Oxy welding newbie questions

I think I'm going to pick up a basic kit and take it up.
Grizzly Industrial has a couple of sets (and I have some gift
certificates to use):
http://www.grizzly.com/products/h4926
http://www.grizzly.com/products/t20228
Are either of these any good?
What's the better deal on tanks? Buy a pair? Or a tank exchange deal? I figure I'll start with a couple of small ones and move up if I turn out to be any good.
The local Airgas web page (much more expensive equipment) lists all their sets with a CGA-510, CGA-300, etc., spec. What's that? I know CGA = "Compressed Gas Association". But are the numbers different gas mixes, regulator fitting sizes, or what?
--
Paul Hovnanian mailto: snipped-for-privacy@Hovnanian.com
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On Wed, 17 Feb 2010 18:44:13 -0700, Paul Hovnanian P.E. wrote:

A Victor torch kit isn't expensive, and works just fine. I know what a pain an old, worn out torch can be, I can imagine what a trial a just plain cheap one would be.
I'd get the real deal.
--
www.wescottdesign.com

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The HF set works well-good regs. Usually on sale for $99 http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber496 JR Dweller in the cellar
On Wed, 17 Feb 2010 18:44:13 -0700, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."

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Your gas dealer will pretty much determine what you get into for tanks, buying into the "pool", renting monthly, 5-year lease with annual fee, or what. With the consolidation of gas dealers, many of us are pretty much stuck with one dealer in the area and their specific policies. The CGA numbers are the gas bottle fitting standards, there's three different ones for US acetylene tank fittings, MC, B, and larger tanks. The two smallest tank sizes are often referred to as "Prestolite" tanks for historical reasons. MC was motorcycle size and B was bus-size, for headlights in the pre-electrical age. They are handy to have for small-tipped rigs and silver brazing, not for general welding or cutting. Unfortunately, some of the "cutest" items use MC-sized tanks, the small portable rigs that HF sells are an example. About the time you get something up to temp, the tanks will peter out. My advice is to get the largest tanks you can handle, most of the filling fee is in handling and transporting the bottles, not supplying the gas. If you can afford two sets, that'll save the Sunday afternoon panic when you run out of gas 90% through a project you need on Mon. In some areas, places like TSC will do bottle exchanges, for a price. Kind of like barbeque bottles at the local grocery store.
As far as Asian welding torches are concerned, they may work, but do you have any guarantee that you can get seals, tips or valve parts that wear out? Victor is still in production and still had parts at the local weld supply last I looked. Used equipment can be had, just research what's still being made for future availability of tips and parts.
Farm and estate auctions and pawn shops are places equipment can be had reasonably. Just be wary of tanks, you may pay a load for a set at an auction, to be told "gee, thanks for returning them" when taking them in to be filled because they were really leased, not owned. Get the original sales papers for any used tanks you buy. And even if you do buy privately-owned tanks, your gas supplier may refuse to fill them if he's lease-only. Have one like that in town.
I would not buy empty new gas bottles until I talked with the local gas supplier. If you're buying into the pool, you'd be just handling over brand-new bottles and getting well-used ones in return. At worst you'd be stuck with empty bottles that they refused to fill because they didn't have the dealer's name on the neck ring and they only leased those specific ones out.
You can frequently do deals on equipment with gas suppliers, they know if they give you a deal on the torch, you've got to buy gas SOMEWHERE, and that might as well be them. One local outfit has a table with equipment that was left for repair, was repaired, and folks never picked it up. Deals can be had for the price of the repairs.
Stan
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On Wed, 17 Feb 2010 18:44:13 -0700, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."

No experience with the Grizzly sets, or with HF so I can't comment. I've had good luck with other Grizzly products. They're probably adequate for occasional use, and to see how you like the activity. A set like that gets you all you need to get started. If you get into it you will eventually replace everything but the hose as you develop informed preferences. What you'll prefer will depend a lot on what you want to do.
Don't go too small on the tanks. I would recommend at least 40 cu ft for both oxy and acetylene. The smaller tanks aren't significantly cheaper and the cost to fill them is nearly the same.
I have Smith torches for cutting and for when I need lotsaplenty heat, but the torch I use 99% of the time is this one: https://www.tinmantech.com/html/meco_midget_torch.php
I really, really like this little torch.
My primary uses are brazing and silver brazing of various small jobs in various metals, and welding of aluminum sheetmetal. Aluminum actually requires more torch than steel because it has such high thermal conductivity. For welding of steel, sheetmetal up thru 1/2", I prefer MIG except that I prefer TIG if fussy precision is required.
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Don Foreman wrote:

I would tend to question whether the OP should be looking at O/A at all for welding. Here in 2010, I think unless you have a regular need to weld where there is no power available and an engine driven arc welder can't be used, there isn't much reason to O/A weld. There are too many decent inexpensive MIG, TIG and stick welders available new and even better ones available used for routing O/A welding to be practical.
Granted I do have an O/A rig, but I only have ever used it to heat material for bending and for silver brazing refrigerant lines. I haven't even used it for cutting since I have a plasma cutter and haven't needed to cut anything out of reach of it's 25' torch cables.
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wrote:

He didn't specifically say welding, he said "take it up". I probably do more silver-brazing than I do welding, just the nature of the kinds of things I make. I agree about welding steel; I haven't gas-welded steel for probably 15 years.
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Don Foreman wrote:

Subject line "Oxy welding newbie questions".

I TIG all my steel. It's all hobby stuff and I'm not in any rush. I love the visibility, control and cleanliness of TIG.
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wrote:

Me too, though I've not done any TIG since January '09, been getting by with MIG. The E-field from the HF HV exceeded the specs for my ICD when I checked it before implant. A simple electrostatic shield would take care of that but I've not gotten around to making a Faraday vest or something yet. In a pinch I suppose I could scratch-start off a carbon block.
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Don Foreman wrote:

Possibly get one of the TIG machines with lift-start?
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Here in Iowa, you can rent or purchase title to bottles, and as other poster indicated, if you buy bottles used, you must have this title as proof of ownership. Some states do not allow this. I bought a Crapsman Oxy set when I was a kid. They turned out to be Harris re-branded. They were bottom of the line, and when the oxygen regulator blew out a internal diaphragm, even sears could not get parts. At any rate it could never deliver the oxy flow during cutting of anything greater the 1/4" steel, and I now have a Victor regulator that can deliver all I need. Both these sets look like they have the welding tips with their own fitting that screws onto torch manifold, which is one issue my set has (only has one fitting that attaches to manifold, and changing tip size is a PITA especially if it's hot. If I had a do over, it would be Victors the whole way. Also other poster said get largest tank you can handle. Some companies will not let you own title, and only will rent, Air Gas here in Iowa was one of these companies, they were the Miller dealer when I bought my synchrowave250, and at the time of the sale "rented" the argon bottle, which after the first $5/month charge, I returned. Interesting years later I was contacted for a class action law suite about their rental methods.
ignator
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On Wed, 17 Feb 2010 18:44:13 -0700, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."

You can buy the large tanks, but you have to keep track of the paperwork that proves your ownership forever. And have a copy with you at all times to prove it, or they can consider them Stolen from the welding supplier marked on the safety cap ring. Pain in the butt if you don't need them.
The tiny ones (MC Acetylene and 10-CF Oxygen) are just about worthless except when you have to lug them up onto a roof or under a house.
The smallest practical size is the B Acetylene and 50-CF Oxygen, and even they will poop out pretty fast if you start doing real work. Rather than haul them up on the roof, get another 50 feet of hose and leave the bottle cart on the ground.
Advantage for the MC and B tanks and the smaller Oxygen, they are always owner cylinders, never rented. You don't have to worry about the paperwork, you have physical possession.
Get two sets, then you have a full one to keep working. They always run out on the weekend, or at 5:15 PM when you have a deadline.

That's the size of the fittings on the tanks. CGA-300 is for large industrial tanks and the 6-pack manifolded tanks. CGA 510 is full-size acetylene, the CGA-300 is the B Acetylene, and CGA-200 for MC Acetylene.
And IIRC there are two sizes for the Oxygen fittings too.
They make little regulators with the native fittings for MC or B tanks built in, for when size and weight are at a premium.
Most of the good sets like the Victor Tradesman and those Grizzly sets have the Full-Size fittings.
They make adapters to swap between all the permutations, so you can run the good two-stage regulators on the smaller tanks. Or the small regulator on big tanks if you get a big enough job to justify buying or leasing a set of big tanks for a month.
--<< Bruce >>--
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Even with "owner" bottles, most of the places I've dealt with exchange them. They're just careful to give you an owner-style tank. In the past, the only time they required to re-fill the ones I brought in was when they didn't have any owner tanks on the dock.
LLoyd
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Lots of good advice here already. Will just add that the use group for Welding is Sci.Engr.joining.welding. Ernie is the Guru there. Take anything he says as gospel. There are some other good people there too.
I would recommend looking at Harbor Freight. They sell two different torch sets. I am pretty sure that both of them are exact copies of Victor. So you do not have to worry about getting replacement parts. Not that you are likely to need any. I have a Sears ( Harris ) torch that I got over fifty years ago and although the oxygen regulator gave out after thirty years, the only other parts have been some standard size orings.
In looking at Harbor Freight, they only sell welding tips for one of the two torch sizes. Naturally I have a small Victor torch that is the size they do not stock replacement tips. ( I got it in a trade and never had the tips I want. )
Dan
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I forgot to add Lincoln has good books at very reasonable prices on welding.
Get some silver solder and flux. Silver soldering is easy and works really well for something. H & H have good info on the web.
Go by the local Community College or who ever teaches welding. You may be old enough that they will waive most of the tuition. And a little instruction is a good thing. If you qualify for tuition waiver, it is cheaper to use their gas than to buy your own. If you do not qualify, ask if the instructor knows anyone that will spend an hour or so with you for a reasonable price. Most of learning is just doing it. But a little instruction can speed things along.
Dan
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Hi Dan, Thanks for posting this. Help me by translating who the H & H is who have good info on the web.
-- Murray
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Sorry about that. Handy & Harman I had to do a little search it find the names.
Dan
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Try http://www.brazingbook.com /
H & H are part of LucasMilhaupt.
Dan
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Wow! Thank you!
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snipped-for-privacy@krl.org wrote:

I just watched the "tools" category on craigslist for a few months, and picked up a used set with small bottles fot $125.
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