Oxy/Acetylene Torch question

Howdy, everyone. I'm within a month or two of buying my first oxy/acetylene setup and have a couple of questions. I'll be using it
for cutting and welding. I'm doing blacksmithing and it will be an economical way for me to get two tools for the price of one.
Is it worth it to spend the extra money on a Harris or Victor torch versus a Wal-Mart special? I'm thinking of buying the bottles (smaller size ones). Any reason *not* to buy them?
rvb
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Absolutely. You get what you pay for in the welding biz. Buy the best you can afford. The bigger the tank, the less you'd have to have them refilled. Lane
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"Lane" <lane (no spam) at copperaccents dot com> wrote:

Amen.
Helps with, but does not eliminate, the darn-I-knew-I-should-have-got-gases-yesterday syndrome too.
Overall, larger tanks are more economical to refill, IME. I have a #3 acetylene and a 330 cu.ft oxygen for the shop and a totable pair of mini-tanks for field. (Somebody _gave_ them to me, with a Victor torch set, OK?) Except for the shortest of jobs, they're practically useless. :)
It costs almost as much to fill/switch out the portable mini-tanks as the big ones.
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John Husvar wrote:

Okay. Great input. Now what about the torch itself? Should I drop the $300 for Victor or Harris or what? Which one is better?
rvb
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Victor and Harris are both good. Either is a good choice. Harris has more choices and makes some models that will take Victor consumables. Victor parts seem to be avaialble everywhere. Harris are widely available, but not as widely as Victor.
Best to try different models before making a decision if you can. Some folks like the feel of one over the other in the hand.
One reason to go with Harris is they make an injector style cutting torch/head as well as ones with a regular mixer. It makes living with alternate gases, like propylene, easier, although you can use alternate gases with a regular torch the appropriate tip. But this is only an issue if you aren't going to use acetylene.
BTW if you are buying tanks, you may want to buy them from the place where you will be getting them filled. Some places won't fill other tanks. Best to check before making a decision on where to buy.
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footy wrote:

Yeah. What's the reasoning behind this? I remember something about stolen tanks and that you should keep you receipts so there's no question that the tanks belong to you.
rvb
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Rick Barter wrote:

I do think it's about stolen tanks, partly, and a little bit about liability and also a little about plain shittiness and taking the opportunity to tell someone "No".
Anyway, you're on the right track looking at name-brand stuff. I gained the belief that a Harris was a little tougher than a Victor, but always liked a Victor for doing really nice work.
I'm surprised nobody has brought up Smith, so I will. I don't like full-size Smith torches a bit. Clumsy things, got that lame little lead o-ring on the tip in the name of changing a tip without a wrench.. Lame.
John
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JohnM wrote:

Well, next question. Where to buy? Should I go to a local welding shop or online or check out the pawn shops like Jeff said?
rvb
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I'm not a fan of used O/A equipment. I'm partial to Victor, you can get a new set of single stage regulators and torch for the $150 to $200 range. Given the problems with bad regulators and leaky torches, why bother with used??
Rick Barter wrote:

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RoyJ wrote:

Where can I buy them?
rvb
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At the same place you get your tanks: your local welding supplier.
While, sometimes, you may save a few bucks shopping online, you'll want to develop a good rapport with your local supplier since that's where you'll be getting your gas, rods, replacement tips, goggles, etc.
Your local supplier is (or, at least, _should be_) a good source of useful tips on both the use and maintenance of your new O/A equipment.
Who knows? He/She may be able to make you a good deal on a complete basic setup!
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RAM^3 wrote:

I agree with the local purchase, unless you sphincter sense starts tingling when prices start being discussed..
As far as advice.. you'll be a lot better off to get it here. Lots of folks here *use* these tools, the people at the welding shop just sell them.
John
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The little oilfield town I live in, used to have 5 welding suppliers. So they were competitive, friendly and helpful.
Now there is only one..
Most everyone I know drives the 40 miles to Bakersfield to buy their Stuff..as the remaining supplier in town is EXPENSIVE, and has a bad attitude. Its like pulling teeth to simply get a price on something hanging on the wall, and .05 second after they hand you the change from a sale..its.."what the fuck are you still doing here?"
Ive found a place in So California, inside my service area, that is friendly, helpful, and very inexpensive. Now I drive 200 miles for tank exchanges <G>
Yesterday, I brought 4 tanks for exchange. My own and tanks from two other guys. An exchange of owner bottles (125cf) is less than $20 each. In my town, its $37 each..and a bad attitude is the only thing you will get free.
Sims-Orange of Santa Ana, California, will now be getting a good amount of sales from the guys in my town, nearly 200 miles to the north. And with the number of sand rail/race car builders, and oilfield welders I run with..it could be significant.
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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wrote:

Sorry to hear of the demise of the other 4 suppliers.
For me, anything within 60 miles is "local". <G>
Was the 400-mile round trip (including your time, fuel costs, wear/tear, etc.) worth the ~$68 savings? [Your truck must get better mileage than mine. <G>]
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On Wed, 25 May 2005 12:10:26 -0500, "RAM^3"

Chuckle..I work as a traveling machine tool technician..Sims happens to be right smack dab in the middle of my busiest areas..so Im in that area at least 3 times a week. So my mileage and travel time are paid for by other customers <G>
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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I have to second Sims. I always go there first. In that part of Santa Ana there are two other welding suppliers, and Simms is the best! Friendly, too... I don't think I've left the place without them giving me something to eat or drink!
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On Tue, 24 May 2005 23:54:54 -0400, Rick Barter

Most of my gas kit was bought from eBay, brand new, boxed and local.
Takes a little while, but those bargains are out there.
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Many (most?) cylinders in extant are leased. Sometimes a leased cylinder is sold to an unsuspecting person. That person then takes the cylinder in for a refill and, instead of getting it back, it is confiscated on the spot. Mr. Unsuspecting has no recourse, receipt or not. A receipt is simply worth zip if the seller did not own the cylinder in the first place.
So, make certain prior to a private purchase that the cylinder is not leased. On a private purchase, one may arrange prior to the money exchange to take the cylinder to the refiller for vetting.
Ciao, David Todtman
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I'd buy Victor because parts are generally more readily available wherever you might move.
$300 sounds a little high for a home shop kind of setup. You can probably do better unless you have a need for a BIG torch. BUT, chances are you'll only buy one good torch setup in your lifetime. If you take even halfway reasonable care of it, it'll last a long time: Your kids will probably be able to use it long after you're gone.
Tips you should consider as semi-consumable. Again, care will extend their life, but they're the weak point -- or the easiest to damage if your attention wanders -- in any welding or cutting operation and they do erode or clog. A set of tip drills and holder will extend their life a lot. The small folding cases of multiple tip cleaners work well too. I just like tip drills better personally. It's somewhat a toss-up: The multiple cleaner ones bend, tip drills can break if you mess up. DAMHIKT! :)
Torch set is one item I'd buy from a welding supply shop. You'll probably have to buy your gas and rod there anyway and it's good to have a good working relationship with them.
The _really_ expensive things; TIG machine, plasma torch, etc, I, too, would shop around.
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I tell folks who are looking for an OA rig to check pawnshops for used equipment. I could probably find a bunch of Victor stuff around Seattle if I were willing to spend an afternoon cruising the pawn shops. I bought my victor gear used (though not from a pawnshop).
Definately buy your bottles if you can. Get the biggest ones you can handle/afford. I ended up trading up to larger bottle sizes eventually.
Heating stuff with OA is expensive. I'm working on building a small forge using a T-Rex burner.
Jeff Dantzler Seattle, WA
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