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Gabe Santoriello

Oxy Acetylene torch

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Hey Guys, 

Thank you all in advance. I am green as grass to forging/blacksmithing and many of you have already helped me with so many questions i have had. The question I have now is where to start with an Oxy/Acetelene torch set up. I would like to have it for several reasons- welding, cutting metal, heating specific points on a piece of stock (or blade) and for soldering with Jewelry. I don't know how important brands are, as well as which heads i need, and where to buy this stuff. Price is of course important, but I will spend a little more than the cheapest option if it is the wise investment decision. 

Also, relating to the welding portion, is this a good tool for welding?

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Harris is your best option. I cant reccomend any other brands as I have no other experience with other brands. Harris is top of the line so should be considered!

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The torches themselves come in different sizes depending on the size work being done.

Ox/Ac may require different size and style tips for what you do and the thickness of the metal your working with.  They should be able to be switched out with the torch head you purchase. 

For small stuff look into a Henrob torch.  A site search will turn up the discussion on that torch.

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Brands of torches, are for the most part, “Ford vs. Chevy” , type of discussions. My preference, is, “victor “. The size of the, “tip”, is of course proportionate  to the dimensions of this material. I’ve used everything from a triple ought, to a size 6. Everything relates to, “size”.

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May I point out that while Oxy-Acetylene is the all round tool.  Oxy-Propane works well for cutting and heating and soldering and is cheaper in fuel costs.  It does require regulators, hoses and handsets/tips designed for it's use.  If I was looking to go that way, I'd buy a lincoln tombstone or mig welder and use it for welding and go oxy propane for the rest!

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I agree with Donnie about the Ford vs Chevy argument. I have owned and used OX/AC setups for 60 years and have used/owned just about every brand known and some real obscure names like Marquette. Craftsman used to be a good torch but I wouldn't buy one now because Sears sold the brand and stuff for them is hard to find. I think going to a welding supplier to buy is the best option.

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I've actually been wondering this same thing and I had been leaning toward the oxy-propane setup with a separate welder. I have a few smallish fabrication type projects I've been wanting to do as well. Is there any chance one of the brands is better about making torches for oxy-propane than the others? I have a vague memory of someone saying that Harris specifically had good oxy-propane torches and that the other makers didn't have as good of options specifically made for propane. But that could be out of date or just flat wrong.

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Here is a life lesson for you. Crafts people and trades people who rely on their tools to make a living do not buy major tools at big box stores and flea markets. They go out of their way to shop at specialty suppliers who sell professional grade tools. They stand behind their products, because they have to.

If you know exactly what you want, and don't need expert advise, shop online and save some money. But if the advise and the product support are valuable to you, shop local. You are going to need your gas bottles refilled somewhere anyway.

As a hobbyist, you are only out the lost time when a cheap tool fails you. But if your shop rate is $50-100 dollars an hour, how much is that cheap tool costing in the long run?

 

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Welcome aboard Gabe, glad to have you. 

If you stay with a major oxy acet. brand, which one is Ford vs Chevy, a personal choice. 

It gets trickier with oxy propane, some companies are still selling conversion kits for oxy acet rigs. I've used them and they're a BAD choice unless you own a wrecking yard and buy oxy and propane by the tanker truck load. The brand I bought is All States, Lyle the developer and proponent passed away and the kids didn't have any interest in the torch. Harris made them for All State and started marketing them when the patent lapsed. They cost more up front but the operating costs ,fuel and oxy, runs about 2% what oxy acet does for the same amount of work. Oxy Propane doesn't weld worth spit no matter what the marketing says! Harris also makes multi fuel torches that run on who knows what, oxy gasoline is really popular around the world, gasoline is easy to find where propane not so much and acet is even worse. 

One of my favorite features of my rig is the thumb valve. I only have to adjust the torch one time per session, the thumb valve shuts off both gasses and relighting is as easy as thumbing the valve and striking a spark. This is a HUGE gas saver if you use it a lot. You can buy an electric sparker if you do a lot of on off work.

Shop at a welding supply, they'll probably give you a demo and let you give them a try if you're looking to buy. They sell gas too you know. Be nice to the guys at the welding supply and they'll be helpful all round.

Buy an electric welder, wire feed is nice but I seriously dislike flux core welders. The time you spend trying to learn how to use one and chipping slag, especially for multi pass welds will more than pay for the occasional 70/30 gas refill. AND if you want to weld say: aluminum, copper, etc. you can buy a bottle of Argon and appropriate wire and do some mig welding.

If you have the money multi process is the way to go: stick, mig, tig covers about everything anywhere. Spendy though. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Whew! A lot to take in! Thank you everybody. It seems the best bet would be to 'spark' a relationship with a local welding shop and gather some hands on experience. 

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no mater the brand you choose, having local support staff is worth much so that may influence the final brand choice as well 

just to chime in,  I like my Smith rig

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No matter what brand you use, I suggest you look into a gas saver attachment. This gives you a place to hang your torch that will cut it off and a pilot to relight it. You don't have to reset your gas and ox every time you shut down.

This is especially handy for doing jewelry work.

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Thanks Anvil- what does this gas-saver attachment look like? I will certainly look for it 

 

I looked it up on Smiths website but I’m not sure at all how it works!

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Hi Gabe

love my victor. With an oxy/acetylene set up you have different attachments to choose from. Cutting torch. Brazing ,welding attachments and a hothead torch. Brazing and welding attachments are different sizes for different jobs however it’s terribly slow. If you want to weld get a Mig welder. If you want it for jewellery making then get the specific sized torches for that kind of work. Look up a local welding dealer and go with them. They will be able to direct you to the equipment that best suits your needs and will be able to support you with your questions and set up. One thing you must absolutely get is flashback arresters for your Oxy/acetylene unit. Nothing freaks you out more than having things burning where it shouldn’t and having to keep a cool enough head to remember the correct shut down procedures. Also little tip do not have your tanks wide open,  half to one turn is plenty for starting out and in case of emergency shut off is quick. Your local professionals are there to help and will often have beginner courses available

cheers

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On 5/6/2020 at 7:53 AM, Gabe Santoriello said:

I looked it up on Smiths website

I can't post a link to commercial sites so here's a pic. Do a Google search for "gas saver oxy/acetl, or something similar. I even found a YouTube vid on how the Smith gas saver works. Basically there are two oxy and two acetl connections with a lever shutoff in the middle. I'm not sure if it shows here but there is also a little piolet flame. When you hang your torch on the lever it shuts off the gasses. The pilot stays lit and your torch is cut off. When you pick up the torch, the gas flows and you relight it with the pilot.

It's really great for heating up collars and heading rivets.

download.jpeg

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RE: the gas saver.  Go over to John Switzer's Black Bear Forge on YT.  He uses a gas saver on some of his projects like heating rivet heads.  You may have to browse some of his videos where he shows how the gas saver is used.  Beyond that, there is most likely a youtube video on gas savers...there is on everything else!!

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I have worked in many of the metal crafts trades and have used a selection of torches. As a native American silversmith i used the Presto-lite acetylene air mix torch usually found in the refrigeration trades. Could handle most soldering or brazing jobs. Don’t know if they still make them. When i switched to fine jewelry work with gold and platinum i used a henrob oxy- natural gas torch and loved it.  In another production shop i worked for we used the Mini-torch. That one is just like a full size oxy-acetylene torch but the handle with a tip is only about 5 inches long. Amazing temperature control. Except for the largest tip, the other tips have ruby liners. I remember the demo for this: the sales tech butt welded two tiny steel wires together, within a recessed filter paper of a cigarette without burning the paper. 40 years later i still use one. Stay away from chinese imitations. Those may look  like a Mini-torch but they are a walking talking fire hazard. I live in the woods, 50 miles from any weld shop so gasses are precious so i get the largest bottles i can lift into my truck. Also times being what they are i am looking into buying a water torch which generates its own gas. Just needs 120v and distilled water. Both commodities i have in abundance. All the best!

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