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David Balkon 12-04-2014 10:53 AM

Lampworking set up advice needed
My wife just went to a one day class on lamp working and wants to play with that hobby at home. Is there a beginner set up with torch and hoses and gauges that someone is pleased with and would recommend?.

I was going to find a used oxygen tank on craigslist.

At my home, I have a separate 30' x 40' pole barn, that I run a 50# electric crucible kiln, and a propane fueled glory hole. Is there any danger of storing and using the oxygen in the same building as the glory hole/ kiln?



Pete VanderLaan 12-04-2014 11:35 AM

Don't buy an oxygen bottle. Find out who your nearest welding supplier is and lease the bottle from them, or shop around if you have more than one supply. In leasing, you just exchange the bottle when it's empty. Get the largest bottle they have. You go through O2 really fast. Most serious lampworkers I know have three or more big bottles. While you may start out small, you'll be amazed at how fst the oxygen is gone. Not so for the propane. A 20 lb bottle will really last quite a while. Be forewarned: If you own your bottle, you can't exchange it. It gets sent off to fill and that takes time.

As to danger with the oxygen. If it gets involved in a fire, you already have way worse problems. Propane bottles are far worse from a fire department point of view.

Go to Wale Apparatus on the net. Look things over. They do sell combo fuel and O2 regulators and hoses and torches. I would start small and see if the interest is sustained. If it is, you can go larger. Big torches use a lot of fuel and are a serious expense. Get protective glasses while you're at it. Wale is a good general source and they can be very helpful. They also sell borosilicate rod and tubing.

If you really get serious, you may want to look at getting an O2 generator but that's some ways down the road.

Ted Trower 12-04-2014 01:56 PM

If you can find a gently used medical oxygen concentrator or two they work beautifully for small torches like the Minor or Lynx. I started with a Mini-cc and it ran well on a single concentrator but was much happier on two concentrators in parallel.

Take a look at the folowing Facebook pages to pick up a used torch at a fair price.

Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig 12-04-2014 03:27 PM

When I just started out a sales rep from the national very big gas/oxogen company visited me - he gave me two beautiful surface mix hand held burners, a small one and a bigger one,
Oxy/propane… they cost about 1000 bucks to buy. “Take these see if you like them”, he said. Wtf.
I really liked them and Ive spent so much money on their oxygen since then… he knew what he was doing :-)

Btw , in this country they sell a oxygen version with a smell tracer in it- smells like rotten eggs- it costs slightly more but its really worth it if you have that available. Not so much for the fire hazard of a leak but just the cost of loosing the gas makes it worth while. You know when you have a leak.

Pete VanderLaan 12-04-2014 04:37 PM

Michael's point is that you are about to find out that O2 is really pretty expensive. I think Ted's points are excellent and I would consider ebay as well. A one day workshop is a great place to prepare to park a fair amount of money for a long time.

I find that while I'm not a lamp worker. having a simple set up in the studio is incredibly handy for me.

Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig 12-04-2014 05:34 PM

The burners are great- you can pick a 1/8" bubble out of the side a say a finished damn near cold large vase and get away with it, I think the temp is something like 3000C max, so you have to be a bit careful.
But yes the burners use a lot of O2 and they sure paid for themselves in the long run, probably like thirtyfold for the company that gave me burners

David Hopman 12-04-2014 08:32 PM

Look on Craigslist for oxygen concentrators- I've bought 6 for between $100-$200 each. One 5 liter unit will run a Minor torch adequately, 2 will run it well.

Arrow Springs also sells torches and has a decent help page on torch selection:

David Balkon 12-05-2014 08:51 AM

Thanks to all of you for the information. It has help me decide to rent a large tank first while looking for a couple of oxygen concentrators on craigslist... if she decides she likes it enough to continue.

Rosanna Gusler 12-05-2014 09:43 AM

this is helpful to me as well. i was looking at concentrators on e-bay and quickly realised that i am ignorant. what sort of parameters are we looking for in one of those things? or is there already a thread here that i can read? thanks. r.

David Hopman 12-05-2014 10:17 AM

First look for 5 liter per minute units. If you are hooking more than one up in sequence the LPMs need to match to avoid damaging the units, and 3lpm units are just too small. Second look for low hours. Every one has an hour meter on it to indicate how long it has run. Below 10000 is great, above 30000 is risky. It can be tricky to impossible to find someone to repair them, so don't count on it. I got lucky and found someone in N. California that is repairing them and by that point I had 5 dead ones waiting for service. Some brands are better than others, but it doesn't matter a whole lot.

When you go to look at it, have the person plug it in and start it up at least an hour before you get there. It can take a while before an alarm situation can have time to manifest. Check the indicator lights to make sure the unit is in the green and not indicating a problem. Check the condition of the prefilter and filter. Sets run about $30 if they need replacing.

Make sure when running them to NEVER close off the O2 valve on the torch and stop the flow while the units are running.This will damage the units pretty quickly.Just leave it open and shut your gas on and off. They also do not like to be turned on and off a lot, so just start them and let them run until you are done for the day.

Ted Trower 12-05-2014 10:41 AM

As medical units they are expected to produce 98% O2 for 20,000 hours of operation. As you go beyond that the percentage gradually drops. Additionally they do not tolerate hot humid conditions particularly well. Extreme humidity can damage the sieve beds that produce the O2 and shorten the functional life of the machine.

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