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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The other night I needed to cut some metal outside, so I ran the torch hose under the door and proceded to work out in a rather nasty night with a strong wind. I didn't realize I was running out of acetylene until the torch started going goofy. At first the handle valve started sticking open so I thought it was freezing up (it was minus 20 with a serious windchill) so I shut things down. When I went to check it out the next day, I saw that the acetylene tank was pretty much drained, and when I opened up the torch little grey and black beads that looked like granular fertilizer started falling out. Apparently one of them had blocked the lever valve. Just wondering if anyone else had seen these come out of an acetylene tank under these conditions, or if possibly they had come out of my spark arresters. The tanks are kept in an upright position. Any thoughts or concerns? I was using my "fairly new" Victor cutting torch and regulators. I'm thinking if those pellets went through the regulators too, I should be checking out those and the hoses pretty closely. Can't be a good thing. The hoses are new T rated ones, but I still have the Princess Auto spark arresters. Anyone ever broken one apart to see what's in there?
 

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the inside of the cylinders is filled with a pumice like material that absorbs the acetyline, and allows it to release in a controlled manner, sounds like this tank is pooched, not sure what is in the spark arresters, but likely a fine mesh s/s screen or sintered material that has small enough holes to slow the flame front
 

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Hello Whtbaron
Never heard of that happening before. Acetylene is very unstable when pressurized & highly explosive when mixed with oxygen, so tanks are filled right to the top, with no room for air (if you removed the valve from an empty tank you would see this) with acetone & a porous material that doesn't change the nature of the gas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The tanks have been kept upright but it appears whatever is going on is pretty rare. I've ran this same post past a bunch of professional welders and they've never heard of it either. I've talked to the supplier and they've advised me to have the tank tagged as it sounds like the damaged pumice explanation is the most likely culprit. Consensus seems to be that the spark arrestors are mostly likely sintered bronze that would melt shut in the event of a serious flashback.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My first thought when I saw them, was "How did mice get fertilizer in this torch handle?"... which of course is impossible. Even to think that something came out of the tank, got through the regulators, through 15 ft of hose, 2 sets of arrestors, the quick connects and into the handle seems an incredible feat. The pellets don't look like anything that was formed as a result of some freakish conditions, they appear to be as constructed. My best guess is some sort of hard plastic, they don't crush easily. I had assumed they came out of the acetylene cylinder because it was the one going dry, but they did clog the levered valve on the oxygen side. Did they roll around and get stuck in there as a result of me moving the torch handle in and out from under the shed door twice, or did they come from the O2 cylinder? I won't know that for sure until I get a new acetylene cylinder next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok, my welding buddies on the other site have come up with another theory. Since this torch handle is fairly new (probably less than an hour of cutting time on it), they think the beads may have been ceramic ones used in the tumble polish process used on the torch handle. They must have been lodged in the orifices and got blown into the torch body when I started using it. I have an email in to Victor to see what they have to say so hopefully they answer early in the week.
 

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looks like nitrogen preels, how is urea made? I think that cold air is super heated and the nitrogen precipitates out the air. I may be wrong but if it was that cold and since air is 78% N is it possible that the nitrogen precipitated out of the hoses? kind of far fetched, but ???????????
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think anything that formed in the torch or the hoses would be relatively soft, and that I would be able to crush them with a fingernail. These are very hard and would take a hammer to crush them, so ceramic beads seem to make the most sense. Hopefully Victor gets back to me early this week.
 

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looks like nitrogen preels, how is urea made? I think that cold air is super heated and the nitrogen precipitates out the air. I may be wrong but if it was that cold and since air is 78% N is it possible that the nitrogen precipitated out of the hoses? kind of far fetched, but ???????????
Urea isn't just Nitrogen though. It would be possible to percipitate liquid N briefly by cooling compressed air under just the right conditions, but it would go right back to gas under any weather conditions you'd be standing outside in!;)

Even that technically would be liquid air, not liquid N.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Consensus is that it's ceramic beads from the polishing process. Once the backflow valves are installed there is no way for them to shake out the top. When the rest of the torch is assembled the valves are closed and seated so the beads were trapped in there until I started using it. The night they came loose I was cutting a thick piece of railroad rail at higher than normal O2 pressure, so I guess that did the trick. Unfortunately there was enough fragments floating around in there to damage the seats so Victor has advised me to return it under the 5 yr warranty.
 

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At least the mystery was solved and you know nothing else was damaged, regulators, weird things coming out of the tanks or hoses. Just start over with a fresh torch handle and no doubt you will be opening the valves up and have the tip off to see if anything falls out of the new one before you hook it all up :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yea, that's the plan, but I've already been warned that anything that can blow oil into the lines is a bad idea. My air compressor air is filtered and I don't have any oilers inline, so I might give a quick blast through the handle, but the hoses I'll just blow clear with the valves at the tanks.
 

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Right, I didn't elaborate well enough as I meant that it would not hurt to crack open both tanks with the hoses not connected yet to the torch handle first to blow out anything that could be in them ( one at a time though in a well ventilated area away from any ignition sources ) . Then connect the hoses to the torch handle but have the tip assembly off, open one valve on the torch completely and then crack open the tank valve. Then repeat for the other valve before installing the tip. At least that way if there was something loose and floating around, it would blast that out before putting the torch into use.

As to oil contamination in the lines, oh yes they really warn about that, never to put oil on any fitting threads and so forth and its the oxygen side that poses the problem, rich oxygen mixture ( 100 % ) and any oil could ignite and have interesting results apparently !.
 

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If you shake a bottle or tip it over, you can get acetone out of the tank which is potentially a dangerous situation... which is why you aren't supposed to lay the tanks down.
The general quideine is that for every hour a bottle is on its side it should stand up for one hour before you attempt to use the acetylene. Some older bottles have corn husk material in the bottle
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If you've seen the video circulating on the internet of the welding supply truck that gets into an accident on the freeway, it's a very graphic lesson on just how dangerous poorly handled tanks can be. I'm thinking I need to build a rack of some sort that would attach to the pickup box for picking up new ones. Anytime I move them around or jar them, I let them sit overnite. There seems to be some variations on what the wick in the bottle consists of, but that's the first time I've heard of corn husks.
 
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