Port-a-Torch : Is it a good buy? (+ questions)


Old 07-22-04, 04:12 PM
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Port-a-Torch : Is it a good buy? (+ questions)

Hey there, I'm new to welding and new to these forums. I've been interested in getting into welding and metal cutting and read in a few places that beginning with gas torch welding is good for learning the skills required on MIG beyond.

On an entry level budget, I am trying to decide on the best tool to get started. I was looking at the Harris/Lincoln Electric Port-a-torch and have a few questions.


1 - Is this a good buy? This is basically an "all-inclusive" setup and I am also somewhat limited on space at home so that's why I'm looking at it. The projects I intend to begin on are some basic welds on my pocketbike, a small storage rack for my trailer hitch, a spare tire mount for my jet ski trailer, a small welding table, and a steel gas tank.

2 - This setup comes with a 10cu acetylene cylinder and a 20cu oxygen cylinder. How long do these capacities last?

3 - "As supplied, the outfit is capable of cutting to 1" and welding to 1/16". Can cut to 4" and weld to 1/2" with larger tips and acetylene cylinders."

Can someone please explain this a bit? I know that you need different tips and more pressure for increased welds, but is this capacity tank limited first my the tip size or both by the tip and tank? Meaning, can I increase the tip using the supplied tanks, or is that a hazard based on the tank capacity and output rate?

4 - If I am limited to 1/16" welds with the supplied equipment, does that mean I can only weld metal upto that thickness, or does it mean that it the total amount of penetration I will get? Could I weld 1/8-1/4" steel with a 1/16" penetration?

5 - I bought "Welder's Handbook" by Richard Finch to learn a bit and will also read the instructions for whatever I end up with. Anything else I should know?

Thanks a lot.
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Old 07-22-04, 06:26 PM
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The small portable tanks are good to have for a quick repair but if you start a project or projects ( I usually have several going at the same time) the small tanks will empty quickly. Also my local supplier does not normally stock the small tanks so they must be filled at a regional center (60 mile drive). By leasing larger tanks I can exchange them locally. You might consider buying the kit you mentioned, keep the small tanks filled as spares and lease a larger set of tanks for everyday use.The tanks will not empty equally. I do maintenance and repair welding for farm and construction and rarely cut anything heaver than 1 in. Start with the kit and later you can add to it if necessary. Plan on alot of practice first on scrap, then on to simple projects however I would not advise anything to do with gas tanks at this stage. I enjoyed the book.
Old 07-22-04, 09:17 PM
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Thank you very much for the reply.
Old 07-25-04, 07:42 PM
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I have a comparable set made Victor that I once used for a/c service work.
I think you might find that it is a bit small to be able to do any larger projects. Mine was almost the same price as an entry level full size set.

Also, I agree that the size of the "MC" bottles make it quite costly to refill.
You might want to try leasing medium sized cylinders for the first year as you will want to burn a lot of gas while you are learning.
If you don't need the larger cylinders you can later have the fittings changed on the regulator to match a "B" cylinder which is standard for plumbers.
Old 07-27-04, 05:50 AM
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Also keep in mind you can only use 1/7th of a acetylene tank in an hour because you could burn acetone and that could ruin your torch set. I just recently bought a smith torch set and am waiting to buy tanks because they cost so much.
Old 07-31-04, 11:44 AM
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I've been thinking of getting a little "toy" set like that so I can braize copper sculpture. I've been using a propane / air "whale" torch and solder, but the solder doesn't hold well enough for me and the torch isn't hot enough to do braizing effextively.

My plan is to get into oxy / propane just because the propane is inexpensive and easily refilled anywhere. Bought a tiny litle jewler's torch on ebay last week.

I happened to be in the local gas shop yesterday getting consumables for my plasma cutter and I asked the guy about the toy tanks- He said the little tank (o2) was $56, while the next size was $130. Advantage comes when you go to refill them: they're about the same cost and you get 5 times the gas in the larger tank. So that's what I'd go for imho. You will use quite a bit learning and refilling a tank every few days would get a bit frustrating.

You might check with your local community college to see if they have a welding classas then you get to become proficient with ALL the toys before you buy the one that best fits your needs, which sounds to me like you'd do best with a small wire feed MIG welder. Happily, a low end MIG setup can be had for about the price of the gas setup you're looking at, and is much easier to use / costs less to run.

I've been welding for 3 years now and am just looking into getting a gas setup, for the brazing as I've said. I use my MIG for welding and a little Miller plasma for cutting.
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