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Old 07-30-17, 08:59 AM   #4
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You can weld aluminum with your 125 and a spool gun. The trick is to use small diameter electrode wire. Pure argon shielding gas is a must. The work piece must be cleaned with a solvent such as acetone or MEK or toluene and let dry, scrubbed with a metal brush, then cleaned with solvent again before welding. For thin material such as the oil pan repair, you can get away with as little as 90 amps of current. With a low amp power supply and thicker material, the workpiece has to be preheated. Aluminum is a much better conductor of heat than steel, so a small welder cannot pour in enough heat to get much penetration. For solid, cast aluminum parts, I put them in an oven or barbecue grill for a few minutes to preheat. That way, the surrounding part melts out under the weld a lot deeper, and the weld is super strong and not brittle.

For the smaller rigs (under 200 amps), I only use argon gas for everything. That way, no matter where I go or what I have to work on, argon gas will do it. The gas blends are better for a stationary set dedicated to a single process. The blends all have their gimmicks for a certain process and are not universal in nature. So for the smaller, portable rigs, the argon cylinder and multiple spools of different material electrode wire, and a couple different welding torches will not let you down on the job site. Pick a spool, load it up, practice for a minute, get stuff done, move on.

Welding and fabricating is all about being resourceful and imaginative in nature: a bit of engineering, a bit of art, and a lot of matching theory to reality. With sufficient skill and ingenuity, the question is not can it be done with what have you, but how long will it take.
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