Author Topic: Tig Welding alloy heads, cases, castings, what specific filler rod?  (Read 569 times)

Offline Sluggo

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Okay tech question, Its been many years since I purchased any TIG welding filler rod, need to know for a forum member as well as to restock myself.

So, In the past, I went to a local commercial welding supply, showed them castings and asked them, 3 staff finally came up with a specific alloy rod and I bought a bundle and worked fine,  But While i have repaired a lot of Norton and Triumph, BSA not as much.  I did have a friend years back warn me that BSA Goldstar castings seem to be different and described some problems repairing some Goldie castings.

So question is
A) On preunit BSAs, did higher end models like the Goldies use a different alloy in castings?  Or same as the whole range of Singles and Twins?
B) Anyone weld a range of British alloy castings so has some advice/insight on any differences?  *
C) Does anyone have a specific alloy filler rod spec or ID #?  (Use #6011 or,, #17-4)

* I found one reference in the achives,
" However,in the spirit of (not very scientific) experimentation I have just grabbed a couple of peices of 10mm thick 5083 alloy plate which is quite a hard alloy which does not bend easily and TIG'd it together using an alu 5% Mag rod. "

Do alloy cyl heads, Engine castings, primary inner & outers and trans differ in castings on pre 63 BSA?
IE: I can buy filler rod for all BSA?

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Offline BSA_54A10

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AFAIK BSA did not use any exotic casting alloys.
Sand cast was plain Al-Si ( JM6 )
Die cast was Al-Si-Cu ( LM4 )
I use plain 14% Si rods for oxy welding so you should be able to use similar for TIG as the method is basically the same just the method of creating the weld pool differs.
Electric welding is a lot hotter so will burn off Si so perhaps a 25% si rod would be better.
No Mg in any casting alloy BSA used it is an impurity in most of them .
A lot of blokes like to use Al-Si- Zn rods but they end up looking quite blue.
Bike Beesa
Trevor

Offline Sluggo

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Thanks Trev, I know from experience that some filler rod will work but looks wrong, the color is starkly different and looks like someone used Tin solder or something.  The filler used will show like chrome next to the stock casting so the idea is once welded, sanded down, smoothed and polished the weld material is indistinguishable from the original metal. No color, consistency or any difference.

As I said, I got some good rod that blended perfectly in the past, But dont want to roll the dice on the next batch I purchase.
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Online RDfella

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Sluggo - referring back to your original question, I thought (of course my memory may be failing) that some gearbox cases were magnesium. Certainly some were a different colour. Maybe there were LM5. Dunno, it's a while ago!
'49 B31, '49 M21, '53 DOT, '58 Flash, '00 Firestorm, Weslake sprint bike.

Offline Sluggo

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Thanks for the replies, I had a good friend who sadly RIP, But he explained one day the troubles he had repairing some Goldstar castings, And he owned a large company that did machine work as well as a wide variety of industrial and commercial fab work.  He insisted that some castings were way different.  Its been many years but I believe it was some of the Die Cast and super thin castings had a different composition.
He speculated what the alloy composition was but insisted it welded totally different. 

*THIS IS WHY I AM ASKING*....   You can look at a  sand cast vs die cast and the metal seems different. 

So I also asked on another forum where there is a lot of welders and fab guys.. And got 2 different interesting responses..  this one sparks my interest:

" Very interesting.
While searching for 'metallurgical alloy composition of pre-unit BSA engines', I learned about Rolls Royce RR alloys (taken over by High Duty Alloys Ltd.) makers of hiduminium, and Elektron magnesium alloys (used in some early BSA cases), and found this which is, although not directly related to the alloy composition discussion, an interesting book:

The Vintage Motorcyclists' Workshop.
In chapter 1 there is information about screw treads, but also,(starting on page 14) 'Metals used for the restorers', steel specs and their suitable uses, and heat treatment processes.

To read all 10 chapters of this book:
https://www.billymegawatt.com/upload...s-workshop.pdf

-------------------------------------------------  ALSO THIS ONE, Farmall is always full of great advice,

" I'd ask on the Miller forums and Weldingweb. They'll have the latest greatest filler info and have excellent user communities. I'd post pics of the heads as you may get some very specific, useful advice. Someone may know of an exceptional specialty filler.

https://forum.millerwelds.com/forum/welding-discussions

https://weldingweb.com/forumdisplay....y-Fuel-Welding

We experimented at welding school on a junk Shovel primary. My experienced welding instructor TIG guru laid some beautiful beads (with 4043) but I was a noob and he apparently hadn't done many castings of that general shape so we failed to think of. The welds were fine beautiful but the inner primary warped severely as it cooled. If it had been secured that wouldn't have been an issue.

If I have to do a primary or cover or similar I'll to clamp it to the bed of my milling machine so it stays flat and take my time, letting it cool between passes.

----------------------------------------------

He is correct of course on the warpage, I know that much and have a Thick steel plate I have used as a jig. I learned the hard way repairing a old preunit Triumph race bike that was scarred badly.  We successfully filled all the gouges, cracks and chips, But it warped like a pretzel.  Bowed in the middle.  (Basically turned it to scrap)   So, the procedure is thorough cleaning, clamp or bolt it to a thick base.  (I can drill and tap holes quickly in a drill press)   and PREHEAT,, Wrap in KWool welding blanket, and then do repairs, bring it back to temp in the oven, and then slowly normalize it.   Even then, some castings will shift on you when you release it.  I have done heat treats and annealing for other metals but not much on castings for motorcycles,, So I do know a BSA engine casting moves around over time in normal useage, So not a leading authority on what to do...
(My friend Sir Edward was a master at correcting dimensional problems on castings, and spent a career as a tool and die machinist.  He did several engine cases for me.  A master at his craft. Sadly RIP as well)
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Offline Daithi

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Here's a good vid on welding alloy with an arc welder..

https://youtu.be/UY7KAnJGYwY

Why would anyone want to repair old alloy?
:D

Offline BSA_54A10

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OK Sluggo. if you want exact colour matches then it will be very difficult and very expensive.
There are specialist companies that make specialist welding rods and specialist welding fluxes for museums doing conservation work on historical items.
But as the rods are hand made , golden is the operative word cost wise.
Generally gas welding is better than electric wending on old castings as the gentle heat & wide HAZ  allows interstitial liquids to boil off rather than explode out.
Down here the the company that supplied this stuff was called American Welding Technology in Auburn or Lidcome.
They required  you to bring in what ever you were going to weld so they could examine it and then supplied you with the rods, flux and welding settings.
This is highly specialized as the low melting point phases in the welding rod can and do boil off and if not protected the highly reactive fractions oxidize.
So the get a proper colour 30% Zn brass, the rod could be as high as 60% zinc.
Aluminium metallurgy was very crude rude & unsofisticated in BSA/Triump days so it was very hit & miss as to the chemical composition of any 2 castings being identical.
When we were making secondary foundry ingots the Si level at start of pour was higher than spec and by the time we had poured 4 tons it would be below spec.
To compensate for this the ingots were tossed into 8 stillages and then when stacked, each stack was made up from the stillages so the average of the stack ( 200 kg) was dead in spec.
So if the foundry was using the ingots in order from any one stack, what was in the pot would be in spec , but we could not control for process scrap which would always be short in Si.

The exact same thing happens with the zinc in brasses and to a lesser degree the Zn & Sn in bronzes..
Also he more process scrap that went into any pour, the more concentrated the trace impurities become and they  can also drastically alter the colour of the metal.

The other problem with TIG is massive difference to weld pool temperatures that happens with variations in arc length and the rate of burn out which is proportional to welding speed.

For starters you might like to chase up Kent at TM Technoligies.
He specializes in restorations of aluminium planes trains & automobiles.

Personally I think you are on a hiding to hell trying to make invisible welds particularly in aluminium as even the grain size will change the colour.
Bike Beesa
Trevor

Offline Sluggo

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Thanks Trevor, But it was not that big of a deal before... I was just hoping with the magic of the internet and a wide range of experience on a forum like this I would run across a lot of people who have done this frequently.

As an aside, While I no longer run a commercial shop, I still dabble in it and annoyed/amused & exasperated  with the number of people who want a part and then complain its not perfect and new condition for a used 40-50 year old part.   I know several people who got out of stocking used parts for this reason who are well known in the Brit bike community.  I personally expect, Nicks, gouges, scratches and cracks even.

So, while I am only a passable welder suitable for basic fab work and construction, I do know and used to work with many who are.  Gas welding and TIG are 2 different animals.  I did a stint in another shop working on their backlog of vintage bikes, but took the job so I could learn the business side from the owner.  He was AMAZING welding aluminum with  a gas torch.  He made it look so easy, For a 70 something guy in a wheelchair (Actually a hot rodded motorized mobility chair) He had some excellent skills.

However I got some aerospace welders who enjoyed some side hustle money tax free (Cash) and for about 5 years I would take in welding jobs for vintage bikes no one else would take on.  I did all the prep work, and got some excellent guys to weld them up, then smoothed and shaped, polished and repaired the threads.
None of these guys had any idea of what a British bike looked like, But we did unobtainium sheetmetal  and any number of alloy parts.   For rod, I just went to a industrial supply store near my work, and showed them the parts, They gave me 2 types of rod to try.  One was the wrong color but welded okay, The other was spot on.  Once I dressed the welds,, you could not tell there was a repair, except one Triumph case and 2 Norton parts as the color was okay, But those parts no matter how much cleaning and prep I did just ooozed Oil.  In the welds there was small black dots from outgassing.  You couldnt tell by color or texture, but if you knew where to look you could see the black dots/shallow pinholes.
There is many castings STOCK from the factories that also have those same black dots from dirt, dross or outgassing in a casting so its not a big deal.
I used to also offer modified Timing and primary covers and when I was done it looked factory. **

My point here is, I wanted some feedback what others were using and what they specced at the welding supply.  I would rather have an idea of what to ask for instead of hoping I get the right material and the counter person knows how to do his job.

I did get an answer of sorts,, from Magnetoman on the BB forum, I had read his postings on a BSA project and he mentioned some filler material he has been using but I had forgotten about it.  Someone else sent me a link to it, Very helpful.

" A little bit here in a thread from BritBike forum that may be relevant for welding head fins - on a 1957 BSA Spitfire (posted by Magnetoman, 11/11/13);

"...I have a 450 Amp TIG available, recently I bought a 200 Amp machine. The reason for this is the newer inverter welders have adjustable waveforms that make the arc much more precise and controllable than is possible with a transformer welder. This is especially useful for aluminum. Anyway, after researching the issue I bought the machine, gathered junk motorcycle castings (again, thanks KC in S.B. and MikeG), and have been experimenting with various filler materials and electrodes.

One of the reasons I'm pursuing this is I need to repair and/or replace several fins on my Spitfire Scrambler's head, and TIG is the way to do this. Also, I need the control an inverter TIG gives me for another project I've been working on for the past few months...I was experimenting with 4047 filler rod last week to see if its increased fluidity over the more standard 4043 would be helpful on castings and went further with that work than I had planned...I only had the 4047 in 1/8" rod, which was too large for for a proper repair...If you're familiar with gas welding, think of a 200 A inverter TIG as giving you the pinpoint control of a #000 tip that has the heat output of a #4...and then producing a realistic sand-cast texture in the now-smooth filler...The trick to restoring the original finish is to place emery cloth on top of the dressed weld (ie smoothed back to original shape) and to use a hammer on the emery cloth, the rough finish of the emery cloth is transferred to the alloy...a few months ago someone showed texturing being done this way, but with the help of a Hasting's Air-Peen hammer... After filing with a 10-inch second cut file followed by 60 grit and 100 grit sandpaper applied with the air hammer, finished with #00 steel wool rubbed in the direction of the grain...looks like the best of these attempts.

TIG Welding of Fins 02/06/14
4043 worked as well as any of the others on BSA's casting alloy so it is what I have been using on this head. I prefer smaller diameter filler rather than larger since it provides me with more flexibility in the build up process. Even where the fins were ~1/8" thick I used 1/16" diameter filler.
See more with photos here:
http://www.britbike.com/forums/ubbth...96/type/thread

-----------------------------------------------

** For custom timing covers, Early Triumph preunits for the quill oil feed used a bushing, which can wear or get sloppy allowing oil feed drop. A common mod is weld the boss around the oil feed boss and then machine it to later 63 -> up specs with a cavity and oil seal,

As well, A trick I learned while not stock, is to take a Preunit magneto model and convert it to a points style cam driven ignition and using a EI  (Boyer, Sparx, Wassell EI units)
To do this, you of course have to use a later unit Triumph exhaust cam which drops right in. Then take a unit timing cover and the magneto model timing cover, Build a jig (Steel plate with holes for screws and a dowel to locate the boss's) Then cut both covers and weld them together 1/2 & 1/2  You know have the superior unit model oil feed, you also have the timing side points cavity which is a superior ignition plus a threaded oil boss for a pressure gauge or feed oil to the head instead of the dribble from return side..

Another mod done frequently-(Did about 14-15 of these)  Is converting early generator model Preunit Triumphs to a Belt drive primary and a Alternator on the primary along with a later unit model crank and rods.   We welded the engine cases to build up material for the bosses for the stator studs. machined them and used Unit model Lucas or Sparx alternators.  Then cut up a Triumph 500 unit primary and a Preunit Generator primary and again, using a thick steel plate and jig, mated the 2 covers 1/2 & 1/2 so you had the alternator bulge.  Some early style and some later unit style with the removable 3 screw access cover so you can strobe time the motors.

This was some 15-20 years back when many people did not value PU Triumphs as highly as now, but some people liked them but did not like their short comings, reliability issues and wanted to be daily  riders.

Upgrading to later unit specs made these late 40s and early 50s rigids as reliable as a 1970s Triumph. It was fun as well to sort the rivet counters, Most people didnt notice, but serious Brit Bike people would look at it, Know its not stock but are confused how we pulled it off. Sometimes we just lied and said........
"oh no,, a limited number of factory machines were built this way........."  It helped I knew a famous Triumph dealer who loved to play mind games. 80% of the Sandy Bandits stories were fabricated or purposely misleading. Cliff would happily play along and insist it was true and spin lengthy stories about this stuff.

I also took on wrecked bikes with severe damage, Engines with rods thru them, Mangled combustion chambers, cracked heads.  No job too small or too hard if you were willing to pay.   

I think there is a need for this service again, And considering offering it.  I have the resources to do it.  Ill dig up some old repairs and post some pictures.  Some I took on for the challenge.  If someone said it couldnt be done, I hate people telling me something cant be repaired when I know it can.
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Offline BSA_54A10

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TIG & gas are different process but TIG using filling rods and gas welding are metallurgically the same .
Both create a weld pool into which you dip the filling rod, melt a little off the end, pull the rod out then repeat.
In both cases the rod is submerged into to weld pool where it melts.
The big difference is in the severity of the heat.
I can take a filthy piece of alloy & gas weld it with no prep other than a stiff brush.

My welding is nothing to write home to momma about either, but the parts stay together .
I use the Dillion ( DHR 2000) torch and Kents (TMTech ) yellow filter.
Before getting the filter I could not get a good weld cause the intense flare from the alloy flux prevented me from actually seeing the weld pool.

I fix lawnmowers so welding broken aluminium mower bases is a regular occurence  .
Later tonight I will dig out the rod box & let you know what I am using. However making an invisible weld is not a problem as the parts will get painted.
However being cheap I regularly use old scraps of broken aluminium casting as the filler material, fins from hand held engines are excellent.
By using  heavy fillers I can also get a second method of controlling the heat of the weld pool.

The reason porous casting are a problem for electric welding and not gas welding is simply the liquids in the holes turning into high temperature gasses instantly unless the item is preheated to better than the boiling point of the liquid, easy for water cause 150 deg C is fine, a bit harder when the liquid is oil.
Bike Beesa
Trevor

Offline BSA_54A10

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OK.
The packs with names on them were 4045 marked "Not for sale in USA "
4045 is 10% Si with some Fe & Cu
And 4047 which is strait 12-15% Si
The high silicon rods have no name on the pack it was on the end that has been opened and has fallen off.
4145 is 10% Si with 5 % Cu this is what I would recommend for die castings it should be fairly close in colour.

Seems like the USA has quite a restricted range of welding rods



Bike Beesa
Trevor

Offline Sluggo

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I will have to look into the alloy issues and what if any might be restricted. That is a good point.   When I worked at the Aerospace casting company, We used to use Trichlor as a cutting fluid. It worked AMAZING.  A carbide burr could cut thru stainless like butter.  The reason is the chemical reaction of the solvent and how it cooled the carbide tooling.
We had 50 gallon drums near many of the work stations, and in the work stations we had ventilation systems that ran constantly.  Stay uphill of the vapors but often I would get a workmate to spray the fluid while I cut a complicated part, or rigged up a small spray or drip system.
But its highly cancerous and they stopped using it.   My wife works at a machine shop and the rate of cancer is high,,, small wonder, Trichlor was common there too.  Now they have a constantly evolving mix of lubricants and cutting fluids,.,, light, darks,  all kinds.  None work as well as Trichlor.

But first I am hearing about limits on the welding rods.  When I worked at the casting place, we had a very wide range of TIG rods, as well as shielding gases.  Nitrogen, Argon, and helium and some mixed combos.

I will say, Had dinner with the FIL last night and he is an expert at electronics also,, and was discussing his new TIG welder he just got.  He explained the wave forms and how it works, so there is a significant difference of how a TIG functions over a Gas torch, as well as new versions of TIG welding vs the old systems.   The Old Lincoln Square wave machines were the size of a small vehicle back in the day, but the new machines are very small and compact.  His is a new Lincoln and the size of a suitcase.
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Offline coater87

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OK.


Seems like the USA has quite a restricted range of welding rods

 Yeah,

 I can't get a decent welding rod here, but they will let Trump be the president.

 Unbelievable.
Central Wisconsin in the U.S.

Offline BSA_54A10

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But first I am hearing about limits on the welding rods.  When I worked at the casting place, we had a very wide range of TIG rods, as well as shielding gases.  Nitrogen, Argon, and helium and some mixed combos.

I will say, Had dinner with the FIL last night and he is an expert at electronics also,, and was discussing his new TIG welder he just got.  He explained the wave forms and how it works, so there is a significant difference of how a TIG functions over a Gas torch, as well as new versions of TIG welding vs the old systems.   The Old Lincoln Square wave machines were the size of a small vehicle back in the day, but the new machines are very small and compact.  His is a new Lincoln and the size of a suitcase.

Yes things have changed a lot from the days of just selecting the amps and a sofisticated machine that could do AC welding.
Now there are different wave forms, variable frequency, multi pulsed and all sorts of wonderful stuff that is well beyond my expertese.
Another reason to stick with something I know, gas.
Been out of it for way too long.
As for rods you really only have a choice of 4000 series & 5000 series rods and not a great range in either types.
Most of the castings BSA did would be LM2 so 4047 is what I would be using.
The last time I bought rods I am sure there were a lot more alloys on offer but it looks like the Al-Zn braizing rods is where all the work has been going
Bike Beesa
Trevor