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Is a T-rex worth it?


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#1 LithiumLogica

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 01:51 PM

I'm trying to gather the parts to build a gas forge and I've gotten my firebricks, my angle iron, flat bar(for the frame), etc.

I still haven't gotten my propane tank, regulator, pressure gauge, hose, or burner.

Now, my question is: is a T-Rex burner worth the money, if I build a forge with roughly 350 cubic inches?

I ask because it's either a T-rex burner or something I fab up myself. The one I build myself, I'm certain will not be as efficient and, being that this is a hobby for now, I want to be as efficient as possible so it isn't as much of a money sink(I know it will be, but every little bit helps).

I'm also worried, as I haven't checked out prices on all the parts needed, that I won't be able to build a home-made burner for less than half the price of the T-Rex. That would put a huge damper on my decision to save money, because the T-Rex, from what I understand, is more specialized in design and is pretty well guaranteed to work when I get it, saving lots of time and money I would otherwise spend running around town and hardware stores and getting specific tools.

I know I can build one for pretty cheap and I know I can get it to work after a certain amount of time tweaking it, but I'm just worried it'd be more worth while to just buy the expensive T-Rex burner and save myself the trouble.

I guess I'm not really asking for a definitive answer, but more an open discussion about pros and cons to help me make up my mind. And I have read up on the T-Rex info and Reil burners and such. And if anyone knows any better design than the ones on Zoeller Forge Home Page Gas Forge parts, Atmospheric Burners, and Blacksmithing, cheaper, easier, etc, let me know.

So, to top it all off, am I right in being concerned about making the home-made burner?

#2 Frosty

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 02:58 PM

Welcome aboard Lithiumlogica.

You've pretty well boiled the question down to it's essence. I usually simply rephrase what you've said so the person asking can make their decision based on what THEY want or need based upon their abilities and funds.

Rex makes good burners, they function out of the box as advertised. They are however pretty darned expensive. The ones I make don't perform as well as Rex's, or Mike Porter's but are as good as a Sidearm and a notch above a linear like Ron Reil's. I can turn one out in about 15 mins with up to another 20 mins for tuning. But I have a lathe to keep it all aligned.

The question you have is the right one based on the right basic parameters but you're the only one who can answer it for you. Rex isn't the only one making and selling burners, Larry Zoeller sells modified Sidearms and kits or just components. While falling a few percent short of a Rex and several percent short of a well made Porter type 5 you won't have to spend nearly as much as for a Rex or spend several hours (if you have a machine shop and know how to use it) up to several days building a Porter type 5.

If you build your own you WILL spend time tuning it, maybe you'll get off "lucky" and it'll work perfectly right off the bench. Frankly, I think learning to tune one is a real benefit to the user, hence the " " marks around lucky.

There IS however a burner type that tunes easily, on the fly. In fact you need to tune it every time you fire it up but it's SO easy nobody seriously complains. That's a gun burner. (blown)

The upside is: Ease of build, ease of tuning, plentiful heat, insensitivity to back pressure.

The downside is: initial expense, larger and heavier, tied to electricity.

A gun burner requires a blower so the expense is significantly higher, unless you buy a high end or commercial naturally aspirated burner. You won't need the fab skills as a gun burner doesn't require much precision at all, almost none in fact.

My questions to you:

Are you more interested in just using the forge and can you afford to drop more than a hundred $ on a burner?

Do you like to tinker and do you have the time patience for it?

If you decide to build I'll be more than happy to lend all the assistance I can.

Frosty

Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.

"unknown"


#3 Pault17

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:13 PM

LithiumLogica,
listen to Frosty. I have built one of his t-jets, but have not had the tiem to really tune it. Mine made a flame that looked like my T-rex shorty, but has a tendancy to flame-out all around the jet and openings when turned down or off.:o

As for the t-rex stuff. I have never had any problems with mine. to me, until I have the time and space to really tinker, the shorty lets me bang iron while learning the tinkering part.

carpe malleus, lorem eget.   pax, paul

In reality, there are only four basic treatments a blacksmith can make to iron; Drawing, upsetting, bending and twisting. When one has truly mastered these four treatments, one may consider one's self a blacksmith. - arftist


#4 Frosty

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:45 PM

LithiumLogica,
listen to Frosty. I have built one of his t-jets, but have not had the tiem to really tune it. Mine made a flame that looked like my T-rex shorty, but has a tendancy to flame-out all around the jet and openings when turned down or off.:o


Can you take a pic of it misbehaving? I may be able to give you a pointer or two.

Frosty

Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.

"unknown"


#5 JosephPrivott

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:13 PM

Frosty's got it.

I JUST (after a week of fiddling) finished tuning my home-made, and it's nowhere near the quality of a "commercial" (referring to any that you can go ahead and buy). Part of it is because i tried to scale the burner down, and because it's a homebrew, like Frosty said.
The first question I ask myself when something doesnít seem to be beautiful is why do I think itís not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.Ē - John Cage

#6 bipolarandy

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:28 PM

Lithium , you might want to check out Jymm hoffmans forges, they are simple and cheap to make, Pretty much just black iron pipe. The most costly part of it is the blower. http://www.iforgeiro...313-post17.html

Iv used two T-rex burners for a wile , and im not really impressed with the design, they take a long time to heat up and use alot of gas.

#7 solvarr

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:29 PM

I get mine from ellis knife works 40$
My regulator costs under 20$ from The Gas Company of North Carolina
cheap and almost no tuning.
Burners and Components - Ellis Custom Knifeworks
Took under 30 minutes to get it running well from kit to forge.
including reglator, gague, and hoses I come in at arround 80$
-Solvarr

#8 viking-sword

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:50 PM

Lith, These guys all make a really good point so I can't expound on alternative burners except to say that I've made my share of burners from many different plans, back when I had time to fiddle with it, and I enjoy doing that, alot. I now own and use three T-rex's and a shorty burner and can only say that there came a time for methat I wanted to do my forge work and knifemaking more than building different equipment to see what might work best for me, and at that point in time I had the money, so I bought the T-rex burners, and I've personally never regreted it for a moment for many reasons. I've never had a problem with them, adjustments are easy, light up is easy and temp control is very easy, they also come up to forging temp pretty fast. The only draw back for me is sometimes I am challenged with maintaining cooler temps with the T-rex, which is why I also bought a Shorty burner, and I use this for a very small forge for forging real delicate pieces and for some heat treating applications. This is just my two cents for what it's worth to ya! Wes

By the way, in case your wondering, I use One T-Rex burner for common forge and two of them for my double burner damascus forge.

#9 Pault17

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:37 PM

Frosty, the next time I get it hooked up I will take pictures. The flameout is typically with the tip and the plumbing connecting the hose to the burner. I soaped the whole thing while under pressure with no bubbles.

carpe malleus, lorem eget.   pax, paul

In reality, there are only four basic treatments a blacksmith can make to iron; Drawing, upsetting, bending and twisting. When one has truly mastered these four treatments, one may consider one's self a blacksmith. - arftist


#10 Frosty

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 01:04 AM

Did you use teflon tape/paste?

What did you use for the supply tube between the hose and mig tip? If it's lamp rod you need the tape or paste because the threads aren't tapered and won't seal on their own.

I don't know why it wouldn't leak at working pressure and leak at lower pressure.

Frosty

Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.

"unknown"


#11 LithiumLogica

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:22 AM

Thanks for the welcome.

In response to Frosty,

I can't really drop more than $100 on a burner and, as my time isn't worth more than minimum wage an hour, I can afford to spend less money and more time. I was hoping I could get away with that much on the whole forge, a hope which has already been smashed. Now, as for patience, yes I have it. Do I enjoy tinkering? Yes, I do like playing with numbers and I don't mind tweaking the burner. That'll help farther down the line, should I have any trouble with the burner, I may have a better idea of what's wrong and how to fix it. So, I think my decision is going to be in favor of the home-built burner.

And to Solvarr,

I was shooting for around under a hundred dollars. It'd be nice to achieve that, but I'm already up to $140, at least, since I bought some cheapy taps and dies and drill bits from Harbor Freight and only -some- of my material with which to build the burner. I have all the firebricks, the angle iron, the flat bar, and some of the parts for the burner. That leaves me with needing a regulator, pressure gauge, propane tank, hose, some all-thread, some nuts for the all-thread, and the remainder of the burner parts.

I was hoping to do this cheaper, but I realize I've over-purchased on several things to be cheaper in the long run. I bought one length of 3/8" roundbar extra when I bought steel, I had to buy my angle iron and flat bar, as well as the round bar, in 20' lengths. I bought some teflon paste when I bought some of my burner parts and spent about $30 on bits, taps, and dies because I don't have but a few.

I was asking around for prices on steel and there was this one guy who, when I asked, laughed and said they don't sell anything that small. He did, however, offer to allow me to check out their scrap and drops to see if I'd like to take anything with me. I was looking for the top plate for the weldless firebrick forge from Zoeller's site. I'm really excited about that little break-through.

I have/can get basic power tools, but I don't own a lathe, welding machine, or a shop, at the moment. I can make room in -a- shop, for now, though. I already have the angle iron, flat bar, some nuts and bolts(that are the right size), an anvil(a few, if only one good one), I think I own a grinder, but I'm not sure where it is. I'm still in the process of gathering materials and finding my things that have been moved around a bit since last I used them.

Anyway, enough from me. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me and even though it wasn't so much a question, so much helpful input comes of it.

Just for clarification, I will be building the burner myself, but it'll be a while in getting done, since I don't yet have everything I need. I will try to get started preparing everything I do already have. I'll probably be building two gas forges of different design, in the end, because once I've built one, I'll want to improve/tweak/have an extra around.

Thanks again!




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