Aluminum repair materials, sourcing and availability help wanted.

teletech

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Any good experiences welding Al armor here?

The rear sponson on my CVR(T) was so badly damaged, somebody patched it with some 6061 or something and the patch just rotted out in a most impressive manner. I wound up cutting it off entirely. Now I need to find some compatible material for a replacement as well as some consumables.

It's about 7'1"x6"x.25" but larger would be fine (up to a point of course).

It's 7017 so I believe I can use any of 7017, 7018, 7020, 7039, 5059, 5083.
I understand the 5083 is the most common of those in the US.
The documents I can find give instructions for MIG so I'd have to find some wire as well.
I was actually wondering if folks had tried TIG on this stuff? If so I could just cut some thin strips off the bit I cut off and use that as filler.

thanks,
 

Whiterabbit

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If you try to tig it you might want to run helium as a shielding gas, it'll help it run "hotter". You would probably need a water cooled torch too! That puppy is gonn'a get hot. Just say'n from personal experience from welding aluminum hulls on big boats and sponsons on M113's
 

teletech

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I remember a gate I tig'd up from thick solid copper... talk about getting hot! I've got a water-cooled torch and a bottle of He so I'm set there.
What I'm still totally lacking is any clue where to find a repair panel. What did you use for those M113 sponsons?
 
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teletech

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After a lot of research and reaching out to various vendors I managed to find 5556 in both rod and spool. I never did find anything in the way of plate but based on my research it looked like some 50xx series wouldn't be too far off in terms of compatibility. I forget offhand but I think I went with 5083 as being the closest thing I could actually get.
The thin sections where the torsion-bar box (3/16" material) was split and where the sponson (5/16") in back met the sponsons on the side, those I did with TIG and argon.
DSC_0035.JPG
I used a water-cooled torch and actually went over the duty cycle of the torch, or at least the cable so the power lead melted the water jacket even so. Based on that experience I decided wirfeed was my best option. Based on my past experience I know wirefeed welding aluminum without a spoolgun is painful at best and futile at worst, but I couldn't find a spoolgun for under a grand that would handle the large wire and 250amps I was planning to run. Since the wire was big and stiff and my gun-hose was only 6', I thought I'd get a fresh liner and give it a go. No luck at all, the wire would run freely until I started trying to weld and then jam in under 5-seconds. So, turns out I can build a spoolgun from the things I find at home. ;-) DSC_0037.JPG

I used a drive motor assembly from an ESAB box I had sitting around for years and made it almost deliberately ugly, figuring it needed to hold together for about 15 minutes and if I did a nice job on any part of it then I'd want to make a nice spoolgun rather than just fix my hull!
I wished for a little more feed speed, but it worked fine.
DSC_0036.JPG
It worked well enough, so well in fact I decided to have a go at my motor mounts since they showed a lot of corrosion and often fail completely in these vehicles
DSC_0034.JPG
So, done and ready for a visit with the sandblaster so I can get to the exciting part: reassembly!
 

Another Ahab

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View attachment 805985

I used a drive motor assembly from an ESAB box I had sitting around for years and made it almost deliberately ugly, figuring it needed to hold together for about 15 minutes and if I did a nice job on any part of it then I'd want to make a nice spoolgun rather than just fix my hull!
I wished for a little more feed speed, but it worked fine.
Nice work!

And you should take that Frankenstein to the U.S. Patent Office, I think they owe you a patent. Sweet.
 
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