welding torches

I haven't tried looking in an actual welding supply store, but I have been looking in larger hardware stores. I'm curious about the usefulness of various lower end welding torches. I've had about six hours experience using an oxy-acetylene torch, but I've never owned one. My usage would be occasional art projects, nothing regular. I am hesitant about renting cylinders since if they sit there for a month without being used, I'll feel like I'm wasting money.

At the really low end, of course, are the propane ones. Even the oxygen-propane models I suspect are fairly limited and not going be able to do much. I've heard they are okay for cutting, and cheaper than oxy-acetylene for that, though.

In the $250 to $300 range there are several small oxy-acetylene setups, like this one:

formatting link
The cylinders are small, but I expect sporatic use. It comes with just one size each of brazing and cutting tip, but that site sells a bunch of others with compatible connectors. Is this a good small set up, or does it have drawbacks I'm not seeing?

The scale of the work I would be doing is probably bigger than a mouse and smaller than a sheep dog. E.g tire iron candelabra.


------ needs better wiring before an arc welder is an option

Reply to
Eli the Bearded
Loading thread data ...

I just bought the oxy-acy. rig pictured. It is excellent, and cost me about 250 also. It cost me 40 bucks to get both cylinders filled. My advice is buy it and don't waste your money on anything less than oxy-acy. I previously bought a oxy mapp gas kit from Lowes which uses a regular sized mapp gas bottle and a oxygen bottle of the same size. That was 50 bucks but there was a catch - the oxygen cylinders they sell to use with the kit are pressured gas NOT liquid oxygen - hence you get about

5 -8 mins burn time only and they cost 11 bucks each. That ends up being very expensive. I also have a high temp mapp torch and a regular propane torch - both fine for plumbimg work or melting brass/broze but really very frustrating/useless on any serious work. If you want to do any work with steel then oxy. acy. is a must. Buy the kit - you pay out but you only pay once - you get the right thing and it's yours with no monthly fees on cylinders to worry about.
Reply to

I would recommend going with a 20 cu ft acetylene and 40 cu ft oxy. The cost isn't much different and they cost about the same to fill so your gas cost goes way down and you don't have to get them filled as often. It doesn't take long to deplete an MC acetylene even with light torchwork. They're a little heavy to "tote" both at once, but they're very easy to handle on a small two-wheel dolly.

Reply to
Don Foreman

I've seen those kits availble with and without the cylinders. So you'd recommend I get one without the cylinders and get bigger ones? I haven't found prices for cylinders online. My local gas supplier would probably be praxair and I can't find any prices on their site, nor even what cylinder sizes they would have. Maybe I'll have to stop by the store.


------ likes to know exactly what to get before entering the store

Reply to
Eli the Bearded

snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote: >... - the oxygen cylinders they sell to use

Even in the "real" cylinders oxygen is not stored as a liquid. It is stored at high pressure (around 2000psi), while the small propane-size cylinders are much lower pressure (I'd guess less than 200psi). Bob

Reply to
Bob Engelhardt

So, stop by Praxair and talk to them. I deal with them regularly, as well as with two of their competitors (that are a little closer). All three are very good people to deal with. One small hint: if they're open on Saturday, that is the time to go. Most of their big customers are closed then and Saturday is when they expect the "hobby" business and they generally have more time to answer "newbie" questions.

And tell them up front that you are just looking for information, expecting to make a decision "later." You don't have to buy the first time you go in. They're not going to try to "high pressure" you into anything. They want happy, loyal customers who keep coming back...


Reply to
Jerry Foster

I seem to recall a 40 cu ft oxygen cylinder as costing around $75 to $100. I upgraded from a 40 cu ft to a 72 cu ft, and recall $75 or so for the upgrade. I am still using the "B" size acetylene bottle, but will probably eventually move up to the next size. The bottles are apt to cost as much as the torch-regulator-hose setup.

With the small difference in price between filling a small bottle vs. a larger one, the small bottles are not economical to use, if you use much gas. This is particularly true of oxygen, where it only costs pennies more to fill a large bottle vs. a small bottle. Of course, if your usage is only occasional, the price per cu ft may not matter that much.

To me, the smaller cylinders (under 40 cu ft) are mostly if you want to carry them up stairs, etc. Most people chain their bottles on carts (cost $20 and up), so they can wheel them to the work painlessly and relatively safely. Bottles over 80 cu ft size are generally rented, and also very heavy to carry, so typically not practical for the small user.

I suggest you look for the following information:

  1. Cost to buy a cylinder.
  2. Cu ft of gas it holds.
  3. Cost to fill the cylinder.

When you have that information, you can probably make a good decision. Be sure to get a size that your local gas supplier keeps in stock, so you can quickly and conveniently get a refil (exchange) when you need one.

If you are going to cut more than occasionally, get an oxygen bottle that is bigger than the acetylene bottle. Otherwise the same size bottle works out well.


Eli the Bearded wrote:

Reply to
Richard Ferguson

I find it very handy to have larger cylinders for most of my work, backed up with a small pair in a plastic tote-case, for portability. For economy, I have a "cheater," which I use to refill my small O2 bottle from the large one. I wouldn't dream of trying to do the same with the acetylene, 'cause I don't know enough.

Reply to
Leo Lichtman

Rule #1 - Whatever you think you want to work on now, inevitably you'll end up doing bigger things. Today tire-iron sculptures, tomorrow I-beam sculptures.

Rather than buying too small and having to replace everything later, I went with a better Victor Contractor Plus welding kit, which will handle the big jobs, then got adapters to make the full-size regulators work with the smaller B and MC Acetylene cylinder fittings. (And then I got two sets of 50 CF oxygen and B acetylene bottles so I'm never left hanging.)

You can always get small welding and cutting tips to fit on the big torches, but you can't go the other way.

I've used those Porta-Torch kits with the smallest MC (20 CF?) Acetylene cylinder, and they are only good for brazing or welding very small stuff like air conditioning linesets - they simply don't have enough gas to do big jobs. If you try, as soon as you get the flame set right the bottles go dry. Been there, Done that...

Even a B Acetylene can't do too much big work, since you can't use more than 1/7 of the acetylene cylinder capacity per hour - but when you start doing really big jobs, you will probably get a rental set of large gas cylinders delivered to the jobsite. Just remove the B adapter and attach your regulator to the big bottle.


Reply to
Bruce L. Bergman

My 2c, just having spent an accumulated fortune on tank rentals:

  1. Buy Smith equipment, or the other big name, which escapes me. Never Sears, never import. Sumpn to do w/ extruded vs. machined bodies.
  2. *Buy* an acetylene "B" tank, 60 cu ft oxy, in fact, mebbe two of each, so you never run dry. Don't rent the big tanks, unless you find yourself filling up about once a month. Do the math, ito yearly rental fee vs. the differential of filling big tanks (less per cu ft of gas) and that of small tanks.

I actually have both big rental tanks and several small tanks, to make sure I'm never dry. But now I'm returning my big tanks *today*. Just don't burn enough to justify them.

Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®

I see several posts recommending large tanks. OK if you use them enough -- but there is an advantage to the smaller 40 and 20 cu ft bottles: they don't have to be periodically re-certified. That means you don't get an annual "maintenance fee" from the supplier.

If a smaller one will last you a month or more in normal use, they are a lot easier to deal with. I have an R oxy and B acet that I use with my Lil' Torch, fill them every couple of years!

Reply to
Don Foreman

DO NOT buy empty gas cylinders from a retailer without checking the local gas suppliers' policies. You could get stuck, big time. Some suppliers only rent tanks and don't fill anyone else's. Some suppliers will take your new empty tank, put it in the pool and give you a full used one. Some will fill your empty and return it, expect anywhere from a couple of days to a week to get it back, though. If you're in an area where rental or lease is the policy, you'd end up with a couple of new tanks and no way to get them filled. You'd also hate to just donate new tanks into a pool to get some rusty relic back. It all depends on gas usage, for me the best way was to buy a set of bottles out of the pool at one supplier, then just exchange when they become empty. They take care of the hydro and marking as well as checking the acetone on the acetylene.

You can also dicker with the guys at the weld supply, they'll sometimes give you a break on list price for welding equipment, they're in a razor and blade sort of business. You've got to get fills somewhere, after all.

As far as tank size is concerned, unless you've got a Little Torch or jeweler's torch, forget buying the dinky bottles. The cost of filling is in handling the bottles and the insurance, the contents are fairly cheap. It costs about as much to fill one of my 80 cu-ft. oxygen bottles as it does to fill one of those dinky ones. I have a set of small ones for the Little Torch, they're nice and portable, but only last about 10 minutes with the Victor handpiece. With the Little Torch, they last years, though. So my advice is to hit the gas suppliers, see what their policies are and how big a set of tanks you want to horse around.

For torches, you can probably pick up a Victor set without bottles for just a little more than some of the import units. Again, check the welding suppliers to see what makes they carry and have parts and service. Eventually, you WILL need support, if for nothing more than replacement tips. Most suppliers also carry tip charts for the makes they sell, you will need those for setting up your regulators. Once you know what's available in your area for service, look for those makes at auctions and pawn shops. I was able to pick up the mid-size Victor set for $60 at auction including regulators and hoses. Tanks ran about $140, so it was $200 to start welding and cutting. Your mileage will vary.


Reply to

Just my $.02 that I have learned from welding since 1974 ...........

You get what you pay for. Low end equipment is not made well. It is VERY hard to get serviced. When you have trouble with it, you may as well toss it. I would suggest that you look at Victor equipment. A new set will cost you about $550, and a used set half that or less.

Bottles are best when bought. That way, you don't have any hassle ever. If you just do the smaller weld jobs, get the smaller ones. But then, you have to watch so you don't run out.

Trouble is, this stuff is addictive, and you just have to have MORE. You may outgrow one setup. If you limit yourself with a small low end setup, you won't be able to do bigger jobs, and will end up spending that money anyway.

I need an OA setup. I would consider nothing but a Victor Journeyman, and I would like to find one used. If I can't, I will just go and buy one new. I know that they work so well that a used one would be a good bet to get a lot of work out of. And a new one would certainly have years in it before service. Tips and stuff are readily available at yard sales and pawn shops, or other places.

Don't limit yourself, your talent, or your capabilities by cheaping out on equipment. If you are really serious about this venture, think long term. Unless you can buy stuff really cheap, then sell it if you don't like it, you will take a beating in the wallet.


Reply to

Smith has Lifetime warranty. And they are nickel plated which makes them easy to keep clean. Price is comparable to the higher end Victor but the Quality is better. Just my 2c. RR

Reply to
Rick R

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.