OT: does any1 no anything about carbide lamps?

"Searcher" wrote: (clip)I would like to know if anyone here knows anything about old carbide railroad lamps? (clip)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I used to use a carbide miner's lamp as a headlight on my bicycle (more years ago than I care to think about.) It has a water tank on top, and a valve which controls the drip into the carbide, which in turn controls how much flame you get. The light is very white and bright. There is only one way to turn it off, and that is to shut of the drip, which causes the flame to slowly die down. The used carbide is kind of a blue "mud" which smells pretty bad.
If you were planning to use the lamp, then all this would matter. If you just want to own it and look at it, it might not. If you want to have it in working condition, you might worry that the water valve could be stuck or plugged up, or the burner could be dirty.
BTW, I think the name Prestolite, which is still in use on small acetylene cylinders, came from the use of these tanks on early automobiles and motorcycles.
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Forget that one. The reflector is beyond repair and you can buy a new one for only a few bucks more.
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Glenn Ashmore

I'm building a 45' cutter in strip/composite. Watch my progress (or lack
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One problem with trying to get calcium carbide is that it is a "Hazardous Material"(TM) and costs a fortune to ship. Large (really large) gas suppliers get theirs in RR carloads, but usually aren't set up to sell it to individuals. After I found a miner's lamp at a flea market for $5, I came across a good source at a hardware store that sells supplies for cavers (Chickamauga, GA). I was in the area anyway, so the 3 hour drive could be factored out. The stuff is pretty cheap without the shipping (I think about $7 for a filled gallon container), but keep it sealed in a plastic jar and keep water away from it! It's fun to play with. Now I want to find one of the Big Bang (or whatever) cannons cheap.
Joe
Searcher wrote:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item763037122&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT
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Man! that carbide's gotten expensive. I inherited A Site-Feed carbide generator from my uncle in the late 1960's that we used on my dad's farm for many years but when we moved to the big city we had no room for it so I tried to sell it and got no takers so it went to the scrapper. I had bought A 100# drum of carbide and used about 15# of it in the generator and carbide cannon I made but the rest of it is in my dad's shed. I think I payed in the area of 25 bucks for the drum and by my calculations, using Lehmans figures, It should be worth around 550 bucks! In 10 years when I retire I should have A pretty nice retirement fund! LOL
Good Luck! H.R.
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I had carbide and it was stored in a glass jar, by my grandfather. When I open the jars the carbide was nothing but powder and no longer useable.
searcher1

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Oddly I got a book on caving this weekend at the local bookstore.
There was a discussion about carbide lamps in it, and I went to look at one of mine which has been on the shelf for a few years. The book said it was bad to leave carbide in lamps, and sure enough I had left part of a charge in mine, and I had trouble getting it back open again.
The carbide was all powder, as you mentioned. I thought it had been completely used, but to be on the safe side I took the bottom outside before filling it up with water.
It turned out to be mostly *un* used carbide! Damn that thing got hot in a hurry. Plus it was a large size, 'supervisors' lamp so it got excititing. Glad I didn't do that inside.
Jim
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It may still have been shot. With an excess of water, the reaction is to calcium hydroxide. With less water, I believe that it can go instead to calcium oxide. Unslaked lime, which will produce heat when slaked with water. So, it may have generated heat but no acetylene.
John Martin
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Oh, it was acetylene all right. Great clouds of it. Actually I rather love the smell, funny that some folks hate it.
I think aroma preferences must be biochemical in origin. My wife says the smell of gasoline sickens here, both my daughter and I think that it smells great. Go figure.
Jim
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knows
That's not totally off topic. At one time welders didn't get their acetylene in tanks but produced it on site using calcium carbide. It is still used for some commercial acetylene production.
I lived in Korea in the early 70s. At that time the Korean economy was growing rapidly. Much of the economy ran on old surplus military equipment. To keep all this equipment running there were many small repair shops that could make or fix almost anything. There were hundreds of these little shops scattered along all the back alleys of Seoul. The shops could do welding using calcium carbide to generate acetylene. (I am not sure what they did for oxygen; maybe they could weld using only air/acetylene). A lot of the shops had ancient lathes, mills, drills, and what have you. If something broke they could weld it back together or make a part from scratch. I am sure that today Korea has an infrastructure, just like we have here, that can supply spare parts and when a part isn't readily available the equipment is hauled to the junk yard just like we do here in the good old USA.
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Searcher wrote:

Not really. Good carbide lamps are made of metal. :-)

Looks like I'm to late on that specific one but if you didn't get it don't be too upset. It is in pretty bad shape. I do not have any that big but I do have a couple of miner's sized ones. I have been using them for night hiking for over 50 years.
As to obtaining carbide, goto http://www.caves.org and from there to their headlamps page. Note: " GOOD NEWS! We have found a supplier who can meet the stringent requirements for shipping carbide. We can therefore now offer delivery of carbide by them anywhere within the Continental US, as shown below.
17-2712 Miner's Carbide, Six 2-Pound (Quart) Cans $70.00 This is a delivered-to-your-door price, including all shipping and HAZMAT fees, and will be invoiced and shipped separately from other items in this catalog. Sorry, no other quantities or types are available. Shipping by FedEx Ground to continental US destinations only; business address preferred. "
Ted
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If you check eBay, you'll find a guy selling it in pound quantities (actually about 12 ounces of carbide net) for $12 or so including shipping. Much more per pound, but you may not need 12 pounds.
At least one of the shooting suppliers also carries it in small quantities. Shooters often use carbide lamps to blacken their sights.
John Martin
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