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?
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.
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.
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.
If it's for heating (and maybe cutting), then rig for a three gas setup.
The small extra cost on having oxy-propane too is soon saved by the
cheaper fuel gas costs.
You need a propane reg, a propane hose (not acetylene) and a torch with
a suitable mixer to use propane. For cutting you generally keep the same
torch, but the mixer is in the nozzle. For heating (with a real torch)
you change the torch's mixer and fit a heating nozzle. You can get a
_lot_ of heat from oxy-propane.
I don't know any of these brands (except Harris, which have lousy
service backup here in the UK). But get something decent, because a
rubbish torch is a pain in the arse for ever.
If it's for bench work, look at getting an economiser too (bench hook,
with built in gas shutoff and pilot light)
You make the Brits jealous. 8-(
We pay a _fortune_ on rental and can't buy them.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
"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
Sorry to hear of the demise of the other 4 suppliers.
For me, anything within 60 miles is "local".
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.