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Re: [bolger] Re: Reply to Susan Alum welding

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  • Doug Pollard
    I feel that aluminum has a big advantage over steel for the home builder if he has been building wooden boats because he already has a most of the tools he
    Message 1 of 22 , Dec 2, 2009
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      I feel that aluminum has a big advantage over steel for the home
      builder if he has been building wooden boats because he already has a
      most of the tools he needs.He already has the knowledge and skill to
      make good fits ( very important in working in a lum because you can't
      just fill gaps as with epoxy. He can saw aluminum on a table saw, power
      hand skill saw, saber saw and etc. He can use a router to get nice edges
      and good fits and here like in wood an electric plane does the job. I
      use kerosene as a cutting fluid on routers saws etc. Lots and lots of
      ventilation, electric fans needed as the mist will build up in the air
      when cutting and it is hard on lungs and is likely explosive though I
      have seen miles of aluminum cut this way and have never heard of a problem.
      A TIG welder can be bought pretty cheaply to tack things together much
      like stitch and glue except you are holding things together with weld
      tacks. You can likely buy a used one and then sell it when the boat is
      finished though I would keep it.
      There is knowledge needed to build and weld and electrolysis
      avoidance.(very,very important to understand) There is all that
      information available in books and on line.
      Never pass up a chance to talk with welders, you almost always learn
      something.
      All of this is doable and yes there are dangers but I think that anyone
      that is smart enough to build a boat can learn this stuff.
      Having said all that I don't think its practical in really small boats.
      I would say that if you want to build a 21ft keel boat or bigger to sail
      the seven seas it is a perfect material. I would look for plans for a
      doubled chined keel boat with a monocoupe style hull where all internal
      furniture are aluminum and welded in as a monocoupe design for strength.
      I would plate no thinner than 1/8 in. and preferably 3/16 in. to ease
      the buckling problems. Plywood or foam core decks lighten the top sides
      but a 1/8 thick aluminum deck with plenty of support and lots of camber
      for strength all welded in will make a much stronger boat.
      Foam insulation is a must for cold or hot climates. If sheets of foam
      are used I would glue a thin light fabric over it to protect it and make
      an attractive interior. A man made fabric would be best so that it will
      not rot or mildew. Under the decks glued in foam makes great protection
      from bumping you noggin.
      Wilderness Voice, you obviously have a whole storehouse of knowledge,
      information and training on this subject. If you have the time and
      inclination you ought to start writing a blog on these subjects to help
      the home builder in building metal boats and also to help the designer
      with practical knowledge in designing in metal that can more easily be
      built. You could then put your writings together and publish as book and
      in the meantime you might get a little money off of advertising from
      your blog.
      Tom Colvin built a boat for a fellow that had been designed by another
      designer and found that he had to weld three welding rods together in
      order to reach the seams in the bow to weld them. There was a lot of
      fussing going on about that as I remember. Tom was and old Newport News
      naval architect and he was certain that the home builder could build his
      boats and a lot of them did.
      I see no reason Bolger and Friends could not design proper metal boats
      of any size, hopefully slightly bigger boats. For that matter redesign
      an existing one for metal where it is appropriate might be excellent.
      Phil Bolger designed Wolftrap for me and he did an excellent job. I was
      amazed that he was able to know just how much compound curve I could
      squeeze in to a hull plate. I would not sell the home builder short and
      especially those that have built and used a few boats. I personally
      think those boats that are designed for ocean sailing are especially
      good candidates
      Doug



      Wilderness Voice wrote:
      > I have thousands of hours welding and fabricating alum. I started out
      > in the shipyard builing the Fast Frigates (FFG) for the US Navy. The
      > superstructure is all alum. The big problem for the home fabricator is
      > keeping it clean and keeping the wind out so you don't get porosity.
      > In addition you cannot grind alum on a bench grinder set up for steel
      > without danger. Alum has many advantages for the home builder since
      > you can put an alum saw blade in a circular saw and use the common
      > tools to fabricate with. There is the added cost of alum over plywood.
      > My advice still stands though, you have to realize that if the cost of
      > the equipment is folded into the cost of the boat it can be
      > prohibitive. I know a guy a PSF Industries in Seattle that lost his
      > eye from someone having ground alum on the bench grinder there and he
      > went and ground steel and it exploded. Learning the safety rules and
      > procedures is easy for anyone that picks up any number of books on
      > metal fabrication. I know too many people killed and injured by taking
      > short cuts. I in turn have been injured by the short cuts of others,
      > so take it very seriously, but not impossible to learn if the desire
      > is there
      >
      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      > *From:* oceannavagator <Mikieq@...>
      > *To:* bolger@yahoogroups.com
      > *Sent:* Tue, December 1, 2009 1:33:00 PM
      > *Subject:* [bolger] Re: Reply to Susan
      >
      >
      >
      > I've been a certified welder for 35 years and I'd be more than happy
      > to enlighten you on the in's and outs of the trade. Aluminum is the
      > ideal material for metal boats. With modern equipment it welds as
      > easily as steel and with the correct alloys and care it lasts forever.
      > The dangers of welding can be mitigated by using a little common sense
      > and proper attire. Aluminum fabrication is ten times cleaner than
      > steel and the material can be cut and machined with woodworking tools.
      > Also, aluminum is available practically anywhere unlike high quality
      > boat building wood. Argon gas is nontoxic but it will displace oxygen
      > in a closed in area so welders use exhaust fans to remove it. The
      > welding equipment for thin sections is very reasonable in price. A
      > small mig power source with a spoolgun runs about 1500 bucks, a spool
      > of wire is about 5 bucks and argon gas costs 40 dollars per fill up.
      > Mike
      >
      > --- In bolger@yahoogroups. com <mailto:bolger%40yahoogroups.com>,
      > Douglas Pollard <dougpol1@.. .> wrote:
      > >
      > > Also don't forget the argon gas in mig and the oxygen-less gas created
      > > by the flux on welding rodes and flux cored wire is deadly so if you
      > are
      > > welding inside a boat you need to change the air now and then this may
      > > mean a fan that does not blow toward your welding. You could die and
      > > never know it until you hear the angels sing. Every now and then in
      > > shipyards a welder used to die from going into a tight place where
      > > welding gas has accumulated.
      > >
      > > Doug
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Douglas Pollard wrote:
      > > > Fred I agree with you. I have owned and run a machine shop for a
      > lot of
      > > > years and we in that business train most of our employees
      > ourselves and
      > > > of course at some point most of them leave and go to large companies
      > > > where the pay and benefits are better. AS a teenager I went through a
      > > > shipyard welding school (flunked out) and we were not taught much of
      > > > anything other than how to run a bead. I became a machinist instead.
      > > > Welding is not rocket science and most welders learn in doing factory
      > > > maintenance and on the farm or in an Automotive shops. A good book if
      > > > you want to bother can teach all that is needed to learn the
      > technical
      > > > side of it. Yes there are pitfalls and things to learn so that an
      > > > acetylene torch doesn't back burn and blow your hand off and
      > that's for
      > > > sure. There are good books out there on steel boat building by Tom
      > > > Colvin and Gill Clingle and a host of others where you can learn
      > all you
      > > > need to know about welding up a boat. I think anyone who has built in
      > > > wood can also build in steel if they take the time to study a
      > little and
      > > > practice some. Building in aluminum is a little different in that it
      > > > takes a heck of a lot more practice and know how. For that I would
      > hire
      > > > a good welder who has welded boats before. For one thing he will weld
      > > > with a water cooled mig machine that can weld about 6ft a minute as
      > > > compared to one of us sputtering a long with a cheap lit mig machine
      > > > that is constantly over heating and jamming up.
      > > > When comes to designing a boat the information is all out there
      > for the
      > > > designer to use and there is no reason they should not be able to
      > design
      > > > in steel or aluminum boat. For most of us at least in small boats, I
      > > > don't see much point in it as we for the most part we can get all the
      > > > plywood we want pretty cheap. Where bigger boats are concerned
      > metal is
      > > > great stuff you can build a 40ft sailboat in the backyard with out
      > even
      > > > so much as a shed roof. Just don't weld when the wind is blowing.
      > > > Building in metal is dirty, heavy and nasty work. Since most metal
      > boats
      > > > rust out from the inside they really should be sandblasted on the
      > > > inside. What a hell of a job that is, it requires a sandblasting
      > suite
      > > > with outside air pumped in. Small sections should be blasted and then
      > > > coated as corrosion begins right away. This is even more critical
      > in a
      > > > aluminum.
      > > > If you build a small metal boat the material will have to be light to
      > > > keep the weight down and there in lies the problem. Welding thin
      > > > material is hard. It warps from the shrinkage of the weld bead and
      > > > puckers at every frame and stringer. I am a decent welder and I would
      > > > not attempt it. I might try welding 1/8 steel but the really thin
      > steel
      > > > needed to weld a small boat is out of my league. I suspect that most
      > > > small metal boats built by less than highly skilled welders will
      > be more
      > > > body putty the steel.
      > > > Now I think a small aluminum boat riveted might be another story. It
      > > > would be little harder than stitch and glue but reqires two
      > people, one
      > > > to rivet and one to buck. With modern metal glues you likely don't
      > even
      > > > need the rivets except as a failsafe for the glue joint.
      > > > There is also the possibility of laying up a hull of really thin
      > > > aluminum layed and glued much as cold molding id done. A hull lay
      > up in
      > > > a cross diagonal pattern of 6 inch wide .010 inch thick aluminum
      > could
      > > > be shaped to almost any fine shape desired including a fine wine
      > glass
      > > > shaped hull. Todays glues are really the cats whiskers. When you
      > > > consider a lot of modern airplanes are glued together they better
      > be good.
      > > > Doug
      > > >
      > > > Fred Schumacher wrote:
      > > >
      > > >>
      > > >> On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 10:54 PM, Susanne@...
      > > >> <mailto:Susanne@ ...> <philbolger@ ...
      > > >> <mailto:philbolger@ ...>> wrote:
      > > >>
      > > >> W.V. I agree with your serious note of serious caution about
      > > >> casual welding or even casual swapping construction- materials from
      > > >> ply to steel.
      > > >>
      > > >> I agree too about some dangers inherent in welding; however, as a
      > > >> retired farmer, I have to state that there are thousands of
      > > >> non-professional welders out there doing quite creditable jobs of
      > > >> welding. It's virtually impossible to be a farmer today and not be
      > > >> able to weld or use a cutting torch. Those are two absolutely
      > > >> essential tools on a modern farm.
      > > >> With the ready availability of wire welders, it's much easier these
      > > >> days to weld light gauge steel. But leave the aluminum work to
      > experts.
      > > >> Fred Schumacher
      > > >>
      > > >>
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > ------------ --------- --------- ------
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    • Doug Pollard
      ... It s funny I have been working in machine shops all my life and did not no that grinding aluminum on a grinder could cause it to blow up. I just thought
      Message 2 of 22 , Dec 2, 2009
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        Pierce Nichols wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        > On Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 7:04 PM, Doug Jackson <svseeker@...
        > <mailto:svseeker@...>> wrote:
        >
        > Aluminum in a word is awesome. And it's doable for a novice (me)
        > even down to 1/8" sheet with $1K of MIG equipment. Here are the
        > lessons I've been taught:
        > http://www.submarineboat.com/welding_aluminum.htm
        > <http://www.submarineboat.com/welding_aluminum.htm>
        >
        >
        > And of course you can sell the equipment when you are done building
        > the boat -- if you buy used and take care of it, you can probably
        > recoup most (if not all) of the money you spend on it.
        >
        >
        > There is a rule about not mixing steel and aluminum tools so you
        > don't contaminate the aluminum with steel, but aluminium would
        > only gum up a regular grinding wheel. I have an aluminum grinding
        > disc, "Flexcel" on an old motor that works great for grinding.
        > AirGas sells them for $10 each, but they last a good while.
        >
        >
        > No, it's worse than that. My understanding is that the bits of smeared
        > aluminum get down between the grains of s wheel meant for steel and
        > that when they heat up again, they can expand enough to fracture the
        > wheel. And that's just a bad day. Use the right tools for the job and
        > things will go better.
        >
        > -p
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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        >
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        >
        It's funny I have been working in machine shops all my life and did not
        no that grinding aluminum on a grinder could cause it to blow up. I just
        thought you didn't do it because it clogged up the wheel, Never too old
        to learn something. It sure makes sense that somebody could get hurt
        that way.
        Doug
      • jdmeddock
        Aluminum granules + iron oxide granules + heat = Thermite! Maybe an unlikely outcome but one I will now have in the back of my mind every time I use our bench
        Message 3 of 22 , Dec 5, 2009
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          Aluminum granules + iron oxide granules + heat = Thermite!


          Maybe an unlikely outcome but one I will now have in the back of my mind every time I use our bench grinder at work. I am a mechanic and we have one grinder for everything that needs to be ground.

          Justin




          > It's funny I have been working in machine shops all my life and did not
          > no that grinding aluminum on a grinder could cause it to blow up. I just
          > thought you didn't do it because it clogged up the wheel, Never too old
          > to learn something. It sure makes sense that somebody could get hurt
          > that way.
          > Doug
          >
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