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Cutting Torch

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  • Other: Cutting Torch

    Not restricted to Studebaker; but need recommendations concerning a cutting torch outfit.
    Right now looking at cutting some bolts in impossible-to-reach places with a portable cutter/grinder. Probable some light metal cutting later. May even try and learn how to braze.

    Any thoughts regarding the $250 - $300 portable outfits with 20 cu ft oxy and 10 cu ft acetylene tank? Harbor Freight and Amazon sells them. Are they worth the money??

    Other ideas or comments for a potential beginner who is still "just thinking"?

    Thanks.

  • #2
    A person can not have too many tools. That is a good starter set. They just don't make them like they used to. I had a good set of Victor torches that cost as much in the 60's as they do today. After losing, or having walk off a few pieces, you can not replace them. They will last you for years.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Nugene View Post
      Not restricted to Studebaker; but need recommendations concerning a cutting torch outfit.
      Right now looking at cutting some bolts in impossible-to-reach places with a portable cutter/grinder. Probable some light metal cutting later. May even try and learn how to braze.

      Any thoughts regarding the $250 - $300 portable outfits with 20 cu ft oxy and 10 cu ft acetylene tank? Harbor Freight and Amazon sells them. Are they worth the money??

      Other ideas or comments for a potential beginner who is still "just thinking"?

      Thanks.
      For that money I'd check my local craigslist and newspaper ads. If you find a set, have the owner fire them up and cut with them. If you can't find a set there, The HF or other units should be just fine. If you were closer, I might make you a deal on a set I have and haven't used in years. Also check the cost of filling the tanks as a data point. Gas has gotten expensive so for your use small tanks might make sense.

      Bob

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      • #4
        You need to plan ahead when working with the small tanks....use the torches frugally.....the gas supply really doesn't last very long.

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        • #5
          Tanks are the bugaboo.
          If you buy them, you own them, and you will have to have them tested (at your expense) when the hydrotest date comes up (or they won't refill them).
          If you 'lease' the tanks, then you are paying for the gas only, but may have to put a deposit down to the tank supplier.
          Small tanks are easy to move around, but they need re-filling at the worst opportune time.
          If you are only going to use it sparingly, then the small tank setup should be OK.
          Most people I know end up getting bigger tanks and keep the smaller ones around for backup when they run one of the big tanks empty.
          HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)

          Jeff


          Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain



          Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

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          • #6
            If you are doing cutting only, or maybe some brazing, look into oxy-propane. I know a guy in the scrap business, and that's what he uses, exclusively, for cutting big steel. Propane is much, much cheaper than acetylene, which is the expensive part of oxy-acetylene welding.

            I have purchased cylinders for acetylene, oxygen, CO2 for MIG, and argon for TIG. They are all sold on an exchange basis, so the issue of recertifying cylinders is no problem. But propane tanks, if owned, do need to be recertified, because it's your tank gets refilled on the spot, usually. But they are not terribly expensive, either, for the usual 20-lb cylinder.
            Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DEEPNHOCK View Post
              Tanks are the bugaboo.
              If you buy them, you own them, and you will have to have them tested (at your expense) when the hydrotest date comes up (or they won't refill them).
              If you 'lease' the tanks, then you are paying for the gas only, but may have to put a deposit down to the tank supplier.
              Small tanks are easy to move around, but they need re-filling at the worst opportune time.
              If you are only going to use it sparingly, then the small tank setup should be OK.
              Most people I know end up getting bigger tanks and keep the smaller ones around for backup when they run one of the big tanks empty.
              Take heed to Jeff's words. Waaaay back around 1990, I bought a small Lincoln wire feed. It came with a small gas tank. It was my first welder, and I pretty much blew all that gas out just trying to learn to weld. Then, I went overboard and bought one of those huge tanks. I'm still using it. Same tank of gas. I have no idea about the inspection date, where, or what to do when and if I ever need more gas. I have a friend in the fabrication business and might be able to sneak my old tank in with some of his when he accumulates enough to exchange. It's one of those "oops" moments that is easy for us "backyard" goof-offs to overlook.
              John Clary
              Greer, SC

              SDC member since 1975

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              • #8
                I would stay away from the cheaper ones, they are not built to last and cut horrible. Sometimes the flame is hard to dial in too and then you'll be torching parts of the car that you don't want to. They maybe ok for some light brazing but that's it. Look for either Victor or Smith both are great and offer various set ups to meet needs and price. I know people who bought the cheap ones and they always seem to end up borrowing mine anyway. There is nothing wrong with an older used set either, Victor and Smith torches are built to last. I picked up a Smith medium size set up for cheap from a dealership that went out of business. I also have some nice Victor heavy duty regulators that I got from a small shop that went under. Definitely check Craigs List.

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                • #9
                  I see you are in NC. Check and see if you have a Machine and Welding Supply in your area. That is where I get my tanks from and even though I bought the tanks up front, whenever I need a re-fill I take it back to them and they swap it for a full tank. All you have to pay for is gas.

                  As for the the torch, I wouldn't consider anything but a Victor or Smith from a welding shop. You can get parts for the ones at a welding shop. It is unlikely you will be able to find parts for the ones you get online or from a big box store.

                  If you are just cutting thin stuff, 3/8" or less, I would seriously consider an Oxygen / Propane setup. The one I have hooks up to the same type cylinder you have in your grill. That way the cylinder in my grill is always available for a back-up. Propane gets plenty hot to cut thin stuff and it is a lot cheaper.

                  My first torch was a setup from Lowes. When I decided I wanted to get a rose bud tip, I couldn't find one to fit. I made the same mistake with my first welder. I bought a Century from Sams Club and never could get it to weld consistently. Later I bought a Smith torch and Miller welder and have been very happy with the new equipment. Buy the best tools you can afford. You will never regret it.
                  Wayne
                  "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

                  sigpic‚Äč

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                  • #10
                    Amen to that. There is nothing more frustrating than having a tool that will not efficiently perform the task you purchased it for, and when it comes to torches and welders, substandard units can screw up and ruin stuff in a matter of seconds that you cannot afford to have screwed up.
                    Get the best professional quality unit you can afford, even if you have to buy used.

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                    • #11
                      I appreciate all the comments . Thanks very much!

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                      • #12
                        If you can't find anything used I'd hold out for the Polish made Lincoln/Harris weld/cut outfit at Loews/Home Depot, and plan on getting a few extra welding tips smaller than the single big-un provided.

                        In the last century ( ~1973) I bought a small sized oxy-acetylene welding torch set because of the late, great Carrol Smith's comments about the excessive size of the typical Heavy Duty set for use on race cars (battleship torch I think he said) ( I fancied myself a race car/motorcycle fabricator/tuner). I worked at NAPA so got a good deal on a "NAPA welding" ( marquette) lightweight autobody torch set. Compact Aluminum torch body. Displaying unusual foresight I Separately Got all the tips from 0 thru 5 or 6.
                        It came with a cutting torch that I've used a bunch of times for bolt vaporization and cutting steel up to 1/4 inch or so.
                        over the years I've replaced a bunch of ancient o-rings in the tips and valves. Bad o-rings make themselves known when a section of the torch bursts into sooty black acetylene flame.

                        A few years back one of the regulators developed an internal leak, so when the torch is off pressure builds up, and upon re-start the flame adjustment changes for what feels like 3 minutes. A rubber seat is old stale toast. I guess I should have wound them down to zero when not in use.

                        I went looking for regulator repair kits using factory part numbers. Marquette is LONG gone. Regulator repair places don;t list parts, but are "sure' they can rebuild it for 1-200 bucks. That's about what a new name brand regulator costs.
                        I looked at the HF sets. Not impressed with feel or construction. HF reportedly has good spare parts support, at least on some products.
                        Regardless, I passed, and got the Lincoln harris set (no tanks, thanks) at Lowes . It is much bigger and clunkier than my lightweight set, but it'll do.

                        The Lincoln harris set is made in Poland. Many Parts that used to be made of brass are now made of brass plated steel. The parts are real Harris, but good luck deciphering the codes for the various torch families, as I had to do to find replacement torch tips.

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                        • #13
                          I always, always, always turn the gas off at the cylinder valve when I am done using the torch. My welding outfit is an ancient Smith set, inherited from my father, and it was old when he got it. Somehow, any pressure in the acetylene line bleeds off (despite the hoses having been replaced), so leaving the tank valve on would be sure to blow down the tank over a period of weeks or months.
                          Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                          • #14
                            I own several tanks, about 10 all together. The ones I use on the gas outfit, I kept upsizing when I'd exchange for full tanks, until I finally got such large tanks that I couldn't move them around or load them, so I backed off to smaller one. (You can go too big, and they are very heavy.) I think my current gas and ox2 are 80 CF Acetylene, and 240 CF O2 if I remember right. If you do much cutting, you will use the OX2 much quicker than the gas.

                            Anyway, on to the point I wanted to make: If you buy an outfit used with tanks, or if you buy just used tanks from a private party, be sure that you get a receipt with all the sellers information, and be sure they are owner tanks and not lease tanks. I'd take them to a welding supply and have them checked right away to be sure you are the new owner, and not the person who is now responsible for years of unpaid demurrage costs, because you just bought some lease only tanks. The tanks are clearly marked if you know what to look for. This can also vary in different parts of the country. I took a set of tanks which I'd purchased at the welding supply in Washington down to California with me, and I had to produce my receipts showing I'd purchased the tanks in order for the Cal welding supply to refill them (actually exchange them). No such problem on the return trip, but you never know. Keep those receipts, forever, everytime you refill (exchange) your tanks.

                            My experience is that the tanks never loose their value at the welding supply, if you want to trade in for a larger or smaller tank. As for the service fee for recertifying, you will get hit with that about every other fill. Just my experience...

                            PS Ditto what Gordr said about shutting off the tank valves after every use, somehow they leak down if you don't. ALWAYS back off your regulator settings all the way so the internal springs in them don't loose tension. Two stage regulators are far better than single stage units, don't go cheap there. A combo welding/cutting torch is good, but a dedicated cutting torch will probably do a much better job for you on cutting. Buy the best cart you can afford with large wheels to make moving the setup around easy.

                            Use extreme care with those tanks, if one falls over and breaks off the valve, it turns into a sky rocket, and will exit most buildings in a matter of seconds, right through the walls/roof, and anything else in it's way. Strap them in a vertical position! NEVER use an acetylene tank on it's side, it has liquid in it that absorbs the gas, and the liquid needs to stay in the tank!

                            Just some thoughts...
                            Last edited by Corley; 12-03-2013, 09:29 AM.
                            Corley

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                            • #15
                              All good advice. My father let me loose with the oxy/acetylene gear when I was 12. One thing I learned the hard way: with goggles on you only see part of the flame. You won't see the part that gets you. Good luck.
                              Dave Warren (Perry Mason by day, Perry Como by night)

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