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LINCOLN ELECTRIC PORT-A-TORCH (MODEL KH657)
Many newcomers to welding start with MIG welders due to their ease-of-use.
However, gas welding outfits are more versatile around the shop and can operate without electricity which means you can use it virtually anywhere. So why aren't more people starting out this way?
Arguably, it's because it's much more difficult to "master" than MIG welding since it not only requires two hands, but more understanding of the characteristics of metals and the flame that heats it. With MIG welders, you just figure out the wire feed speed and the current setting then just pull the trigger and go! (Well, it's not that easy, but easier than gas welding..
Still, when one decides to give gas a try, they find that there's much to learn just to get started. This is where small kits/outfits come into play.
One of the more ubiquitous models is the Lincoln Electric Port-A-Torch (Harris Products Group). It comes with the oxygen and acetylene tanks (they're empty and need to be filled/exchanged at your local welding supply store), a plastic tote for the tanks and accessories, goggles, a cutting torch and tip, a welding torch and tip, a striker, hose, and single-stage regulators (more on this later) for each tank.
The picture above shows the welding torch attached. Behind it is the cutting torch. Note that the stock grey acetylene bottle has been replaced with a pre-filled exchanged MC size tank from the local welding supply store. The green bottle is the oxygen bottle.
The plastic caddy is nice to have. the cord simply wraps around the bottom of the caddy which also has a storage compartment for storing the striker, goggles, and torches:
With this little welder and the supplied torch tip, we can fairly easily weld 1/8" thick steel.
Here are the specs for the model which includes the tote and tanks:
- Part Number - 4403078
- Model Number - 16601-200-DLX (STD is the one without the tote/tanks)
- Handle - 16
- Mixer - H-16-2E
- Cutting Attachment - 71-3
- Cutting Tip - 6290-1AC
- Welding Tip - 23A90-3
- Oxygen Regulator- 601-100-540 (3000296)
- Fuel Gas Regulator - 601-15-200 (3000295)
- Accessories - Goggles, Striker,12’ 3/16” Hose, 20 Cu.Ft. Oxy Cyl.,10 CU.FT. “MC” ACTE. CYL. (shipped empty)
- Cuts up to 4" (requires tips)
- Welds up to 1/2" (requires tips)
For those getting started (please refer to your instruction manual for operation instructions), you'll need to know the following (these ARE NOT directions for proper usage.. if in doubt, take a class, read a book, or ask a master welder):
- The new tanks you get will most likely get exchanged out for pre-filled tanks at your local welding supply store so don't get attached to those newly painted tanks that you just bought moments before!
- Always keep your tanks upright (i.e. do not lay them down)
- Oxygen tanks are usually green and any oxygen-related fitting is also green
- Acetylene tanks are sometimes red but their fittings are usually red
- The torch comes installed with a check flow valve or flashback arrestors. Check valves prevent backwards flow while flashback arrestors cuts off the gas flow in the event of a flashback.
- Acetylene hose thread is LEFT handed while everything else is RIGHT handed. The left-handed thread will have markings or indentations on it.
- Do not use teflon tape on the threads
- Oxygen and acetylene pressure to the hose should be equal (for example, 3 psi oxygen, 3 psi acetylene)
- Acetylene pressure should not exceed 15 psi (your regulator will show a "red zone" after 15 psi). Adjust this by letting out pressure with the torch and adjust accordingly.
- Wear welding woggles and gloves. Protect your eyes and hands! Welding goggles or full face shields will not be as dark as those used in arc welding processes, so you'll be able to wear them even as you prepare to weld. Lens shades 0f 3-5 should be good for this setup.
- Never use oil or grease on or around oxygen equipment
- Always ONLY use a striker to light your torch
- To light your torch, open the torch valve for acetylene and then strike it, then apply the proper oxygen flow for the right neutral flame.
Questions? We may have some answers...
How long will the small tanks last? It depeds on the gas flow. If cutting or welding thicker materials, you'll need more gas flow to achieve the high temps, so your small tanks will be consumed faster. For welding 1/16" steel, you can easily weld for an hour or more with little problems. It's best to have a spare set of tanks on purchase (you can also lease them) just in case you run out of gas (no pun intended..).
One can of MC (7 cu.ft.) of acetylene will last long enough to weld a bunch of 1/8" thick steel and tubing and some other miscellaneous items. We'd say probably about 100" - 200" of weld. Or around 30 minutes of "play" time. The oxygen tank is 20 cu.ft. so roughly twice the capacity. It's a good idea to at least buy another MC size acetylene tank so it should last long enough for the entire tank of oxygen to deplete.
Where's the cheapest place to buy this? Well, amazingly, Home Depot is the cheapest place we've found both online AND offline in their retail stores for $279.00. Even online welding supply stores sell them for over $300. Note that you'll also need welding rod, gas, etc.. which will probably have to be purchased at your local welding supply store.
Any other models similar to this? Yes, the Hobart Premium (made by Smith Equipment) 15729 Portable Acetylene Tag-A-Long Cutting and Welding Outfit, the Generico Tote-a-Torch Oxy-Acetylene Welding and Cutting Outfit, Model# 12-PTC-PWV, Firepower Portable 150 Series Oxy-Acetylene Tote Outfit, and all are less expensive than the KH657.