Alternative Methods for Sealing Overlapping Steel Members with Narrow Gaps During Galvanizing
Sultan, Abdullah Emad
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Narrow gaps in overlapping structural steel surfaces are problematic when being hot-dip galvanized due to the potential for trapped cleaning solutions between the surfaces. A seal-weld is often used to prevent the cleaning solutions from penetrating this gap. However, these welds are not necessary used for strength, and add fabrication costs because of the additional weld. The purpose of this research is to provide alternatives, which fall under two major categories, to the seal-weld fabrication process. The first one was motivated by the steel fabrication industry and uses a commercial silicone caulk to seal the narrow gap instead of a seal-weld. The second was motivated by the galvanizing industry and increases the narrow gap to a minimum of 3/32 in. to allow free flowing of the liquids including viscous molten zinc. 45 specimens in six different overlapping configurations were tested. Three experimental tasks were performed as part of this research: two different types of silicone caulks were used to partially substitute the seal-weld to prevent fluid penetration; an accelerated corrosion test was performed to determine the long-term corrosion resistance of each configuration; and a coating layer evaluation was performed to investigate the bond of the metallurgical layer between the steel and the coating. Results indicate that silicone only partially prevented the penetration of the cleaning solutions into the gap but performed poorly when fully galvanized. Also, the accelerated corrosion and coating investigations indicated that the suggested caulks and the 3/32 in. gap were not as efficient as the seal-weld solution.
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