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Apartment Dweller Propane torch set up help.

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Apartment Dweller Propane torch set up help.

Old 04-12-16, 04:25 PM
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Rustynail
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Apartment Dweller Propane torch set up help.

Hey Guys,
I am an apartment dweller looking to get into doing frame mods and eventually my own frame. I am into the vintage cruiser style beach bikes and I would like to start with a frame stretch, building a frame jig to use first. I have basement workshop space and outdoors space to braze but My landlord isnt too keen on an acetylene and oxygen tanks hanging outside. Ive searched around the forum and found that oxy and propane is an option. I purchased one of those little benzomatic oxy/mapp set ups to get my feet wet starting to learn brazing....not going to cut it @ $9 a bottle for the oxygen I can see already it will be worth the investment buying a proper propane torch set up. Ive also seen it is possible to use an oxygen concentrator instead of the tanks. I can find hundreds of different Oxy-Acetylene set ups online, but this Victor Medalist 250 Propane Medium Duty Outfit-540/510LP - 0384-2544 is about it for designated propane set ups, and it is ( I think) a larger size torch not the smaller preffered size for bicycles, and it is just a cutter torch... So I pose the question.....If you had a couple hundred (maybe a little more) to put together a propane torch set up with hoses an assortment of tips and regulators what would you suggest??
Also if anyone could explain using an oxygen concentrator instead of tanks - what is needed, required size etc..that would be super.
Thank You very much in advance for the help!!

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Old 04-12-16, 07:56 PM
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Google "Velocipede salon acetylene vs propane". It's 11 pages of everything you need to know. I recently switched to propane but stayed with oxygen in bottles. I used that thread as a guide.
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Old 04-12-16, 10:02 PM
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Here is the cliff notes version of the subject thread I started and wrote a lot about on VS. Brazing setup is a big subject and can’t adequacy be described in one post. For starters, don’t buy a brazing package because they don’t have what is ideal for making frames and probably have stuff you won’t use. Lets start with your fuel supply. A full BBQ tank of propane costs in my area about $50. A refill is $20. It will last many times longer than my big tank of acetylene. Most places don’t have regulations about having a BBQ because it is a popular activity. You will need a propane regulator that – if it has pressure gauges – will be available for under $100 at a welding supply store or online. You don’t need an oxygen regulator if you are using a concentrator. They don't have a pressure tank to regulate (or explode) so there should not be any worry about having one on the premises. They regulate the volume of oxygen in the line by a control knob on the concentrator.

The smaller 5-liter per minute oxygen concentrators are sufficient for most bicycle frame brazing. Look for used ones on Craigslist or the classifieds. They can go anywhere from $50 (if you are lucky) to $200 used. Reconditioned ones with a 3-year guarantee cost around $300. A Devilbiss brand already has a male size B brass outlet that a brazing hose can screw directly into.

Aircraft style of torch handles are light and work well for frame making. On Amazon a Uniweld 71 can be bought on average for about $70 (although I have seen them for $40). It is a Victor compatible torch. You will need a UN-J Victor (or clone) mixer/elbow to attach to the handle. On the end of the elbow are threads to accept different sizes of tips. Propane specific tips to match the Victor UN-J mixer/elbow are designated TEN. They come in different sizes but the most common sizes for making frames are TEN-2, TEN-3 and TEN – 4. If you are on a tight budget the size 3 will work for almost everything. The Gentec brand makes cheaper clones of Victor parts.

Propane requires T style rubber welding hoses. The R type should only be used with acetylene. TM Technologies makes a much lighter version of hose that makes the subtle brazing motions easier. Of course if you are ordering from them they have almost every part of the puzzle except the concentrator. For safety there should be a flashback arrestor between the hose and the propane regulator. For additional safety it is also wise to use check valves on the end of your torch handle. Of course by now you have blown your $200 budget.
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Old 04-12-16, 10:14 PM
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Before you do anything, check your building codes. Many city codes explicitly prohibit compressed flammable gasses in multifamily dwellings. Others may allow it, but only with permits.

Of course you can skate by hoping that what nobody knows won't hurt you, but should you get caught, it could mean eviction or a fine or both.
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Old 04-13-16, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Before you do anything, check your building codes. Many city codes explicitly prohibit compressed flammable gasses in multifamily dwellings. Others may allow it, but only with permits.

Of course you can skate by hoping that what nobody knows won't hurt you, but should you get caught, it could mean eviction or a fine or both.
Not only that, but the fumes coming off your torch (whatever fuel you use), unless ventilated, can cause dizziness, cognitive impairment, or loss-of-consciousness. Those are just the short-term effects. We're not even talking about cancer, yet, or risk-of-explosion.
Metal fabrication shops get away with it because they have 30-foot-high ceilings and a 48" exhaust fan. Give yourself (and your landlord) a break and find a dedicated loft. If there are any art schools nearby, the students will know where to find one.
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Old 04-13-16, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
Not only that, but the fumes coming off your torch (whatever fuel you use), unless ventilated, can cause dizziness, cognitive impairment, or loss-of-consciousness. Those are just the short-term effects. We're not even talking about cancer, yet, or risk-of-explosion.
Metal fabrication shops get away with it because they have 30-foot-high ceilings and a 48" exhaust fan. Give yourself (and your landlord) a break and find a dedicated loft. If there are any art schools nearby, the students will know where to find one.
Sure, if you practice really extremely bad work guidelines. Like braze in a tiny room with no venting and do so for hours at a time while positioning your face directly above the work piece and are hyperventilating.

In real life there is a range of sensitively people have to these fumes. Those who are affected easily either develop techniques/equipment which keeps fresh air delivered to their lungs or they stop. Those who tolerate these smells better continue and quickly learn better practices then what I mentioned above. The guide lines are much the same for many other jobs like painting or cleaning. Common sense and a little effort to minimize the bad goes a long ways. There are many hundreds of years of human history with metal work and the nasties that result from it. There's very little records of health issues when common sense and simple precautions are followed.

While I don't suggest one brazes in their bedroom I know many have done so in their kitchen with a few closed doors (to the rest of the house) and a few open windows. I know many who have brazed on their porch. I know many who store their flammables outside on the deck, patio, porch or balcony until actually needed. While I have brazed in rented home dwellings I always had the OK from the landlord. I actually get more concerned about the flooring and hot filler dripping off a joint or rod then I am about the fumes. Andy.
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Old 04-13-16, 09:24 AM
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You can buy small "portable" welding outfits with refillable bottles. Although the larger the bottles, the cheaper to get them refilled (by volume)

Shop Lincoln Electric Port-a-Torch Kit at Lowes.com

Northern Industrial Welders Medium-Duty Cutting and Welding Outfit with Tote — Oxyacetylene Victor-Style, 11-Piece Set

I'd second the opinion of getting good ventilation.

You could also do TIG welding instead of brazing.
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Old 04-13-16, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Before you do anything, check your building codes. Many city codes explicitly prohibit compressed flammable gasses in multifamily dwellings. Others may allow it, but only with permits.

Of course you can skate by hoping that what nobody knows won't hurt you, but should you get caught, it could mean eviction or a fine or both.
Likely to trip smoke detectors as well, then you have some splain'n to do.
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Old 04-13-16, 09:57 AM
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I have a friend that had a studio loft in Brooklyn. Lots of open space. He had a large TIG welder that he was using for art. I'm not sure if he had built a tile area for welding, but he probably had something.

His biggest issue was periodically blowing the breakers with his welder.
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Old 04-13-16, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
Likely to trip smoke detectors as well, then you have some splain'n to do.
Maybe.

If you're making smoke, you probably forgot to turn on the oxygen.
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Old 04-13-16, 10:51 AM
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Of course it is necessary to take reasonable precautions when playing with fire. Safety 1[SUP]st[/SUP]. I am a bit more cautious with propane than acetylene because propane is heavier than air and can collect around the tank if proper precautions weren’t observed ready to be a big fireball if something ignites it. Acetylene is lighter than air and will disperse into the atmosphere if for some reason it escapes. I turn off my propane tank if I am not going to be using it in the very near future. I also like to burn off the propane in the line at the end of the day too.

But there is no need to wrap ourselves in asbestos suits with independently supplied oxygen masks just to do a practice braze. BBQ grills are a good example. There is a vastly greater amount of propane supplied flame used to cook hamburgers than braze a joint. Most people see that as a reasonably safe activity. If I was to ask a landlord about regulations I would say “Do you allow BBQ grills? And if so where is it okay to use them? I’m thinking about getting some propane equipment.” I realize that is a bit of misdirection but the real intent is there. You don’t want his snap judgment based on the oddity of the use rather than whether propane is allowed under what people consider a normal activity. In my opinion it is way safer to have a very small flame that has many more safety features between it and the supply tank than what a BBQ grill has. A brazing regulator is of a much higher quality. There should be a flashback arrestor to stop any flame from going into the tank and check valves on the torch handle provides additional safety. And the difference between flame size is enormous. Using a BBQ grill as an example of propane activity that puts its use into proper perspective.

It is also possible to use natural gas as a fuel supply. The problem is that its line pressure is low so it might not have enough oomph to keep a good flame. Natural gas line pressures vary. I have read different accounts from those that practice home “lampmaking” as to how well it works. My guess is that combined with an oxygen concentrator it will work okay. There is expensive equipment that can increase natural gas line pressure between the supply line and the torch. These are mostly used in industry when working with a number of torches. One secret to being able to keep a propane flame lit is to set the propane line pressure very low – like 2 or 3 psi. Otherwise higher pressure can blow out the flame. This is different than acetylene flame characteristics.
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Old 04-13-16, 10:57 AM
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Wouldn't it be better to find a place to help out and apprentice for a few hours a week and parlay that into some shop time to braze?
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Old 04-13-16, 01:14 PM
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Is there a maker space were u are. Boston has one, the lovely bike women constructed her bike frame there.
they are poping up all over.
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Old 04-13-16, 03:27 PM
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I Used the Community College facilities , Being a Metal And other Arts Major , back then,

So used the common space and equipment , rather than Buy My Own..
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Old 04-13-16, 04:03 PM
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Everything depends on your situation.

If you ask your landlord whether you can fire up your barbecue in the living room... the answer will probably be NO!

But, I agree, the dangers of a torch are somewhat different than one might expect. So, I've soldered plumbing pipes before, and it is not uncommon to singe the wood around the pipe, without causing any real harm, or risking burning down the structure.

Nonetheless, you don't want to be burning holes in the carpeting or floor.

Good ventilation is important. I've had brazing flux, I think, cause irritation after doing a lot of brazing.
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Old 04-13-16, 07:33 PM
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"Wouldn't it be better to find a place to help out and apprentice for a few hours a week and parlay that into some shop time to braze? " Standalone

Sure if your town has an active builder and they are agreeable. having an apprentice has a cost (not actual payroll) that many builders don't want to deal with (state requirements with employees and such). There is a great efficiency in a one person operation.

"Is there a maker space were u are. Boston has one, the lovely bike women constructed her bike frame there.
they are poping up all over." long john

Again very location dependent. The local Makerspace here has building and insurance limitations about open flame and combustibles. Besides the attitude of some of the attendees weren't what I wanted to have around my equipment or using flames around my body... Andy
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Old 04-13-16, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
Wouldn't it be better to find a place to help out and apprentice for a few hours a week and parlay that into some shop time to braze?
It will be a very rare professional framebuilder that will take on an apprentice or even allow someone to hang around the shop to sweep the floor in exchange for learning opportunities. It has been shown that the ratio of benefit to effort doesn’t usually make it worthwhile.

It might be possible to rent or somehow share space with other part or full time builders. One advantage is that expensive tooling could be shared so neither has to buy everything. And spitting the cost of rent may make a tight budget possible. In Chicago there is a co-op that have a number of part and full time builders in one space for a reasonable monthly fee. They have some tools in common like an alignment table and some of their own that is off limits to others. One of the biggest challenges my frame class students face getting started after class is over is finding a place to work. That is probably a bigger issue than being able to afford adequate tooling. Sometimes they have to split where they work with a workbench at home and brazing equipment somewhere else. Garages and car ports are popular for that purpose.
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Old 04-13-16, 09:38 PM
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I don't quite understand why people think that framebuilders have a lot of time to teach other people how to build. I am pretty sure that the number of framebuilders that are running anything beyond a subsistence business can be counted on one hand
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Old 04-13-16, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I don't quite understand why people think that framebuilders have a lot of time to teach other people how to build. I am pretty sure that the number of framebuilders that are running anything beyond a subsistence business can be counted on one hand
It's catch-22. Good builders are too busy building frames. Those without a full order book, have the time, but may not be worth the bother.
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Old 04-13-16, 11:42 PM
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Our local bike co-op has an apprenticeship program, but it isn't cheap.

Human Powered Machines » Cargo Framebuilding Apprenticeship

There may be frame building classes at local community colleges. It is worth checking out, or asking about.
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Old 04-14-16, 01:25 AM
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Take it outside? No, seriously.
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Old 04-14-16, 04:20 AM
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Thank you the helpful replies, I was hoping Doug would pipe in with some advice, as it was his posting that I learned about using propane. Maybe there is some misunderstanding in my post, my landlord is fine with me building bikes (and I was t to keep it that way - nobody thinks twice about a propane tank) -he let me have a 10x8 shop space in the basement (he even put in an outdoor plug for me to arc weld -that keeps tripping and I don't have access to the breaker room) I also already have one of those small portable disposable oxy/mapp canister units (waste of money) The makespace idea isn't for me, I like my workspace/shop and being able to just go down for half an hour whenever I want. I will be brazing outside (which should add a curve to the learning) because my shop space has minimal ventilation. That Velocipede Salon thread ..WOW!!!! I am currently going through it and putting together a shopping list, I have decided on the Uniweld or Ameriflame torch. Thank You for the help so far.
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Old 04-14-16, 07:21 AM
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For about 7 years I did my brazing outside, because of space not landlordship. I got a 8'x8' event (pop up) tent with additional sides for wind and rain protection. This did well enough although in hard rain or strong winds I learned to put off the brazing session. The other aspect I had to relearn was to watch my flux as the light/color outside was far different then inside work. It was hard to see the steel start to change to dull red. I kept my tanks and torch in a tall Rubbermade cabinet (which I locked) on the patio. Andy.
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Old 04-14-16, 09:56 AM
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Here is a more detailed description of a propane brazing set up taken from my framebuilding class manual:

A list of brazing equipment from the tank to the flame:
1. A propane regulator (most likely with “B” size American fittings)
2. A flashback arrestor (they come in 2 styles, one for connecting to the regulator and the other – in which the flow goes the opposite way – to the torch handle. A flashback arrestor has a male and female end. The difference between the 2 styles is that flow in the regulator one goes from the female to male end. The one that attaches to the torch handle flows from the male to female end.
3. 3/16” rubber hose (it is smaller than the other common ¼” size). R rated is for acetylene use only. T rated is for use with propane or any other gas including acetylene. If this is going to be connected to a TM Technologies ultralight hose, it should have a B fitting on one end for the regulator connection and A fittings on the other to connect to the TM hose or torch fittings. Hoses can be bought with both A or both B or an A and B fitting. This is the transit hose from the tank(s) to the brazing station. They should travel along the ceiling and not on the floor. If it is used without a light hose than you definitely want one with A/B fittings (that is of course if your regulator has a B fitting). They come in 12 1/2' and 25' (and longer) lengths. Probably the 25' length is best if one is running the hose along the ceiling.
4. A brass male /male “A” connector.
5. TM Technologies ultralight hose. It has A female fittings on both ends but comes with 2 A to B adaptors. This is a luxury item that makes brazing motions easier but it is not essential - especially for those on a tight budget. It is most likely too short (9') to be used as the only hose from the tank to the torch handle.
6. “A” size check valves.
7. An “aircraft” style torch handle with A size hose attachments
8. Whatever mixer/elbow/tips fit your needs. If you are using a Victor torch handle (or compatible) the propane mixer/elbow is a UN-J (or compatible like a 881W mixer). The most commonly used propane specific tips to screw onto the end of the UN-J will be a TEN-2, TEN-3 and TEN-4. The most frequently used one will probably be the size 3.

Last edited by Doug Fattic; 04-14-16 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Our local bike co-op has an apprenticeship program, but it isn't cheap.

Human Powered Machines » Cargo Framebuilding Apprenticeship

There may be frame building classes at local community colleges. It is worth checking out, or asking about.
Jan Helped me with shop access and tools and Tig & Brazing on My Tour4ing Bike We built from Cargo & Burly Tandem parts

Back when 'C.A.T' was just starting Up. 89~90 ish.
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