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Thread: Recommend a "standard" O/A welding setup

  1. #1
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    Default Recommend a "standard" O/A welding setup

    I guess this is related to the recent thread "Welding: Getting a Start" but it has enough of a different twist that I didn't want to hijack that thread.

    I am a complete noob when it comes to welding, although I have successfully soldered (both lead and silver) for years using propane and more recently successfully brazed a few mild steel parts using MAP. Due to the general poor state of the electrical service in and around my 90-year old house, and the multiple uses of a basic oxy-acetylene setup (heating, soldering, brazing, welding and cutting), I am looking at getting a small-ish O/A setup to accomplish the various things I want to do.

    I am looking to weld steel, stainless and aluminum from 1/32" to 1/4", perhaps even occasionally to 3/8". I understand the advantages of soldering, brazing and welding, and would like the option of choosing the most appropriate joining method for each task. I'm not looking to do heavy structural parts, just joining bits and pieces in all sorts of small to mid-sized useful and perhaps artistic projects. I am well aware that I will need practice, practice and even more practice... and in fact am very much looking forward to that practice.

    What I think I'm looking for is a small-ish torch setup, built around something like a Victor J-28, a Smith Airline or a Harris 19-6a. Such torches are termed "standard", smaller and more nimble than the "medium" duty handles that seem a lot more popular, yet still have available cutting attachments, good selections of welding and cutting tips, yet have the capacity to do what I want (at least the catalogs seem to suggest that they do) all while using less of the expensive gases than the usual O/A torches for small-medium projects.

    The problem, however, is that these "standard" torch components are difficult to find in this day that favors welding with electricity instead of actual fire, and very few of the manufacturers package them into popular-priced kits. As a result, putting together a useful kit of handle, cutting tips, regulators, hose, etc. gets one pretty close to the price of a Dillon/Henrod/Cobra 2000 kit... which is another of the smallish torches that I am considering. I do not think I'd be happy with the Smith Little Torch or the MECO, they are too small for what I think I want and neither of them can cut steel.

    Am I way off base? Is there something else I should be considering? Or should I spend a lot more money on better electrical service, and then maybe someday acquire and learn TIG/plasma instead of O/A?
    Last edited by DrMike; 08-23-2018 at 02:32 PM. Reason: kant spel

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Atlanta, GA, USA
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    Default

    You talk about the unavailability of these small torches in a popular priced "kit". It was the same when I bought my Smith's Airline back in the early 1960s. I kept looking at the better priced larger torch kit, but I wanted that smaller "Airline" torch on the counter. So I decided to try a little bargaining. I knew they sold all of this stuff individually and the large torch in the kit was more expensive than the small Airline when sold individually. So I decided to try bargaining. I said "I'll take the kit". Then with the kit in my hands, I took the large torch out and asked if they would swap it for the small Airline torch. They were happy to do so and I ended up with the kit and the Airline torch. And I'll have to give a big "thumbs up" for the Smith's equipment. It has been working just fine for nearly 60 years now! I did have to install some new O rings in the torch recently and buy some new rubber hose. Rubber doesn't last forever and begins cracking with age. Had to do the same with my old Hobart stick welder leads.

    These days I have MIG, TIG, oxy-acetelyne, and stick. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Oxy-acetelyne's advantages are its versatility. You can weld, cut, braze, and heat plus it is more portable and doesn't require an electrical connection. Its disadvantage against electric welding is it operates at a lower heat. When welding, the larger the mass you are welding, the more heat is required. This means more pre-heating of the work before you can weld. Oxy-acetelene takes a little longer to attain proficiency than MIG, but I didn't find this to be an obstacle and taught myself by reading and asking some welder friends some questions as I went along. MIG is easier to learn. TIG is a lot like oxy-acetelyne to do, but the heat is more intense. On the other hand, holding the arc is a real art.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Planeman41; 08-23-2018 at 03:20 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Planeman, you’ve given me new things to consider. As long as the hoses fit, or adapters are available, I may be able to trade (or sell) the torches from a packaged kit in order to bring home just what I want.

    Another question for the group... Harris appears to have a plumber/HVAC port-a-kit that seems to feature their small-ish torch/cutter. Any opinions pro/con on Harris equipment? Any particular reason they don’t seem as popular as Victor or Smith?

    I know opinions on the DHC 2000 run hot/cold (more like fire/ice). If you’ve used one, especially for welding steel and/or aluminum in the 1/16”-1/4” range, could you weigh in with your take on it?

  4. #4
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    I sold my O/A torch setup years ago. The cost to fill the tanks and others will chime in not so.... but in this area unless you buy $10,000 a year and get industrial pricing, you will pay outrageous prices to refill tanks. Smaller tanks don't last and cost just as much to refill as ones 4x as big.

    Get a good quality MIG setup, and if you really want to get a TIG/Stick setup go for it. Most of the smaller setups are dual voltage at least the ones I buy anyway. My Inverter stick welder is also set up via an inexpensive TIG add on. Inverter welders draw much less current than the old transformer ones.

    Ok folks jump in and offer your suggestions. I just want to add I have been welding off and on since I was 12 years old on the farm, now 75 or so and still learning!!
    Last edited by wmgeorge; 08-23-2018 at 07:35 PM.
    Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

  5. #5
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    I like having O/A, O/A is just the thing for really thin steel like 1/16 tubing for example and excellent for brazing, but I also have Mig Tig and stick to cover the rest of it - one size doesn't fit all. O/A is extremely versatile, but one thing you won't like for you intended application (thicker gauge steel) is the massive amount heat you have put into the work. For something thick, you'll pouring heat into the part to get to welding temps, vs with a mig or stick its instant weld temp when you pull the trigger so it minimizes the excess heat put into the part.
    Last edited by Mcgyver; 08-23-2018 at 08:06 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Wmgeorge... Don’t you have to deal with outrageous prices to fill MIG and TIG tanks too? What is the consumption/cost of shielding gas for MIG/TIG compared to oxy and acetylene?

  7. #7
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    The "plumber kits" that I've seen tend to have small acetylene tanks. They may not work well on the thicker pieces that you want to work with.

    There is a rule for safely using acetylene gas based on the size of the tank and the rate at which you draw off the gas. See here: https://www.thefabricator.com/articl...fety-knowledge . Acetylene is not forgiving if you use it unsafely. It can spontaneously ignite under several situations, though I don't remember all of them.
    There is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

  8. #8
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    I don't want to "recommend" it, but I am using a Gentec set right now. Hoses, torch, regulators. Spot on and no leaks. The torch has been in use for about ten years, and the regulators replaced my Smith regulators when they failed. Been using the current setup for 5-6 years now. No issues. I think Gentec is one of those cheap store brand imports, but I got mine at a garage sale.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  9. #9
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    Am aware of the 1/7 per hour rule with acetylene. Unfortunately have no idea of the impact on what I want to do.

    The small plumbers kit came with no tanks, was considering buying/renting B acetylene and 20 cu-ft O2 tanks to complete the kit.

  10. #10
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    Smaller tanks in this area are not rented but sold, empty or full. The small Oxygen R tank runs maybe $80 or so the small MC I do not know but the B is around $100 or. Be aware if you buy Chinese made tanks they may not refill or they may not refill if you did not purchase from them!! All kinds of rules. Its much, much cheaper to rent the larger tanks and of course pay yearly rent and then for the refills. And don't forget the Hazmat fees added on.

    Your C25 80 cf tank will last you for about 4 hours MIG welding (at 20 cf per H) , Argon tank for TIG about the same rate. You will go through a R and MC tank in about 30 minutes. Its to darn expensive. I used the small outfits when running HVAC service for brazing and silver brazing lines. I never had to pay for the gases, the company did.
    Last edited by wmgeorge; 08-23-2018 at 09:04 PM.
    Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

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