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Best Aluminum for Boat Building...

Question:
I am seriously interested in learning to weld aluminum. In the interest of future projects I fugured I would buy some scrap aluminum froma local metal worker to practice on. So...which alloys should I get. These are for freshwater projects, but a small bay boat or small skiff for bay fishing may be in the works for the future so saltwater applications are not totally out of the question.


Answer:
-First - Do you know how to weld (any type)right now? If you do not, go find a community college or local technical school and get some instruction. They may ever have an advanced class that will get you closer.

Second - You should reseach which alloys you will work. There are a number of choices and some limit the effective welding process that can be used. I have not worked in this field in years, so I do not choose to suggest without knowing the actual application and doing some study on my own.

Third - There are are multiple processes for welding aluminum available. All are different and some are very different. Some alloys are best welded with TIG (expensive) others can be handled with SMA (looks like welding rod and the easiest is MIG (has a gun that lays weld).

Most of your practice should be laying beads on flat stock so don't buy new metal. After you learn to weld and pick up some good used gear, go find a scrap metal dealer that get flat stock from some where and make a deal to buy some from him with the understanding that you can sell it back to him as larger pieces for not much less than you bought it for.

Build yourseld some forms and holders to let you weld uphill down hand and overhead and try to assemble soem structures that are really difficult and hard to manage and you may be close to boat building.

-I do a fair job with my little MIG welder on any kind of steel. I've got a gas bottle and flow regulator for stainless. That takes a little more work to get jsut right. I do heavy steel stock with my cracker box AC welder, but the best welder I ever used for heavy stock was a Hobart DC stick welder. I have been doing a little research on my own, but I was hoping to get a nice definitive answer from some one who builds boats that would say, "This alloy works very well in a wet environemtn."


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