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Thread: Project 1 from jakeru: Outboard Motor Skeg Repair (TIG aluminum)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Greater Seattle, WA

    Default Project 1 from jakeru: Outboard Motor Skeg Repair (TIG aluminum)

    I repaired the broken skeg of an 8HP Yamaha outboard motor. I advised the customer of the risk of welding near heat sensistive components (like the lower power transmission "lower unit".) I said I have some techniques to mitigate, but not eliminate the risk; and it was up to him - he was game.

    This was used in salt water, so came in with plenty of oxidation on all bare aluminum surfaces that had to be removed. I used a medium (brown) scotch brite 3" circular pad and it worked well for the flat surfaces. There was a stainless steel horizontal piece that was clamped onto this through the holes.

    As I got prepping it, it turns out it had been previously weld repaired (and with some porosity also.) Current owner was not aware, so must have been from a previous owner.
    Attachment 2124

    I prepped two areas for tack welding by grinding the oxidized cracked surfaces away completely on the two outer areas (where I would have clean oxide-free material for tack welding), leaving the center of the fracture in place (unprepped) for positioning the two parts together.
    Attachment 2123

    After getting some strong tack welds on the ends, I used an aluminum 4.5" grinding wheel to vee out the remaining crack in the middle of the joint on both sides, veeing down to leaving probably about 1/4 of the material thickness in tact when I was done. I am experimenting a bit with using the aluminum grinding wheel instead of a carbide burr I usually use. So far I find the nonferrous grinding wheel is faster than a burr and a little less precise, needs a more wider area to reach but this was perfect. It is easier to control and less "chattery" than a burr as well.
    Attachment 2122

    I didn't have any problems fully penetrating through doing it this way. I used 5356 filler. I did at times make full use of my machine's 200 amps (controlled by footpedal), and used probably about 25-30% EP AC Balance. 3/32" blunted lanthanated tungsten.

    I did the welding in about 4 heat cycles (first to tack weld, second and third to "rough weld" and "finish weld" one side, and the last to weld the opposite side with 100% penetration.) I took breaks and cooled down the nearby components (focusing on keeping the lower unit housing cool enough to touch) in between heat cycles.

    I used a wet, clay-like product called "heat fence" smeared on the parts I needed to protect from heat. It was a good start for heat control, but but a complete answer for the amount of heat input necessary for this repair, I found additional cooling withcompressed air, wet rag, and breaking down the work into multiple heat cycles was necessary. The heat fence material could be re-wetted to some degree using the wet rag.
    Attachment 2121

    Some of the red die on the wet rag I used transferred to the welded surfaces, but the owner didn't care as it'd be covered up anyway. The owner was very happy with the repair, which took me 75 minutes start to finish. I sent him home with some pieces of zinc sheetmetal to put between the bolted together aluminum and stainless skeg pieces, to "sacrifice itself" and make the otherwise corrosion-prone bare aluminum last longer. I also told him now is a good time to replace the oil/fluid in the lower transmission, (which he said he had never done before) and take note of if the fluid was burned smelling, feeling, or appearing. I said if there is no evidence of burned fluid, it would be a good sign that the heat management techniques were effective and probably everything would be fine with the repair.
    Attachment 2120
    Attachment 2125
    Last edited by jakeru; 06-02-2011 at 05:41 PM.
    '13 Everlast 255EXT
    '07 Everlast Super200P

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Northern Virginia


    Hey, Jakeru-
    When you weld on an engine, do you have to disconnect electrical or electronic components? I thought I read cautionary notes to that effect somewhere along the way- the thinking was current from the welding would overwhelm electricals / electronics. Does that argument hold water, or does the nearest path to ground eliminate that risk?
    Oxweld oxy acet gear
    IMIG 200
    PowerTIG 210 EXT... Amazing!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Greater Seattle, WA


    My thoughts Dave, are that the high frequency certainly has the potential to damage nearby sensitive electronics. It can induce currents in things that are "nearby", even if they are not in direct electrical connection with the welding circuit.

    The best protection when welding nearby any sensitive electronics, if they cannot be completely removed from the vicinity (often not practical), is to use as little high frequency as you can.

    You can do this by using a modern inverter with a good clean ground connection, and an "easy starting" electrode (like a pretty well prepared lanthanated/ceriated/thoriated, of appropriate diameter and adequately "sharp" tip prep), which IME will really reduce the high frequency starting to the point where it is not even perceptible. If I have a problem with arc starting, I can often tell because my garage door starts acting up (light blinking and needs power to be reset before start working normally.) That's a good example of how HF can induce currents in electronics that may be a *few feet* away from where I'm actually trying to weld. When I have good arc starts, never had a problem with any nearby electronics acting up.

    Even better would be a "lift arc" starting technique (a feature my machine doesn't have, but I am aware of on other TIG machines.) Such mode of operation is basically *guaranteed* to not use high frequency at all. If I were doing a lot of welding near sensitive electronics, I'd probably look for a machine with that feature.

    A transformer style of TIG welding machine, operating in AC mode on the other hand would be a poorer choice for welding near sensitive electronics IMO, as such machines need *continuous* high frequency operation (in order to maintain a stable low-amp A/C arc.)

    The main/high welding current, since is only done on no more than 15-30 volts (or something rather), is just not high enough to induce damaging currents in any nearby electrical components that are not either 1. burned from heat or 2. have any of the main welding current actually conducting through them. You can reduce risk of #1 by thinking a bit about where heat you will be generating is going to be transferred, and controlling/mitigating if needbe. You can reduce risk of #2 by being aware of where you hook you your ground clamp so the current stays away from any sensitive electronic componts (IE: hook a clean ground clamp directly to a cleaned metal surface that is part of the metal piece you are welding (the fewer bolted joints you need to travel through, the better because such connections can have resistance.) The worst case scenario for #2 factor above is if you forget to hook you your ground clamp up to your work at all. Don't forget to do that and try to do it securely (so can't bump off.)

    In the case of an outboard motor like this, you can see I took some effort to get a good ground, that didn't need to transfer from one bolted part to another to complete the welding circuit. I also figure if the motor does have any sensitive electronics, it's likely they were at the opposite end of the motor. And I figure it's most likely it doesn't have any sensitive electronics (I'm picturing a simple carburetor and magneto ignition system under that cover.)

    Maybe others will have some other ideas to add, but those are just my thoughts on the topic.
    '13 Everlast 255EXT
    '07 Everlast Super200P

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