Welders ?!? (Aluminum)

Discussion in 'Metal Boat Building' started by DHN, Dec 28, 2002.


What is your favorite welder brand?

  1. Miller

    35 vote(s)
  2. Lincoln Electric

    14 vote(s)
  3. Hobart

    5 vote(s)
  4. Other

    13 vote(s)
  1. DHN
    Joined: Dec 2002
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    Location: Oklahoma

    DHN New Member


    Does anyone have input on a good MIG welder for aluminum? I have MIG and TIG welded a bunch of steel and TIGed a bit of aluminum. I have never MIG welded aluminum thus the questions. I see Miller wants to sell you a spool gun for the aluminum wire, they say you need this to weld aluminum. Lincoln Electric on the other hand says you can push a aluminum wire the distance of electrode to the gun with no problem. Lincoln does sell a special tube for the aluminum wire but no spool gun. Has anyone used either? Input?

    What about brands. Input on Lincoln, Miller, Hobart, others?

    Anyone have a used unit they want to sell?


  2. Jeff Kutz
    Joined: Apr 2002
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    Location: kingston Wa

    Jeff Kutz New Member

    We at our shop use a Miller 304 power supply and a 16 lb push pull wire feeder approx cost about $6000.00 usd you can also add pulse feature and for TIG we use Miller Tigrunner for heliarc works great Jeff Kutz
  3. Matt F.
    Joined: Jan 2003
    Posts: 3
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    Matt F. New Member

    I have welded aluminum with the lincoln welder with the teflon insert in the wand. Not very impressed. The aluminum is too soft to push thru, I kept getting "rat nests" where the wire starts first feeding thru. If you kept all the kinks out of the welding line and are real careful you can weld the aluminum. Go for the miller with the spool gun. Matt
  4. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
    Posts: 266
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    Location: Wasilla Alaska

    8knots A little on the slow side

    I have used both a miller with a 15' lead and never had much fun nursemaiding the lead to avoid kinks and so on! If you have to go this route buy several extra liners and tips "You will need them" On the other hand we bought the miller spoolgun and hooked it up with 30' leads. This is not a push-pull as mentioned earlier lead is only power and sheilding gas. with a 1# spool in the gun itself. This saved lots of time and headaches but in 2 years of steady fab work we went through 3 of them They seem a little fragile to me!
    hope this helps 8Knots
    As far as MIGing aluminum Don't sweat it 1/2 a day and a pile of scrap you will get the gist of it!
  5. arc alaska
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    Location: alaska

    arc alaska New Member

    Both miller and Lincoln offer spool guns, push, push pull, and pulse mig capability. You can sometimes find good deals on Ebay on used equipment. If you can afford mig pulse push pull it is the way to go.

  6. edneu
    Joined: Jan 2003
    Posts: 44
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    Location: Florida

    edneu Junior Member

    Spool Gun

    I have used a Miller Mig Welder with a spool gun to weld some aluminum hulls. While the spool gun takes a little getting used to and is a bit heavier, i heard it is less prone to jam with soft wire. I think feeding the wire from the machine spool is possible, but it is a source of increased downtime. So you will be halted from clogged tips and jammed wire rather then just clogged tips.

    The spool gun is pretty easy to get used to, they may be expensive but I never had to buy one.

    I used ESAB welders in a job I had once they seemed like very good machines, they were quite large industrial welders, but they may make smaller machines.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2004
  7. Alumtuna

    Alumtuna Guest

    Miller Millermatic 250x w/ Spoolmatic 30A

    Went with the spoolmatic 30A to weld my 28' boat. Cost about $2500 for the setup. Cant complain and would recommend it for the lower cost. Next rung up the ladder nin set up would be about 2-3k more in price. Too much for me. Weld from 1/8 to 1/4 typical. Good enough duty cylce.

    Good luck
  8. Dutch
    Joined: Jun 2004
    Posts: 1
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    Location: Asheville NC

    Dutch New Member

    Millermatic 251

    The Millermatic 251 with a Spoolgun 15A and a 30ft cable extension will give you a total cable length of 45 ft. I am building a 44 ft sailboat (all aluminum) and can reach every place without having to move the welder. The hull material is the 5086-h116 and the 1lbs. wire spools are 5356 alloy. The welder easily welds 3/8" material with .047 dia wire while the .035 wire works very nicely on 1/4" or 3/16" plate. Stainless steel wire brushing MUST be done. Best book on the subject : Boatbuilding with Aluminum by Stephen Pollard.
  9. bud1000

    bud1000 Guest


    as a tradesman metal fabricator i have worked with all sorts of machines and metals, push pull guns have thier place in a heavy industrial setting but the old adage of you get what you pay for applies....... in particular with welding machines and equipment if you need a good solid industrial machine with some long life in mind .... purchase one that is build for this...... if you are a home hobbist..... then the smaller cheaper machines will sufice
    im not a great fan of miller welding equipment myself but in a hobby siruation it will more than meet your needs....... and go with the spool gun they are far less trouble than a push pull gun
  10. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
    Posts: 266
    Likes: 12, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 352
    Location: Wasilla Alaska

    8knots A little on the slow side

    one of my sign shops just bought the Lincoln SP175 and the smaller spoolgun that will work with it, model 3080 or something like that. all inclusive with a mid size argon bottle was $1700.00 US that Lincoln is in the same family as the smaller "hobby" units but is 220v on the primary side. this should give you a better duty cycle and allow you to work 1/4" alum with little trouble. The nozzle on the spool gun is a lot smaller in diameter that the larger versions I have used say only 5/8" good for tight spots but I bet it will get hot in a hurry. but i would imagine the duty cycle on the unit will stop you before you melt the thing down. 9 times out of 10 if your knocking your first boat together you will be working slow enough to that a "mid" size hobby welder will suffice and save you some cash for ....a plasma cutter :p
    do some testing before you start hacking up your stock. take 2 pieces of angle and lay the 90 degrees to each other like a "T" run a pass up one leg and watch the draw. You will be amazed and how much alum moves. Tack, Tack, and then tack some more. its easy to forget when MIG is so easy bounce around and distribute the heat (and distortion) or your efforts will be for nought.

    Happy welding and for gods sake don't wear a white t-shirt. black is good as it wont reflect the flash back up into your hood. leathers are even better. I learned that the hard way after 10 hours of production welding. my wife had to feed me that night along with the sensation of a sand truck dumping in your eyeballs. aughhhhh I will NEVER forget that! Gives you a new respect for the blind when you are for about 15 hours. aluminum arcs are brighter so I ran a shade 12 for dinking around and a 14 for the long days.

    have fun all 8Knots
  11. Mighty Mouse
    Joined: Oct 2004
    Posts: 1
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    Location: Mississippi

    Mighty Mouse New Member

    I have a Miller 175 and was told that it too would weld aluminum, but after the sale was made, I was informed that I would need a spool gun, and adapter adding another $700 or so. The reason being is that aluminum is too soft to push through using .035. The seller said I could push a larger diameter and that would be fine, but I would have to change out my liner and possibly the roller wheel. Then every time I wanted to go back to steel, I'd have to change liners again or have another set of welding hoses.

    So as a hobbiest, this was a bit pricy I gave this some thought. If one can push a larger diameter of wire with a hobby control mig with no rats nesting, then how about just buying a 115 volt mig welder and change the liner to accept the larger wire? Shouldn't cost more that $200 or so. Then you would have one set up for both steel and aluminum at a reduced cost.

    What you guys think.
  12. sparky
    Joined: Nov 2004
    Posts: 3
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    Location: Minnesota

    sparky New Member

    Wire Feed Welding Aluminum

    You may want to take a look at www.wirepropellant.com I know this system works
  13. sparky
    Joined: Nov 2004
    Posts: 3
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    Location: Minnesota

    sparky New Member

    Mig welding aluminum

    You may want to look at www.wirepropellant.com this kit installes on your wire feed welder so you can weld aluminum. $ 195.00 USD
  14. freeagent
    Joined: Dec 2004
    Posts: 14
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    Location: Iowa

    freeagent Junior Member

    I personally own a lincoln wirematic 255 with a 25' spool gun for aluminum and a 25' tweco wip for steel! I use a miller at work with an internal 10 lb spool! I think licnoln or miller would be a good choice either way! Millers are more common in commercial applications though!

  15. 25? years ago John Lutz said: You will be a certified aluminum welder in 15 minutes. He was right, I could weld as good as he did with a Cobra ? PULLER. It was so easy to learn. Push feeders were always a pain with old wire in them.---------I don't know where the Cobra went, but it is not mentioned. You could overtighten the cra- out of it so badly that it looked like a oval coming out, and it still fed smooth. All size changes were at the head. Not both ends. They must be designing these in Mongolia and building in China.
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