While I waited for them to swap out a bottle of fire juice, I picked up
a booklet called "Stick Electrode Welding Guide" by Lincoln. My welds are
little to look at, so this book was awesome, as it goes into great detail,
complete with charts and such, about what rod to use for what situation and
material. I don't know if folks have this or not, but I figure it's worth a
trip to the store to get it. Free, or he forgot to charge me for it. I'd
pay for it, that's for sure, and I'm cheap!
When I went to pay, the tab was about $73 for a 140cf bottle. Did I
miss something? I haven't bought acetylene in a long time, but that really
took me for a surprise. Said it will go up some more too, and blabbered
about only two plants left in Washington State. Does that sound about
I don't know why acetylene is getting to be so expensive. It is easily made
from calcium carbide. Just add water, then you get the gas, add acetone,
filter and bottle it. Calcium carbide is cheap to make also, it's made from
limestone and coke (coal), its just the hazmat charge and transportation
requirements that makes it expensive. Also the fact that over 80% of the
acetylene produced is used by the chemical industry to synthesize plastics
or in the steel industry to harden steel may mean they don't want to fool
with the small quantities that the welding industry uses, which is spread
out all over the place.
No insider info. I think welding gas supply has consolidated so a few
large places fill Acetylene for regon. This is probably because of
numerous accidents over many years and high insurance costs. Also
demand for Acetylene gas is much lower because of plasma cutters and
other fuel gases including propane and natural gas has replaced
Acetylene for cutting. TIG welding has replaced a lot of gas welding.
I remember when most large cities had gas dealers that filled Acylene
cylinders with gas from Carbide Acetylene generator on site. Prior to
WWII every welding shop generated their own Acetylene but times change
the way things are done.
It is expensive because of the liability insurance required to handle it
in any way.
It is getting prohibitively expensive now.
You want cheap acetylene ?
Build your own acetylene generator.
They used to be commonplace.
Calcium Carbide rock is cheap stuff by the truck load.
Just don't build it anywhere near a house.
One mistake and BOOM!
"I love deadlines, especially the wooshing sound they make as
they fly by" - Douglas Adams
My Grandfathers house on the farm (which my daughter lives in now) had a
Carbide generator from sometime back in the '20's until the mid '50's when
they finally got electricity under one of the government programs. I can
remember the carbide lights being used, and have some memory of watching
them being lit. As I recall the light had a slight yellowness about it, but
I can't remember if it was bright or dim. The generator was out in the back
yard, next to a Marmossa tree that I desperately wanted to climb. I was
finally allowed to go into that area of the yard after the house was wired,
but by then, I was bigger and the tree was smaller, and it just wasn't the
same. There are still some old parts and copper tubing scattered around in
the barns and sheds from the carbide system.
I built my house on land where my other grandfather's house once stood. Out
in the back yard there is an approximate 20 sq foot area (mound) about 6
inches higher than the rest of the yard, surrounded by a low concrete
divider. This used to be where the carbide generator set for the old house,
until just after "World War Twice" when a co-op was formed and everything
got electrocuted. When the co-op started a water system in the mid-80's I
dug a water line through our back yard, and dug up about 20 feet of old
copper tubing that had piped the gas from the generator to the house. I
guess at one time there were about 15 out of 25 homes/business' here on the
island (actually its a peninsula) that had carbide lighting. Also the old
ammonia refrigerator/freezerss with the kerosene burners were popular too.
My grandfather used one to make ice for the fishermen, until the late 40's
when he changed the kerosene burner over to an electric heat element. All of
this stuff, the house, the ice house, barn and sheds was destroyed by a fire
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