fra0505 Fundamentals of Professional Welding

 Oxygas Welding of Nonferrous Metals

Although brazing and braze welding are used extensively to make joints in nonferrous metals, there are many situations in which oxygas welding is just as suitable. The joint designs are the same for nonferrous metals as for ferrous metals in most cases. Oxygas welding of nonferrous metals usually requires mechanical cleaning of the surfaces before welding and the use of flux during welding. Filler metals must be suitable for the base metal being welded A separate section on aluminum and aluminum alloys is included as part of this chapter since you may need more detailed instructions in welding these materials.


Pure copper can be welded using the oxygas torch. Where high-joint strength is required you should use DEOXIDIZED copper (copper that contains no oxygen). A neutral flame is used and flux is required when welding copper alloys. Because of the high thermal conductivity of copper, you should preheat the joint area to a temperature ranging between 500°F to 800°F and use a larger size torch tip for welding. The larger size tip supplies more heat to the joint and thus makes it possible to maintain the required temperature at the joint. After welding is completed, cool the part slowly. Other than the extra volume of heat required, the technique for welding copper is the same as for steel.

Copper-Zinc Alloy (Brasses)

Copper-zinc alloys (brasses) can be welded using the same methods as deoxidized copper; however, a silicon-copper rod is used for welding brasses. The rods are usually flux-coated so the use of additional flux is not required. Preheat temperatures for these metals range between 200°F to 300°F.

Copper-Silicon Alloy (Silicon Bronze)

Copper-silicon alloy (silicon bronze) requires a different oxygas welding technique from that used for copper and copper-zinc. You weld this material with a slightly oxidizing flame and use a flux having a high boric acid content. Add filler metal of the same compo-sition as the base metal; as the weld progresses, dip the tip of the rod under the viscous film that covers the puddle. Keep the puddle small so the weld solidifies quickly. A word of caution: when welding copper-zinc, you should safeguard against zinc poisoning by either doing all the welding outdoors or by wearing a respirator or by both, depending on the situation

Copper-Nickel Alloy

Oxygas welding of copper-nickel alloys requires surface preparation and preheating. The flux used for this welding is a thin paste and is applied by brush to all parts of the joint and to the welding rod. Adjust the torch to give a slightly carburizing flame; the tip of the inner cone should just touch the base metal. Do not melt the base metal any more than necessary to ensure good fusion. Keep the end of the filler rod within the protective envelope of the flame, adding the filler metal without disturbing the molten pool of weld metal. If possible, run the weld from one end of the joint to the other without stopping. After you complete the weld, cool the part slowly and remove the remaining traces of flux with warm water.

Nickel and High-Nickel Alloys

Oxygas welding of nickel and high-nickel alloys is similar to that for copper-nickel alloys. Good mechanical cleaning of the joint surfaces is essential. The joint designs are basically the same as steel of equivalent thickness. The included angle for V-butt welds is ap-proximately 75 degrees. You may weld plain nickel without a flux, but high-nickel alloys require a special boron-free and borax-free flux. The flux is in the form of a thin paste and should be applied with a small brush.

You should flux both sides of the seam, the top and bottom, and the filler rod. Adjust the torch to give a very slightly carburizing flame; the tip selected should be the same size or one size larger than for steel of the same thickness. The flame should be soft and the tip of the cone kept in contact with the molten pool. Use a rod suitable for the base metal, and always keep the rod well within the protective envelope of the flame. After the weld is completed, postheat the part and cool it slowly. Then remove the flux with warm water.


Oxygas welding of lead requires special tools and special techniques. Although you do not require a flux, you must ensure that the metal in the joint area is scrupulously clean. You may accomplish this by shaving the joint surfaces with a scraper and wire brushing them to remove oxides and foreign matter. In the flat-welding position, a square butt joint is satisfactory. In other positions, a lap joint is used almost exclusively. When you use a lap joint, the edges should overlap each other from 1/2 of an inch to 2 inches, depending upon the thickness of the lead.

To weld lead, use a special, lightweight, fingertip torch, with tips ranging from 68 to 78 in drill size. Adjust your torch to a neutral flame with the gas pressure ranging from 1 1/2 psig to 5 psig, depending on the thickness of the lead. The length of the flame varies from about 1 1/2 inches to 4 inches, depending upon the gas pressures used. When you are welding in the horizontal and flat positions, a soft, bushy flame is most desirable. But, when you are welding in the vertical and overhead positions, better results are obtained with a more pointed flame.

For oxygas welding of lead, you should ensure that the filler metal has the same composition as the base metal. The molten puddle is controlled and distributed by manipulating the torch so the flame moves in a semicircular or V-shaped pattern. Each tiny segment of the weld is made separately, and the torch is flicked away at the completion of each semicircular or V-shaped movement. Joints are made in thin layers. Filler metal is not added during the first pass, but it is added on subsequent passes. When welding lead or lead alloys, you should wear a respirator of a type approved for protection against lead fumes.



Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys

When assigned to work with nonferrous metals, you can expect jobs that involve the welding of aluminum and aluminum alloys. Pure aluminum has a specific gravity of 2.70 and a melting point of 1210°F. Pure aluminum is soft and seldom used in its pure form because it is not hard or strong enough for structural purposes; however, the strength of aluminum can be improved by the addition of other elements to form aluminum alloys.

Aluminum alloys are usually 90-percent pure. When elements, such as silicon, magnesium, copper, nickel, and manganese, are added to aluminum, an alloy stronger than mild steel results; whereas pure aluminum is only about one fourth as strong as steel.

A considerable number of aluminum alloys are available. You may use some of the aluminum alloys in sheet form to make and repair lockers, shelves, boxes, trays, and other containers. You also may have to repair chairs, tables, and other items of furniture that are made of aluminum alloys.

Oxygas welding of aluminum alloys is usually con-fined to materials from 0.031 of an inch to 0.125 of an inch in thickness. Also, thicker material can be welded by the oxygas process if necessary; however, thinner material is usually spot or seam welded.

MELTING CHARACTERISTICS.— Before attempting to weld aluminum alloy for the first time, you should become familiar with how the metal reacts when under the welding flame.

A good example of how aluminum reacts when heated can be seen if you place a small piece of sheet aluminum on a welding table and heat it with a neutral flame. Hold the flame perpendicular to the surface of the sheet and bring the tip of the inner cone almost in contact with the metal. Observe that almost without warning the metal suddenly melts and runs away, leaving a hole in the sheet. Now repeat the operation with the torch held at an angle of about 30 degrees to the plane of the surface. With a little practice, you will be able to melt the surface metal without forming a hole. Now try moving the flame slowly along the surface of the sheet, melting a small puddle. Observe how quickly the puddle solidifies when the flame is removed. Continue this practice until you are able to control the melting. When you have mastered this, proceed by practicing actual welding. Start with simple flanged and notched butt joints that do not require a welding rod. Next, you should try using a welding rod with thin sheet and then with castings.

WELDING RODS.— Two types of welding rods available for gas welding aluminum alloys are the 1100 and 4043 rods. The 1100 rod is used when maximum resistance to corrosion and high ductility are of primary importance. The 1100 rod is used for welding 1100 and 3003 type aluminum alloys only. The 4043 rod is used for greater strength and minimizes the tendency for cracking. It also is used for all other wrought aluminum alloys and castings.

WELDING FLUXES.— The use of the proper flux in welding aluminum is extremely important. Alumi-num welding flux is designed to remove the aluminum oxide by chemically combining with it. In gas welding, the oxide forms rapidly in the molten metal. It must be removed or a defective weld will result. To ensure proper distribution, you should paint flux on the welding rod and the surface to be welded.

Aluminum flux is usually in powder form and is prepared for use by mixing with water to form a paste. The paste should be kept in an aluminum, glass, or earthenware container because steel or copper contain-ers tend to contaminate the mixture.

It is essential that plenty of flux be applied to the edges of flanged joints because no filler rod is used in these joints. In all cases, the flux should be applied to both the bottom and top sides of the sheet in the area of the weld. After you finish welding, it is important that you remove all traces of flux. You can do this by using a brush and hot water. If aluminum flux is left on the weld, it will corrode the metal.

WELDING PREPARATION.— The thickness of the aluminum determines the method of edge preparation. On material up to 0.062 of an inch, the edges should be formed to a 90-degree flange. The height of the flange should be about the same height, or a little higher, as the thickness of the material (fig. 5-10, view A). The only requirement for the flanges is that their edges be straight and square. If desired, material up to 0.125 of an inch can be welded with a flange joint. No filler rod is necessary if you flange the edges.

Figure 5-10.—Edge preparation for gas-welding aluminum.

Unbeveled butt welds can be made on thicknesses from 0.062 of an inch to 0.188 of an inch; but in these applications, it is necessary to notch the edges with a saw or cold chisel in a manner similar to that shown in view B of figure 5-10. Edge notching is recommended in aluminum welding because it aids in getting full penetration and prevents local distortion. All butt welds made in material over 0.125 of an inch thick are usually notched in some manner.

In welding aluminum more than 0.188 of an inch thick, bevel the edges and notch them, as shown in view C of figure 5-10. The included angle of bevel maybe from 90 to 120 degrees.

After you have prepared the edges of the pieces properly, you should then clean the surfaces to be welded. If heavy oxide is present on the metal surface, you may have to use a stainless-steel wire brush to remove it. Dirt, grease, or oil can be removed by wiping the weld area with a solvent-soaked rag.

Aluminum plate 1/4 of an inch thick or greater should be preheated to a temperature ranging between 500°F to 700°F. This aids in avoiding heat stresses. Preheating also reduces fuel and oxygen requirements for the actual welding. It is important that the preheating temperature does exceed 700°F. If the temperature does go above 700°F, the alloy maybe severely weakened. High temperatures also could cause large aluminum parts to collapse under their own weight. Thin material should be warmed with the torch before welding. This slight preheat helps to prevent cracks.

WELDING TECHNIQUES.— After preparing and fluxing the pieces for welding, you should pass the flame, in small circles, over the starting point until the flux melts. Keep the inner cone of the flame off the flux to avoid burning it. If the inner cone of the flame should burn the flux, it will be necessary to clean the joint and apply new flux. Next, scrape the rod over the surface at about 3- or 4-second intervals, permitting the rod to come clear of the flame each time. If you leave the rod in the flame too long, it melts before the parent metal does. The scraping action indicates when you can start welding without overheating the metal. Maintain this cycle throughout the course of welding except for allowing the rod to remain under the flame long enough to melt the amount of metal needed. With practice, the movement of the rod can be easily mastered.

Forehand welding is usually preferred for welding aluminum alloys because the flame points away from the completed weld, and this preheats the edges to be welded that prevents too rapid melting. Hold the torch at a low angle when you are welding thin material. For thicknesses 0.188 of an inch and above, you should increase the angle of the torch to a near vertical position. Changing the angle of the torch according to the thickness of the metal minimizes the possibility of burning through the sheet during welding.

When welding aluminum alloys up to 0.188 of an inch thick, you have little need to impart any motion to the torch other than moving it forward. On flanged material, care must be taken to break the oxide film as the flange melts down. This may be done by stirring the melted flange with a puddling rod. A puddling rod is essentially a paddle flattened and shaped from a 1/4 inch stainless steel welding rod.

With aluminum alloys above 0.188 of an inch in thickness, you should give the torch a more uniform lateral motion to distribute the weld metal over the entire width of the weld. A slight back-and-forth motion assists the flux in its removal of oxides. Dip the filler rod in the weld puddle with a forward motion.

The angle of the torch is directly related to the welding speed. Instead of lifting the flame from time to time to avoid melting holes in the metal, you will find it advantageous to hold the torch at a flatter angle to the work The welding speed should be increased as the edge of the sheet is approached. The inner cone of the flame should never be permitted to come in contact with the molten metal, but should beheld about 1/8 of an inch away from the metal.

In the vertical position, the torch is given an up-and-down motion, rather than a rotating one. In the overhead position, alight back-and-forth motion is used the same as in flat welding.

Heat-treatable alloys should be held in a jig for welding, whenever possible. This helps to eliminate the possibility of cracking. The likelihood of cracking can also be reduced by the use of a 4043 filler rod. This rod has a lower melting range than the alloy being joined which permits the base metal to solidify before the weld puddle freezes. As the weld is the last area to solidify, all of the contraction strains are in the weld bead, rather than throughout the base metal. You may reduce weld cracking by tack welding the parts while they are in the jig and then loosening the clamps before completing the seam.

As soon as the weld is completed and the work has had time to cool, you should thoroughly wash the weld. This can be done by vigorously scrubbing it with a stiff brush while hot water runs over it until all traces of the flux are removed. This is important, because if any flux is left on the weld, it can corrode the metal. If hot water is not available, you may use a diluted solution of 10 percent sulfuric acid. The acid solution should then be washed off with cold, fresh water after using.

Fusion Welding Pipe

In oxygas welding of pipe, many tests have proved that fusion welded pipe joints, when properly made, are as strong as the pipe itself.

For success in oxygas welding of pipe, three essential requirements must be met: there must be a convenient source of controlled heat available to produce rapid localized melting of the metal, the oxides present on the surface or edges of the joints must be removed, and a metal-to-metal union between the edges or surfaces to be joined must be made by means of molten metal.

One method used for welding steel and wrought iron pipe is known as FUSION WELDING. This method involves melting the pipe metal and adding metal from a rod of similar composition. The welding operation performed at the top of a joint in a horizontal pipe is shown diagrammatically in figure 5-11. This shows the BACKHAND welding technique. The rod and flame are moved alternately toward and away from each other, as shown in figure 5-12. Full strength oxygas welds can be made in any welding position.

Figure 5-11.—Welding operation with backhand technique.


Figure 5-12.—Flame and rod motion with backhand technique.

The cohesiveness of the molten metal, the pressure of the flame, the support of the weld metal already deposited, and the manipulation of the rod all combine to keep the molten metal in the puddle from running or falling.

The soundness and strength of welds depend on the quality of the welding rod used. If you have any doubt about the quality of the rods or are not sure of the type to use, then it would be to your advantage to contact the manufacturer or one of his distributors. If the rod is supplied through the federal stock system, supply personnel should be able to look up the information based on the federal stock number of the rod.

The Linde Company has a method of fusion welding that is remarkably fast and produces welds of high quality. Anyone can use this process for welding pipe if they adhere to the following conditions:

  • Use an excess fuel-gas flame.
  • Use a welding rod containing deoxidizing agents.
  • Use the backhand welding technique.

The following is a brief explanation of the previously mentioned conditions:

EXCESS FUEL-GAS FLAME. The base metal surface, as it reaches white heat, absorbs carbon from the excess fuel-gas flame. The absorption of carbon lowers the melting point of steel, thereby the surface melts faster and speeds up the welding action.

SPECIAL WELDING ROD. The deoxidizing agents in the recommended rod eliminates the impurities and prevents excess oxidation of carbon. Were it not for this action, considerable carbon, the most valuable strengthening element of steel, would be lost. Thus, even in high-carbon, high-strength pipe, the weld metal is as strong as, or stronger than the pipe material.

BACKHAND TECHNIQUE. This technique produces faster melting of the base metal surfaces. Also, a smaller bevel can be used which results in a savings of 20 to 30 percent in welding time, rods, and gases. One of the most valuable tools you can use when welding pipe is the pipe clamp. Pipe clamps hold the pipe in perfect alignment until tack welds are placed. They are quick opening and you can move or attach a clamp quickly.

Figure 5-13 shows four different types of chain clamps that are used for pipe welding. If these clamps are not available, you can fabricate your own by welding two C-clamps to a piece of heavy angle iron. A piece of 3/8-inch angle iron that is 4 inches by 4 inches by 12 inches is usually suitable. When working with small-di-ameter pipe, you can lay it in apiece of channel iron to obtain true alignment for butt welding. When the pipe you are working on has a large diameter, you can use a wide flange beam for alignment purposes.

Figure 5-13.—Chain clamps quickly align pipe fittings of any description.

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