Oxy-Acetylene Welding and Cutting
by Harold P. Manly
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Oxy-Acetylene Welding and Cutting

Electric, Forge and Thermit Welding

Together with Related Methods and Materials Used in Metal Working And The Oxygen Process for Removal of Carbon



In the preparation of this work, the object has been to cover not only the several processes of welding, but also those other processes which are so closely allied in method and results as to make them a part of the whole subject of joining metal to metal with the aid of heat.

The workman who wishes to handle his trade from start to finish finds that it is necessary to become familiar with certain other operations which precede or follow the actual joining of the metal parts, the purpose of these operations being to add or retain certain desirable qualities in the materials being handled. For this reason the following subjects have been included: Annealing, tempering, hardening, heat treatment and the restoration of steel.

In order that the user may understand the underlying principles and the materials employed in this work, much practical information is given on the uses and characteristics of the various metals; on the production, handling and use of the gases and other materials which are a part of the equipment; and on the tools and accessories for the production and handling of these materials.

An examination will show that the greatest usefulness of this book lies in the fact that all necessary information and data has been included in one volume, making it possible for the workman to use one source for securing a knowledge of both principle and practice, preparation and finishing of the work, and both large and small repair work as well as manufacturing methods used in metal working.

An effort has been made to eliminate all matter which is not of direct usefulness in practical work, while including all that those engaged in this trade find necessary. To this end, the descriptions have been limited to those methods and accessories which are found in actual use today. For the same reason, the work includes the application of the rules laid down by the insurance underwriters which govern this work as well as instructions for the proper care and handling of the generators, torches and materials found in the shop.

Special attention has been given to definite directions for handling the different metals and alloys which must be handled. The instructions have been arranged to form rules which are placed in the order of their use during the work described and the work has been subdivided in such a way that it will be found possible to secure information on any one point desired without the necessity of spending time in other fields.

The facts which the expert welder and metalworker finds it most necessary to have readily available have been secured, and prepared especially for this work, and those of most general use have been combined with the chapter on welding practice to which they apply.

The size of this volume has been kept as small as possible, but an examination of the alphabetical index will show that the range of subjects and details covered is complete in all respects. This has been accomplished through careful classification of the contents and the elimination of all repetition and all theoretical, historical and similar matter that is not absolutely necessary.

Free use has been made of the information given by those manufacturers who are recognized as the leaders in their respective fields, thus insuring that the work is thoroughly practical and that it represents present day methods and practice.




METALS AND ALLOYS—HEAT TREATMENT:—The Use and Characteristics of the Industrial Alloys and Metal Elements—Annealing, Hardening, Tempering and Case Hardening of Steel


WELDING MATERIALS:—Production, Handling and Use of the Gases, Oxygen and Acetylene—Welding Rods—Fluxes—Supplies and Fixtures


ACETYLENE GENERATORS:—Generator Requirements and Types—Construction—Care and Operation of Generators.


WELDING INSTRUMENTS:—Tank and Regulating Valves and Gauges—High, Low and Medium Pressure Torches—Cutting Torches—Acetylene-Air Torches


OXY-ACETYLENE WELDING PRACTICE:—Preparation of Work—Torch Practice— Control of the Flame—Welding Various Metals and Alloys—Tables of Information Required in Welding Operations


ELECTRIC WELDING:—Resistance Method—Butt, Spot and Lap Welding—Troubles and Remedies—Electric Arc Welding


HAND FORGING AND WELDING:—Blacksmithing, Forging and Bending—Forge Welding Methods


SOLDERING, BRAZING AND THERMIT WELDING:—Soldering Materials and Practice— Brazing—Thermit Welding








Iron.—Iron, in its pure state, is a soft, white, easily worked metal. It is the most important of all the metallic elements, and is, next to aluminum, the commonest metal found in the earth.

Mechanically speaking, we have three kinds of iron: wrought iron, cast iron and steel. Wrought iron is very nearly pure iron; cast iron contains carbon and silicon, also chemical impurities; and steel contains a definite proportion of carbon, but in smaller quantities than cast iron.

Pure iron is never obtained commercially, the metal always being mixed with various proportions of carbon, silicon, sulphur, phosphorus, and other elements, making it more or less suitable for different purposes. Iron is magnetic to the extent that it is attracted by magnets, but it does not retain magnetism itself, as does steel. Iron forms, with other elements, many important combinations, such as its alloys, oxides, and sulphates.

Cast Iron.—Metallic iron is separated from iron ore in the blast furnace (Figure 1), and when allowed to run into moulds is called cast iron. This form is used for engine cylinders and pistons, for brackets, covers, housings and at any point where its brittleness is not objectionable. Good cast iron breaks with a gray fracture, is free from blowholes or roughness, and is easily machined, drilled, etc. Cast iron is slightly lighter than steel, melts at about 2,400 degrees in practice, is about one-eighth as good an electrical conductor as copper and has a tensile strength of 13,000 to 30,000 pounds per square inch. Its compressive strength, or resistance to crushing, is very great. It has excellent wearing qualities and is not easily warped and deformed by heat. Chilled iron is cast into a metal mould so that the outside is cooled quickly, making the surface very hard and difficult to cut and giving great resistance to wear. It is used for making cheap gear wheels and parts that must withstand surface friction.

Malleable Cast Iron.—This is often called simply malleable iron. It is a form of cast iron obtained by removing much of the carbon from cast iron, making it softer and less brittle. It has a tensile strength of 25,000 to 45,000 pounds per square inch, is easily machined, will stand a small amount of bending at a low red heat and is used chiefly in making brackets, fittings and supports where low cost is of considerable importance. It is often used in cheap constructions in place of steel forgings. The greatest strength of a malleable casting, like a steel forging, is in the surface, therefore but little machining should be done.

Wrought Iron.—This grade is made by treating the cast iron to remove almost all of the carbon, silicon, phosphorus, sulphur, manganese and other impurities. This process leaves a small amount of the slag from the ore mixed with the wrought iron.

Wrought iron is used for making bars to be machined into various parts. If drawn through the rolls at the mill once, while being made, it is called "muck bar;" if rolled twice, it is called "merchant bar" (the commonest kind), and a still better grade is made by rolling a third time. Wrought iron is being gradually replaced in use by mild rolled steels.

Wrought iron is slightly heavier than cast iron, is a much better electrical conductor than either cast iron or steel, has a tensile strength of 40,000 to 60,000 pounds per square inch and costs slightly more than steel. Unlike either steel or cast iron, wrought iron does not harden when cooled suddenly from a red heat.

Grades of Irons.—The mechanical properties of cast iron differ greatly according to the amount of other materials it contains. The most important of these contained elements is carbon, which is present to a degree varying from 2 to 5-1/2 per cent. When iron containing much carbon is quickly cooled and then broken, the fracture is nearly white in color and the metal is found to be hard and brittle. When the iron is slowly cooled and then broken the fracture is gray and the iron is more malleable and less brittle. If cast iron contains sulphur or phosphorus, it will show a white fracture regardless of the rapidity of cooling, being brittle and less desirable for general work.

Steel.—Steel is composed of extremely minute particles of iron and carbon, forming a network of layers and bands. This carbon is a smaller proportion of the metal than found in cast iron, the percentage being from 3/10 to 2-1/2 per cent.

Carbon steel is specified according to the number of "points" of carbon, a point being one one-hundredth of one per cent of the weight of the steel. Steel may contain anywhere from 30 to 250 points, which is equivalent to saying, anywhere from 3/10 to 2-1/2 per cent, as above. A 70-point steel would contain 70/100 of one per cent or 7/10 of one per cent of carbon by weight. The percentage of carbon determines the hardness of the steel, also many other qualities, and its suitability for various kinds of work. The more carbon contained in the steel, the harder the metal will be, and, of course, its brittleness increases with the hardness. The smaller the grains or particles of iron which are separated by the carbon, the stronger the steel will be, and the control of the size of these particles is the object of the science of heat treatment.

In addition to the carbon, steel may contain the following:

Silicon, which increases the hardness, brittleness, strength and difficulty of working if from 2 to 3 per cent is present.

Phosphorus, which hardens and weakens the metal but makes it easier to cast. Three-tenths per cent of phosphorus serves as a hardening agent and may be present in good steel if the percentage of carbon is low. More than this weakens the metal.

Sulphur, which tends to make the metal hard and filled with small holes.

Manganese, which makes the steel so hard and tough that it can with difficulty be cut with steel tools. Its hardness is not lessened by annealing, and it has great tensile strength.

Alloy steel has a varying but small percentage of other elements mixed with it to give certain desired qualities. Silicon steel and manganese steel are sometimes classed as alloy steels. This subject is taken up in the latter part of this chapter under Alloys, where the various combinations and their characteristics are given consideration.

Steel has a tensile strength varying from 50,000 to 300,000 pounds per square inch, depending on the carbon percentage and the other alloys present, as well as upon the texture of the grain. Steel is heavier than cast iron and weighs about the same as wrought iron. It is about one-ninth as good a conductor of electricity as copper.

Steel is made from cast iron by three principal processes: the crucible, Bessemer and open hearth.

Crucible steel is made by placing pieces of iron in a clay or graphite crucible, mixed with charcoal and a small amount of any desired alloy. The crucible is then heated with coal, oil or gas fires until the iron melts, and, by absorbing the desired elements and giving up or changing its percentage of carbon, becomes steel. The molten steel is then poured from the crucible into moulds or bars for use. Crucible steel may also be made by placing crude steel in the crucibles in place of the iron. This last method gives the finest grade of metal and the crucible process in general gives the best grades of steel for mechanical use.

Bessemer steel is made by heating iron until all the undesirable elements are burned out by air blasts which furnish the necessary oxygen. The iron is placed in a large retort called a converter, being poured, while at a melting heat, directly from the blast furnace into the converter. While the iron in the converter is molten, blasts of air are forced through the liquid, making it still hotter and burning out the impurities together with the carbon and manganese. These two elements are then restored to the iron by adding spiegeleisen (an alloy of iron, carbon and manganese). A converter holds from 5 to 25 tons of metal and requires about 20 minutes to finish a charge. This makes the cheapest steel.

Open hearth steel is made by placing the molten iron in a receptacle while currents of air pass over it, this air having itself been highly heated by just passing over white hot brick (Figure. 3). Open hearth steel is considered more uniform and reliable than Bessemer, and is used for springs, bar steel, tool steel, steel plates, etc.

Aluminum is one of the commonest industrial metals. It is used for gear cases, engine crank cases, covers, fittings, and wherever lightness and moderate strength are desirable.

Aluminum is about one-third the weight of iron and about the same weight as glass and porcelain; it is a good electrical conductor (about one-half as good as copper); is fairly strong itself and gives great strength to other metals when alloyed with them. One of the greatest advantages of aluminum is that it will not rust or corrode under ordinary conditions. The granular formation of aluminum makes its strength very unreliable and it is too soft to resist wear.

Copper is one of the most important metals used in the trades, and the best commercial conductor of electricity, being exceeded in this respect only by silver, which is but slightly better. Copper is very malleable and ductile when cold, and in this state may be easily worked under the hammer. Working in this way makes the copper stronger and harder, but less ductile. Copper is not affected by air, but acids cause the formation of a green deposit called verdigris.

Copper is one of the best conductors of heat, as well as electricity, being used for kettles, boilers, stills and wherever this quality is desirable. Copper is also used in alloys with other metals, forming an important part of brass, bronze, german silver, bell metal and gun metal. It is about one-eighth heavier than steel and has a tensile strength of about 25,000 to 50,000 pounds per square inch.

Lead.—The peculiar properties of lead, and especially its quality of showing but little action or chemical change in the presence of other elements, makes it valuable under certain conditions of use. Its principal use is in pipes for water and gas, coverings for roofs and linings for vats and tanks. It is also used to coat sheet iron for similar uses and as an important part of ordinary solder.

Lead is the softest and weakest of all the commercial metals, being very pliable and inelastic. It should be remembered that lead and all its compounds are poisonous when received into the system. Lead is more than one-third heavier than steel, has a tensile strength of only about 2,000 pounds per square inch, and is only about one-tenth as good a conductor of electricity as copper.

Zinc.—This is a bluish-white metal of crystalline form. It is brittle at ordinary temperatures and becomes malleable at about 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but beyond this point becomes even more brittle than at ordinary temperatures. Zinc is practically unaffected by air or moisture through becoming covered with one of its own compounds which immediately resists further action. Zinc melts at low temperatures, and when heated beyond the melting point gives off very poisonous fumes.

The principal use of zinc is as an alloy with other metals to form brass, bronze, german silver and bearing metals. It is also used to cover the surface of steel and iron plates, the plates being then called galvanized.

Zinc weighs slightly less than steel, has a tensile strength of 5,000 pounds per square inch, and is not quite half as good as copper in conducting electricity.

Tin resembles silver in color and luster. Tin is ductile and malleable and slightly crystalline in form, almost as heavy as steel, and has a tensile strength of 4,500 pounds per square inch.

The principal use of tin is for protective platings on household utensils and in wrappings of tin-foil. Tin forms an important part of many alloys such as babbitt, Britannia metal, bronze, gun metal and bearing metals.

Nickel is important in mechanics because of its combinations with other metals as alloys. Pure nickel is grayish-white, malleable, ductile and tenacious. It weighs almost as much as steel and, next to manganese, is the hardest of metals. Nickel is one of the three magnetic metals, the others being iron and cobalt. The commonest alloy containing nickel is german silver, although one of its most important alloys is found in nickel steel. Nickel is about ten per cent heavier than steel, and has a tensile strength of 90,000 pounds per square inch.

Platinum.—This metal is valuable for two reasons: it is not affected by the air or moisture or any ordinary acid or salt, and in addition to this property it melts only at the highest temperatures. It is a fairly good electrical conductor, being better than iron or steel. It is nearly three times as heavy as steel and its tensile strength is 25,000 pounds per square inch.


An alloy is formed by the union of a metal with some other material, either metal or non-metallic, this union being composed of two or more elements and usually brought about by heating the substances together until they melt and unite. Metals are alloyed with materials which have been found to give to the metal certain characteristics which are desired according to the use the metal will be put to.

The alloys of metals are, almost without exception, more important from an industrial standpoint than the metals themselves. There are innumerable possible combinations, the most useful of which are here classed under the head of the principal metal entering into their composition.

Steel.—Steel may be alloyed with almost any of the metals or elements, the combinations that have proven valuable numbering more than a score. The principal ones are given in alphabetical order, as follows:

Aluminum is added to steel in very small amounts for the purpose of preventing blow holes in castings.

Boron increases the density and toughness of the metal.

Bronze, added by alloying copper, tin and iron, is used for gun metal.

Carbon has already been considered under the head of steel in the section devoted to the metals. Carbon, while increasing the strength and hardness, decreases the ease of forging and bending and decreases the magnetism and electrical conductivity. High carbon steel can be welded only with difficulty. When the percentage of carbon is low, the steel is called "low carbon" or "mild" steel. This is used for rods and shafts, and called "machine" steel. When the carbon percentage is high, the steel is called "high carbon" steel, and it is used in the shop as tool steel. One-tenth per cent of carbon gives steel a tensile strength of 50,000 to 65,000 pounds per square inch; two-tenths per cent gives from 60,000 to 80,000; four-tenths per cent gives 70,000 to 100,000, and six-tenths per cent gives 90,000 to 120,000.

Chromium forms chrome steel, and with the further addition of nickel is called chrome nickel steel. This increases the hardness to a high degree and adds strength without much decrease in ductility. Chrome steels are used for high-speed cutting tools, armor plate, files, springs, safes, dies, etc.

Manganese has been mentioned under Steel. Its alloy is much used for high-speed cutting tools, the steel hardening when cooled in the air and being called self-hardening.

Molybdenum is used to increase the hardness to a high degree and makes the steel suitable for high-speed cutting and gives it self-hardening properties.

Nickel, with which is often combined chromium, increases the strength, springiness and toughness and helps to prevent corrosion.

Silicon has already been described. It suits the metal for use in high-speed tools.

Silver added to steel has many of the properties of nickel.

Tungsten increases the hardness without making the steel brittle. This makes the steel well suited for gas engine valves as it resists corrosion and pitting. Chromium and manganese are often used in combination with tungsten when high-speed cutting tools are made.

Vanadium as an alloy increases the elastic limit, making the steel stronger, tougher and harder. It also makes the steel able to stand much bending and vibration.

Copper.—The principal copper alloys include brass, bronze, german silver and gun metal.

Brass is composed of approximately one-third zinc and two-thirds copper. It is used for bearings and bushings where the speeds are slow and the loads rather heavy for the bearing size. It also finds use in washers, collars and forms of brackets where the metal should be non-magnetic, also for many highly finished parts.

Brass is about one-third as good an electrical conductor as copper, is slightly heavier than steel and has a tensile strength of 15,000 pounds when cast and about 75,000 to 100,000 pounds when drawn into wire.

Bronze is composed of copper and tin in various proportions, according to the use to which it is to be put. There will always be from six-tenths to nine-tenths of copper in the mixture. Bronze is used for bearings, bushings, thrust washers, brackets and gear wheels. It is heavier than steel, about 1/15 as good an electrical conductor as pure copper and has a tensile strength of 30,000 to 60,000 pounds.

Aluminum bronze, composed of copper, zinc and aluminum has high tensile strength combined with ductility and is used for parts requiring this combination.

Bearing bronze is a variable material, its composition and proportion depending on the maker and the use for which it is designed. It usually contains from 75 to 85 per cent of copper combined with one or more elements, such as tin, zinc, antimony and lead.

White metal is one form of bearing bronze containing over 80 per cent of zinc together with copper, tin, antimony and lead. Another form is made with nearly 90 per cent of tin combined with copper and antimony.

Gun metal bronze is made from 90 per cent copper with 10 per cent of tin and is used for heavy bearings, brackets and highly finished parts.

Phosphor bronze is used for very strong castings and bearings. It is similar to gun metal bronze, except that about 1-1/2 per cent of phosphorus has been added.

Manganese bronze contains about 1 per cent of manganese and is used for parts requiring great strength while being free from corrosion.

German silver is made from 60 per cent of copper with 20 per cent each of zinc and nickel. Its high electrical resistance makes it valuable for regulating devices and rheostats.

Tin is the principal part of babbitt and solder. A commonly used babbitt is composed of 89 per cent tin, 8 per cent antimony and 3 per cent of copper. A grade suitable for repairing is made from 80 per cent of lead and 20 per cent antimony. This last formula should not be used for particular work or heavy loads, being more suitable for spacers. Innumerable proportions of metals are marketed under the name of babbitt.

Solder is made from 50 per cent tin and 50 per cent lead, this grade being called "half-and-half." Hard solder is made from two-thirds tin and one-third lead.

Aluminum forms many different alloys, giving increased strength to whatever metal it unites with.

Aluminum brass is composed of approximately 65 per cent copper, 30 per cent zinc and 5 per cent aluminum. It forms a metal with high tensile strength while being ductile and malleable.

Aluminum zinc is suitable for castings which must be stiff and hard.

Nickel aluminum has a tensile strength of 40,000 pounds per square inch.

Magnalium is a silver-white alloy of aluminum with from 5 to 20 per cent of magnesium, forming a metal even lighter than aluminum and strong enough to be used in making high-speed gasoline engines.


The processes of heat treatment are designed to suit the steel for various purposes by changing the size of the grain in the metal, therefore the strength; and by altering the chemical composition of the alloys in the metal to give it different physical properties. Heat treatment, as applied in ordinary shop work, includes the three processes of annealing, hardening and tempering, each designed to accomplish a certain definite result.

All of these processes require that the metal treated be gradually brought to a certain predetermined degree of heat which shall be uniform throughout the piece being handled and, from this point, cooled according to certain rules, the selection of which forms the difference in the three methods.

Annealing.—This is the process which relieves all internal strains and distortion in the metal and softens it so that it may more easily be cut, machined or bent to the required form. In some cases annealing is used only to relieve the strains, this being the case after forging or welding operations have been performed. In other cases it is only desired to soften the metal sufficiently that it may be handled easily. In some cases both of these things must be accomplished, as after a piece has been forged and must be machined. No matter what the object, the procedure is the same.

The steel to be annealed must first be heated to a dull red. This heating should be done slowly so that all parts of the piece have time to reach the same temperature at very nearly the same time. The piece may be heated in the forge, but a much better way is to heat in an oven or furnace of some type where the work is protected against air currents, either hot or cold, and is also protected against the direct action of the fire.

Probably the simplest of all ovens for small tools is made by placing a piece of ordinary gas pipe in the fire (Figure 4), and heating until the inside of the pipe is bright red. Parts placed in this pipe, after one end has been closed, may be brought to the desired heat without danger of cooling draughts or chemical change from the action of the fire. More elaborate ovens may be bought which use gas, fuel oils or coal to produce the heat and in which the work may be placed on trays so that the fire will not strike directly on the steel being treated.

If the work is not very important, it may be withdrawn from the fire or oven, after heating to the desired point, and allowed to cool in the air until all traces of red have disappeared when held in a dark place. The work should be held where it is reasonably free from cold air currents. If, upon touching a pine stick to the piece being annealed, the wood does not smoke, the work may then be cooled in water.

Better annealing is secured and harder metal may be annealed if the cooling is extended over a number of hours by placing the work in a bed of non-heat-conducting material, such as ashes, charred bone, asbestos fibre, lime, sand or fire clay. It should be well covered with the heat retaining material and allowed to remain until cool. Cooling may be accomplished by allowing the fire in an oven or furnace to die down and go out, leaving the work inside the oven with all openings closed. The greater the time taken for gradual cooling from the red heat, the more perfect will be the results of the annealing.

While steel is annealed by slow cooling, copper or brass is annealed by bringing to a low red heat and quickly plunging into cold water.

Hardening.—Steel is hardened by bringing to a proper temperature, slowly and evenly as for annealing, and then cooling more or less quickly, according to the grade of steel being handled. The degree of hardening is determined by the kind of steel, the temperature from which the metal is cooled and the temperature and nature of the bath into which it is plunged for cooling.

Steel to be hardened is often heated in the fire until at some heat around 600 to 700 degrees is reached, then placed in a heating bath of molten lead, heated mercury, fused cyanate of potassium, etc., the heating bath itself being kept at the proper temperature by fires acting on it. While these baths have the advantage of heating the metal evenly and to exactly the temperature desired throughout without any part becoming over or under heated, their disadvantages consist of the fact that their materials and the fumes are poisonous in most all cases, and if not poisonous, are extremely disagreeable.

The degree of heat that a piece of steel must be brought to in order that it may be hardened depends on the percentage of carbon in the steel. The greater the percentage of carbon, the lower the heat necessary to harden.

To find the proper heat from which any steel must be cooled, a simple test may be carried out provided a sample of the steel, about six inches long can be secured. One end of this test bar should be heated almost to its melting point, and held at this heat until the other end just turns red. Now cool the piece in water by plunging it so that both ends enter at the same time (Figure 5), that is, hold it parallel with the surface of the water when plunged in. This serves the purpose of cooling each point along the bar from a different heat. When it has cooled in the water remove the piece and break it at short intervals, about 1/2 inch, along its length. The point along the test bar which was cooled from the best possible temperature will show a very fine smooth grain and the piece cannot be cut by a file at this point. It will be necessary to remember the exact color of that point when taken from the fire, making another test if necessary, and heat all pieces of this same steel to this heat. It will be necessary to have the cooling bath always at the same temperature, or the results cannot be alike.

While steel to be hardened is usually cooled in water, many other liquids may be used. If cooled in strong brine, the heat will be extracted much quicker, and the degree of hardness will be greater. A still greater degree of hardness is secured by cooling in a bath of mercury. Care should be used with the mercury bath, as the fumes that arise are poisonous.

Should toughness be desired, without extreme hardness, the steel may be cooled in a bath of lard oil, neatsfoot oil or fish oil. To secure a result between water and oil, it is customary to place a thick layer of oil on top of water. In cooling, the piece will pass through the oil first, thus avoiding the sudden shock of the cold water, yet producing a degree of hardness almost as great as if the oil were not used.

It will, of course, be necessary to make a separate test for each cooling medium used. If the fracture of the test piece shows a coarse grain, the steel was too hot at that point; if the fracture can be cut with a file, the metal was not hot enough at that point.

When hardening carbon tool steel its heat should be brought to a cherry red, the exact degree of heat depending on the amount of carbon and the test made, then plunged into water and held there until all hissing sound and vibration ceases. Brine may be used for this purpose; it is even better than plain water. As soon as the hissing stops, remove the work from the water or brine and plunge in oil for complete cooling.

In hardening high-speed tool steel, or air hardening steels, the tool should be handled as for carbon steel, except that after the body reaches a cherry red, the cutting point must be quickly brought to a white heat, almost melting, so that it seems ready for welding. Then cool in an oil bath or in a current of cool air.

Hardening of copper, brass and bronze is accomplished by hammering or working them while cold.

Tempering is the process of making steel tough after it has been hardened, so that it will hold a cutting edge and resist cracking. Tempering makes the grain finer and the metal stronger. It does not affect the hardness, but increases the elastic limit and reduces the brittleness of the steel. In that tempering is usually performed immediately after hardening, it might be considered as a continuation of the former process.

The work or tool to be tempered is slowly heated to a cherry red and the cutting end is then dipped into water to a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch above the point (Figure 6). As soon as the point cools, still leaving the tool red above the part in water, remove the work from the bath and quickly rub the end with a fine emery cloth.

As the heat from the uncooled part gradually heats the point again, the color of the polished portion changes rapidly. When a certain color is reached, the tool should be completely immersed in the water until cold.

For lathe, planer, shaper and slotter tools, this color should be a light straw.

Reamers and taps should be cooled from an ordinary straw color.

Drills, punches and wood working tools should have a brown color.

Blue or light purple is right for cold chisels and screwdrivers.

Dark blue should be reached for springs and wood saws.

Darker colors than this, ranging through green and gray, denote that the piece has reached its ordinary temper, that is, it is partially annealed.

After properly hardening a spring by dipping in lard or fish oil, it should be held over a fire while still wet with the oil. The oil takes fire and burns off, properly tempering the spring.

Remember that self-hardening steels must never be dipped in water, and always remember for all work requiring degrees of heat, that the more carbon, the less heat.

Case Hardening.—This is a process for adding more carbon to the surface of a piece of steel, so that it will have good wear-resisting qualities, while being tough and strong on the inside. It has the effect of forming a very hard and durable skin on the surface of soft steel, leaving the inside unaffected.

The simplest way, although not the most efficient, is to heat the piece to be case hardened to a red heat and then sprinkle or rub the part of the surface to be hardened with potassium ferrocyanide. This material is a deadly poison and should be handled with care. Allow the cyanide to fuse on the surface of the metal and then plunge into water, brine or mercury. Repeating the process makes the surface harder and the hard skin deeper each time.

Another method consists of placing the piece to be hardened in a bed of powdered bone (bone which has been burned and then powdered) and cover with more powdered bone, holding the whole in an iron tray. Now heat the tray and bone with the work in an oven to a bright red heat for 30 minutes to an hour and then plunge the work into water or brine.



Welding.—Oxy-acetylene welding is an autogenous welding process, in which two parts of the same or different metals are joined by causing the edges to melt and unite while molten without the aid of hammering or compression. When cool, the parts form one piece of metal.

The oxy-acetylene flame is made by mixing oxygen and acetylene gases in a special welding torch or blowpipe, producing, when burned, a heat of 6,300 degrees, which is more than twice the melting temperature of the common metals. This flame, while being of intense heat, is of very small size.

Cutting.—The process of cutting metals with the flame produced from oxygen and acetylene depends on the fact that a jet of oxygen directed upon hot metal causes the metal itself to burn away with great rapidity, resulting in a narrow slot through the section cut. The action is so fast that metal is not injured on either side of the cut.

Carbon Removal.—This process depends on the fact that carbon will burn and almost completely vanish if the action is assisted with a supply of pure oxygen gas. After the combustion is started with any convenient flame, it continues as long as carbon remains in the path of the jet of oxygen.

Materials.—For the performance of the above operations we require the two gases, oxygen and acetylene, to produce the flames; rods of metal which may be added to the joints while molten in order to give the weld sufficient strength and proper form, and various chemical powders, called fluxes, which assist in the flow of metal and in doing away with many of the impurities and other objectionable features.

Instruments.—To control the combustion of the gases and add to the convenience of the operator a number of accessories are required.

The pressure of the gases in their usual containers is much too high for their proper use in the torch and we therefore need suitable valves which allow the gas to escape from the containers when wanted, and other specially designed valves which reduce the pressure. Hose, composed of rubber and fabric, together with suitable connections, is used to carry the gas to the torch.

The torches for welding and cutting form a class of highly developed instruments of the greatest accuracy in manufacture, and must be thoroughly understood by the welder. Tables, stands and special supports are provided for holding the work while being welded, and in order to handle the various metals and allow for their peculiarities while heated use is made of ovens and torches for preheating. The operator requires the protection of goggles, masks, gloves and appliances which prevent undue radiation of the heat.

Torch Practice.—The actual work of welding and cutting requires preliminary preparation in the form of heat treatment for the metals, including preheating, annealing and tempering. The surfaces to be joined must be properly prepared for the flame, and the operation of the torches for best results requires careful and correct regulation of the gases and the flame produced.

Finally, the different metals that are to be welded require special treatment for each one, depending on the physical and chemical characteristics of the material.

It will thus be seen that the apparently simple operations of welding and cutting require special materials, instruments and preparation on the part of the operator and it is a proved fact that failures, which have been attributed to the method, are really due to lack of these necessary qualifications.


Oxygen, the gas which supports the rapid combustion of the acetylene in the torch flame, is one of the elements of the air. It is the cause and the active agent of all combustion that takes place in the atmosphere. Oxygen was first discovered as a separate gas in 1774, when it was produced by heating red oxide of mercury and was given its present name by the famous chemist, Lavoisier.

Oxygen is prepared in the laboratory by various methods, these including the heating of chloride of lime and peroxide of cobalt mixed in a retort, the heating of chlorate of potash, and the separation of water into its elements, hydrogen and oxygen, by the passage of an electric current. While the last process is used on a large scale in commercial work, the others are not practical for work other than that of an experimental or temporary nature.

This gas is a colorless, odorless, tasteless element. It is sixteen times as heavy as the gas hydrogen when measured by volume under the same temperature and pressure. Under all ordinary conditions oxygen remains in a gaseous form, although it turns to a liquid when compressed to 4,400 pounds to the square inch and at a temperature of 220 below zero.

Oxygen unites with almost every other element, this union often taking place with great heat and much light, producing flame. Steel and iron will burn rapidly when placed in this gas if the combustion is started with a flame of high heat playing on the metal. If the end of a wire is heated bright red and quickly plunged into a jar containing this gas, the wire will burn away with a dazzling light and be entirely consumed except for the molten drops that separate themselves. This property of oxygen is used in oxy-acetylene cutting of steel.

The combination of oxygen with other substances does not necessarily cause great heat, in fact the combination may be so slow and gradual that the change of temperature can not be noticed. An example of this slow combustion, or oxidation, is found in the conversion of iron into rust as the metal combines with the active gas. The respiration of human beings and animals is a form of slow combustion and is the source of animal heat. It is a general rule that the process of oxidation takes place with increasing rapidity as the temperature of the body being acted upon rises. Iron and steel at a red heat oxidize rapidly with the formation of a scale and possible damage to the metal.

Air.—Atmospheric air is a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen with traces of carbonic acid gas and water vapor. Twenty-one per cent of the air, by volume, is oxygen and the remaining seventy-nine per cent is the inactive gas, nitrogen. But for the presence of the nitrogen, which deadens the action of the other gas, combustion would take place at a destructive rate and be beyond human control in almost all cases. These two gases exist simply as a mixture to form the air and are not chemically combined. It is therefore a comparatively simple matter to separate them with the processes now available.

Water.—Water is a combination of oxygen and hydrogen, being composed of exactly two volumes of hydrogen to one volume of oxygen. If these two gases be separated from each other and then allowed to mix in these proportions they unite with explosive violence and form water. Water itself may be separated into the gases by any one of several means, one making use of a temperature of 2,200 to bring about this separation.

The easiest way to separate water into its two parts is by the process called electrolysis (Figure 7). Water, with which has been mixed a small quantity of acid, is placed in a vat through the walls of which enter the platinum tipped ends of two electrical conductors, one positive and the other negative.

Tubes are placed directly above these wire terminals in the vat, one tube being over each electrode and separated from each other by some distance. With the passage of an electric current from one wire terminal to the other, bubbles of gas rise from each and pass into the tubes. The gas that comes from the negative terminal is hydrogen and that from the positive pole is oxygen, both gases being almost pure if the work is properly conducted. This method produces electrolytic oxygen and electrolytic hydrogen.

The Liquid Air Process.—While several of the foregoing methods of securing oxygen are successful as far as this result is concerned, they are not profitable from a financial standpoint. A process for separating oxygen from the nitrogen in the air has been brought to a high state of perfection and is now supplying a major part of this gas for oxy-acetylene welding. It is known as the Linde process and the gas is distributed by the Linde Air Products Company from its plants and warehouses located in the large cities of the country.

The air is first liquefied by compression, after which the gases are separated and the oxygen collected. The air is purified and then compressed by successive stages in powerful machines designed for this purpose until it reaches a pressure of about 3,000 pounds to the square inch. The large amount of heat produced is absorbed by special coolers during the process of compression. The highly compressed air is then dried and the temperature further reduced by other coolers.

The next point in the separation is that at which the air is introduced into an apparatus called an interchanger and is allowed to escape through a valve, causing it to turn to a liquid. This liquid air is sprayed onto plates and as it falls, the nitrogen return to its gaseous state and leaves the oxygen to run to the bottom of the container. This liquid oxygen is then allowed to return to a gas and is stored in large gasometers or tanks.

The oxygen gas is taken from the storage tanks and compressed to approximately 1,800 pounds to the square inch, under which pressure it is passed into steel cylinders and made ready for delivery to the customer. This oxygen is guaranteed to be ninety-seven per cent pure.

Another process, known as the Hildebrandt process, is coming into use in this country. It is a later process and is used in Germany to a much greater extent than the Linde process. The Superior Oxygen Co. has secured the American rights and has established several plants.

Oxygen Cylinders.—Two sizes of cylinders are in use, one containing 100 cubic feet of gas when it is at atmospheric pressure and the other containing 250 cubic feet under similar conditions. The cylinders are made from one piece of steel and are without seams. These containers are tested at double the pressure of the gas contained to insure safety while handling.

One hundred cubic feet of oxygen weighs nearly nine pounds (8.921), and therefore the cylinders will weigh practically nine pounds more when full than after emptying, if of the 100 cubic feet size. The large cylinders weigh about eighteen and one-quarter pounds more when full than when empty, making approximately 212 pounds empty and 230 pounds full.

The following table gives the number of cubic feet of oxygen remaining in the cylinders according to various gauge pressures from an initial pressure of 1,800 pounds. The amounts given are not exactly correct as this would necessitate lengthy calculations which would not make great enough difference to affect the practical usefulness of the table:

Cylinder of 100 Cu. Ft. Capacity at 68 Fahr.

Gauge Volume Gauge Volume Pressure Remaining Pressure Remaining

1800 100 700 39 1620 90 500 28 1440 80 300 17 1260 70 100 6 1080 60 18 1 900 50 9 1/2

Cylinder of 250 Cu. Ft. Capacity at 68 Fahr.

Gauge Volume Gauge Volume Pressure Remaining Pressure Remaining

1800 250 700 97 1620 225 500 70 1440 200 300 42 1260 175 100 15 1080 150 18 8 900 125 9 1-1/4

The temperature of the cylinder affects the pressure in a large degree, the pressure increasing with a rise in temperature and falling with a fall in temperature. The variation for a 100 cubic foot cylinder at various temperatures is given in the following tabulation:

At 150 Fahr........................ 2090 pounds. At 100 Fahr........................ 1912 pounds. At 80 Fahr........................ 1844 pounds. At 68 Fahr........................ 1800 pounds. At 50 Fahr........................ 1736 pounds. At 32 Fahr........................ 1672 pounds. At 0 Fahr........................ 1558 pounds. At -10 Fahr........................ 1522 pounds.

Chlorate of Potash Method.—In spite of its higher cost and the inferior gas produced, the chlorate of potash method of producing oxygen is used to a limited extent when it is impossible to secure the gas in cylinders.

An iron retort (Figure 8) is arranged to receive about fifteen pounds of chlorate of potash mixed with three pounds of manganese dioxide, after which the cylinder is closed with a tight cap, clamped on. This retort is carried above a burner using fuel gas or other means of generating heat and this burner is lighted after the chemical charge is mixed and compressed in the tube.

The generation of gas commences and the oxygen is led through water baths which wash and cool it before storing in a tank connected with the plant. From this tank the gas is compressed into portable cylinders at a pressure of about 300 pounds to the square inch for use as required in welding operations.

Each pound of chlorate of potash liberates about three cubic feet of oxygen, and taking everything into consideration, the cost of gas produced in this way is several times that of the purer product secured by the liquid air process.

These chemical generators are oftentimes a source of great danger, especially when used with or near the acetylene gas generator, as is sometimes the case with cheap portable outfits. Their use should not be tolerated when any other method is available, as the danger from accident alone should prohibit the practice except when properly installed and cared for away from other sources of combustible gases.


In 1862 a chemist, Woehler, announced the discovery of the preparation of acetylene gas from calcium carbide, which he had made by heating to a high temperature a mixture of charcoal with an alloy of zinc and calcium. His product would decompose water and yield the gas. For nearly thirty years these substances were neglected, with the result that acetylene was practically unknown, and up to 1892 an acetylene flame was seen by very few persons and its possibilities were not dreamed of. With the development of the modern electric furnace the possibility of calcium carbide as a commercial product became known.

In the above year, Thomas L. Willson, an electrical engineer of Spray, North Carolina, was experimenting in an attempt to prepare metallic calcium, for which purpose he employed an electric furnace operating on a mixture of lime and coal tar with about ninety-five horse power. The result was a molten mass which became hard and brittle when cool. This apparently useless product was discarded and thrown in a nearby stream, when, to the astonishment of onlookers, a large volume of gas was immediately liberated, which, when ignited, burned with a bright and smoky flame and gave off quantities of soot. The solid material proved to be calcium carbide and the gas acetylene.

Thus, through the incidental study of a by-product, and as the result of an accident, the possibilities in carbide were made known, and in the spring of 1895 the first factory in the world for the production of this substance was established by the Willson Aluminum Company.

When water and calcium carbide are brought together an action takes place which results in the formation of acetylene gas and slaked lime.


Calcium carbide is a chemical combination of the elements carbon and calcium, being dark brown, black or gray with sometimes a blue or red tinge. It looks like stone and will only burn when heated with oxygen.

Calcium carbide may be preserved for any length of time if protected from the air, but the ordinary moisture in the atmosphere gradually affects it until nothing remains but slaked lime. It always possesses a penetrating odor, which is not due to the carbide itself but to the fact that it is being constantly affected by moisture and producing small quantities of acetylene gas.

This material is not readily dissolved by liquids, but if allowed to come in contact with water, a decomposition takes place with the evolution of large quantities of gas. Carbide is not affected by shock, jarring or age.

A pound of absolutely pure carbide will yield five and one-half cubic feet of acetylene. Absolute purity cannot be attained commercially, and in practice good carbide will produce from four and one-half to five cubic feet for each pound used.

Carbide is prepared by fusing lime and carbon in the electric furnace under a heat in excess of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These materials are among the most difficult to melt that are known. Lime is so infusible that it is frequently employed for the materials of crucibles in which the highest melting metals are fused, and for the pencils in the calcium light because it will stand extremely high temperatures.

Carbon is the material employed in the manufacture of arc light electrodes and other electrical appliances that must stand extreme heat. Yet these two substances are forced into combination in the manufacture of calcium carbide. It is the excessively high temperature attainable in the electric furnace that causes this combination and not any effect of the electricity other than the heat produced.

A mixture of ground coke and lime is introduced into the furnace through which an electric arc has been drawn. The materials unite and form an ingot of very pure carbide surrounded by a crust of less purity. The poorer crust is rejected in breaking up the mass into lumps which are graded according to their size. The largest size is 2 by 3-1/2 inches and is called "lump," a medium size is 1/2 by 2 inches and is called "egg," an intermediate size for certain types of generators is 3/8 by 1-1/4 inches and called "nut," and the finely crushed pieces for use in still other types of generators are 1/12 by 1/4 inch in size and are called "quarter." Instructions as to the size best suited to different generators are furnished by the makers of those instruments.

These sizes are packed in air-tight sheet steel drums containing 100 pounds each. The Union Carbide Company of Chicago and New York, operating under patents, manufactures and distributes the supply of calcium carbide for the entire United States. Plants for this manufacture are established at Niagara Falls, New York, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. This company maintains a system of warehouses in more than one hundred and ten cities, where large stocks of all sizes are carried.

The National Board of Fire Underwriters gives the following rules for the storage of carbide:

Calcium carbide in quantities not to exceed six hundred pounds may be stored, when contained in approved metal packages not to exceed one hundred pounds each, inside insured property, provided that the place of storage be dry, waterproof and well ventilated and also provided that all but one of the packages in any one building shall be sealed and that seals shall not be broken so long as there is carbide in excess of one pound in any other unsealed package in the building.

Calcium carbide in quantities in excess of six hundred pounds must be stored above ground in detached buildings, used exclusively for the storage of calcium carbide, in approved metal packages, and such buildings shall be constructed to be dry, waterproof and well ventilated.

Properties of Acetylene.—This gas is composed of twenty-four parts of carbon and two parts of hydrogen by weight and is classed with natural gas, petroleum, etc., as one of the hydrocarbons. This gas contains the highest percentage of carbon known to exist in any combination of this form and it may therefore be considered as gaseous carbon. Carbon is the fuel that is used in all forms of combustion and is present in all fuels from whatever source or in whatever form. Acetylene is therefore the most powerful of all fuel gases and is able to give to the torch flame in welding the highest temperature of any flame.

Acetylene is a colorless and tasteless gas, possessed of a peculiar and penetrating odor. The least trace in the air of a room is easily noticed, and if this odor is detected about an apparatus in operation, it is certain to indicate a leakage of gas through faulty piping, open valves, broken hose or otherwise. This leakage must be prevented before proceeding with the work to be done.

All gases which burn in air will, when mixed with air previous to ignition, produce more or less violent explosions, if fired. To this rule acetylene is no exception. One measure of acetylene and twelve and one-half of air are required for complete combustion; this is therefore the proportion for the most perfect explosion. This is not the only possible mixture that will explode, for all proportions from three to thirty per cent of acetylene in air will explode with more or less force if ignited.

The igniting point of acetylene is lower than that of coal gas, being about 900 degrees Fahrenheit as against eleven hundred degrees for coal gas. The gas issuing from a torch will ignite if allowed to play on the tip of a lighted cigar.

It is still further true that acetylene, at some pressures, greater than normal, has under most favorable conditions for the effect, been found to explode; yet it may be stated with perfect confidence that under no circumstances has anyone ever secured an explosion in it when subjected to pressures not exceeding fifteen pounds to the square inch.

Although not exploded by the application of high heat, acetylene is injured by such treatment. It is partly converted, by high heat, into other compounds, thus lessening the actual quantity of the gas, wasting it and polluting the rest by the introduction of substances which do not belong there. These compounds remain in part with the gas, causing it to burn with a persistent smoky flame and with the deposit of objectionable tarry substances. Where the gas is generated without undue rise of temperature these difficulties are avoided.

Purification of Acetylene.—Impurities in this gas are caused by impurities in the calcium carbide from which it is made or by improper methods and lack of care in generation. Impurities from the material will be considered first.

Impurities in the carbide may be further divided into two classes: those which exert no action on water and those which act with the water to throw off other gaseous products which remain in the acetylene. Those impurities which exert no action on the water consist of coke that has not been changed in the furnace and sand and some other substances which are harmless except that they increase the ash left after the acetylene has been generated.

An analysis of the gas coming from a typical generator is as follows:

Per cent Acetylene ................................ 99.36 Oxygen ................................... .08 Nitrogen ................................. .11 Hydrogen ................................. .06 Sulphuretted Hydrogen .................... .17 Phosphoretted Hydrogen ................... .04 Ammonia .................................. .10 Silicon Hydride .......................... .03 Carbon Monoxide .......................... .01 Methane .................................. .04

The oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide are either harmless or are present in such small quantities as to be neglected. The phosphoretted hydrogen and silicon hydride are self-inflammable gases when exposed to the air, but their quantity is so very small that this possibility may be dismissed. The ammonia and sulphuretted hydrogen are almost entirely dissolved by the water used in the gas generator. The surest way to avoid impure gas is to use high-grade calcium carbide in the generator and the carbide of American manufacture is now so pure that it never causes trouble.

The first and most important purification to which the gas is subjected is its passage through the body of water in the generator as it bubbles to the top. It is then filtered through felt to remove the solid particles of lime dust and other impurities which float in the gas.

Further purification to remove the remaining ammonia, sulphuretted hydrogen and phosphorus containing compounds is accomplished by chemical means. If this is considered necessary it can be easily accomplished by readily available purifying apparatus which can be attached to any generator or inserted between the generator and torch outlets. The following mixtures have been used.

"Heratol," a solution of chromic acid or sulphuric acid absorbed in porous earth.

"Acagine," a mixture of bleaching powder with fifteen per cent of lead chromate.

"Puratylene," a mixture of bleaching powder and hydroxide of lime, made very porous, and containing from eighteen to twenty per cent of active chlorine.

"Frankoline," a mixture of cuprous and ferric chlorides dissolved in strong hydrochloric acid absorbed in infusorial earth.

A test for impure acetylene gas is made by placing a drop of ten per cent solution of silver nitrate on a white blotter and holding the paper in a stream of gas coming from the torch tip. Blackening of the paper in a short length of time indicates impurities.

Acetylene in Tanks.—Acetylene is soluble in water to a very limited extent, too limited to be of practical use. There is only one liquid that possesses sufficient power of containing acetylene in solution to be of commercial value, this being the liquid acetone. Acetone is produced in various ways, oftentimes from the distillation of wood. It is a transparent, colorless liquid that flows with ease. It boils at 133 Fahrenheit, is inflammable and burns with a luminous flame. It has a peculiar but rather agreeable odor.

Acetone dissolves twenty-four times its own bulk of acetylene at ordinary atmospheric pressure. If this pressure is increased to two atmospheres, 14.7 pounds above ordinary pressure, it will dissolve just twice as much of the gas and for each atmosphere that the pressure is increased it will dissolve as much more.

If acetylene be compressed above fifteen pounds per square inch at ordinary temperature without first being dissolved in acetone a danger is present of self-ignition. This danger, while practically nothing at fifteen pounds, increases with the pressure until at forty atmospheres it is very explosive. Mixed with acetone, the gas loses this dangerous property and is safe for handling and transportation. As acetylene is dissolved in the liquid the acetone increases its volume slightly so that when the gas has been drawn out of a closed tank a space is left full of free acetylene.

This last difficulty is removed by first filling the cylinder or tank with some porous material, such as asbestos, wood charcoal, infusorial earth, etc. Asbestos is used in practice and by a system of packing and supporting the absorbent material no space is left for the free gas, even when the acetylene has been completely withdrawn.

The acetylene is generated in the usual way and is washed, purified and dried. Great care is used to make the gas as free as possible from all impurities and from air. The gas is forced into containers filled with acetone as described and is compressed to one hundred and fifty pounds to the square inch. From these tanks it is transferred to the smaller portable cylinders for consumers' use.

The exact volume of gas remaining in a cylinder at atmospheric temperature may be calculated if the weight of the cylinder empty is known. One pound of the gas occupies 13.6 cubic feet, so that if the difference in weight between the empty cylinder and the one considered be multiplied by 13.6. the result will be the number of cubic feet of gas contained.

The cylinders contain from 100 to 500 cubic feet of acetylene under pressure. They cannot be filled with the ordinary type of generator as they require special purifying and compressing apparatus, which should never be installed in any building where other work is being carried on, or near other buildings which are occupied, because of the danger of explosion.

Dissolved acetylene is manufactured by the Prest-O-Lite Company, the Commercial Acetylene Company and the Searchlight Gas Company and is distributed from warehouses in various cities.

These tanks should not be discharged at a rate per hour greater than one-seventh of their total capacity, that is, from a tank of 100 cubic feet capacity, the discharge should not be more than fourteen cubic feet per hour. If discharge is carried on at an excessive rate the acetone is drawn out with the gas and reduces the heat of the welding flame.

For this reason welding should not be attempted with cylinders designed for automobile and boat lighting. When the work demands a greater delivery than one of the larger tanks will give, two or more tanks may be connected with a special coupler such as may be secured from the makers and distributers of the gas. These couplers may be arranged for two, three, four or five tanks in one battery by removing the plugs on the body of the coupler and attaching additional connecting pipes. The coupler body carries a pressure gauge and the valve for controlling the pressure of the gas as it flows to the welding torches. The following capacities should be provided for:

Acetylene Consumption Combined Capacity of of Torches per Hour Cylinders in Use Up to 15 feet.......................100 cubic feet 16 to 30 feet.......................200 cubic feet 31 to 45 feet.......................300 cubic feet 46 to 60 feet.......................400 cubic feet 61 to 75 feet.......................500 cubic feet


The best welding cannot be done without using the best grade of materials, and the added cost of these materials over less desirable forms is so slight when compared to the quality of work performed and the waste of gases with inferior supplies, that it is very unprofitable to take any chances in this respect. The makers of welding equipment carry an assortment of supplies that have been standardized and that may be relied upon to produce the desired result when properly used. The safest plan is to secure this class of material from the makers.

Welding rods, or welding sticks, are used to supply the additional metal required in the body of the weld to replace that broken or cut away and also to add to the joint whenever possible so that the work may have the same or greater strength than that found in the original piece. A rod of the same material as that being welded is used when both parts of the work are the same. When dissimilar metals are to be joined rods of a composition suited to the work are employed.

These filling rods are required in all work except steel of less than 16 gauge. Alloy iron rods are used for cast iron. These rods have a high silicon content, the silicon reacting with the carbon in the iron to produce a softer and more easily machined weld than would otherwise be the case. These rods are often made so that they melt at a slightly lower point than cast iron. This is done for the reason that when the part being welded has been brought to the fusing heat by the torch, the filling material can be instantly melted in without allowing the parts to cool. The metal can be added faster and more easily controlled.

Rods or wires of Norway iron are used for steel welding in almost all cases. The purity of this grade of iron gives a homogeneous, soft weld of even texture, great ductility and exceptionally good machining qualities. For welding heavy steel castings, a rod of rolled carbon steel is employed. For working on high carbon steel, a rod of the steel being welded must be employed and for alloy steels, such as nickel, manganese, vanadium, etc., special rods of suitable alloy composition are preferable.

Aluminum welding rods are made from this metal alloyed to give the even flowing that is essential. Aluminum is one of the most difficult of all the metals to handle in this work and the selection of the proper rod is of great importance.

Brass is filled with brass wire when in small castings and sheets. For general work with brass castings, manganese bronze or Tobin bronze may be used.

Bronze is welded with manganese bronze or Tobin bronze, while copper is filled with copper wire.

These welding rods should always be used to fill the weld when the thickness of material makes their employment necessary, and additional metal should always be added at the weld when possible as the joint cannot have the same strength as the original piece if made or dressed off flush with the surfaces around the weld. This is true because the metal welded into the joint is a casting and will never have more strength than a casting of the material used for filling.

Great care should be exercised when adding metal from welding rods to make sure that no metal is added at a point that is not itself melted and molten when the addition is made. When molten metal is placed upon cooler surfaces the result is not a weld but merely a sticking together of the two parts without any strength in the joint.


Difficulty would be experienced in welding with only the metal and rod to work with because of the scale that forms on many materials under heat, the oxides of other metals and the impurities found in almost all metals. These things tend to prevent a perfect joining of the metals and some means are necessary to prevent their action.

Various chemicals, usually in powder form, are used to accomplish the result of cleaning the weld and making the work of the operator less difficult. They are called fluxes.

A flux is used to float off physical impurities from the molten metal; to furnish a protecting coating around the weld; to assist in the removal of any objectionable oxide of the metals being handled; to lower the temperature at which the materials flow; to make a cleaner weld and to produce a better quality of metal in the finished work.

The flux must be of such composition that it will accomplish the desired result without introducing new difficulties. They may be prepared by the operator in many cases or may be secured from the makers of welding apparatus, the same remarks applying to their quality as were made regarding the welding rods, that is, only the best should be considered.

The flux used for cast iron should have a softening effect and should prevent burning of the metal. In many cases it is possible and even preferable to weld cast iron without the use of a flux, and in any event the smaller the quantity used the better the result should be. Flux should not be added just before the completion of the work because the heat will not have time to drive the added elements out of the metal or to incorporate them with the metal properly.

Aluminum should never be welded without using a flux because of the oxide formed. This oxide, called alumina, does not melt until a heat of 5,000 Fahrenheit is reached, four times the heat needed to melt the aluminum itself. It is necessary that this oxide be broken down or dissolved so that the aluminum may have a chance to flow together. Copper is another metal that requires a flux because of its rapid oxidation under heat.

While the flux is often thrown or sprinkled along the break while welding, much better results will be obtained by dipping the hot end of the welding rod into the flux whenever the work needs it. Sufficient powder will stick on the end of the rod for all purposes, and with some fluxes too much will adhere. Care should always be used to avoid the application of excessive flux, as this is usually worse than using too little.


Goggles.—The oxy-acetylene torch should not be used without the protection to the eyes afforded by goggles. These not only relieve unnecessary strain, but make it much easier to watch the exact progress of the work with the molten metal. The difficulty of protecting the sight while welding is even greater than when cutting metal with the torch.

Acetylene gives a light which is nearest to sunlight of any artificial illuminant. But for the fact that this gas light gives a little more green and less blue in its composition, it would be the same in quality and practically the same in intensity. This light from the gas is almost absent during welding, being lost with the addition of the extra oxygen needed to produce the welding heat. The light that is dangerous comes from the molten metal which flows under the torch at a bright white heat.

Goggles for protection against this light and the heat that goes with it may be secured in various tints, the darker glass being for welding and the lighter for cutting. Those having frames in which the metal parts do not touch the flesh directly are most desirable because of the high temperature reached by these parts.

Gloves.—While not as necessary as are the goggles, gloves are a convenience in many cases. Those in which leather touches the hands directly are really of little value as the heat that protection is desired against makes the leather so hot that nothing is gained in comfort. Gloves are made with asbestos cloth, which are not open to this objection in so great a degree.

Tables and Stands.—Tables for holding work while being welded (Figure 9) are usually made from lengths of angle steel welded together. The top should be rectangular, about two feet wide and two and one-half feet long. The legs should support the working surface at a height of thirty-two to thirty-six inches from the floor. Metal lattice work may be fastened or laid in the top framework and used to support a layer of firebrick bound together with a mixture of one-third cement and two-thirds fireclay. The piece being welded is braced and supported on this table with pieces of firebrick so that it will remain stationary during the operation.

Holders for supporting the tanks of gas may be made or purchased in forms that rest directly on the floor or that are mounted on wheels. These holders are quite useful where the floor or ground is very uneven.

Hose.—All permanent lines from tanks and generators to the torches are made with piping rigidly supported, but the short distance from the end of the pipe line to the torch itself is completed with a flexible hose so that the operator may be free in his movements while welding. An accident through which the gases mix in the hose and are ignited will burst this part of the equipment, with more or less painful results to the person handling it. For that reason it is well to use hose with great enough strength to withstand excessive pressure.

A poor grade of hose will also break down inside and clog the flow of gas, both through itself and through the parts of the torch. To avoid outside damage and cuts this hose is sometimes encased with coiled sheet metal. Hose may be secured with a bursting strength of more than 1,000 pounds to the square inch. Many operators prefer to distinguish between the oxygen and acetylene lines by their color and to allow this, red is used for the oxygen and black for acetylene.

Other Materials.—Sheet asbestos and asbestos fibre in flakes are used to cover parts of the work while preparing them for welding and during the operation itself. The flakes and small pieces that become detached from the large sheets are thrown into a bin where the completed small work is placed to allow slow and even cooling while protected by the asbestos.

Asbestos fibre and also ordinary fireclay are often used to make a backing or mould into a form that may be placed behind aluminum and some other metals that flow at a low heat and which are accordingly difficult to handle under ordinary methods. This forms a solid mould into which the metal is practically cast as melted by the torch so that the desired shape is secured without danger of the walls of metal breaking through and flowing away.

Carbon blocks and rods are made in various shapes and sizes so that they may be used to fill threaded holes and other places that it is desired to protect during welding. These may be secured in rods of various diameters up to one inch and in blocks of several different dimensions.



Acetylene generators used for producing the gas from the action of water on calcium carbide are divided into three principal classes according to the pressure under which they operate.

Low pressure generators are designed to operate at one pound or less per square inch. Medium pressure systems deliver the gas at not to exceed fifteen pounds to the square inch while high pressure types furnish gas above fifteen pounds per square inch. High pressure systems are almost unknown in this country, the medium pressure type being often referred to as "high pressure."

Another important distinction is formed by the method of bringing the carbide and water together. The majority of those now in use operate by dropping small quantities of carbide into a large volume of water, allowing the generated gas to bubble up through the water before being collected above the surface. This type is known as the "carbide to water" generator.

A less used type brings a measured and small quantity of water to a comparatively large body of the carbide, the gas being formed and collected from the chamber in which the action takes place. This is called the "water to carbide" type. Another way of expressing the difference in feed is that of designating the two types as "carbide feed" for the former and "water feed" for the latter.

A further division of the carbide to water machines is made by mentioning the exact method of feeding the carbide. One type, called "gravity feed" operates by allowing the carbide to escape and fall by the action of its own weight, or gravity; the other type, called "forced feed," includes a separate mechanism driven by power. This mechanism feeds definite amounts of the carbide to the water as required by the demands on the generator. The action of either feed is controlled by the withdrawal of gas from the generator, the aim being to supply sufficient carbide to maintain a nearly constant supply.

Generator Requirements.—The qualities of a good generator are outlined as follows: [Footnote: See Pond's "Calcium Carbide and Acetylene."]

It must allow no possibility of the existence of an explosive mixture in any of its parts at any time. It is not enough to argue that a mixture, even if it exists, cannot be exploded unless kindled. It is necessary to demand that a dangerous mixture can at no time be formed, even if the machine is tampered with by an ignorant person. The perfect machine must be so constructed that it shall be impossible at any time, under any circumstances, to blow it up.

It must insure cool generation. Since this is a relative term, all machines being heated somewhat during the generation of gas, this amounts to saying that a machine must heat but little. A pound of carbide decomposed by water develops the same amount of heat under all circumstances, but that heat can be allowed to increase locally to a high point, or it can be equalized by water so that no part of the material becomes heated enough to do damage.

It must be well constructed. A good generator does not need, perhaps, to be "built like a watch," but it should be solid, substantial and of good material. It should be built for service, to last and not simply to sell; anything short of this is to be avoided as unsafe and unreliable.

It must be simple. The more complicated the machine the sooner it will get out of order. Understand your generator. Know what is inside of it and beware of an apparatus, however attractive its exterior, whose interior is filled with pipes and tubes, valves and diaphragms whose functions you do not perfectly understand.

It should be capable of being cleaned and recharged and of receiving all other necessary attention without loss of gas, both for economy's sake, and more particularly to avoid danger of fire.

It should require little attention. All machines have to be emptied and recharged periodically; but the more this process is simplified and the more quickly this can be accomplished, the better.

It should be provided with a suitable indicator to designate how low the charge is in order that the refilling may be done in good season.

It should completely use up the carbide, generating the maximum amount of gas.

Overheating.—A large amount of heat is liberated when acetylene gas is formed from the union of calcium carbide and water. Overheating during this process, that is to say, an intense local heat rather than a large amount of heat well distributed, brings about the phenomenon of polymerization, converting the gas, or part of it, into oily matters, which can do nothing but harm. This tarry mass coming through the small openings in the torches causes them to become partly closed and alters the proportions of the gases to the detriment of the welding flame. The only remedy for this trouble is to avoid its cause and secure cool generation.

Overheating can be detected by the appearance of the sludge remaining after the gas has been made. Discoloration, yellow or brown, shows that there has been trouble in this direction and the resultant effects at the torches may be looked for. The abundance of water in the carbide to water machines effects this cooling naturally and is a characteristic of well designed machines of this class. It has been found best and has practically become a fundamental rule of generation that a gallon of water must be provided for each pound of carbide placed in the generator. With this ratio and a generator large enough for the number of torches to be supplied, little trouble need be looked for with overheating.

Water to Carbide Generators.—It is, of course, much easier to obtain a measured and regular flow of water than to obtain such a flow of any solid substance, especially when the solid substance is in the form of lumps, as is carbide This fact led to the use of a great many water-feed generators for all classes of work, and this type is still in common use for the small portable machines, such, for instance, as those used on motor cars for the lamps. The water-feed machine is not, however, favored for welding plants, as is the carbide feed, in spite of the greater difficulties attending the handling of the solid material.

A water-feed generator is made up of the gas producing part and a holder for the acetylene after it is made. The carbide is held in a tray formed of a number of small compartments so that the charge in each compartment is nearly equal to that in each of the others. The water is allowed to flow into one of these compartments in a volume sufficient to produce the desired amount of gas and the carbide is completely used from this one division. The water then floods the first compartment and finally overflows into the next one, where the same process is repeated. After using the carbide in this division, it is flooded in turn and the water passing on to those next in order, uses the entire charge of the whole tray.

These generators are charged with the larger sizes of carbide and are easily taken care of. The residue is removed in the tray and emptied, making the generator ready for a fresh supply of carbide.

Carbide to Water Generators.—This type also is made up of two principal parts, the generating chamber and a gas holder, the holder being part of the generating chamber or a separate device. The generator (Figure 10) contains a hopper to receive the charge of carbide and is fitted with the feeding mechanism to drop the proper amount of carbide into the water as required by the demands of the torches. The charge of carbide is of one of the smaller sizes, usually "nut" or "quarter."

Feed Mechanisms.—The device for dropping the carbide into the water is the only part of the machine that is at all complicated. This complication is brought about by the necessity of controlling the mass of carbide so that it can never be discharged into the water at an excessive rate, feeding it at a regular rate and in definite amounts, feeding it positively whenever required and shutting off the feed just as positively when the supply of gas in the holder is enough for the immediate needs.

The charge of carbide is unavoidably acted upon by the water vapor in the generator and will in time become more or less pasty and sticky. This is more noticeable if the generator stands idle for a considerable length of time This condition imposes another duty on the feeding mechanism; that is, the necessity of self-cleaning so that the carbide, no matter in what condition, cannot prevent the positive action of this part of the device, especially so that it cannot prevent the supply from being stopped at the proper time.

The gas holder is usually made in the bell form so that the upper portion rises and falls with the addition to or withdrawal from the supply of gas in the holder. The rise and fall of this bell is often used to control the feed mechanism because this movement indicates positively whether enough gas has been made or that more is required. As the bell lowers it sets the feed mechanism in motion, and when the gas passing into the holder has raised the bell a sufficient distance, the movement causes the feed mechanism to stop the fall of carbide into the water. In practice, the movement of this part of the holder is held within very narrow limits.

Gas Holders.—No matter how close the adjustment of the feeding device, there will always be a slight amount of gas made after the fall of carbide is stopped, this being caused by the evolution of gas from the carbide with which water is already in contact. This action is called "after generation" and the gas holder in any type of generator must provide sufficient capacity to accommodate this excess gas. As a general rule the water to carbide generator requires a larger gas holder than the carbide to water type because of the greater amount of carbide being acted upon by the water at any one time, also because the surface of carbide presented to the moist air within the generating chamber is greater with this type.

Freezing.—Because of the rather large body of water contained in any type of generator, there is always danger of its freezing and rendering the device inoperative unless placed in a temperature above the freezing point of the water. It is, of course, dangerous and against the insurance rules to place a generator in the same room with a fire of any kind, but the room may be heated by steam or hot water coils from a furnace in another building or in another part of the same building.

When the generator is housed in a separate structure the walls should be made of materials or construction that prevents the passage of heat or cold through them to any great extent. This may be accomplished by the use of hollow tile or concrete blocks or by any other form of double wall providing air spaces between the outer and inner facings. The space between the parts of the wall may be filled with materials that further retard the loss of heat if this is necessary under the conditions prevailing.

Residue From Generators.—The sludge remaining in the carbide to water generator may be drawn off into the sewer if the piping is run at a slant great enough to give a fall that carries the whole quantity, both water and ash, away without allowing settling and consequent clogging. Generators are provided with agitators which are operated to stir the ash up with the water so that the whole mass is carried off when the drain cock is opened.

If sewer connections cannot be made in such a way that the ash is entirely carried away, it is best to run the liquid mass into a settling basin outside of the building. This should be in the form of a shallow pit which will allow the water to pass off by soaking into the ground and by evaporation, leaving the comparatively dry ash in the pit. This ash which remains is essentially slaked lime and can often be disposed of to more or less advantage to be used in mortar, whitewash, marking paths and any other use for which slaked lime is suited. The disposition of the ash depends entirely on local conditions. An average analysis of this ash is as follows:

Sand....................... 1.10 per cent. Carbon..................... 2.72 " Oxide of iron and alumina.. 2.77 " Lime....................... 64.06 " Water and carbonic acid.... 29.35 " ——— 100.00


The water for generating purposes is carried in the large tank-like compartment directly below the carbide chamber. See Figure 11. This water compartment is filled through a pipe of such a height that the water level cannot be brought above the proper point or else the water compartment is provided with a drain connection which accomplishes this same result by allowing an excess to flow away.

The quantity of water depends on the capacity of the generator inasmuch as there must be one gallon for each pound of carbide required. The generator should be of sufficient capacity to furnish gas under working conditions from one charge of carbide to all torches installed for at least five hours continuous use.

After calculating the withdrawal of the whole number of torches according to the work they are to do for this period of five hours the proper generator capacity may be found on the basis of one cubic foot of gas per hour for each pound of carbide. Thus if the torches were to use sixty cubic feet of gas per hour, five hours would call for three hundred cubic feet and a three hundred pound generator should be installed. Generators are rated according to their carbide capacity in pounds.

Charging.—The carbide capacity of the generator should be great enough to furnish a continuous supply of gas for the maximum operating time, basing the quantity of gas generated on four and one-half cubic feet from each pound of lump carbide and on four cubic feet from each pound of quarter, intermediate sizes being in proportion.

Generators are built in such a way that it is impossible for the acetylene to escape from the gas holding compartment during the recharging process. This is accomplished (1) by connecting the water inlet pipe opening with a shut off valve in such a way that the inlet cannot be uncovered or opened without first closing the shut off valve with the same movement of the operator; (2) by incorporating an automatic or hydraulic one-way valve so that this valve closes and acts as a check when the gas attempts to flow from the holder back to the generating chamber, or by any other means that will positively accomplish this result.

In generators having no separate gas holding chamber but carrying the supply in the same compartment in which it is generated, the gas contained under pressure is allowed to escape through vent pipes into the outside air before recharging with carbide. As in the former case, the parts are so interlocked that it is impossible to introduce carbide or water without first allowing the escape of the gas in the generator.

It is required by the insurance rules that the entire change of carbide while in the generator be held in such a way that it may be entirely removed without difficulty in case the necessity should arise.

Generators should be cleaned and recharged at regular stated intervals. This work should be done during daylight hours only and likewise all repairs should be made at such a time that artificial light is not needed. Where it is absolutely necessary to use artificial light it should be provided only by incandescent electric lamps enclosed in gas tight globes.

In charging generating chambers the old ash and all residue must first be cleaned out and the operator should be sure that no drain or other pipe has become clogged. The generator should then be filled with the required amount of water. In charging carbide feed machines be careful not to place less than a gallon of water in the water compartment for each pound of carbide to be used and the water must be brought to, but not above, the proper level as indicated by the mark or the maker's instructions. The generating chamber must be filled with the proper amount of water before any attempt is made to place the carbide in its holder. This rule must always be followed. It is also necessary that all automatic water seals and valves, as well as any other water tanks, be filled with clean water at this time.

Never recharge with carbide without first cleaning the generating chamber and completely refilling with clean water. Never test the generator or piping for leaks with any flame, and never apply flame to any open pipe or at any point other than the torch, and only to the torch after it has a welding or cutting nozzle attached. Never use a lighted match, lamp, candle, lantern, cigar or any open flame near a generator. Failure to observe these precautions is liable to endanger life and property.

Operation and Care of Generators.—The following instructions apply especially to the Davis Bournonville pressure generator, illustrated in Figure 11. The motor feed mechanism is illustrated in Figure 12.

Before filling the machine, the cover should be removed and the hopper taken out and examined to see that the feeding disc revolves freely; that no chains have been displaced or broken, and that the carbide displacer itself hangs barely free of the feeding disc when it is revolved. After replacing the cover, replace the bolts and tighten them equally, a little at a time all around the circumference of the cover—not screwing tight in one place only. Do not screw the cover down any more than is necessary to make a tight fit.

To charge the generator, proceed as follows: Open the vent valve by turning the handle which extends over the filling tube until it stands at a right angle with the generator. Open the valve in the water filling pipe, and through this fill with water until it runs out of the overflow pipe of the drainage chamber, then close the valve in the water filling pipe and vent valve. Remove the carbide filling plugs and fill the hopper with 1-1/4"x3/8" carbide ("nut" size). Then replace the plugs and the safety-locking lever chains. Now rewind the motor weight. Run the pressure up to about five pounds by raising the controlling diaphragm valve lever by hand (Figure 12, lever marked E). Then raise the blow-off lever, allowing the gas to blow off until the gauge shows about two pounds; this to clear the generator of air mixture. Then run the pressure up to about eight pounds by raising the controlling valve lever E, or until this controlling lever rests against the upper wing of the fan governor, and prevents operation of the feed motor. After this is done, the motor will operate automatically as the gas is consumed.

Should the pressure rise much above the blow-off point, the safety controlling diaphragm valve will operate and throw the safety clutch in interference and thus stop the motor. This interference clutch will then have to be returned to its former position before the motor will operate, but cannot be replaced before the pressure has been reduced below the blow-off point.

The parts of the feed mechanism illustrated in Figure 12 are as follows: A, motor drum for weight cable. B, carbide filling plugs. C, chains for connecting safety locking lever of motor to pins on the top of the carbide plugs. D, interference clutch of motor. E, lever on feed controlling diaphragm valve. F, lever of interference controlling diaphragm valve that operates interference clutch. G, feed controlling diaphragm valve. H, diaphragm valve controlling operation of interference clutch. I, interference pin to engage emergency clutch. J, main shaft driving carbide feeding disc. Y, safety locking lever.

Recharging Generator.—Turn the agitator handle rapidly for several revolutions, and then open the residuum valve, having five or six pounds gas pressure on the machine. If the carbide charge has been exhausted and the motor has stopped, there is generally enough carbide remaining in the feeding disc that can be shaken off, and fed by running the motor to obtain some pressure in the generator. The desirability of discharging the residuum with some gas pressure is because the pressure facilitates the discharge and at the same time keeps the generator full of gas, preventing air mixture to a great extent. As soon as the pressure is relieved by the withdrawal of the residuum, the vent valve should be opened, as if the pressure is maintained until all of the residuum is discharged gas would escape through the discharge valve.

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