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Thread: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

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    Default Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Hello there-

    Looking to purchase NEW tanks for oxy/acetylene, and wondering if folks here have a preferred they'd recommend?
    I was thinking of going new to avoid any unknowns. So far, I've found some tanks on Amazon 125cf Oxy w/ 10 year hydrotest cert, ($180) and a 75 cu/ft #3 acetylene ($219).
    Pricing seems all over the map for these, but I chose them since they had a pretty expensive list of certs in place, and clearly marked.
    I assume this is needed for any reputable gas supply outfit before they'd refill. Or is it less hassle just walking into Airgas and buying from their offering? Thoughts?

    Best,
    Mike Scammon
    Hood River,Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    pawn shop or offerup. cheapest things you can find. Then swap them at Home Depot for full tanks.
    Glenn Thompson
    "More Frame, less Seatpost"

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Daltex View Post
    pawn shop or offerup. cheapest things you can find. Then swap them at Home Depot for full tanks.
    Thanks. Wasn't aware of offerup, but a quick check brought up a pretty abysmal offering with not a lot of info on the items. No pawn shops nearby. Tanks seem pretty straight-forward, but I just want to know exactly what I'm getting (history, etc) I don't want to end up with something no one will refill. I might be over-thinking it.

    Mike Scammon
    Hood River, Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    To be clear, Airgas doesn’t refill your tanks when you go there - rather they exchange your empty tanks for same size full tanks.
    So whatever tanks you buy will be refilled and used by someone else when they exchange empties.
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Beaudoin View Post
    To be clear, Airgas doesn’t refill your tanks when you go there - rather they exchange your empty tanks for same size full tanks.
    So whatever tanks you buy will be refilled and used by someone else when they exchange empties.
    Ah, I was not aware of this. I knew it was an option but not standard practice. So, basically, I'm "renting" either way it seems. That said, I'd assume that they're not going to take any tanks I hand them. What are their basic requirements, other than a receipt (assuming I start with "unknown" tanks? Thanks.

    Mike Scammon
    Hood River, Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    So, just to close the loop on this. I'm going do my due diligence and try to locate some used tanks that check the boxes so to speak, and head to Oxarc. Their only requirement is they're DOT stamped. The more expensive alternative is spending $400+ to buy their tanks, not including fills or a cart. Thanks for the helpful replies.

    Mike Scammon
    Hood River, Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    My experience at Airgas in Medford has always been that they barely look at my tanks when I unload them onto their ramp area outside. They just glance at tank size before sending some kid to bring full ones out to the load/unload area.
    Then I go inside and pay.
    The tanks are pretty bombproof, and haven’t changed in my lifetime so don’t worry about them.
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    I don't know things differ by state or not, but in IL, shops won't fill tanks from other shops.

    I have leased tanks from my local shop. When empty, I bring them in, swap them out, and I am on my way. I don't have to worry about tank certification, because this is part of the lease.

    This works well for me.
    Michael Gordon
    Shop Dog Cycles
    www.shopdogcycles.com
    Highland Park, IL

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    I took in my old tanks in for exchange and because of the age they charged me a "hydro test fee." The dude behind the counter made it seem like they were doing me a favor because they did the exchange regardless and he alluded to my tanks possibly failing. Looking close at the tanks they sent me home with showed they were decades old. I'm not worried though, as mentioned they are pretty bombproof.

    Ed Ness
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Thanks all. Having always used tanks that were not mine (just, available), I had no idea. Good to know that it's a pretty simple process.

    Mike Scammon
    Hood River, Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    I would suggest that you contact your gas supplier and get their take on tank "ownership" and their doing refills. I've used different suppliers in different states for years and each supplier had their version of the "get more gas" process. Not always driven solely by local/state regulations but, to me, almost every time a new supplier had increasingly tighter requirements. A city ago I decided to just lease tanks from the supplier I decide I want that relationship with. I figure my business with them was already far off their bell curve so no need to make their life hard and my use of them a pain or be "the guy that gets dealt with last". Andy
    Andy Stewart
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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    I 2nd Andy’s suggestion and find out from your local supplier what their requirements are for tank exchange. The only place close to me does not allow tanks bought from random sources to enter their inventory rotation. It is necessary for me to “buy” the tank from them in order to get refills. They put an identifying collar on their tanks so it is obvious which ones are theirs.

    My welding supply store also leases tanks on a monthly basis. One big advantage is that this greatly decreases the start up expense. However there is the nuisance of having to make a payment every month. I did this with my argon tank for tig welding until I got tired of writing a check every month and just outright bought the tank.

    Of course I don’t exchange my 2 empty oxygen tanks for full ones anymore. I use an oxygen concentrator instead. I don’t have to write a check every month. I don’t have to strap them into the back seat of my car to get another one. I don’t have to worry about running out and if the store will be open when it does. I just have to remember to turn the concentrator on when I start fluxing so nearly pure oxygen is coming out by the time I add the flammable gas. Another bonus is that a refurbished concentrator is cheaper than buying a “new” tank and regulator. Ones bought in the classifieds can be cheaper yet.

    And another reason I don’t visit my local welding supply store very often is that I now mostly use propane instead of acetylene. It is far cheaper and much more convenient to get.
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Beaudoin View Post
    My experience at Airgas in Medford has always been that they barely look at my tanks when I unload them onto their ramp area outside. They just glance at tank size before sending some kid to bring full ones out to the load/unload area.
    Then I go inside and pay.
    The tanks are pretty bombproof, and haven’t changed in my lifetime so don’t worry about them.
    This is true. I once saw Home Depot exchange an acetylene tank with a bullet hole in it! Don't overthink this, buy some cheap, used tanks and swap them for full tanks at Home Depot or another tank exchange place.
    Glenn Thompson
    "More Frame, less Seatpost"

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
    I 2nd Andy’s suggestion and find out from your local supplier what their requirements are for tank exchange. The only place close to me does not allow tanks bought from random sources to enter their inventory rotation. It is necessary for me to “buy” the tank from them in order to get refills. They put an identifying collar on their tanks so it is obvious which ones are theirs.

    My welding supply store also leases tanks on a monthly basis. One big advantage is that this greatly decreases the start up expense. However there is the nuisance of having to make a payment every month. I did this with my argon tank for tig welding until I got tired of writing a check every month and just outright bought the tank.

    Of course I don’t exchange my 2 empty oxygen tanks for full ones anymore. I use an oxygen concentrator instead. I don’t have to write a check every month. I don’t have to strap them into the back seat of my car to get another one. I don’t have to worry about running out and if the store will be open when it does. I just have to remember to turn the concentrator on when I start fluxing so nearly pure oxygen is coming out by the time I add the flammable gas. Another bonus is that a refurbished concentrator is cheaper than buying a “new” tank and regulator. Ones bought in the classifieds can be cheaper yet.

    And another reason I don’t visit my local welding supply store very often is that I now mostly use propane instead of acetylene. It is far cheaper and much more convenient to get.
    Hi, Doug- Thanks. All good things to think about. So far, Oxarc seems like they have the most hassle-free program. Of course, time will tell as I ramp up. They'll take any tank as long as it has the DOT stamp, and I buy into their rental system. The concentrator option is definitely attractive and something I'll look into more.

    Best,
    Mike Scammon
    Hood River, Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Daltex View Post
    Don't overthink this, buy some cheap, used tanks and swap them for full tanks at Home Depot or another tank exchange place.
    I briefly looked into this. Depends on the supply houses around you. Some require a bill of sale/proof of ownership, so get one.
    Later once you have a tank, you might exchange a tank that is universal for one that is AirGas or other stamped; requiring you to then only go to that same supplier.
    YMMV
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS View Post
    The concentrator option is definitely attractive and something I'll look into more. Mike Scammon, Hood River, Oregon
    Mike, if I was to start over again I would get an oxygen concentrator instead of buying a tank and regulator unless I was going to use it in a much broader way with a cutting torch attachment sometimes. They are less expensive to buy and more convenient to run. A refurbished concentrator from M&M Medical Supply in Beaverdale PA costs $300 and comes with a 3 year warranty. Get the Devilbiss 525 model. It has a bit more output then other makers. Of course sometimes when a grandma or grandpa die they can be bought cheaper on Craigslist if you don’t mind the wait to find a good one and the risk of it working properly.

    By the way when I was in college a very long time ago I worked on my uncle’s construction crew making storage buildings for apples in Hood River. I was impressed that going to The Dalles just up the Columbia River was in completely different kind of area. It seemed like I had gone to another state and not just driven a few miles.
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
    Mike, if I was to start over again I would get an oxygen concentrator instead of buying a tank and regulator unless I was going to use it in a much broader way with a cutting torch attachment sometimes. They are less expensive to buy and more convenient to run. A refurbished concentrator from M&M Medical Supply in Beaverdale PA costs $300 and comes with a 3 year warranty. Get the Devilbiss 525 model. It has a bit more output then other makers. Of course sometimes when a grandma or grandpa die they can be bought cheaper on Craigslist if you don’t mind the wait to find a good one and the risk of it working properly.

    By the way when I was in college a very long time ago I worked on my uncle’s construction crew making storage buildings for apples in Hood River. I was impressed that going to The Dalles just up the Columbia River was in completely different kind of area. It seemed like I had gone to another state and not just driven a few miles.
    Doug- Thanks for the info. This helps. Yeah, Hood River is in an interesting spot as it's on the edge of the cascades. Drive west for 20 minutes and you're in a downpour, east 20, and it's dry desert. I think the average annual rainfall is like 10", whereas just west, more like 100", and just east, 1-3" or something like that.
    We sort of have a nice medium. I work in The Dalles and although the commute there and back is gorgeous (no pun intended), can't wait to get out of there at the end of the day.

    Mike Scammon
    Hood River, Oregon
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    I guess it does depend on your area. I have never had any issues swapping out tanks of any kind. In fact, once my chosen welding supply store saw me a few times they stopped even looking at the bottle I left on the dock. They just ask me what size, roll a full one out and hand me the slip to take up front and pay.
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    One of the reasons I researched using an oxygen concentrator for brazing bicycle frames is because in some bigger cities, welding supply stores are very strict (probably because of city ordnances) to whom they sell acetylene and oxygen tanks to and how it is transported. It can be necessary to show a business address proving you are not located in a residential area and they do not allow pressurized tanks to be put into passenger cars. Some of my framebuilding class students from DC and Brooklyn wanted to know how to get around this problem. I discovered that hobbyists in other crafts using controlled fire like “lamp making” (messing around artistically with molten glass) use propane and an oxygen concentrator instead. This works well for us too. A concentrator also has the added bonus of greater safety. Most welding supply stores I have visited have pictures on the wall of blown up shops and cars destroyed because someone wasn’t careful enough. I’ve got 2 sets of oxyacetylene units to use anytime I want but I prefer the convenience of a concentrator that doesn’t have to be taken someplace (only during business hours) I have to pay to have it refilled when it runs out.

    My local welding supply store selling the 125 cf tank for $339.95 (refills ($18.50) and the 150 cf for $379.99 (refills $20.50). An 80 size acetylene tank costs $209.99 (refills $36.50) and a small #2 for $279.99 (refills $58.75). The cost of a semi-decent single stage regulator will be around $100. The ratio of how many 125 cf oxygen refills to a size 80 acetylene tank is about 2 and ½ to 1. In other words you will go through 2 and a half oxygen bottles when using the full amount of an acetylene bottle. They require buying tanks from them to enter into their refill rotation.

    So if I was to set myself up again using tanks from my local store I need to pay $349 for the tank + $100 for the regulator + a flashback arrestor (usually sold in pairs). Naturally smaller tanks cost less. A refurbished concentrator costs $300 and doesn’t need either a regulator or a flashback arrestor. Of course they can be found much cheaper in classifieds. The same price advantages also apply to using a BBQ propane tank instead of an acetylene tank. I can buy a full propane tank for $50 with a refill costing $20 or less almost any time of the day or night. Furthermore a $20 propane refill lasts me more than 3 times longer than a $59 acetylene refill. My degrees were in teaching education and not business but it isn’t hard to figure out what system makes the most financial sense.
     

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    Default Re: Investing in Oxy/Acetylene Tanks

    Doug, did you get an oxygen concentrator for your shop in Bucha?
    Evgeniy Vodolazskiy (Eugene for English-speaking =)

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