Training with Titanium

Earlier this year I took a drive up to RMIT in Melbourne to pick up a pair of KTM 690 Chassis that had their motors removed by the RMIT Formula SAE Team.

After enjoying my Alta electric motorcycle a lot more than I thought I would I decided these chassis (which are brand new) would be the perfect beginning for my own electric motorcycle build.

But lets leave that to another post and concentrate on this one.

I had a call from the guys at RMIT requesting a Ti exhaust to be fabricated for the new car they are building.

Instead of just doing the job I suggested the guys come down to my workshop and experience the fabrication for themselves.

I myself am new to Ti welding so I wanted us all to learn something and get some experience working with one of the most desired metals.

I had read a lot about Titanium (lets just use Ti from now on) and figured that it wasn’t all that difficult to weld.

I had the Bend Bros send me some samples to test weld and I purchased some 1.6 Ti filler rod as-well as another argon gas bottle to purge with.

Because Ti is a reactive metal it is imperative that argon shielding gas (from Bunnings) be covering the entire heated section of the weld.

Trav from SWS Welders came along and brought with him an extra welder and a wealth of experience on machine operation and setup.

With the 5 RMIT students in the shop Trav and I explained the operation of TIG welding and run the guys through the setup and operation of the SWS Alumtig.

I also spoke a little about the importance of cleanliness and surface preparation of metals prior to welding. I like to make sure my gaps are minimal and everything that either touches or surrounds my work hasn’t been contaminated by dust, oils, or finger prints. I use acetone to clean down everything and then start with a fresh tungsten sharpened to 30 degrees on the bench grinder.

With all that boring theory covered we got straight into welding stainless steel. With only one person out of the 5 having ever TIG welded before I wasnt sure how we would go, to my surprise though the guys listened to all the tips and tricks and had it perfected in just a few hours.

From Stainless Steel to Aluminium to Titanium the guys all had a shot at welding different materials and had them all dialed.

I started thinking back to my first welds and my first TIG project which was the Hilux, since meeting Trav I have only really started to understand what I am doing and wish I had this opportunity all those years ago to start off on the right settings and knowledge.

Being able to weld is a serious skill, being able to weld Stainless Steel, Aluminium and Titanium in just the first few hours is the product of knowing the setup, knowing the material and employing the right technique straight from the beginning.

Big thanks to Trav for partnering up with me on this one and big thanks to Brook for the shots so that I can write this post.

Oh and how did that exhaust go? Well I didn’t end up doing it until everyone left so that I could concentrate on making it.

On a perfect Saturday I fired up the old Panhead and got to work tacking it up.

But it went really well, DC 30 amps, clinically clean everything, sharp tungsten, purged with argon, the result is a super light and strong exhaust that is set to be a work of art once heat cycled.

Big thanks to RMIT for the opportunity to complete this job, if your interested in learning fabrication skills sign up to this mailing list and I will give you an email when I have something planned.