Advice, please, about gas welding equipment

joel_bc(z6 BC)March 29, 2005

I want to get equipped for heating & bending metal, cutting, brazing, and welding (not-heavy-duty welding - just thinner gauges of solid stock, plus tubing). So I'm inclined toward a basic oxy-acetlyene set-up.

When I find a set of used regulators & gauges, what is the procedure for getting them tested, to see that they are safe and otherwise working properly? Who does the testing? Is it sales outlets for acetlyene?

Any other advice about this would be more than welcome. Thanks.


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Pooh Bear

Did you know that Garden Web has a metal working forum.
You mite get more answers if you ask there.

Pooh Bear

Here is a link that might be useful: Metal Working Forum

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 9:10PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Thanks, P.B. I did post over there, and so far have gotten a partial answer. However, I'm still in need of information.

So, anyone here reading this, if you can give me info and advice, it is still *very* welcome.

I remember a time, when I was a little kid, it seemed that very few homesteads were without welding equipment. Some had arc welders, it's true. Unfortunately, I'm one of those homesteaders without any welding set-up, and so are a lot of my neighbors. Oh, well... I'll just find out what I need to know and try to rectify the deficiency here on my home place.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 7:07PM
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Pooh Bear

I hope to someday get a welder. And learn to weld.
I have worked with a oxy/acet cutting torch before.
Unfortunately I know very little about them.

If you do buy a set of tanks, make sure you get the ownership papers with them. Around here you can't get a tank filled without those papers. Nobody will touch them.
Also tanks have to be hydrostatically tested every 10 years.
They go by the last date stamped on the tank.
The test used to cost $20. Just pay it when you refill.

The last time I messed with any tanks was 1989.
So info mite have changed since then.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 10:02PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Thanks, P.B.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 2:37PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Joel,

Are you sure Arc welding is the setup you want? If you have the power available, a MIG welder might be a lot easier to use. MIG is about as difficult as using a glue gun. Arc is much fussier. And if you are using light gauge metal, would solder or silver-solder be strong enough? That can be done with a basic torch.

My DH teaches autoshop at the local high school and they have ARC, TIG and MIG welders and the welder used most often (like about 90% of the time) is the MIG welder. Most of the welding projects done are roll cages for cars, pig traps, branding irons, that sort of thing.

For bending sheet metal, the students use a brake or a hammer and an anvil. Cutting is generally done with a cut off saw, or a hack saw if it is a small job.

Ask the shop teacher at your local high school. He/she might know the best setup for what you want to do. Or check the welding section in your local library.

The gas company "rents" the welding tanks around here, they might do it that way there, too.

Just a few thoughts!

Happy welding,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 9:36PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Cathy, no the standard old-fashioned "buzz box" (arc welder) is not what I want.

I want an all-round tool for welding, brazing, cutting (incl cutting heaver metal), and heating to red hot and hotter. To use an anvil with hammer, you have to heat the metal quite hot; for certain purposes, that can be done in a forge, but I do not have one of those.

Arc welding (as you have suggested I wanted) is for welding heavier-gauge steel, which I probably would rarely find need to do.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 10:29PM
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Pooh Bear

I looked at MIG wirefeed welders for a while.
But I am being encouraged to get a stick welder instead.
I think I would rather have the wire welder.
I have never welded before. So I need the easy way.

Most of the tanks around here are leased on a 10 year lease.
I don't even know if you can buy them anymore around here.
If you lease them, then only the company will refill them.
If you buy them, any company will refill them.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 12:58AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

P.B. - why are you leaning toward arc, rather than oxy-acetylene? Just curious...


    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 12:37PM
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Pooh Bear

Arc looks easier to learn for me.
Never welded before, so I am only guessing here.
I need an oxy/acet setup anyway for cutting.

I sometimes read over at Machine Builders Network and want to build things.
They build some really cool stuff.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 4:50PM
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Joel, I have both and use them often,
For your application of welding , buy a good small wirefeed it is simple and will save you tons of time, for cutting get a good oxy/acet rig. don't buy used regulators they could be damaged or faulty. When your dealing with something that can level a shop, dont skimp get the complete torch setup from harborfreight they have a great warrenty on such items. THe old Buzz box is not the same as a 120V wirefeed unit. For clean welds with little experience your best bet is a gas shielded wirefeed unit. They even make special wire for your different metals. If your going to make money with the results of your tinkering, then get good equipment. if its just something that you think would be nice to have in the garage, well then spend what ya want to. a Faulty regulator or a old unit without a FLASHBACK suppressor can level your shop. WHile your working. There are some great Videos that you can check out at your larger librarys on welding, arc, gas shielded, Tig, Mig etc.......

Have fun but remember that flammible stuff is dangerous Knowledge is king, no SHORTCUTS>

Have fun

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 10:18PM
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Wire welder, or fire spitting torch? Now that is the question! It reads to me like someone is in the dark about why each type of welding was invented, its strengths, weaknesses, dangers, and safety issues. First off, any oxyfuel system is like a bomb looking for someone and something to victimize. Did you know any oil or grease will cause an uncontrolable explosion or near so if liquid or gas fuels touch? There are all sorts of things one cannot do when using oxyfuel torch (heating) or arc welding equipment without getting hurt or killed, but it takes training to know. I have yet to meet a book reader that knows enough about the basics to keep themselves out of trouble, but there might be one. I take a lot of pride in the fact I can learn a lot by reading, but experience has taught me a knowledgeable teacher is worth his or her weight in gold and silver. I would even throw in some copper or whatever else is needed to secure a master's help! I am getting mine from a Tech Center (old Voc Ed) in the city and already I have learned enough to add 15 years to my life and health just in safety training.

The bottom line is welding by any method is dangerous for many more reasons then most know without proper training, but oxyfuel (includes the very popular actylene gas suspended in acetone to stablize it "under" 15 psi since it produces the very hot flame when neutrialized properly with oxygen) systems are the overall "cheapest" way to do a lot of work common to a "welding" shop. After oxyfuel comes wire feeders, known as MIG by most, but TIG is the best for high quality welds with the least amount of heat warping by an experienced "manager". In short, a welder is only a manager of heat on base metal, with or without filler metal in a coated rod or wire form. It is possible to "weld" base metal, or metals together without a rod, or electrode of any kind, but heat warping is often an issue, even with the very thick steels.

I have managed to warp all sorts of thick plate steels with "rod" arc or oxyfuel (gas) welding, but wire welding helps avoid the problem, even if MIG tends to start out a bit cold, and is more likely to fail under high stress at the beginning or end of a weld "bead". There are ways to get around this problem with TIG, but TIG machines are kind of expensive, and you have to learn how to set them for the job. TIG welding represents the most "common advancement" in welding methods, but I am sure someone somewhere is coming up with another.

In any case, with thin metals MIG is cheaper and less of a nuisance to use then oxyfuel or common "stick" (arc)welding methods. You can actually learn how to weld sheet metal with MIG or TIG, but TIG is the better option for more control and predictable outcome. All of this I got out of books, but in the welding class (I am still taking the welding class at the city Tech Center) helped me learn why the above is true, and why a TIG welder can do more, better, which is why so many "professionals" welding something other then a building or bridge need to know how to use a good, high quality TIG welder set up. Anyone building up a motorcycle frame, race car, or home-built airplane? You are probably thinking; Yeah right! If you are near a bookstore next week, get the book by the "Monster Garage" guys of cable TV fame titled; "How to weld damn near anything!" It is less then $20 in paperback normally, and it gets into all sorts of questions you have, and then some.

Depending on how serious you want to get into welding methods and uses, and not injure yourself in the process in some way, you will most likely end up in a welding class at the local Tech Center, where they send the "too energenic" high schoolers during half the day that tend to be aggressive personalities. Take the adult night class to get your feet wet, and learn the basics. After that you might want to brave the high schoolers always looking for an adult to pick on for more "training". It will be time and money well spent that will add years to your life and health, and who knows, you might actually turn out to be a good welder. I say that because some folks never are good welders due to some kind of handicap with the physical requirements that include good nerves around extreme fire and high amperage. A guy or gal can get "cooked" that way kind of fast, and the eyes often go first!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 9:55PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Dirtdoc, thanks for the advice about choice (and for the caution).

Tsavah, that's alot of info (and probably useful to a number of people on this forum contemplating the same decisions I am). The safety issues are important, for sure - and good advice about competent instruction. I don't think you realize how far from the city and its training programs I live! - picture outback Montana, Alaska, Oregon and your pic will be close to how it is here in mountain/rural British Columbia. I have a number of acquaintances who have been gas-welding for years, and would teach me the ropes.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 9:47AM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

I've never done TIG or MIG. I've seen my brother in law work it and it seems like a nice system. But: The joy of a stick welder is that sticks are cheap. I got a used buzz box at a yard sale for $100. A box of rod costs, what? $8? and lasts me more than a year (and goes bad before I use it all up, but that's due to poor storage.) I don't weld much, and I can't see spending the money on exelent equipment that won't get used. I mostly need it for doing quick repairs on thick stuff anyway, and it's farm stuff where cosmetics aren't that important.

I also have a small Oxy/Acetylene set, which I bought new. The valves, hose, and handle are the cheap part. It's the tanks that cost. And even a small set can use gas quickly when cutting, and just as quickly while lit but not cutting.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 3:52PM
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