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 right? Ouch!
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.
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 in 1955.