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Warning: Frame Rails are Heat Treated, Do not Weld or Drill


http://forum.aths.org/Topic89102.aspx
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By deguitars - Thursday, June 10, 2010 5:23 PM
Anybody remember these warning stickers on virtually every Kenworth and Peterbilt? With so much frame stretching going on I was just curious what/how folks deal with it, if at all?

Cheers,
David
By Aaron - Thursday, June 10, 2010 5:31 PM
Cut,weld and drill, and keep going, thats just mubo jumbo to cover their but, if the frame were to brake they could blame it on the owner.
By Bodacious - Friday, June 11, 2010 3:53 AM
Actually if you'll notice, the stickers read "Do not drill flanges." There's no problem with drilling holes in the side of the rails. And as far as welding them goes, no, they should not be welded to because they are heat treated. Welding just at the splice though, as part of the overall modification, including an appropriate length of bolt in rail section is acceptable however.
By Dan Closser - Friday, June 11, 2010 6:19 AM
Welding to a frame is still not recommended.  However, if you find you need to weld in front of the rear axles, the best practice would be to bolt on a plate or angle to weld onto.  Also, if drilling, do not use a scribe to mark the hole: remember, that is the same as scoring glass, the crack will start from the scribe line.  When welding as in a splice, the weld needs to be backed up with an insert that is bolted into the frame.
By deguitars - Friday, June 11, 2010 6:34 AM
Okay so basically you guys are saying don't worry just drill or weld at your leisure which seems to be what everyone does anyway with stretching, shortening, whatever. Heck, my frame had a bunch of extra holes in it that I've already welded up anyway to no ill effect so far (we're talking about steel here by the way). But why the warning not to drill "flanges" (thanks for the correction) and why not the web? Does anyone know how the rails were supplied to the maker, were they pre-drilled and then heat treated? That doesn't seem likely, so what's the difference in the factory drilling holes or someone down the road doing so? A lot of steel, and aluminum, is heat treated for strength so that's nothing new...it sounds like the warning was more to do with preventing some well intentioned owner from setting up stress points bolting junk onto the frame. Probably a pretty good thing to warn about. As was pointed out, some guy might decide to simply install a bracket and scribe a few lines, drill a few holes, and presto - cracked frame!
Thanks for the tips. Somewhere down the road I might stretch mine a foot or so.

Cheers,
David
By Geoff Weeks - Friday, June 11, 2010 9:47 AM
The flanges should not be drilled as they make up all the stiffness. a hole would weaken the frame and a crack would start. The web on the otherhand doesn't need to be solid. Take a look at the frame of any steel flatbed trailer and you'll see they are cut out to make the frame lighter. Haveing said that, I have seen some frames where the front axle shackle bracket does have a bolt going thru the flange from the factory, with no bad results.
By Dan Bruno - Friday, June 11, 2010 3:15 PM
As a rule, you never drill the flanges and any area on the web that is less than 1" from the flanges.
By JEllingwood - Sunday, June 13, 2010 3:40 PM
Let's suppose there is a 3/8" hole in the top flange about 18" behind the cab. What would you do?

Yes I have this issue

John
By Bodacious - Sunday, June 13, 2010 5:31 PM
JEllingwood (6/13/2010)
Let's suppose there is a 3/8" hole in the top flange about 18" behind the cab. What would you do?

Yes I have this issue

John


Thankfully it's a small one. I'd put a nut & bolt in it with hardened washers and just keep an eye on it.
By RobBalfour - Sunday, June 13, 2010 5:37 PM
JEllingwood (6/13/2010)
Let's suppose there is a 3/8" hole in the top flange about 18" behind the cab. What would you do?

Yes I have this issue

John


You mount a big winch there.:P
By Post from the Past - Monday, June 14, 2010 9:53 AM
several Truck frames might have holes drilled through the top and or bottom flanges.

 the engineers at the factory have taken into account of any induced stresses these holes will cause as well as their locations & sizes. the reason for hte warning lables is the manufacture does not want to have a liability claim from Time the tool man who decided that he would just drill or weld where ever he wanted.

 If you have  a hole in a flange that someone drilled Just install a Gr8 bolt with hardened flat washers then torque the bolt to its rated spec. and forget about it, if it happens to be near the inner edge the bolt needs to be as tight as possible.

Here is one more thing most of hte trucks in question on these forums are toys and will never be put through the rigors of a truck used for comerce therefor minor weaknesses in various componants will probably never be noticed.

 I'm not talking about the Tim the tool man Taylors who think they need to have 4 or 500 HP just to drive bob tail or with an empty trailer to a show a few times a year.
By dashby - Monday, June 14, 2010 11:41 AM
I agree with you Frank.  We go way overboard here on frames.  There is a lot of "don't do this and ya gotta do that" info here.

Al Miller has a KW that he butt welded an aluminum frame (straight vertical cut w/no glove etc.) and makes a living running this truck hard and fast.

Stay away from the flange with the hole or torch and I think a toy truck will be safe.  Different story for loaded commercial operations.

Dean
By Todd S - Tuesday, June 15, 2010 2:16 AM
Frank Surber (6/14/2010)


 If you have  a hole in a flange that someone drilled Just install a Gr8 bolt with hardened flat washers then torque the bolt to its rated spec. and forget about it, if it happens to be near the inner edge the bolt needs to be as tight as possible.

 


I noticed on the frame of my Oshkosh there are 14 or so large holes (3/4" or so)  drilled and taped in the top flange for attachment points I am guessing. All of the holes have a large allen head plug-set screw in the holes. 
By TEWHITEIV - Tuesday, June 15, 2010 5:24 PM
deguitars (6/11/2010)
Okay so basically you guys are saying don't worry just drill or weld at your leisure which seems to be what everyone does anyway with stretching, shortening, whatever. Heck, my frame had a bunch of extra holes in it that I've already welded up anyway to no ill effect so far (we're talking about steel here by the way). But why the warning not to drill "flanges" (thanks for the correction) and why not the web?

Cheers,
David


Think of the frame as a truss.  The flanges ARE the strength of the frame.  The web is the "spacer" between the two flanges.  If your frame had no flanges, and was just the web, then it's strength would be dependant on the 1/4" or 3/8" thickness of the edge.  Once the tensile strength of the edge had been exceeded, then the frame would rip apart like a sheet of paper.  With a flange on the edge, then you have 2 or 3 inches of metal that must be ripped apart at one time to break the frame. All frame design, trucks and trailers, are built around the basics of channel, H beam, or I beam.  All of this design is centered around, thicker web to space the flanges further apart to reduce the moment of stress to gain strength, or do you use a thicker flange with a smaller web to gain the same strength.  A flange drilled on top of the frame, where it may only be subjected to compression would last longer than a frame that was drilled on the bottom flange where it is under tension.  I've seen a lot of frames broken on dump trucks, and all breaks started at a weld, some as small as tacking a piece of angle to the web for a bracket.  A frame shop here that repairs a lot of butcher jobs from big name builders told me that the heat of a cigarette is too hot for a frame rail.
By Rogerstar1 - Friday, June 18, 2010 4:55 AM
My situation  may be more problematic due to the fact my frame rails (original to a 1971 Peterbilt and 235" long)  are aluminum.  Never a problem over the many years the tractor  has hauled heavy  from Southern California to Canadian Provinces.  No cracks nor from the other nemises: electrolysis and a weight reduction of 400 lbs I have been told.  I would like to extend my frame rails to 290".  My hope is that I can safely overlap (or in carpentry parlance 'sister' in along side my existing 235 inchers and add the 55 inches to get the 290 I'd like.  I know where another set of aluminum frames just like mine are that are long enough to serve my purpose.  My  four questions are:

1.   Can I accomplish this stretch safely?  Or AS safely as might be done with a first class steel frame?

2. Can  aluminum welding (heliarc?)  properly performed offer strengh and durability matching that of steel?

3.  How many inches overlap and what number of bolt holes and bolts should be used for maximm strength, rigidity and durability?

4.  True or false?  a) A stretched frame's failure would not in any case be sudden and catastrphic?  b)  If watched when truck is loaded heavy  a problem could be observed as it developed over time?

  Steel bolts would be necessary as aluminum's strength is less I would think.  Heat from drilling could be avoided by pilot holes and milling or reaming and a liquid lubricating oil as coolant.

Any thoughts on my particular problem would be much appreciated.

Rogerstar 
By deguitars - Friday, June 18, 2010 6:53 AM
Rarely do I ever ask anything interesting enough to turn into a two page discussion but this one turns up some really good information. In doing some research on the web the conventional wisdom of truck engineers seems to be that frames are under both tension and compression as they flex, so holes on the top flange might not be as damaging as ones on the bottom flange but they're all frowned upon. The web is less critical. As for Rogerstar1's question about stretching an aluminum frame, it's done all the time but honestly I still don't like it. My Dad was an engineer with Reynold's Aluminum - and he's forgotten more about aluminum than I'll ever know - and when I asked him about it he said "How do these guys stress relieve it after welding?"  I don't know?? Modern welding techniques are so much better than thirty years ago but I'd still be very cautious about welding on an aluminum frame that I didn't absolutely have to. You're not welding on new metal, it's probably thirty years old at this point and that presents some unique challenges.

Cheers,
David
By Todd S - Friday, June 18, 2010 8:36 AM
Rogerstar1 (6/18/2010)


  Steel bolts would be necessary as aluminum's strength is less I would think. 


With aluminum framed trucks is there ever any kind of electrolysis corrosion problem between the aluminum frame and the steel suspension pieces?
By Rogerstar1 - Friday, June 18, 2010 10:14 AM
dashby (6/14/2010)


Al Miller has a KW that he butt welded an aluminum frame (straight vertical cut w/no glove etc.) and makes a living running this truck hard and fast.
Dean


Whoa, hold up a second Dean.  That doesn't even sound right. Can't be right.  Basic intuition and my experience with an erector set in the 4th grade informs me on that.

Roger
By curdog - Friday, June 18, 2010 3:49 PM
Cam stretched a aluminum Pete (I think) a little while back. Very detailed pics on another forum. Maybe he can post a link.

Looked a pretty nice job ta me. 
By Rogerstar1 - Friday, June 18, 2010 5:30 PM
I would be very interested in reading about Cam's  experience. Do you recall the website?  It occurs to me that engineers at Ravens Trailers or Retenour (sp?)   might have some definate answers.  Surely something dispositive on the issue is knowable.  Also theTruck frame and Axle Repair Association is in Philly I think.  I'll call those folks and pass along what I discover.   Thank you David for the post.

Roger
By Aaron - Friday, June 18, 2010 8:24 PM
Do a search on this site for welding frames there is quite a bit around here.
By dashby - Saturday, June 19, 2010 6:52 PM
Rogerstar1;

Email me for Al Miller's phone #.  I don't think he does computer.

I don't know how much weight your intuition and erections influence aluminum frame welding.

I saw the splice at the show in Greeley, CO.  It was located just under the back of the sleeper.  (both rails)

Dean
By Rogerstar1 - Sunday, June 20, 2010 12:38 AM
Dashby:

Thanks.  If you would emai lAl's phone  number to  Rogerstar77@aol.com  I will give him a quick call.   Maybe he has the means now to send a confirmatory photograph or has a neighbor who can do so.   Thanks.  Rogerstar1
By Rob - Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:10 AM
I had an International "Fleetstar" twin screw dumptruck with a 14 ft. dump body on an aluminum frame that was "butt welded" together from a tractor, and it never broke after several years of rugged abuse. The frame actually did break but it was right in front of the front drive axle suspension hanger, (Hendrickson). The truck was so rusty and shot at this point it was scrapped. I used the aluminum frame to build an engine/trans run stand after stripping it clean.

The one inch wide welds on this were picture perfect and completely wrapped the frame inside and out, top and bottom. Whoever did the work certainly knew how to do it.

I would have to agree with Dean as I know it can be done. Correctly is the key. I would think that a butt weld with a steel plate bolted through on the inside would be the way to go after stress relieving the weld zone.

Rob
By Rogerstar1 - Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:30 AM
Thanks.  We are talking about aluminum frame rails here to the application of a steel plate 'sistering' it along the inside of the original rail would  have to  be by mechanical means rather than welding and that would still leave the potential for electrolysis.  I'm holding out for a first person account and a photograph.  Thought proposed by someone of inserting both butt ends ino a 'glove' arrangement  sounded good before recognizing that you'd block your ability to weld at the butt joint.

Is there an expert welder who can confirm my long time belief that heliarc (aluminum)  welding is generally not as strong and reliability as steel welding?

Rogerstar1
By Rob - Sunday, June 20, 2010 2:21 AM
Rogerstar1 (6/20/2010)
Thanks.  We are talking about aluminum frame rails here to the application of a steel plate 'sistering' it along the inside of the original rail would  have to  be by mechanical means rather than welding and that would still leave the potential for electrolysis.  I'm holding out for a first person account and a photograph.  Thought proposed by someone of inserting both butt ends ino a 'glove' arrangement  sounded good before recognizing that you'd block your ability to weld at the butt joint.

Is there an expert welder who can confirm my long time belief that heliarc (aluminum)  welding is generally not as strong and reliability as steel welding?

Rogerstar1


"Heliarc" is a trade name by the Linde Corporation when it was a division of the Union Carbide Corporation. At the time it was the patented process of "tig" (tungsten inert gas) welding.

It is my belief that a proper pre, and post treatment to a weld zone will produce the same or better strength ratio as the original parent, or base material that is welded given 100% penetration. "Proper" is the key. There are many different grades of aluminum available and each has a particular desired characteristic and properties about it. The correct filler material must be used to join, or fusion weld the material, and this must be fully understood and implemented for a satisfactory job to be realized.

I've welded truck frames, tool box hangers, fuel tank supports, radiator tanks, cylinder heads etc. that are all aluminum and have never had problems with breakage or cracking in the weld zone(s), so I know it can be done with acceptable strength.

Depending on needed specifications for the task at hand aluminum weighs between 5/8ths, and 2/3rds of what a like steel component does but requires more space. This is why a 3/4" aluminum frame rail flange vs. a 3/8" steel flange on a truck for the same basic yield strength.

I'm not an "expert" welder by any means, but certainly have done a lot of it.

As far as dissimilar metal corrosion between a steel support and the aluminum frame, sure, there will be some over time if the truck is worked out of doors. The onset of corrosion can be impeded with the addition of an insulating layer of epoxy primer and paint, a leather gasket, and grade 8 bolts with hardened washers. Grade 8 bolts and hardened washers torqued to the correct amount for the size of the fastener will provide an effective seal against moisture intrusion.

Rob
By Kid - Sunday, June 20, 2010 6:17 AM
Roger, I think,, this may be the one from Cam (1693power),

http://www.largecarmag.com/board/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7323&hilit=stretch

also, if you look at an aluminum frame KW with tortion bar(such as mine), it had a 3/8 steel sleeve inside the aluminum frame, to which the tortion setup attached,, from the factory. Supposedly had a special expoxy paint between them to stop the electrolosis. I have been toying with the air leaf swap idea, and have been told, that POR15 will more than suffice for the epoxy coating between.. for what thats worth..
By John_Costley - Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:44 PM
Kid (6/20/2010)
Roger, I think,, this may be the one from Cam (1693power),

http://www.largecarmag.com/board/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7323&hilit=stretch

also, if you look at an aluminum frame KW with tortion bar(such as mine), it had a 3/8 steel sleeve inside the aluminum frame, to which the tortion setup attached,, from the factory. Supposedly had a special expoxy paint between them to stop the electrolosis. I have been toying with the air leaf swap idea, and have been told, that POR15 will more than suffice for the epoxy coating between.. for what thats worth..


Kid,

That wont work, they want you to sign in.Can you just cut and paste it ?.John
By John_Costley - Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:48 PM
Todd S (6/18/2010)
Rogerstar1 (6/18/2010)


  Steel bolts would be necessary as aluminum's strength is less I would think. 


With aluminum framed trucks is there ever any kind of electrolysis corrosion problem between the aluminum frame and the steel suspension pieces?


Todd,

Depends on the climate.Up here in New England electrolysis was a big problem due to high moisture and salt exposure.Paint didnt stick long on '70s truck frames up here.With aluminum frames, or suspension components, electrolysis started pretty quick and ate in deep pretty quickly.Alot of older aluminum framed trucks were scrapped from it up here.One of the worst areas was under the fifth wheel mounts.John
By Kid - Sunday, June 20, 2010 2:44 PM
JC !!!!!!!!!!!!! glad yur back...  I probably could paste, but 4 forum pages worth ?  Y'all need a login,, its free...
By Todd S - Sunday, June 20, 2010 4:04 PM
Damn good to see you back John and thank you for the info.
By John_Costley - Sunday, June 20, 2010 10:48 PM
Kid (6/20/2010)
JC !!!!!!!!!!!!! glad yur back...  I probably could paste, but 4 forum pages worth ?  Y'all need a login,, its free...


Kid,

Funny thing is, I signed up over there a couple months ago.Another left coast forum user told me they were a little selective over there on who they will and wont let in, so I signed up to see what would happen.The sign up said it had to be reviewed and approved by a moderator.I still havent heard from them.Im guessing their moderators have been here on this forum and dont like my attitude, lol.Oh Well, dont know/dont really care, I just figured maybe they aint got their act together over there.Seems like they should be a little more professional since they make you pay just to look at pictures.Just my opinion.John
By Kid - Monday, June 21, 2010 2:13 AM
JC, just takes a bit when steve is out at shows.. I know Cam is over here too, and can post this stuff, he also knows and can contact Steve to get signed in. Its not a fully automated thing. You'll soon see they aint that selective,, and they let me on there..
By Rogerstar1 - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 4:46 AM
I went over to the largecar.com site and in the tech section found thorough treatment, fully photographed of aluminum frame stretches.  And by multiple welders who had performed the feat masterfully and repeatedly over the years relyng on how-to guides published by Kenworth and Freightliner!  Very reassuring.  Check out a thread by user 1693power.  One of his many photos is here, below.  He also writes clearly.  I was impressed by the entire website to be honest.  Editor Steve has really brought that site a long ways.  I note that Dean who's reference to  butt end frame welding I challenged was right and I stand corrected.  I'd still use a glove or plate for peace of mind but technically such splices as Dean describes have stood the test of time.     Roger    .Image
By Aaron - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:56 AM
What Cam has done there is over and above fro a toy truck, most people that do frames could take lessons on how to do it correctly from that. I still don't care about butt welding that is the most awful way to put a frame back together I've seen, those type of jobs shouldn't even make it out oft the shop door, but they do work, the next thing people do is bolt a squared off piece of what ever behind the weld and call it a glove, stiffiner or what ever all that short piece of steel will do is drop all the flex right where it ends and stress the frame even more but at a different location,. the correct way is to put in a long tapered glove that fits tight between the frame flanges and extends well beyond the splice this way flex and stress are diffused a longer distance.
By Todd S - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:49 AM
Does anyone know what they used to cut the frame? It is a very clean cut but was not sure if you could use something like a deep cut electric band saw. Not sure because of the depth and the angles in the cut.
By Rogerstar1 - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:50 PM
Todd - Yes  Largecar.com has a thread by 1693power on aluminum frame rail stretches that continues on for 4 dense pages packed with lucid Q and A, crystal clear photos and clear explanations by author.  I recall Cam (1693power) discusses his various tools including about three to achieve the cut.  I believe there was another pass or two made on the cut edge to apply a "V" for some reason he explains.  You'll hvae to go over and read it. You'll not be disappointed.  He made a believer outta me.     Roger