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Thread: Acetylene Shortages

  1. #1
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    Default Acetylene Shortages

    Not trying to start a panic here, but has anyone had any trouble yet? My local Airgas is on 50% allocation. Bring in 2 for exchange and you are going home with one empty. Not a big deal since I only need one to keep going, but I have heard that other areas of the country are getting hit harder. And my rep said they are not sure how things will be looking in the months ahead. He said it depends on how many guys he can convert to propylene for cutting. If you haven't gotten chummy with your rep yet, maybe now is a good time. It may be a good time to get that bottle filled.
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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Or use propane?
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Quote Originally Posted by zank View Post
    Not trying to start a panic here, but has anyone had any trouble yet? My local Airgas is on 50% allocation. Bring in 2 for exchange and you are going home with one empty. Not a big deal since I only need one to keep going, but I have heard that other areas of the country are getting hit harder. And my rep said they are not sure how things will be looking in the months ahead. He said it depends on how many guys he can convert to propylene for cutting. If you haven't gotten chummy with your rep yet, maybe now is a good time. It may be a good time to get that bottle filled.
    Thanks for the heads up Mike...did he give any reason?
    Anthony Maietta
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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Quote Originally Posted by pruckelshaus View Post
    Or use propane?
    You could, but you'd need a new regulator and different tips. And it doesn't burn as hot. I've tried a propylene setup and it took some changes in technique.
    Last edited by zank; 04-06-2011 at 09:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Quote Originally Posted by anthonymaietta View Post
    Thanks for the heads up Mike...did he give any reason?
    Yeah, the Carbide Industries plant had an explosion last Thursday. They make calcium carbide, which is used in the manufacturing of acetylene.
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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Regarding a switch to propane, You need T grade hoses because R grade degrade with propane use. Many (most?) acetylene regulators can be used with propane.
    Standard Acetylene tips can be modified to work with propane, but in a pinch you can use standard unmodified acetylene tips. The flame may blow out easier when you are lighting and adjusting, but it's
    not a big deal.
    I have both Acetylene and Propane. For normal lugs I prefer propane. On fillets, I used to prefer acetylene, but now that I'm more used to propane, I would say they are close to even. I like Propane better with Fillet Pro.
    Frequently my decision is based on which rig is not empty!
    If there is a long term shortage, or price increases, I would not hesitate to try propane. It works fine. It might take a few days to adapt, but It wouldn't be a huge problem. There are also other alternative fuel gases but propane works well, it is inexpensive, and available 24/7 here, so I haven't used them.

    Wade Barocsi
    CycleDesignUSA.com
    Last edited by wbarocsi; 04-07-2011 at 08:17 AM. Reason: grammar
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Wade, are special adapters needed to use standard 20lb propane tanks ("grill tanks") with regulators?

    My next step in my framebuilding addiction is to get my own torch setup, and because of cost and availability, I want to go with Propane.

    Pete
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Quote Originally Posted by zank View Post
    They make calcium carbide, which is used in the manufacturing of acetylene.
    I was driving back from Tulsa to Dallas a few weeks ago and we saw a flatbed trailer with Calcium Carbide totes and both wondered what it was used for. My regional guy looked it up on Wiki as we were driving and found that calcium carbide + water makes acetylene and calcium hydroxide if I remember right. Just mix them together and you have it. The most interesting thing (to me) was that acetylene is most cost effectively made locally so that's why they truck the stuff around. But without calcium carbide, it isn't going to be able to be made I suppose.

    Just thought I'd share that tidbit 'cause I still don't have the new shop set up at the new place though I'm finally 95% done with the old place and it's going to be on the market next week. I'm looking forward to getting back to building again--probably just in time not to be able to get acetylene. Maybe it's time to get some silicon bronze and try TIGing my braze ons instead.
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Old miner's lamps ("carbide" lamps) used water dripping on a bit of CaC2 to produce acetylene, which was lit by a wick to provide light.
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Most propane tanks have the same CGA510 type valves. This is the same as a the larger size Acetylene cylinders. The smaller B and MC types acetylene cylinders have different valves, and will require a converter for the regulator.

    Wade
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    Quote Originally Posted by pruckelshaus View Post
    Old miner's lamps ("carbide" lamps) used water dripping on a bit of CaC2 to produce acetylene, which was lit by a wick to provide light.
    when I was a kid I could buy calcium chloride by the pound at the local hardware store. I regret to admit that I wasn't smart enough to come up with a potato cannon, but as anyone that has much experience with acetylene can imagine, I made some explosions. CaC2 plant must be really dangerous in the rain
     

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    I swapped out an acetylene tank today w/o issue, but the folks at the gas supply said that the explosion had pretty much devastated domestic supply lines. They said to expect shortages for the next few months and for prices to go up. Nat'l Carbide is hoping be at 30% capacity in a month, but it could a long stretch before they're at 100% again. Looks like a lot of our calcium carbide is going to have to come from overseas for the time being. I expect the shortage to have less of an effect on customers like us (1 or 2 tanks every few months), but high volume users are going to be feeling it.
    michael catano humble frameworks
    chicago, il, usa merci

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    Default Re: Acetylene Shortages

    I was talking with in industry rep recently for a big/big welding company and he said that a cargo ship full of calcium carbide is already on it's way from China. We should have what we need. Now what they charge us for it may be another story.
    All the best,

    David Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles

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