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Tag-A-Long and similar portable torches enough?

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Tag-A-Long and similar portable torches enough?

Old 03-28-17, 10:33 AM
  #1  
zanq
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Tag-A-Long and similar portable torches enough?

I'm exploring the idea of building a lugged frame or two, and have other minor uses for an oxy acetylene torch, so I'm researching the equipment I will need. I stopped at the local welding supply shop for a new welding helmet (I have some other welding to do) and asked about their torch setups. I had a little sticker shock on the quote for a full-size, homeowner setup - about $1200 (purchased tanks, torch kit, cart). Does this sound to be an appropriate ballpark figure?

I've seen the portable torch setups in many places:
Would one of these portable torch setups be enough for 1 bike frame, or is there not enough volume?

My other torch uses include freeing corroded nuts/bolts. This would only be on a project-to-project basis; I don't see me doing any large scale, full time cutting or bending of metal. The price of these portable torches is a bit easier to swallow but don't know if they have the burn time/output required.

Thanks!

T
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Old 03-28-17, 11:41 AM
  #2  
David Tollefson
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Head over to Velocipede Salon and check out Doug Fattic's thread on acetylene vs. propane. You can get by investing MUCH less in the torch and fuel set-up.
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Old 03-28-17, 12:07 PM
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Doug Fattic 
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What brazing equipment works best for building bicycle frames has been extensively written about on the different frame building forums including the one David mentions. They will give you a lot more detail then my following cliff notes version. The small portable tanks you noted will provide enough gas to make one frame. I would not buy any of those all-in-one units if I was starting from scratch. The torch handles that work well with a cutting attachment (the most popular reason to buy an oxyacetylene outfit) are bigger than anything I like. I prefer using propane with an oxygen concentrator for convenience, safety and cost.

Here my recommendations. There are a lot of other options. If I am using a BBQ propane tank (enough fuel to last almost forever) I would get a either a Uniweld 71 or Victor J-28 torch handle. They require a Victor (or Gentec clone) UN-J mixer/elbow with TEN (that is a designation not a number) tips. I would get at least the TEN-2 and TEN-3 but if money isn’t tight I’d get the 1 and 4 also. On the gas supply end of the torch handle I would put check valves.

I don’t like heavy rubber hoses so I’d buy light hoses from TM Technologies. That 10 foot length isn’t long enough for me so I would extend it with T grade 3/16” rubber hose to the tank and concentrator. I would put in a flashback arrestor between the end of the hose and the propane regulator. There is no need for one on the concentrator. You can buy everything from the torch handle to the tank online at TM including the regulator.

An oxygen concentrator (the medical device that lets old people breath almost pure oxygen) can be bought on Craigslist for an average of $200. Some of my frame building class students have gotten them for under $100. They will give you an endless supply of oxygen without the need to buy a tank and regulator. M&M Medical in PA sells refurbished ones with a 3 year guarantee for $300.

So If I get all of this new except the concentrator I have a bill of somewhere around $750 depending on if you buy real Victor stuff or the cheaper clones.
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Old 03-28-17, 12:37 PM
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I watched a Natural Gas Torch Array Jig in Action at the Gazelle Factory, in Dieren NL.

they had several focused torch flames heating the lugged joints quickly and efficiently one after the other

building Reynolds 531 race bike main frames ..

I would like to have seen the Oma and Opa bike's frame shop but that was not available..



I used the College Jewelry making Oxy- Natural gas 'Rosebud' tip (there to melt metal to make small investment cast parts)

for the added mass of cast fork crowns..



...
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Old 03-28-17, 01:40 PM
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zanq
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Thanks for the info! I did find Doug's thread at VelocipedeSalon and reading through it now.

Doug - thanks for the parts list! BTW, I grew up in the Kalamazoo area and played a bit of baseball down in Niles. Niles has a nice youth baseball field!
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Old 03-28-17, 09:43 PM
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unterhausen
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I think you'll be a lot happier with the propane/oxygen concentrator setup than a tiny oxy-acetylene setup. For one thing, there may be issues getting those oxy-acetylene tanks filled. The torches that come with those sets will work for framebuilding, but they are not the best.
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Old 04-24-17, 03:24 PM
  #7  
ksisler
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Originally Posted by zanq View Post
I'm exploring the idea of building a lugged frame or two, and have other minor uses for an oxy acetylene torch, so I'm researching the equipment I will need. I stopped at the local welding supply shop for a new welding helmet (I have some other welding to do) and asked about their torch setups. I had a little sticker shock on the quote for a full-size, homeowner setup - about $1200 (purchased tanks, torch kit, cart). Does this sound to be an appropriate ballpark figure?

I've seen the portable torch setups in many places:
Would one of these portable torch setups be enough for 1 bike frame, or is there not enough volume?

My other torch uses include freeing corroded nuts/bolts. This would only be on a project-to-project basis; I don't see me doing any large scale, full time cutting or bending of metal. The price of these portable torches is a bit easier to swallow but don't know if they have the burn time/output required.

Thanks!

T
I went that path originally and got very tired of it as kept running out of gas or oxygen in the middle of a job due to the little tanks (I did keep the little portable kit for going out in the pasture to weld up a broken cow gate, etc.). Given that most states (I think it is actually a Federal law) now prohibit buying tanks (except in those little kit sets), you have to lease the tanks, so lease a bigger set. When they get low, do the refill. When the born-on-date now mandated to be stamped into the tank reaches 10 years age, the tanks are purged/destroyed and your lease gets you new or younger tanks with no additional charge. The change keeps the rusty unsafe old tanks out of the market it is said.

When I had to replace my torch kits due to a shop break-in and theft, I was surprised at the quality and low cost for an authentic Victor brand medium kit like this one (comes with the cutting parts also). It is a marvel to use (recommend you get some extra tips in a few sizes though). The new gauges are awesome;

Recommended one: $263 delivered;

https://www.amazon.com/Technologies-...ding+torch+kit

This is one of many available tank carts. This one is about $85 delivered. Just be sure to chain it to the wall so no accidents happen with someone knocking your tanks over (ends badly). Also be sure to follow the rules on transporting the tanks.

https://www.amazon.com/Steel-Welding...ding+tank+cart

Hope that helps some
/K
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