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Go Back   TDIClub Forums > VW TDI Discussion Areas > TDI Power Enhancements

TDI Power Enhancements Discussions about increasing the power of your TDI engine. i.e. chips, injectors, powerboxes, clutches, etc. Handling, suspensions, wheels, type discussion should be put into the "Upgrades (non TDI Engine related)" forum. Non TDI vehicle related postings will be moved or removed. Please note the Performance Disclaimer.

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Old May 16th, 2018, 12:56   #1
bennyboy26j
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Default Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Intercooler Tubing

Well I am at the point in my ALH build where I need to start planning my intercooler pipe routing and I got to thinking, which material should I use? In the past I have always used aluminum because it was light weight and I had all the room in the world to work with so size didn't matter. In all my searching on here, I have found both aluminum and SS. So I figured I would start a conversation with all of you about the pros and cons of each. Also, what size tubing would you suggest and why?

Thanks for your input
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Old May 16th, 2018, 18:25   #2
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most people think im nuts but use mild steel on most stuff i do. most people like aluminum for its light weight and heat dispensation. stainless looks nice but cracks sometimes. if i was doing a weekend car id to stainless or aluminum. dd i use mild steel but thats just my preference.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 18:32   #3
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That crossed my mind as well. Use mild and just paint it or powder coat it even.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 18:37   #4
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yep mandrel bends tack it up with mig and finish it with the tig
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Old May 16th, 2018, 19:15   #5
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Whatever material you decide to use, get a set of these to help in the mock up. They're a bit pricey but high quality and if you've ever done this kind of work without them, you won't hesitate at picking up a set (I think I have 3 different sizes)

https://www.icengineworks.com/produc...-clamps-set-4/

I'd go with 2" tube (not pipe) since it's commonly available and a tick bigger than OEM.

I've fabbed tubing with all 3 materials and mild steel is by far the easiest to work with, least expensive and a good coat of paint goes a long ways in keeping it from rusting out.

Stainless looks nice, stays that way, but is heavy and really unnecessary for boost piping in my opinion. Most difficult to cut/form, has the lowest heat transfer coefficient of the 3, and is more difficult to weld than mild steel, but easier than aluminum.

Aluminum is likely the best due to weight and heat dissipation (this works both ways as it absorbs heat equally well), but is the most difficult to work with - particularly the welding part but it scratches and dents easily as well.

Woolf Aircraft is a good source for the tubing and has most all sizes/materials in 1D CLR (really tight bend radius) so you can fit in tight places. Made in USA and fair prices as well.

http://catalog.woolfaircraft.com/vie...um-bent-elbows
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Old May 16th, 2018, 22:50   #6
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Only Aluminum for me , its light, its beautiful and for me the easiest to work with.
Stainless needs purging when welding, pita.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 00:08   #7
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I like aluminum, even though it's tougher to weld up it's worth that much.

Realities of life say that I use mostly junkyard sourced 409 exhaust tubing, rust and all.
What aluminum I've got is mainly junkyard sourced as well, in the form of cold air intakes. Sadly it's all much larger than I'd use on a TDI.

Stainless is cool because you can burn it together with normal mild steel mig wire long as you don't care about it rusting eventually.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 00:11   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Macradiators.com View Post
Stainless needs purging when welding, pita.
Don't burn through!
adjusting down output inductance (or removing the capacitors) helps a lot with MIG, I hear low on-time pulse TIG does similar stuff, but I've only got transformer machines.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 07:17   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTurboAlh View Post
most people think im nuts but use mild steel on most stuff i do. most people like aluminum for its light weight and heat dispensation. stainless looks nice but cracks sometimes. if i was doing a weekend car id to stainless or aluminum. dd i use mild steel but thats just my preference.
I use mild steel exhaust tubing and MIG it togeather. Then I smooth the welds out and coat it with this.


The stuff drys with a hard, textured rubbery surface. People always compliment my piping and ask what it is. It ends up looking somewhat like and OEM product when the piping is fit nicely.

I would use aluminum if I had a TIG.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 09:01   #10
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So far I am leaning towards aluminum. I have a TIG welder, and will be getting a MIG soon with a spool gun so I can weld aluminum with either. I am certainly not good at welding, but I can make things seal. I like the idea of grining down the welds and using that textured paint that vtpsd suggested. Its kinda cheating (according to the welders I have worked with), but you gotta do what you gotta do. Thanks for the input so far!
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Old May 17th, 2018, 09:24   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTurboAlh View Post
yep mandrel bends tack it up with mig and finish it with the tig
X2 here! I use mild on everything, cheap, readily available anywhere. I get a random box of bends from http://www.mandrelbends.com but a lot of time I end up doing pie cuts for tighter bends..
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Old May 17th, 2018, 12:03   #12
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It depends more on what you're capable of working with and what you're attaching it to. If you're welding to an aluminum intercooler you should use aluminum obviously. If you're making connecting pipes that will be joined with rubber sleeves it doesn't matter. They all have their advantages. I like mild steel for a lot of stuff but it can rust inside where you really don't want rust unless you paint inside and out. Stainless and Aluminum won't have that problem. Powder coating can fix that issue too. Mild steel is easier to weld even with a glue gun (mig) though I'd like to have access to the insides of the welds for cleanup.

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Old May 17th, 2018, 15:14   #13
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I like stainless. It welds nice and forms beads nicely using my janky lathe bead roller. I back purge using my MIG gas tank and flowmeter (yes it works fine, feel free to scold me about the co2 content, I don't care...) I use rubber gloves to cap the ends. Cut a fingertip off one and tape the purge hose into it, turn the flowmeter up until the fingers are "semi-erect" and go for it. Reduce flow as you close up the welds or the gloves blow off...
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Old May 18th, 2018, 04:22   #14
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I had an old Nissan that had mild steel IC piping painted black and eventually it did rust.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 04:44   #15
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I feel that it would definitely be necessary to paint the inside and outside of the tubing if it was mild steel.
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