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You asked for it... So here it is. In response to reader requests, American Farriers Journal will present a series of articles about the welding tasks facing many farriers. Our first installment deals with one of the more difficult challenges, welding aluminum.
As aluminum shoes rise in popularity and find their way onto more horses, it becomes more likely that farriers will eventually find themselves needing to modify one of these keg shoes with a bit of welding.
Get ready for a challenge. Farriers used to working with iron and steel will have to develop a new touch for tackling aluminum, which has very different characteristics. “Aluminum disperses heat very quickly,” says Greg Runyan, an experienced welder and a customer service representative for Praxair, a company that provides welding supplies and industrial-use gases worldwide.
“The heat in a piece of aluminum wants to spread out; it wants to make the whole horseshoe the same temperature,” Runyan says. “The heat pulls away from the weld, which tends to cause cracking. You have to compensate for that by using proper techniques. With aluminum, you have to work fast; you can’t put a lot of heat on it for long.
“There’s a lot of mass, a lot of metal in that shoe and bar. We have to get it hot enough to melt so the two pieces can flow together and fill in the cracks, and we’ve got to do this without turning it into a big puddle on the table. It can…