Discount Torch Kit Cylinders - Can They Be Filled? How?
After a long term loan my "B" size (about knee-high) oxygen tank
recently went back to its rightful owner and left me in quest of a
new tank and gauge. Here in Canada the three dominant gas & welding
suppliers are Praxair, Linde and Air Liquide. The price for B tank,
gas and gauges at the nearest of these majors (doesn't matter which)
seeming quite steep, I then checked out ebay - which led to the
following curious situation.
A number of ebay vendors offered "portable Victor style kits" -
oxygen cylinder, gas cylinder, hose, torch tip, gauges, all complete
in a carrying caddy at considerably less than half the gas majors'
prices for a comparable unit. Only thing is, all the ebay listings
come with the caveat that their cylinders are non DOT and not stamped
so the buyers should check with their gas company first.
After checking with various metalsmith forums here and in the US it
seems that certainly none of the gas company majors will fill such an
unstamped cylinder. Thus the curious moral of the story appears to be
that if you get the ebay kit, you're essentially out of luck: you
can't get the cylinders filled, hence can't use it. As a Canadian
jeweler wrote, "Hans, we bought one and no one would fill it unless
we had it inspected and stamped which was cost prohibitive. Still
sitting empty in our shed."
Now, in their listings, some (but not all) of the ebay sellers give
a running total of how many of these kits they've sold. Adding up all
the ones that did give a tally, just on the first ebay page alone it
came to about 1,400 units sold.
Does that mean that we have (at least) 1,400 people saying "Oh shit
- what do I do with it now?" or does it mean that there must be a
tank-fill workaround that I don't (yet) know about?
Which at last brings me to my specific question/s: short of sending
them out for testing and certification, can such cylinders be filled?
(In the US or Canada). How? By some underground black market
moonlight route or by a legitimate path? Have you ever had yours
filled (howe) or know anyone who has, or who has bought such a kit
and actually happily uses it?
Re your need for a tank fill workaround.
Here in the UK we have the same major gas suppliers and the oxygen
biggest comes in 200 ltr at 3000 psi.
What most small users do here is have their own cylns and borrow!!
from an offical cylinder rented/user one of these 5ft high cyls, and
have made up a PROPER!! connecting pipe and fittings each end to
connect the big one to the small one. then open the small one slowly,
likewise the big one and come back in half an hour. Close both and
Pay for the gas and a present !! to the helpful person. Some I know
fill several cyls till the pressure is down to 250psi then its not
worth going any further. Likewise a 100lb propane cyl fills lots of
20lb small ones.
Like in many walks of life its who you know.
No, you can't fake it. I wouldn't touch those things with a ten foot
The O2 bottle you could possibly do a gang-transfer from a higher
pressure bottle, but acetylene refills take time and special gear.
(It's not just pumped in there, you have to give it time to dissolve
into the acetone, otherwise loud things happen.) Screw that up and
you've got a decent sized bomb on your hands. Absolutely,
positively, *NOT WORTH THE RISK*.
If they've sold 1400 units, that just proves St. Barnum of Baylee
was right: "There's one born every minute".
As far as gas bottles go, at least around here (Bay Area, US) I see
acetylene "B" bottles float by on craigslist on a pretty regular
basis, for about $100. B bottles don't require paperwork to fill, so
you should be OK to get them refilled. (Still has to be an
inspected, stamped DOT bottle, but the gas houses don't care about
proof of ownership like they do with the larger ones.)
You can pick up a pair of used bottles for about $200 total, and
then work on the torch from there. Do NOT, whatever you do, cheap
out or cut corners when dealing with pressurized flammable
(explosive) gasses. Really. Just not worth the risk.
Just in case you thought your prices weren't high enough, I just got
an email from Air Liquide that Praxair had bought them out (or they
bought Praxair). Either way, where once there were three gas houses,
now there are just two. And the Praxair closest to me that I
normally go to promptly closed a week later, in favor of another
'local' facility about 30 minutes away in the wrong direction.
(gurr...) Just remember: monopolies are *good* for the peasants... .
At least in North America you have the option of buying your own
oxygen cylinders and having them refilled. Here in Australia the
industrial gas companies have stitched up the system so that you can
only ever rent a cylinder and swap an empty one for a full one. At
$150 a year it actually costs me around three times as much to rent
my oxygen cylinder than for the oxygen itself. The same deal applies
for acetylene which is the main reason I don't use it and instead
use propane because then I have choice of buying a cylinder that is
good for 10 years of refills, or for a higher cost per refill us a
"swap and go" service indefinitely.
I have even seriously considered using disposable oxygen cylinders as
a cheaper alternative environmentally stupid as they are but they are
not readily available and don't work with my regulator. I have also
considered using a oxy-hydrogen water torch -- rather expensive but
it does have the environmental advantage of running off the solar
panels on my roof.
All the best