Is welding stainless possible?
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Author:  NorEaster [ Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Is welding stainless possible?

Is it possible to weld stainless?
Curious as I would really like to have a 4" Redhawk fitted with the same sight used on the Wiley Clapps and Match Champions
Wonder if it would be possible for a gunsmith to weld up the adjustable sight area and mill it out to accept the combat fixed sight
Just curious

Author:  bcgunworks [ Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Yes. It could be filled with a tig welder. But then the heat treat of the frame would be changed.

A better option may be to have a custom fixed sight made that could fit down in the rear sight cutout.

Author:  427mach1 [ Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Also, any time you weld something you risk warping it.

Author:  DPris [ Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

A while back I asked Hamilton Bowen to do some welding on a stainless Ruger for me.
A polite "No thanks." :)

Author:  Pal Val [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

I asked my son, who is a metal worker. He told me you can do it, but the result will look pretty ugly, all burned and blackened.

Author:  Carry_Up [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Of course you can weld stainless. There is a whole industry out there with tons of experience and products designed just for that purpose. A better question is what method to use to achieve a good result on your sight project.

Actual welding on a barrel might cause warping and then your accuracy is out the window. Front sights on the Vaquero, for example, are soft soldered at a low temperature. A good result can probably be achieved with low temp silver solder. Done correctly, a good silver solder job is very strong and will leave only a thin line between the sight and the barrel. It is worth looking into.


Author:  Varminterror [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

I'm kinda surprised to see this kind of response here. Guys weld stainless every day - I have a staff of 104 fitters and welders under me alone that do it EVERY DAY...

It's a bit more complicated than welding carbon steel, and there's certainly no reason for a guy like Hamilton Bowen to take on a job like that when he keeps his calendar full with "standard" customization work, but welding stainless steel isn't prohibitively onerous. I'm a TERRIBLE welder compared to my guys, but they showed me some of the tricks and I've done a bit of stainless welding with success. Ruined ONE ruger grip frame, but worked on the other. If you knock out the temper, you just gotta retemper it. From what I understand (and experienced first hand) if it's going to crack from improper heating, it's probably going to do so right away. Having access to industrial Xray 'proofing' equipment helps, of course, to prove that things are in order before you put load on them. The bigger challenge, that the boys are telling me at least, would be knowing the exact alloy that Ruger uses in their frames. Knowing that, they're telling me it'd be no sweat.

"Sooting" from the weld is a matter of polishing afterwards. No big deal compared to the weld and reprofiling job itself.

Author:  DPris [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Bowen said it can be done, don't misunderstand; it just wasn't worth the trouble.
And while it CAN be done, not a whole lotta competent shops set up for it on guns.

Author:  NH Rugerman [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 4:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Find a reputable stainless steel fabrication shop and ask them to do it, the shop will figure out the correct welding rod.. Let's remember that the previous version of the Red Label used a two piece STAINLESS STEEL receiver that Ruger welded together. Stainless can be welded and then ground and polished so that you cannot see a seam, as on the Red label...I know, I used to run a large SS fab shop in Boston....

Author:  Jeepnik [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Yes, but it takes a good welder to do it right. Sometimes it's more of an art than a science. But, it's actually easier than welding cast iron.

Author:  schloss [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Welding stainless is doable with GTAW, GMAW, SMAW, O-A, pretty much whatever you want. You will run the chance of distortion if the welder isn't as good as he needs to be. Appropriate preheat and post weld heat control being most important.

I have never seen any information on the alloy in use on any if Ruger's stuff. Nor have I seen any information on their exact casting process. Also consider the fact that Bowen will probably have to accept all liability on that frame if he welds on it. All the answers you gotten here are accurate, just addressed from different points of view. I agree with the idea if soldering in a filler and rolling forward.

Not impossible, should be no adverse affects, but there probably aren't many out there willing to do it.

Author:  kctgb [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

I have been a weldor for over thirty years, stainless is welded everyday all around the world. Tig is the preferred way for welding stainless but sometimes tig won't work very well in the wind. Another problem with stainless compared to other alloys is it lends itself to warpage at a much greater rate. When welding stainless it's good to move fast or have the pieces clamped down in a fixture, that doesn't always work either.

Firearms are a hole lot different that welding on other things as most firearms are hot packed heat treated for tempering. heating up the gun while welding will usually take the tempering out and from what I have seen it's a very tricky thing to reheat treat a firearm and not have substantial warpage. I have welded on some firearms but not on critical areas and i don't recommend others do it either.

Author:  Hondo44 [ Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

IIRC, Ruger frames are not heat treated. They rely on the alloy and the bulk.

But it seems to me that a fixed combat sight is produced by some companies to replace the factory adjustable rear sight on Ruger and Smith double actions.

Author:  Varminterror [ Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Jim's right, Ruger frames are not heat treated for hardening, other than the casting process itself. But, it's still generally necessary to "heat treat" stainless any time you weld it though, in terms of pre-heating and post-tempering to ensure that you haven't encouraged dislocations in the metallic grain structure that will cause uneven stresses when cooled - which is what causes warping or even cracking - or leave a low integrity "weak spot". So you still have to somewhat "retemper" stainless, even if it wasn't "hardened" to begin with, sort of erasing what localized 'hardening' or dislocation you created while welding.

Author:  Hondo44 [ Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Is welding stainless possible?

Very good info. When I Tig weld, I allow cooling between laying beads. I have more trouble preventing pits that I find when I dress down the welding and have to go back and fill with more welding. One thing that has helped is to soak the part in acetone and get every last trace of oil out of the pores and off the rod.

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