Not sure if I've ever stumbled through this forum before, but it looks like a great site, and I'd like to thank Glenn, as well as everyone else here for what you all have done
I was actually looking for a site with experienced oxy/acetylene pro's/enthusiasts to ask for input about an old torch kit recently acquired at a warehouse clean-out sale,. (more on that in the proper thread) without landing in a miller/hobart/lincoln etc forum where brand name might be somewhat one-sided , and far down the page your iforgeiron name caught my interest. I checked it out and lo an behold, here I am!
Anyways, here we go, me and blacksmithing go way back to when I was 4 or 5. I'm now almost 64. My family was walking through the woods near our house on an 80 acre farm in the boonies, my father, not long since returning from the WWII, loved farming, and had bought this little piece of heaven, and started a family. Suddenly we walked past a huge iron tub on legs, filled with cement, with a hand operated blower mounted on the side, "that's the old blacksmith shop" he said as we went on by That tub is now near sunken from view in the ground not far from the house where I live now, which sits on the same spot as the 4 room one we lived in then. All the attachments and other misc. pieces are long gone, as we were away many years while he sought to feed his family. (farming small places near went extinct in the late 50s/early 60s)
Fast forward to the late 70s when I was bringing my mother back from somewhere and we stopped at a little country store which had a very few groceries but I noticed a table with some books for sale and one was a very thick book about welding , circa 1976, which I acquired for a buck. I didn't really mess with it for awhile, I just liked those kind of books, even gave it to an uncle for a year or 3, but it eventually came back, and in the early 80s I bought a little plumbing torch set at a pawnshop for about $200, which was by lay-away as I was not making lots of money working on a small ranch in N Texas. I eventually brought it home and began tinkering with it, and even at that, those little bottles didn't last long. Eventually, while brouzing around a welding shop I asked the proprieter about larger ones and he swapped those little ones in at the same price he was selling them for so I got larger bottles on the cheap that way, eventually trading up to the largest ones, which were far more economical to run.
I was getting into everything, studying that welding book, which covered every aspect of welding, metals identification, heat treatment, brazing, even used it in rebuilding my regulators. I was to the point of considerations of building a large kiln, thinking of making forged and treated gears and such for tractors, etc., but the money ran dry and there wasn't much work here so I packed it away (left it so my dad could use it) and headed elsewhere for a couple of years. The job was ok but the pay wasn't much better, at least tho, it was full time, so after I got tired of that I came back home for a couple more years. Then I fell in love and we took off to the city lights. I sold most of my mechanic tools and such, even the torch set. I asked the guy at the welding shop about what I could do with the bottles and he looked at his rates chart and quoted me a price like an old coke bottle that you returned, and I think it was only about 15% less than I'd payed for them, so that 6 years or so of fun cost me very little, and it was sure worth it
I even took my knowledge of torches on my next job there, as a ship fitter in a barge yard. I liken ship fitting to carpentry, which I started at an early age, except you use a torch and welder instead of a saw and nails. I eventually left the ship yard, the unions had fallen apart, it was a "right to work state", and I didn't see they were doing us a bit of good at that time. Eventually returning to carpentry, except in a commercial environment, which I found to be much more satisfactory and rewarding, and stayed in that until being sidelined by a work injury on a very large treated wood bridge across a swamp, which led me to a rather early retirement.
Anyways, a lot has been left out, but I guess you get the picture. I'm now sitting in the front of a house which is sitting in the same spot as the house where I was born.
I hope to post soon about some questions on the recently acquired torch set, as well as browsing the forums here, for there are many of them which really draw my interest. Thanks again to you all