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Old 05-04-2009, 11:44 PM   #1
Poobah58
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Default Any tips on welding stainless?

A buddy is trying to weld some full and half couplings to a couple of sanke kegs. We went at it all weekend. He has a MIG welder and 75% Argon/ 25% CO2 gas mixture. We think the problem is the coupling is much thicker that the keg. He made a bronze fitting to mount on the inside of the keg to absorb heat so he can up the MIG hotter.
Saturday, he spent all day trying a half coupling. Could not get it to stop leaking. Sunday, we tried another keg. Same thing only this time he burned thru a few times and had to patch. He did have success with 3 other fittings on that keg. He just can't seem to fix the other two. Any ideas?

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Old 05-05-2009, 12:11 AM   #2
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Yes. pays someone who has a TIG to do this. I am not kidding. I have done some fairly serious welding, but did not own the equipment (TIG) to do this. I do have a MIG and Argon.

To do this right, you need to backgas ( or similar option) the keg, then TIG with stainless 100% Argon, a seamless and flawless connection.

I'd bet you aren't looking at more than $50. Your time ( and your friends ), plus knowing it is done right is worth that. Bring some homebrew with you and you'd be surprised at that rate.

You could also look for a welding school. Often they use things like this as instruction.

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Old 05-05-2009, 12:20 AM   #3
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I second the the TIG action. I'm no expert welder, my knowledge is in machining for the most part, but I have worked with many journeymen welders and I do know that when it came time to weld stainless the TIG welder came out.

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Old 05-05-2009, 12:20 AM   #4
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I've welded stainless quite a few times. I'm not the best at it, but I can manage some pretty decent beads. However, like Irr suggests, I use a TIG machine, 100% argon, and either back gas purge the weld or use flux to protect it. It's possible to MIG stainless, but you really need to protect the back of the weld somehow. What kind of filler are you using? A 308 alloy usually works well on kegs.

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Old 05-05-2009, 04:49 AM   #5
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I welded mine with a Lincoln Weldpac 100. I have the MIG kit (see Adventures in welding stainless thread). I used a 308 alloy and a flux that is the equivalent of Solar mixed with denatured alcohol per the instructions. Watch BobbyM's youtube on welding on keggles. Even though he TIGs, you can see how to flux your weld. Also, he makes some great comments on cleaning the coupling and the area around the weld. I used the tri-mix gas. The hole for the coupling needs to be very tight. The coupling is much thicker than the keg so you need to carry the heat on the coupling and "whip" it down to the keg. Also, keep your machine hot and move quickly. Only weld about 1/2" at a time. Move 1/2 way around the coupling to stitch weld. Brush the weld area each time you pause to let the metal cool. Once you have gone around the coupling, take a "stainless only" (one that has not been used on carbon steel) grinding disk and grind just the weld. DO NOT get into the keg, it's thin enough already. Any "holes" or "holidays" you see in the grinded metal need to be filled in. Make sure you clean and re-flux the back side each time. If you burn through, turn your machine way down and weld up the holes. If you cant "catch" a crack, move ahead of it about 1/2" and make a weld. That will help stop the run. Ditto on the re-fluxing. Make sure you reach inside the keg and grind/polish the places you burned through. Look at the backside after you weld it. there should be a black ring all the way around the coupling. Use a mirror to make sure the ring goes all the way around. If you don't see a solid ring, it's going to leak. Check it for leaks. If it doesn't leak, use one of those "flap disks", not a grinding wheel to polish the weld area. Then, check it for leaks again. Finally after you finish, and the metal cools down, scrub it with Bar Keepers Friend and let it set a couple of days to "re-pickle" the stainless. I only did it because I was hard headed and wanted to prove to myself that I could. It would have been ALOT less frustrating to have it professionally done. the weld kept cracking and I had HELL getting it sealed. I definately would not try it on the "cold" side. Well, that's probably not true, but it would look like hell. I'll probably post some photos of my build, especially the welds so we can all have a bench mark for UGLY welds. Let us know what you decide and how it turns out. Luck - Dwain

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Old 05-05-2009, 05:15 AM   #6
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Here is the easy way, put keg, fitings, case of home brew in you car, drive to casper wyoming, unload, drink beer, I will tig it for you free (couple of homebrews). Thats it. Seriously, keep after it man, mig is not prefered but it will work, keep your heat on the fitting, and just wash the puddle into the keg. You don't have to weld it all at once. You will get a feel for how much heat you can let it have before it will burn through. This is a hard skill to get the feel for in just a couple of fittings. I do this for a living and there are days I still go wtf.
Kyle

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Old 05-05-2009, 12:13 PM   #7
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I welded my frame but wouldn't dare touch my SS kettles with a welder so I spent $60 to have a pro put in two couplers. Just spend the few bucks and have someone that knows what they are doing weld it. You will be glad you did.

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Old 05-05-2009, 02:24 PM   #8
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I am confident that I could weld SS with my Lincoln HandyMIG, but I KNOW it would be ugly as sin.

If you really want to keep trying, read Dwain's suggestions. That is your best hope.

If you really want a nice weld, pay someone with skills to TIG it.

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