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Fabrication Bumpers, sliders, cages, flatbeds, tube work, etc. Forum sponsored by Ruff Stuff Specialties

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Old 07-23-2009, 03:08 AM   #1
li7in6
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Default Vertical welding on a C channel frame. Fact or fiction.

I've heard from several places for and against welding vertically on a C channel. The idea is that a vertical weld across even 50% of the vertical width of the frame will weaken it dangerously. Supposedly due to the annealing of the metal surrounding the weld, causing it to get brittle and weaker. Possibly leading to a crack or other failure. Welding across the entire vertical width of it will create a sure fire failure point on the otherwise strong frame. The only way to solve this is to normalize and possibly temper the entire frame to the desired hardness(damn near impossible with a truck frame).

On the other hand I've heard its all nonsense and welding across a length of metal will not weaken it.

So, whats you're guy's take? If I were to want to attach link mounts, or longer leaf mounts, the recommended method of welding would be to weld along the length of the frame and leave front/back ends unwelded? or just weld the whole thing up, or forget welding and bolt it up.
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:58 AM   #2
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When welding to the frame you should try and keep all pieces being welded on in a Diamond patter, stay away from vertical welds. Never bring any welds to a sharp point, try and make them round so as not to create a stress point.
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Old 07-23-2009, 10:42 AM   #3
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The frame of a truck is not special in any way, it's still a strip of mild steel put into a series of brakes and dyes to get it into shape. Tempering and annealing is pointless because it's not high carbon and it's not an alloy steel, and as long as you don't put 6 passes of super hot welds over each other, you'll be fine.


If you're welding a step side or some attachment stuff, then as long as the plates being welded are round or diamond shaped(like what sasquatch was saying), you'll get the most possible amounts of strength out of it.

Welding is always stronger than bolting, if it's possible, weld it vertical UP, this reqires some extra skill, but it is as strong, if not, stronger than a regular flat weld(I did this on 1" plate and bend tested it for college, solid across the board). A nice hot bead will more than get the job done
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Old 07-23-2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron Ranger View Post
The frame of a truck is not special in any way, it's still a strip of mild steel put into a series of brakes and dyes to get it into shape. Tempering and annealing is pointless because it's not high carbon and it's not an alloy steel, and as long as you don't put 6 passes of super hot welds over each other, you'll be fine.


If you're welding a step side or some attachment stuff, then as long as the plates being welded are round or diamond shaped(like what sasquatch was saying), you'll get the most possible amounts of strength out of it.

Welding is always stronger than bolting, if it's possible, weld it vertical UP, this reqires some extra skill, but it is as strong, if not, stronger than a regular flat weld(I did this on 1" plate and bend tested it for college, solid across the board). A nice hot bead will more than get the job done
Agreed 100% from the viewpoint of another professional welder.
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:53 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info guys. Some of the 'pros' on race-dezert, pirate 4x4, and other places make it out to be a safety concern.

Can you guys elaborate on a few things you mentioned?

Quote:
try and keep all pieces being welded on in a Diamond patter
Having a bit of trouble visualizing this. Do you mean cut the plate that is to be welded in a jagged diamond pattern to increase the length of the weld without increasing the overall length of the piece?

Quote:
stay away from vertical welds.
Does this mean you believe there is some truth to the vertical weld weakening subject?

Quote:
Tempering and annealing is pointless because it's not high carbon and it's not an alloy steel
I'm no metallurgist, so forgive my ignorance, but I'm under the impression that you can anneal and temper all kinds of steel. Since fusion welding requires bringing the metal to its melting point, and ends with letting the metal (of the weld itself, and surrounding it) cool on its own to room temperature. This is very similar to the annealing process, albeit less controlled. So is it out of the question that the steel in/around the weld could be softer/more ductile? If any annealing is taking place, could simply cooling the site down more quickly with a wet rag help prevent this?

Quote:
don't put 6 passes of super hot welds over each other, you'll be fine.
This leads me to believe if a properly executed weld will not instill enough heat into the base metal to cause any significant annealing or change its ductility.

Quote:
if it's possible, weld it vertical UP, this reqires some extra skill, but it is as strong, if not, stronger than a regular flat weld
Can you elaborate on this a bit please?

Again, thanks for the help guys.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:53 PM   #6
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It's always made sense to me that any time you apply sudden red to white-hot heat to a piece of metal that was cold-formed (stamped), you change the molecular structure of the metal enough than some type of change in it's fatigue resistance will be inevitable (that area of the metal will now be under tension from contraction upon cooling as well). Combine this with how a C-channel frame constantly flexes more than something that is boxed, this "bump" in the frame's molecular structure seems much more likely to induce a crack forming around it.

I've always just avoided this whole chance of failure by simply making a long "L-bracket" that bolts against the outside and bottom of the frame, then weld my suspension (or rockslider) attachment point to that. Never have had any issues with bolts loosening or the plate shifting on the frame.
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:42 PM   #7
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I'll agree with Shawn's (Junkie's) post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRanger024 View Post
Agreed 100% from the viewpoint of another professional welder.
As a professional engineer, I'll disagree. Perhaps from a macroscopic level, things may not be effected; but microscopically and molecularly, they are. You may not see any failure immediately, but you are reducing the fatigue life of the c-channel frame in these locations. The radpid heating and cooling can cause microscopic fissures to form which can propagate into larger cracks over time (fatigue failure). Welds are typically more brittle than the surrounding base metals, hence why they are often said to be "stronger".

I don't like vertical welds, but in some instances they are unavoidable. I suggest that you try to avoid them by using rounded plates or fish-eyed plates wherever possible.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:43 PM   #8
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All service manuals tell you what you can and cannot do to a frame. I could scan and post the pages from the ones I have, and I may. But the thing that sticks in my head is #1 don't mess with the flanges and #2 avoid the area near the flanges. You can drill all you want as long as you don't have more than three holes in a vertical line or something. I installed a generator in my bus by bolting L-brackets to the frame rail so I definately read the pertinent section of the manual. Drilling and bolting takes longer than clamping and welding, but it's better.

The end of the frame past the rear leaf spring mount doesn't matter. You are allowed to do whatever you want back there pretty much. Which is why a receiver hitch can be bolted to the flange, and the bus has the recovery hooks welded there as well.
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:48 AM   #9
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I can elaborate some of your questions.

1. A diamond(stop sign) shape eliminates sharp 90 degree corners, which spreads the stress points to 8 corners rather than 4, or a round platform which has no corners so the stress is spread as evenly as possible.

2. Vertical(or down-hand) welding is the weakest of all the positions. It flows nice and may look nice, but it doesn't penetrate into the steel worth jack-squat. The only times where this is admissible is if you have a corner to corner joint with a hairline gap, that way it'll still fill in nice, and penetrate to the joint's full potential. Or on anything under 1/8" plate, the thin plate should heat up enough for proper penetration. If it's not turning blue on the other side of your work piece, you're not hot enough.

It's not a matter of weakened steel, it's a matter of poor penetration.

3. Any and all welds(excluding aluminum) should be stronger than the base metal. Tempering and annealing are necessary in high carbon and alloy metals to reconfigure the HAZ(Heat Affected Zone), and the crystal base structure. In low carbon/alloy steel(mild steel), it's really pointless to do this because the HAZ is usually under control(unless excessive heat/welds are excecuted). At the steel mill, they can actually "burn" steel, it gets too hot and forms perminant, brittle, useless grain structures. I've read where they had to throw away 280 tons of burnt steel, no good.

4. The weld should be the thickness of the thinner piece being joined(EX. 1/8" to 1/4" plate, an 1/8" bead is all you need). What happens when you overheat steel with weld is the weld metal and the base metal form huge crystals that are inline with each other(they should be out of sync), and that makes it brittle and finally, failure. Had an example done at the college, took a stick welder, used 10 sticks to weld a 4" joint, and cut it in half. You could see the actual grains of the metal separating from each other.

On a truck frame, I wouldn't worry about it. I trust you have good judgement on what's strong and what's not.

5. Vertical up is one of the hardest welds to do. As you weld, gravity is constantly trying to pull the weld puddle down, which if done incorrectly, will look like the aftermath of an expired TV dinner.

It takes the right amount of heat, wire speed, travel, epecially gun angle, and travel speed. A slight weave is acceptable, but not too much, it'll cause unwanted stresses in the weld. The uphill travel heats up the metal as you go, making the weld penetrate better. This is what's used in the field for repairs on heavy objects, when moving or turning it is impossible, so multiple welding positions are required, and down-hand is a big no-no.

It's easiest on flux-cored wire, because the flux creates an instant "mold" that holds the liquid metal in place as it cools, forming a flawless bead. Solid MIG wire is a little more erratic, takes a lot of practice to get that one figured out.

Whoo, that was a lot of typing. I'm going to bed.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:00 AM   #10
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One more thing. Those other places that you said was a safety concern, they probably have to say that because Joe Shmo who hasn't welded before is now trying to put a weight-bearing item on his frame and is going to go extreme off-roading suddenly breaks something. The slogan "WARNING, PROFESSIONALS ONLY" apply's here too. If you don't know how to weld, there is always someone who is more than willing to give you a hand.

Or some frames are different than others? Shouldn't be, but I could be wrong.
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