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Old 06-18-2012, 01:48 PM   #1
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Can aluminum skin be welded?

Hi guys, Got a problem not an Airstream but close and 1946 Spartan manor. A tree crushed the rear roof area just above the rear window. I removed the panels and hammer out the dents. But the metal had been flexed too far and it cracked in a couple of places. The worse being about 4" long. I spoke with a "welder" and he thought that if he welded it would just crack next to the weld. Can this be welded and what type of welder would be needed. I'm thinking High frequency TIG, but not sure. Thanks!
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Old 06-18-2012, 01:56 PM   #2
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Not absolutely sure which alloy they used on Spartans, but is likely that it is Alclad 2024 T-3 that they had a lot of just after WW2. You can weld it but it will not polish out without showing. I am not sure how much stress is handled in that area but the strength of the weld will definitely be poorer than the original sheet. Replacing a formed sheet like that will be difficult to do.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:19 PM   #3
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TIG welding works just fine on Alclad, if only it was thicker. You simply don't have enough thickness on the aluminum skin to weld with any kind of electrode. You need about an eighth of an inch of thickness to get a decent welding bead to adhere.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:42 PM   #4
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Material thickness and alloy are your concerns here. If it is 2024 then it is one of the non-weldable alloys. A panel replacement, or patch are likely the best options.

Good luck,

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Old 06-18-2012, 02:49 PM   #5
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If it's a formed piece, you'll want to find someone familiar with aircraft body work who owns an English wheel and can form a new one for you. A real craftsman could do a flat patch - which would still show a bit. (Flat rivets , and a patch underneath with a "filler patch" placed on top of the patch, to fit in the hole in the surface.

Salvaging one from another Spartan? Well, will the rivet holes line up? Almost certainly not. They were hand riveted.

good luck,

Paula
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Old 06-18-2012, 05:29 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info. I was afraid that it might not work. It is in the curved area. Dan at Vintage Camper has the pieces but, but the shipping to NY is killing me.
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Old 06-18-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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The alloy is marked on the exposed piece you made a photo of. I can't make it out. Let us know what it says. Usually it will be a four digit number followed by a dash and another number. 2024-T3 or 7075-T6 or 6061-T0 etc. Many high strength alloys can't be welded but some can be brazed.

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Old 06-18-2012, 06:30 PM   #8
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Silly to let a little thing like shipping push you onto a different course - personally I think using an original piece is ideal, even if you do have to deal with extra rivets, as Foiled validly points out.

There are people heading all over the place looking for a tank or two of free gas money. I'd check the "rideshare" section for the Craigslists in Chicago and Madison. See if anyone's heading through that could swing down to Peru and pick up the pieces for you. I've had fantastic success with complete strangers who've saved me hundreds in shipping charges.

Don't forget to also check your local Craigslist to see if anyone's heading west through Indiana and back... that'd be another potential source, and happens all the time.

Here's an example:
http://syracuse.craigslist.org/rid/2999435631.html
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bredlo View Post
Silly to let a little thing like shipping push you onto a different course - personally I think using an original piece is ideal, even if you do have to deal with extra rivets, as Foiled validly points out.

There are people heading all over the place looking for a tank or two of free gas money. I'd check the "rideshare" section for the Craigslists in Chicago and Madison. See if anyone's heading through that could swing down to Peru and pick up the pieces for you. I've had fantastic success with complete strangers who've saved me hundreds in shipping charges.

Don't forget to also check your local Craigslist to see if anyone's heading west through Indiana and back... that'd be another potential source, and happens all the time.

Here's an example:
Syracuse to Indianapolis
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:44 PM   #10
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If you can't get a formed piece you could do a number of strips over the hole and overlap them to create the compound curve. It ends up looking a bit like scales or armor. It would certainly stand out, but would look interesting. I saw someone on this forum do that to a hole in his airstream and it looked pretty cool.
I would avoid welding it if you want to maintain a uniform look. Honestly cutting the patches and riveting it will most likely be easier.
That dent is a real shame.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:47 AM   #11
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I will check the alloy number tonight. And it is a real shame about the dent. I think if it can't be welded I will rivit on a patch. I have seen some patches done real well. They polished up nice and you could barely notice. You have to remeber that this thing is 66 years old and most of us at that age will have some dings and scares.
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Old 06-19-2012, 05:06 PM   #12
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Ok... This is what I got 24S-T ALCLAD and another number of AN-A-13 PURECLAD. I have attached some picts of my homemade "American Wheel" and the panels I want to weld or patch. The last picture is not been rolled yet.
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:41 PM   #13
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I recently used AlumaWeld on a bumper it worked well and they show using it on soda cans. It is basically brazing the aluminum with different materials.

Aluminum repair kits, repair any aluminum metal by welding with a Propane Torch - Alumiweld
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:28 PM   #14
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I heard HTS 2000 also works well. They have a cool utube video showing them poking a hole in a soda can and "brazing" it closed. They also show them making an aluminum ear and beating with hammer. Pretty cool. So does anyone know if the 24S-T is alloy number? Thanks
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