Lets talk: aluminum welding

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
#1
I plan to make 2 single hinge folding 7' ramps into 1 10' dual hinge folding ramp. The ramps are a light weight aluminum. I am going to cut both ramps, and join them together. The right answer is probably to have someone with skill and a tig welder do it for me. However, I occasionally have small aluminum projects, and it would be cool to learn to solve my own problems. The WWW says that aluminum brazing is very easy and should be sufficient, or there is an aluminum stick welding option.
I would weld along my joints, and then add an aluminum strap on both sides of the ramp supports to give additional strength.
Any one have experience with brazing or stick welding aluminum?

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mesha

By endurance we conquer
Supporting Vendor
Location
A.F.
#2
I have never stick welded aluminum. I do have a spool gun for my mig welder that does aluminum. You are welcome to come and I can show you what I know to get it stuck together. I am not sure how much wire and argon I have, but I think enough for this project. You are also welcome to use my tig welder if you like, but if you haven't used one before the mig will be easier.


What I can tell you is the aluminum needs to be clean, really clean. Get a stainless steel wire brush and use it ONLY for aluminum. If you use it on anything else it will get junk on your weld surface and you will have a hard time getting good aluminum welds.
 
#3
I've attempted aluminum brazing, but failed miserably.We ended up hauling it back to the shop to finish the job. At the same time, we had never seen it done, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I will also add that brazing is not usually used for structural work, I would definitely take Mesha up on his generous offer.
 

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
#7
I think I have got it prepped good. I think my joints line up well, and I scrubbed all the welding surfaces with a new brass bristle brush. I did a test fit and fold of all the parts together, and it worked as planned. I didn't realize how long 10' is. This is going to be super scary to ride up into the truck!!

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#8
I don't know if the brass brush will mess with you or not. Stainless is always reccommended with a thorough cleaning with acetone pre and post brushing. I've only ever used push pull guns and tig'd aluminum, so take everything I say with a grain of salt

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jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
#9
I don't know if the brass brush will mess with you or not. Stainless is always reccommended with a thorough cleaning with acetone pre and post brushing. I've only ever used push pull guns and tig'd aluminum, so take everything I say with a grain of salt

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It messed with us BAD. Stainless was needed. internet says brass is fine.. but we learned different.
 

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
#11
You got it done? How did it turn out?
After we (Him, while I twiddled my thumbs) figured it all out, things went well. I have the ramp together and walked up it.. and I could feel it bend a little right at the weld. The leverage of the long ramp must add stress above what the aluminum can handle. However, after the initial stretch, it seems to be holding fine. I can bounce on it, and it doesn't bend (although it is quite springy). I may bolt angle iron to the sides of the middle section to give it some rigidity..
 

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
#13
Thanks Davy.. but I think we are good. I've tried to set it up a couple times, but the ramp slides too much on the snow, so I haven't actually tried it yet.
 

mesha

By endurance we conquer
Supporting Vendor
Location
A.F.
#14
Thanks Davy.. but I think we are good. I've tried to set it up a couple times, but the ramp slides too much on the snow, so I haven't actually tried it yet.
I had a really steep ramp into my flatbed. I used a tie down strap from the hitch to one of the cross bars on the ramp to keep it from sliding.
 
#15
I have the ramp together and walked up it.. and I could feel it bend a little right at the weld. The leverage of the long ramp must add stress above what the aluminum can handle. However, after the initial stretch, it seems to be holding fine.
Its possible the temper was removed from the area by welding, can you somehow witness mark it to monitor if it continues to bend? I would definately use caution and attempt several dry runs to see if it continues to give. I made two sets of 10' folding ramps from aluminum, by nature they are very springy and give the impression of not being able to bear the load. They now have hundreds of ATV trips up and down them, and are holding fine other than an occasional tread comes loose(riveted). I've considered welding the treads, but I'm concerned about removing the temper from the alloy in this application.
 

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
#16
I ended up bolting some steel flat bar to the inside of the rails for the center section (which is the one we welded. I made some dry runs up the ramp onto my porch, and even stopped in the middle and bounced. It seems like it's going to be plenty sturdy.
Now I just have to convince myself to try to ride up it into the truck. :eek:

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It's Loooooong.. but it totally solved the steep issue :)
 

rholbrook

Premium Member
Premium Member
Location
Kaysville, Ut
#18
I ride up my ramp all the time. Short and steep is better for me because I don't know that I have the balance to keep it on the ramp for that distance. I saw a guy fall out of the back of his truck riding up a ramp. His bike stayed in but he didn't
 
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