Which Cutting Torch Is Best?
Thank you in advance for all of your answers and help.
I am familiar with Oxy/Acetylene torches, although I do not have my own torch.
I'm looking to buy a cutting torch that will be used to cut steel, mostly in the 3/8" to 1/2" thickness. I'll also want to use it for heating, bending and shaping steel of the same thickness.
First question: Is Oxy/Propane something that I should consider getting? Would it be cheaper to go Oxy/Propane, and does Oxy/Propane make cuts as clean as Oxy/Acetylene?
If so, which cutting tip size would be recommended for Oxy/Propane?
Will Oxy/Propane torches heat the metal for bending as well as Oxy/Acetylene does?
If so, which heating tip would be recommended for use in heating and bending?
What type of torch "complete kits" are available for Oxy/Propane?
Last question: I have seen a "Campbell Hausfeld" cutting torch kit (WT4000) advertised that I like. Would that be a good torch for medium duty cutting and heating, and does that torch use Victor type parts, or Airco, or what?
Thanks again for all of your help.
I would stick with a Smith http://www.smithequipment.com/ or a Victor http://www.thermadyne.com/victor/ or even a Harris that way you won't have to scrounge parts later on. I use an Oxweld only because i have 50 lbs of extra parts and i got it cheap. I also would stick with ox/ac because of the ease of finding it. But thats just me...Bob
Bob Wright Metal Master Fab
Salem, Ohio Birthplace of the Silver and Deming Drill, all others are copies.
Well here goes:
I don't think there is a perfect torch, what is good for you
may not work for me.
acetylene/propane, i'll let someone else fight that out.
Here's what works for my and why:
1. propane, I don't have a need to gas weld.
and propane is easy to get (20 lb bbq bottle)
2. I don't like my cutting attachment, so I went with a dedicated
cutting torch only.
3. I have used (with respect to the cutting lever)
1. top mounted front hinge
2. top mounted rear hinge
3. bottom mounted rear hinge.
4. bottom mounted front hinge.
I have the (#4), corcob handle now made by concoa
(previously airco) lever bottom mounted front.
I tell people to take a prospective torch, unlit, and try
to follow a chalked line, all the while actuating the oxygen
lever on and off. What you want ( I feel) is one that fits
your hand, and doesn't vary off that line as you depress
the lever. With my fingers curled around my torch, the index
finger actuates the lever, and the grip doesn't change.
It is just my opinion, but buying a torch set branded Campbell Hausfeld is asking for grief. I was a shipfitter all through the '70s and after I stopped building ships I got an oxyacetylene setup at home. I was amazed that I couldn't cut steel very well, after using a torch all day every day for 13 years. Eventually someone gave me some good regulators and I realized the problem had been my regulators. Moral of that story is get as good of regulators as you can afford, or suffer forever.
You can get used to any fuel gas for cutting, as long as you can get the tip chart for that gas from your manufacturer. That's where Airco and Victor excel in comparison to the others. For heating, propane is much much cheaper than acetylene, also much safer to store. The only fuel gas you can weld steel with, though, is acetylene. If you do use a non-acetylene fuel gas, make sure you buy grade T hoses. This isn't optional.
The last main piece to the puzzle is support. Torches need heads reamed, sometimes need check valves cleaned out, sometimes just need to have some grit removed. Regulators sometimes need new seats or new gauges, or they need to be calibrated. It is a real good idea to find out if you had to have something repaired, where to get it repaired, and go talk to them. Torch and regulator guys know essentially everything about this equipment. In Seattle we are lucky, we have an excellent service provider. They don't have a Web site or email and probably never will, but they are top quality providers and all the local welding supply stores and industry toolrooms use them. If you can't find a local repair shop, call Harold Heia at Hansen & Miller, 4101 Leary Way NW, Seattle, 98107, 206-782-8842. Harold will answer all your questions knowledgeably. You can ship them items to repair.
Beyond that, I suggest you go to a local welding supply and see if they have any cutting torches in stock. The tiniest cutting attachment can cut very thick metal, it's the gas not the torch that does the work. Big beefy cutting torches are made that way because it's easier to cut with them, and they can take a lot of jobsite abuse without failing.
All that having been said, I am partial to Airco cutting torches. I own a couple of Victor sets including the cutting attachments and also a couple of Smith sets with the cutting attachments. I recently picked up a Purox torch that I really like, so I can recommend that as well, although it will likely be harder to find parts and tips for (translate: $$$$).
In the end, you get what you pay for. Just don't expect to sell a Campbell Hausfeld or Harbor Freight clone set for more than a few dollars, there is essentially zero demand for those on the used market. And if you buy Victor, be aware that lots of their product line is now manufactured overseas, so their older stuff may be higher quality.
What metalmagpie said. I was also in the shipyards for 35 years, we had Airco and Purox. I preferred the Purox myself, but that is personal opinion.
I've always used Victor, support and parts available anywhere. I used propane on a cutting machine for cost reasons. You use 1 20# propane bottle to a 6 pac of 225 oxy bottles. It doesn't get quite as hot, so it takes a little longer to preheat, but once you start cutting all is well. I can't remember the tip #'s. If you're piercing, take a centerpunch and hit the metal hard where you want to start, the little raised metal edge will heat up really fast letting you get your cut started faster. You can use propane tips on any Victor torch that would usually use acet. The welding store will be able to tell you the proper pressures to use for any gas combo, and the tip sizes
Thanks very much ...
For all of the GREAT information from all of you, aa metal master Bob Wright, digger doug, metal magpie, VeloceOne, and greggv. I really appreciate your input ... each and every one of you.