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We have received a number of questions about the strength and durability of Alumaloy on our aluminum repair forum. We understand that people have concerns and we would like to address them. In an effort to do this we are going to provide some of the metallurgical specs of Alumaloy here as well as an explanation of what they mean to you. You will note we might compare the properties of Alumaloy with the properties of aluminum. We take pride in our product and stand behind it 100%. It is our hope that this information will reinforce your confidence in our product and us.
Tensile strength: 39,000 PSI
That means 39,000 pounds per square inch is required to tear it apart the meld of two pieces joined with Alumaloy.
Compression strength: 60,000 to 75,000 PSI
A meld with Alumaloy can withstand between 60,000 and 75,000 pounds per square inch of crushing power before breaking apart.
When Alumaloy is melded to other aluminum it becomes just as easy to shape as the rest of the material it is bonded with.
Electrical conductivity: Good
Alumaloy has a relative electrical conductivity to aluminum so shouldn’t impede any electrical repairs it is put to.
Thermal Conductivity: Excellent
Heat transfer for Alumaloy is consistent with aluminum and will maintain thermal qualities present before the repair.
Corrosion penetration: Excellent
Aluminum is resistant to corrosion and Alumaloy shares that property. Melds made with it will not corrode over time unless the aluminum itself does.
similar to brazing due to the use of flux to prevent corrosion and oxidation. This is important when using a product like Castaloy because cast iron is susceptible to both. When doing repair work you want to avoid the possibility of weakening your fix that way.
A quick overview of brazing will give you an idea of how they compare. With brazing the area to be joined needs to be cleaned and properly prepped: clean edges and no debris. Pieces are placed and clamped if needed.
Flux is applied if using, then tacking is done. The tacking will place a bead of molten bronze in strategic locations to prevent the metal from expanding apart due to heat. Once the tacking is complete the metal is heated to a temperature for the bronze to melt and fills the void. As we have said before brazing will produce a good, strong patch.
Cast iron repair rod
Castaloy works similarly. The main difference is that when complete, the bond will be stronger than brazing because you are joining iron to iron and making it into a complete whole instead of just a joint. Brazing forms a patch but Castaloy creates a newer and stronger bond. The joint to be melded needs to be thoroughly cleaned, (Please see our article on cleaning). Once properly cleaned and the acid, (provided at purchase), is applied you can then add flux if you desire. The role of flux is to dissolve the oxides on the metal surface. This facilitates wetting by molten metal, and acts as an oxygen barrier by coating the hot surface. It thereby, prevents its oxidation. Additionally, it allows solder to flow easily on the working piece rather than forming beads as it would otherwise. When brazing, the metal repair rod is heated to a temperature that is slightly above it’s melting point. When using Castaloy, we recommend that you heat the metal being repaired and not the rod itself. When you touch the rod to the metal, it will melt on contact. You will first want to set your tacks to prevent expansion. Once your tacks harden, proceed with mending. Heat the receiving metal to temperature and allow the molten Castaloy rod to fill in the gaps. Once the bond has cooled it will be as strong as it once was, if not stronger.
We hope this has helped to clear up any questions you may have had regarding the differences of our product and the brazing process. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for please address them to our Castaloy forum and we will do our best answer them and make new information available to our customers as requested or needed
Flux is a chemical cleaning agent that facilitates soldering, brazing, and welding. It does this by removing oxidation from the metals to be joined. In high-temperature metal joining processes, the primary purpose of flux is to prevent oxidation of the base and filler materials. It also helps transfer the heat evenly over the metal surface. The use of flux also allows solder to flow easily on the working piece rather than forming beads as it would otherwise thus making the hot metal much easier to work with.
In summary, flux has 3 main components;
1. Chemically- it cleans metal surfaces to assist the flow of filler metals over base metals and provides a protective barrier against re-oxidation and heat scale.
2. Thermally- it assists with heat transfer from heat source to metal surface
3. Physically- it helps in the removal of surface metal oxides.
Brazing is a metal joining process where a metal filler is heated and distributed evenly between two or more close fitting parts. The filler metal, usually bronze or copper, is heated to slightly above it’s melting point. It is then allowed to flow over the base metal and cooled to join the pieces together. This is known as “wetting”. Usually a flux is placed on the metal. Flux is required to prevent oxides from forming while the metal is heated. The flux also serves the purpose of cleaning of any contamination left on the brazing surfaces. The brazing process is a similar process to soldering, except the temperatures used to melt the filler metal is above 800 degrees F. Torch brazing is the type of brazing that is used with Castaloy, Steelaloy, and Alumaloy. This is the most common form of brazing and works best when working with a small repair.
The two most important factors in obtaining a solid repair are surface preparation and temperature control. There are two main methods for cleaning parts prior to brazing. One is to use an abrasive method to scuff up the surface area and the second is chemical cleaning. When using mechanical cleaning it is important to maintain the proper surface roughness as wetting on a rough surface occurs much more readily than on a smooth surface. The next area of concern is the effect of temperature and time on the quality of brazed joints. As the temperature of the braze alloy is increased, the alloying and wetting action of the filler metal increases as well. In general, the brazing temperature selected must be above the melting point of the filler metal. In general, the lowest possible braze temperature is used in order to minimize brazing time and the associated costs.
First I will cover the similarities. Most metal workers will recognize that working with Alumaloy is very similar to brazing with bronze or even copper in the respect that you are bonding a broken piece of metal by melting another piece of metal to form a bond at the break. The process of brazing is a bonding of two or more metal parts with a different type of metal. Most often bronze is the metal of choice, although copper may also be used. When using Alumaloy you are also bonding two pieces of metal together. However, now you are using an aluminum alloy. In both cases, the metal is heated and melted to repair the break. The tools that are used are the same and the temperature that you need to work at is also the same. Another similarity is the use of a product called “flux”. (Flux protects the metal from oxidation during the bonding process, reducing the chance of oxidation.) Flux is used with some of our other products such as Castaloy and Steelaloy but not Alumaloy.
In both brazing and in working with Alumaloy, the step by step process of repairing aluminum is identical. The parts to be joined are lined up and the tacking is done. To “Tack”, means that the metal to be joined with the bronze or Alumaloy is heated and the rod is applied to the meeting place. The rod will have a lower melting point than the parts to be joined so it will leave a droplet joining the two. Other “tacks” are done, using the same process, to keep the metal parts from pulling apart due to expansion from the heat. Once the tacking is done the main repair can begin. Again the metal parts are heated up to the temperature for melting and the rod is touched to them leaving behind liquid metal to fill in the gap and hold the two parts together. If done properly, all the gaps will be filled with rivulets of now hardened metal, holding the two independent parts as one whole, making the repair complete.
Aluminum repair rod
Now I will discuss the differences. Really, there is only one difference, Alumaloy is stronger. It is stronger than aluminum, copper and bronze. This is due to the fact that it is an alloy. In our special formula, we have been able to combine aluminum with other metals to create a product that has more tensile strength than in its original form. By using an alloy that has the same properties as the metal that was broken, a more complete bond is created. Simply put, your aluminum is now better than when you started. Since the area that was broken before may have been due to a shortcoming in the original metal, you can now rest assured that you have added a new level of durability to your project.
We hope this has helped to clear up any questions you may have had regarding the differences of our product and the brazing process. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions please address them at our aluminum repair forum and we will do our best to answer them and make new information available to our customers as requested or needed.
How easy is it to repair aluminum products with Alumaloy?
It really is easy to do repairs with Alumaloy. You can do it with just a few tools and it isn’t complicated. Once you have done it a few times there will be little reason to throw things out that seem hopeless.
Safety glasses or face shield to protect your eyes and face
Stable work surface or vice to support the aluminum product needing repair
Rags for cleaning
Draft free work area
How to repair aluminum products with Alumaloy:
Be sure to use appropriate safety gear to protect eyes and hands.
First identify the break. Then situate the aluminum product in a stable position on a flat surface or with a vice. This will keep it from moving while you work and keep you safe. This area should be open but draft free.
Once the aluminum in need of repair is secure, clean the break of debris. This may just mean a wipe with a rag up to a vigorous brushing with a metal brush or sand paper. DO NOT USE DEGREASERS OR CLEANERS THAT MAY BE FLAMABLE!
Now that the aluminum break is clean and ready, you will use your torch to heat the aluminum. Do not heat the Alumaloy rod. You want the heat of the broken aluminum to melt the Alumaloy. Keep the heat in motion over the area you are working with. Test the surface for temperature by pulling the torch away and touching with the Alumaloy rod to it. When the Alumaloy melts and starts to flow freely you are at the optimal working temperature. You will need to reheat that location from time to time to keep the Alumaloy flowing. Work the Alumaloy into the broken area, letting it fill in the hole or crack, switching from heat to Alumaloy.
Once the break is covered thoroughly, allow to air cool. After the aluminum product is cool you may need to sand or grind it to smooth the surface or reshape it. This step all depends on the use or needs of the repaired aluminum product.
It is just that simple. Alumaloy was designed so anyone can use it to make repairs on everyday products. You don’t have to have special skills or be a welder to use it. Common sense, patients, Alumaloy and a few tools will see you repairing all sorts of aluminum products. Never again will you have to throw something out because you do have the skills to restore them.
As many of you may already know, last year I tried my hand at growing for the first time. This year I thought I would try my luck with a fruit tree. I purchased an Asian pear tree, Pyrus Pyrifolia sp, from California and had it shipped to me about two weeks ago. When she arrived I was worried about her complexion. As you can see by the picture, her leaves and new growth were discolored and looked, in general, unhealthy.
It makes sense that she would seem a bit down, having been in a box for 3 or 4 days. I was concerned that my choice to place her outside in this state might not be a good idea. I was also concerned that to leave her in the container indoors, may harm her as well. It was time to research… After some investigating, I found advice that I was safe to go in either direction. I decided to take the middle road and to acclimate her to the outdoors gradually so as not to shock her into the new climate. Looking at the progress she has made over the last two weeks, I feel comfortable with my choice. At first, I’d take her outside for just about 30-60 minutes. At that time, it is mostly cloudy so I felt confident that the sun would not scorch her delicate leaves. I slowly increased that time until she was spending a good part of the day outdoors. Eventually, she would spend most of the day outside and eventually, as the weather has warmed, in direct sun. Over the last couple of days we have had some cold weather and she seemed to tolerate it well. A few days ago I noticed she had a fracture in one of her branches. Honestly, there is no way of knowing if this happened from shipping, the wind, or me carrying her in and out of the house. I was devastated! More research…. I read an article that suggested that I stop all new growth from forming on the broken branch because the tree will grow a replacement.
I could leave the branch on the tree if there is foliage to help her produce energy and remove it later. I took a picture to show that she did, in fact, start to grow a new limb. I clipped off all new buds from the fractured branch and I plan to prune it later in the winter. After almost two weeks of this I removed her from the container and planted her in her new permanent home. With all of the time I have invested, cost to purchase and ship I’m a little apprehensive about putting her outside all night. The picture above is of her freshly planted before I put stakes in the ground. Now that I have the tree secured the only thing left to do is wait….
Last year I tried my hand at growing a few things and I feel I had some decent success for a newbie…. I planted a variety of herbs, some pepper plants, and 4 blueberry bushes in the spring of 2010. My herbs turned out well despite the fact that I was cultivating them all wrong. Instead of harvesting in such a way that would promote plant thickness, I ended up pruning off the very sections of the plant that were needed to produce new growth. This mistake was inconsequential in the beginning so I did not realize my error immediately. However, it became quite clear later on when the plant had nothing left to grow on. Here is what I learned… The plant grows leaves off of the main stem. This is your harvest. However, by chopping off the top of the plant, each point where a leaf was protruding along the stem will be stimulated to grow a new branch. (I was just taking the new leaves along the main stem) When you chop off the top of the plant, the plant goes into survival mode and begins to produce new branches to the side, making it fuller with more leaves to harvest. You want to be sure to always keep at least 3 leaf nodes along the stem and you do not want to cut below this point. This gives you a total of 6 node sites or potential new branches. I had been pruning these secondary branches far to close to the root stem thus causing the herb to grow tall with little to no surface area to grow more leaves. Even with my learning curve I still was able to generate enough yield to supply us with herbs for cooking and I even had a little left over to last us through the winter.
My pepper plants, jalapenos, and sweet peppers were started from seed; mainly because I wanted to see how that worked. What I learned was that starting from seeds takes much longer than I would have thought and there seems to never be enough time. Once the plants got going and I thought that all of my work was going to pay off, the end of the season was already here. You add that to my biggest mistake, allowing too many plants to grow in the same pot all together and what you end up with is a tiny, overcrowded crop. So needless to say, this year I made a few adjustments. The first thing that I did differently was to start the seeds a little sooner and inside. It seems to be working. I should have enough baby plants ready to plant outside once we are past the threat of a frost. I am so tempted to put them out now, but I have been warned to not put them out until after Mother’s day, just to be safe. I have set them outside for a bit each day but even the wind has seemed to beat them down some. Another adjustment that I have made is to limit the number of plants per pot. I plan to weed out any weak plants and, in the end, have only one strong plant per pot. This should allow me to give more care to fewer plants, thus producing quality over quantity. I still managed to get enough peppers last year to use in cooking and chop up for salsa but I am hopeful with the tweaks that I have made to have so many more this year!
I also purchased and planted 3 Chippewa and 1 Blueray blueberry plants last year. I placed them at the rear of the back yard as the tags say they could become as large as 6ft tall! I wanted to make sure that they had adequate room to grow to their full size. For the most part, they seemed to handle the transplant okay with one doing exceptionally well and one not so well. One corner of my yard tends to be dry, while the other corner slopes down and tends to pool water around the plant. Because of this both of these plants ended up looking pretty bad by the time fall arrived. I decided to replace the plant that got too little water with a Duke blueberry plant and to keep the other one, in the pool of water, to see if it could make it through the winter. The pictures below show the plants as of today, April 5, 2011. The first picture shows the bush that looks the best, located where the ground holds water, (who would have guessed?). The next picture, the bush to it’s left, is the Blueray which does not show any signs of life yet. I’m hoping this bush made it through the winter. I drove all the way to Champaign to get this one. I read that Blueberry bushes cross pollinate so my hope is that the conglomeration of varieties that I have placed in the yard will result in the most luscious blueberries in all the land! So far, 3 of them have started to wake up. I am patiently holding my breathe for the 4th! I will post the results with pictures as soon as I know the outcome.