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Hello people,

I think some advise is needed!

Ive recently bought a new cutting torch with a propane heating tip which until yesterday has been working fine.

I was using the torch on and off for around an hour at around medium heating capacity. Turned it off at the torch and propped it upright in a vice. 

5 minutes later I went back to use it and the handle was very hot as were the hose connections! I immediately turned the gas and oxygen of at the bottles and left the forge with some p#o in my pants and stayed away for a few minutes. 

On returning to the forge the torch had cooled down and I noticed lots of condensation around the oxygen regulator and flashback arrestor.

Opened just the oxygen bottle and the torch and a stream of condensation blow out of the torch tip.

Is this normal? It has never happened with my old cutting torch and wasn't particularly cold in the forge, I'd guess around 10 degrees.

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated 

Thank you!

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What is your shut down sequence? fuel first / oxy second or oxy first / fuel second? 

I am a bit confused when you say a "cutting torch with a propane heating tip". Do you mean you were using the pre-heat flame of the cutting tip, or is it a combination torch... a base handle/valve unit to which a cutting head with lever,  or rose bud heating nozzles can be attached?

Are you sure it is a propane tip and not an acetylene one?

If the flame was not properly extinguished, burn back could explain the hot handle and valves...not sure about the condensation though.

You probably know that it is important not to starve a rose bud heating tip of fuel gas, in order to keep it cool. They pop something awful if they get too hot.

Alan

 

 

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Hi Alan, thank you for your reply.

I bought the set up from BOC last time I was back in the UK.

I told them what I wanted eg, a new torch with a Propane heating tip and the fella came out with a meter long neck (from torch to heating tip attachment) my reply was wow that's far to big so they gave me what's in the attached photo.

It is a cutting torch with a propane heating tip. Defiantly for propane as they ordered it specially for me.

Shut down is always fuel first and a few seconds after oxygen to allow the tip to cool a tad. 

I am no expert when it comes to gas and air but I've never seen condensation all over the oxygen regulator and flashback arrestor.

Thanks again for your interest,

John

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The condensation on the outside of the regulator and flashback arrestor is quite normal if you are getting through a lot of gas. It acts like a refrigerator, and is why the propane bottles can get frost on the outside.

It was your description of the stream of condensation blowing out of the tip that puzzled me.

It wasn't liquid propane was it? You do have the cylinder upright with the valve at the top? You are not using a fork lift bottle by any chance? Fork lift bottles have a a dip tube which collects from one point on the cirumference of the bottle when it is laying horizontally...It must lay horizontally and the arrow must point up. Highly combustible so I doubt that is the case...just struggling to find an explanation for the hot handle and the condensation which is a product of cool surfaces.

I have not seen a heating tip like that before. All the combination torches I have, and have seen, have complete neck and heating nozzles which fit on at the end of the (blue bit in your case) handle. You take off the cutting attachment with its preheating oxygen valve and cutting oxygen lever. The metre long one you referred to sounded wonderful, it would keep you well way from the heat, but mine are all only around 300mm long....the Victor torch design however means that the valves are on the gas pipe end of the handle rather than on the burner end.

Alan

Just rereading your description...it wasn't something like you had not noticed the handle had got hot in use because you were wearing gloves and a few minutes later you had taken them off?

That heavy tip could hold a lot of heat and transfer it back when the cooling effect of the gas flow ceased...

If it had been a flashback...they whistle, howl and hiss and you would see sooty smoke coming out...or at least when I have one with acetylene it does. Any soot around?

Alan

 

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On re reading you OP I just noticed you mention "medium heating capacity"...does this mean you were not on the full gas pressures and throughput the tip was designed for? 

They must always run flat out...if it is too much heat use a smaller nozzle.

It does look like the tip has been quite hot.

Check your handbook/user manual and see what pressures and volume it requires and make sure you allow for the appropriate pressure drop due to length and diameter of gas pipes especially if they are small bore.

Alan

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Hi again, the Propane bottle is stood up sight with the regulator up the top so it couldn't have been liquid gas. It kind of sprayed out when I opened the oxygen tap on the torch.

I try not to wear gloves so the handle wasn't hot when I put the torch down and no soot about either.  It's possible it was heat transfer from the tip (hadn't thought of that) but it was almost too hot to touch.

I have used the torch again briefly today with no problem. That was after I removed the tip and had a look. Nothing!

The only conclusion I can come up with is there was a burn back within the torch and after the gas was swiftly turned off at the bottle it was extinguished whilst I was a safe distance away!

Would it be at all possible the spray from the tip when the oxy was turned on was condensation in the hose?

Thanks again for your valuable input,

John

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Do NOT use that cobbled together thing!!

Whoever sold you that should be FIRED maybe jailed for gross malfeasance!

Did he tell you you need a propane regulator? Acetylene regulators generally supply MUCH to high pressure and the diaphrams are NOT rated for propane. Propane is VERY chemically reactive and tends to eat rubber not formulated for it.

Just sticking a big tip on your cutting torch is asking for trouble. Trouble of the burn your shop down kind. What happened to your torch is called a B-A-D back fire. Normally a backfire in a torch stays in the tip or at worst the handle and sounds like a machine gun. There's no mistaking a back fire like that. However when it migrates back into the hoses it's a MAJOR danger.

I'm speculating as to why it did what it did so don't take this as anything but a possibility.  If your fuel regulator was set as high as I think it was and you didn't shut it off properly. Say you shut the torch off with the final adjustment valves or even the handle valves in the wrong order. The high fuel pressure could have back flowed, (forced it's way into the oxy hose) and burned. If there was the smallest flow through the oxy valve the rubber in the hose would burn. Again, that's just speculation but I've seen some scary weird things happen with oxy fuel torches.

Search  online for "Harris torch company" and their alternative fuel torches. They've been making oxy prop torches that work properly and are as safe as any oxy fuel torch can be. They've been making a hugely good oxy propane torch for at least 50 years that I know of and seeing as the company they made the torches for let the patent lapse Harris is marketing the same system under their trademark for maybe 1/3 the price. It's expensive off the shelf but costs  about 2% in oxy fuel as an equivalent oxy acet torch for work done.

Whatever you do do NOT use that torch set up like that again!

Frosty The Lucky.

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2 hours ago, flemish said:

Frosty,

Victor said my acetylene regulator would work fine with propane????????  I got it new a couple years and that is what victor said.  Ed

Ed: Was it actually Victor or the guy at the counter who it would work or it was designed to work with oxy propane torches? There is a WORLD of difference. Most acet regulators can not be turned down to low enough pressure and still supply enough volume to make an oxy propane torch work properly. Even the perdoodly poor propane tips they still sell.

In any case that tip is for a brazing head NOT a cutting head. There is NO orifice to allow the oxy cutting jet to pass but the thumb valve is still there on the handle. Those valves are rarely fully gas tight so it's possible line pressure was being trapped against that tip. No tip without a cutting orifice should be mounted on a cutting torch.

No matter how it happened you got oxy injected into the fuel hose. Had it been fuel injected into the oxy hose it well could've exploded.

In what order did you shut the valves off? I've just run into a surprise checking with Harris web site and discovered I can't find a different listing for acet or prop torches. I'm going to have to ask around and see if I'm just behind the times or don't know where to look?

To Alan's point about shut down. ALWAYS shut off the fuel at the handle FIRST. Without fuel oxy will just blow the flame out. Then shut off the oxy. Only then shut off the tank valves and bleed the hoses. I'd definitely bleed the hoses in your case, one serious back fire is enough for me.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Frozenforge said:

Did you actually talk to a tech support person or was it just someone behind the sales counter? Distinct possibility that someone behind a sales counter wouldn't really have the knowledge or experience to answer that question. 

Hi Frozen, I bought the set up from BOC British Oxygen Company. The fella there has been there forever and knew what he was talking about. What do you think?

11 hours ago, Frosty said:

Do NOT use that cobbled together thing!!

Whoever sold you that should be FIRED maybe jailed for gross malfeasance!

Did he tell you you need a propane regulator? Acetylene regulators generally supply MUCH to high pressure and the diaphrams are NOT rated for propane. Propane is VERY chemically reactive and tends to eat rubber not formulated for it.

Just sticking a big tip on your cutting torch is asking for trouble. Trouble of the burn your shop down kind. What happened to your torch is called a B-A-D back fire. Normally a backfire in a torch stays in the tip or at worst the handle and sounds like a machine gun. There's no mistaking a back fire like that. However when it migrates back into the hoses it's a MAJOR danger.

I'm speculating as to why it did what it did so don't take this as anything but a possibility.  If your fuel regulator was set as high as I think it was and you didn't shut it off properly. Say you shut the torch off with the final adjustment valves or even the handle valves in the wrong order. The high fuel pressure could have back flowed, (forced it's way into the oxy hose) and burned. If there was the smallest flow through the oxy valve the rubber in the hose would burn. Again, that's just speculation but I've seen some scary weird things happen with oxy fuel torches.

Search  online for "Harris torch company" and their alternative fuel torches. They've been making oxy prop torches that work properly and are as safe as any oxy fuel torch can be. They've been making a hugely good oxy propane torch for at least 50 years that I know of and seeing as the company they made the torches for let the patent lapse Harris is marketing the same system under their trademark for maybe 1/3 the price. It's expensive off the shelf but costs  about 2% in oxy fuel as an equivalent oxy acet torch for work done.

Whatever you do do NOT use that torch set up like that again!

Frosty The Lucky.

Hi Frosty, you've got me worried now. 

Ive only got a "pre set" regulator at the Propane end and it cannot be set at any pressure! Although I have got flash back arrestors on both oxy and propane. Also I do have the proper hoses for propane as I know propane eats acetylene hose material.

As far as I knew the set up was good as I bought it all through the BOC. The cutting torch set up seemed fine and I needed to press the cutting lever to expel the oxygen for heating but now oxygen flows freely without the need to de press the lever!!

All very strange and you have me seriously doubting the set up now and I've got a lot of work to do with the torch!

Thanks for your input!

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I'm feeling a little better now, your regulator meters fuel at a preset ratio. This is how propane is regulated on oxy prop torches I'm familiar with. I may be wrong but I don't like the propane tip conversion torches there are too many issues with them.

I don't like the tip you're using to heat with but I don't know anything about it so I may be off base completely.

In what sequence did you turn it off? Alan was the first to ask and I've now asked at least twice. Shutting a torch off properly is important, there are ways to do it incorrectly that almost guarantee a backfire. Please tell us it may be a simple thing to correct.

Have you talked to the people you bought it from since the scary backfire? I would've called them as soon as I was sure the fire was out. Seriously if they're a reputable company they're your best bet, we're just faceless guys in cyberspace who like to type and BS. We just don't have so many friends we want to lose any.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty I don't believe you when you say you don't  have many friends and you definitely don't chat BS! I appreciate everything (well almost) you say.

As for shut down its always Propane first and oxy a few seconds after. Is this ok? 

I will ring BOC today and speak with them. They are the UK's biggest gas supplier to the commercial industry and don't deal with Joe public.

There is a purpose attachment in the head of the torch to allow the heating tip to be screwed on so I assumed it was a good set up but now you still have me doubting it!!

Cheers friend (of many)!!

Frosty what would be your shut down sequence?

Cheers chum!

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8 hours ago, Frosty said:

Ed: Was it actually Victor or the guy at the counter who it would work or it was designed to work with oxy propane torches? There is a WORLD of difference. Most acet regulators can not be turned down to low enough pressure and still supply enough volume to make an oxy propane torch work properly. Even the perdoodly poor propane tips they still sell.

In any case that tip is for a brazing head NOT a cutting head. There is NO orifice to allow the oxy cutting jet to pass but the thumb valve is still there on the handle. Those valves are rarely fully gas tight so it's possible line pressure was being trapped against that tip. No tip without a cutting orifice should be mounted on a cutting torch.

No matter how it happened you got oxy injected into the fuel hose. Had it been fuel injected into the oxy hose it well could've exploded.

In what order did you shut the valves off? I've just run into a surprise checking with Harris web site and discovered I can't find a different listing for acet or prop torches. I'm going to have to ask around and see if I'm just behind the times or don't know where to look?

To Alan's point about shut down. ALWAYS shut off the fuel at the handle FIRST. Without fuel oxy will just blow the flame out. Then shut off the oxy. Only then shut off the tank valves and bleed the hoses. I'd definitely bleed the hoses in your case, one serious back fire is enough for me.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

 

It was in the Victor booklet that came with the set.  Ed

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Obviously I can't speak for present time since I left BOC nearly 20 years ago now, but back then the diaphragms in the victor regulators and the Boc Regulators were stainless steel.  Basically the designs of the various types were composed of the same materials with few exceptions.   The differences were about the inlet and out let pressures, designed delivery volume and the number of stages.  

Depending on the age and brand there could be a problem with seats interior to the regulator stage.   

I agree that what ever that set up is in the picture  something is very wrong.   Normally that type of tip would be on the end of a standard heating torch setup.   I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.   The torch body appears to be a single purpose cutting torch.   Wrong torch body !  Misread part numbers???

 

 

 

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Ed: I said or meant to is, I don''t have enough friends to risk losing any if I can help it. I call thousands of folk just here on Iforge friends, even some of the ones I don't much like. I still don't want to lose any, I'm greedy like that. ;)

I run an All States oxy propane torch and it has a thumb valve on the handle so shutting it off is a matter of rolling my  thumb on the valve and BANG!! it's off.

On torches without a master valve I shut off the fuel, then the oxy at the handle. The I shut off the tank valves, go back, bleed the hoses and shut the handle valves again. If a cutting torch I shut the preheat adjustment valve after shutting the handle valve and it's the last valve shut in the bleed off process. The last thing I do when I leave my shop is do one final valve check, shut the lights off and close the door. Fuel air explosions make me jumpy and a compressed oxygen fire scare the . . . stuff out of me.

A number of shops I've worked in didn't bleed the hoses and I follow the shop's rules unless they're blatantly dangerous and I pass on working in that shop.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty

Not trying to argue that at all just that some of the new regulators do handle both fuels.  I AGREE 100% with your above post. I can say that I am not as careful as I should be and I assume most are not.  What happened with Jonnie is enough to scare anyone just because of what it might be and if we thought about what we sometimes do we should be scared of that to.  Thanks Frosty.   Ed

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What argument, did I miss something? I know most manufacturers are making multi fuel torch regulators now, have been for a few years. It's just not safe to assume that's what a person has on their tank unless I can lay eyes on it or am reasonably sure they know the difference.

Johnny's story scares me too and should be a good reminder to us all not to get complacent. My Father used to say, "familiarity breeds contempt." He said that so often I got sick of hearing it but truer words were never spoken.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Your dad did good Frosty,

Familiarity really does breed contempt. What happened the other day really did frighten the stuff out of me.

Always aware of the dangers of gas and air but I tend to push it to the back of my mind. Guess a lot of us do this to carry on. 

If we worried too much about the dangers in any forge and the "what if" nothing would get done (at least not in my forge).

The lesson here for me is THINK! 

Even with all the safety equipment things can go wrong. Very wrong. 

I would like to thank all of you who have commented on this post. IFI ROCKS!!!

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I have dents in my head to show I can be complacent. Well maybe, I don't remember exactly what I was doing when I got the dents but maybe. I don't know.

There's a big difference between keeping safety issues in mind and worrying about them to the point of paralysis.  Another of Dad's sayings, "You can't be afraid of it but you have to respect it." He was a metal spinner and a spinning shop can eat you alive if you aren't on top of it all the time.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There appears to be a lot of misunderstanding on this topic. From what I can see in this picture the torch and heating head are a perfectly acceptable set up. Most welders, even professionals, have only ever seen heating torches used with a long Neck attached to a welding shank. A lot of the staff at dealers are also unaware that there is available an adapter to fit onto the cutting head of either a dedicated cutting torch or the cutting attachment on the combi torch. The adapter has the cone shaped steps that a normal cutting nozzle has and is held in place with the regular retaining nut. There are 3 sizes of propane heating head available and to me that looks like a number 2. The difference in operation if you are operating it on a cutting torch is that the oxygen is activated by the cutting lever. Gas flow for these Heating heads is much higher than for cutting nozzles and require oxygen pressures in the region of 70 psi. Low pressures can result in backfires. The high gas flows combined with the fact that heating jobs usually extend over a longer period of time than cutting jobs and are more continuous will result in condensation or frost formation on bottles and regulators. This equipment is perfectly safe to use despite what others have said, providing the proper procedures are followed. I cannot give an accurate reason for the ejection of moisture or the heat build up in the torch but can only suspect and speculate that gas pressures and gas flows were too low and may have been combined with some error in procedure. I have been using a similar setup for many many years, but I have had to educate every welder and every company that I have encountered about this piece of equipment. (And most staff on the welding counters). However occasionally you do encounter somebody who does Know what they are talking about, and I suspect that you encountered one when you bought your equipment. But they are a small minority even within the trade. So I suggest that you clean and check your equipment in the normal manner, Leak test etc, read the instructions, and try again.

 

Again, just in case you miss the point I made earlier, there are 2 ways of operating these nozzles. If you are operating them on a welding shank with a long neck to which they are directly screwed, then they work with the 2 knobs on the welding shank in the same way as a cutting nozzle, except for higher flow rate and higher oxygen pressure. If they are used with the adapter to enable them to screw directly into the cutting head, then the Oxygen is controlled by the cutting lever. In this case to obtain a neutral flame you either adjust the fuel knob (propane) or turn up the pressure on the regulator.

 

To have a set of these heating heads ready set up and assembled with their step adapters and retaining nuts is a great time saver. And is far more effective than trying to use a cutting nozzle as a heating torch. It is a 30 second, one spanner job to change from cutting to heating, no gas pipe changing, torch changing or prattling around.

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  • 1 month later...

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