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Welding Stainless Steel Tubing Boatrails – Tips for Welding and Fabrication

Welding stainless steel tubing boat rails can be a gravy job but can also be extremely challenging.

Boat owners can be very picky.

Welds not only need to be strong, but they need to look nice too. In fact many boat owners have come to expect welds on boat rails to be pretty much invisible.

And why not? Welds do not have to be ugly in order to be strong.

316 stainless steel is often used for marine hardware like boat rails and Stanchion feet fittings because 316 stainless steel is more corrosion resistant to salt water than most other grades of stainless like 304 for instance. But retaining the corrosion resistance all the way through the welding process requires some attention to detail. For welding stainless steel tubing for marine applications, follow these guidelines:

  • always use a stainless steel wire brush that has never been used for anything else
  • use the right filler metal – if the stainless tubing to be welded is 316L, then use 316L filler metal
  • Pay attention to the fitup – a tight fit, with no gap results in a better joint
  • back purge with argon or use a split sleeve backing ring
  • use the right amperage – just enough to achieve desired penetration, but non enough to turn the metal gray
  • for welds that will be subjected to salt air, a polish followed by a pickling paste helps increase corrosion resistance

In addition to the tips above, use a tig welding technique that lets you minimize heat input – like pulsing the current if your tig welding machine has pulse capability.

P.S. Some welders have found that a pulse setting of about 40 pulses per second, a percent time on of 30 percent, and a 30 percent background current is helpful in minimizing heat input.

Source by Jody Collier

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