I found a welding shop a little closer to me and bit the bullet.
Before I left I did find an online shop which would deliver a tank of acetylene to me the next day. I didn’t use it as I’d lost my wrench (i.e. someone took it) and couldn’t get the regulator off. As it happens the man in the shop had a lot of trouble with it also so I doubt I would have been able to easily exchange my empty tank with the delivery man anyway.
They appear to deliver to most places in the U.S. (sorry back home folk and other not here people) and they don’t charge for shipping, just a $10 handling fee. Which seems a pretty fair price to pay for them to possibly blow up instead of me.
So to all my soldering friends out there who are weenies like me here’s the link.
This just takes you to the acetylene page, but I’m sure they have other exciting inflammables also.
And I’m sure there are many more companies out there willing to risk the lives of their delivery men if this one doesn’t work for you.
Here’s what I learned from picking the brains of the nice acetylene shop man.
The acetylene is mixed with acetone and if you let the tank run empty there’s a risk that the acetone will be drawn from the bottle.
Apparently this is bad.
“Acetylene is dissolved in acetone in the porous filling of the tank. It is NOT stored as a compressed gas, because if that is done it can/will explode at any pressure above 15 psig. If you draw more than the 1/7 of the cylinder size per hour, acetone from the tank is drawn out and may damage the regulator, hoses and seals. The flame will sputter. If too much acetone is removed, the tank can explode when subjected to rough handling after use. Acetylene is a dangerous material and needs to be handled with respect.”
So, I won’t be doing that again, and perhaps neither should you Penny :)
Another thing he said was that after soldering you should turn the tank off and run the gas out of the hose. You should also open the pressure thing completely until the next time you use it.
I usually run the hose empty by lighting it and using the flame to ball up small pieces of silver to use later. I do this until the flame just goes out on its own, but I haven’t heard that you should open the pressure gauge before, and although I listened very carefully I’m still not completely sure why.
Sometimes I don’t even run the gas out of the hose :/
Here’s another compressed gas safety link.
I might have to stop reading all this stuff now as it’s beginning to make me feel nervous.
Things I did know are.
Don’t run the thing with the pressure above the red danger line.
I did for my first tank because I didn’t really think the red line was talking to me.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but not any more.
See that big, obviously important, red line there on the left dial. The arm shouldn’t go beyond there. In fact the man said that I shouldn’t need for it to go beyond the 5, but I found that the flame wasn’t doing its job at that pressure so I upped it until it was soldering better.
Not above the red line though.
When the arm is at the bottom as shown in the right dial, it’s empty, and not just pretending to be, so get it back to the shop before you blow up.
Or have the nice delivery man come.
If you do have to take it in your car, keep the tank securely upright and crack your windows slightly as, according to the shop guy, sometimes the gas can escape,
and. you’ll. d.i.e…..
(O.K. so he didn’t say that but I thought I’d add a little more drama as I’m sure we haven’t had enough. Something equally bad will probably happen though, so crack your windows…)
Oh, and don’t flip the car over or smoke while you’re driving home.
I thought that was his best tip.
End result after a fraught day.
Just a little more cleaning up and on to the next thrilling adventure.
Maybe cleaning the microwave…