to master more of the throttle control of the cone a bit better

Skintkarter I have a small Ducati afflication my current is 2003 St4S/ABS

Really appreciate all of you taking the time to explain a bit more to me.
This would be super easy I think if I had someone with experience hanging over my shoulder for an afternoon. I tend to learn by studying, doing then correcting after experience, studying a bit more. Wash rinse repeat

skintkarter 04-23-2021 05:32 AM

A very competent Ducati Paloma. Have a couple of mates who have them here in NZ. The Ducati virus is strong in our family unfortunately :) 749s, 748sps, 848evo, 959 Panigale and I just bought a 2020 950s Multistrada. Well they are like shoes...

As Heinke suggested, no shame in tacking with tig if you have the gear. Easier to tap up the join before welding if you don't need to de-flux. As Bill says however, providing your fit is good and you are in a position to manipulate one half of the panel, then OA fusion tacking is possible.

I watched a couple of great videos of UK masters fusion tacking. One I think was a William Longyard one of Geoff Moss doing a vintage fender and the other was a chap making rally flares for a Mk2 Escort - which I think was just fusion welding with no tacking (he had done it before :) ) I'll see if I can find them again and will post links.

skintkarter 04-23-2021 05:38 AM

Sorry the William Longyard video was in conjunction with Kent White and the bonus bit at the end of Mark Barton (who like Geoff Moss was ex Aston Martin)

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