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Beginner questions on brazing equiptment - Part 1

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Beginner questions on brazing equiptment - Part 1

Old 09-07-18, 02:36 PM
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bikingman
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Beginner questions on brazing equiptment - Part 1

Hi All,

This post will be my first in a series in this section of the forum, so thank you for being here. I've been lurking these threads for a while - impressive answers and discussions. Hope I may be able to contribute.
I'd like to ask for advice on brazing tools. I'm planning to braze steel tubed bicycle with and within lugs. My workspace is approximately a one car garage.

Brazing Kits
I've got my eye on the Victor Heavy Duty Journeyman Professional Outfit which (at this time) I've found for $459 before tax and shipping. However, I'm not sure if I need heavy duty.
  1. What grade brazing equipment to you have or would recommend? Is medium duty equipment enough for pro grade frame building? Seem unlikely, but if I can save a buck, that would be great.
Look forward to reading this discussion and feel free to answer questions if you need any clarification.
Dan
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Old 09-07-18, 02:49 PM
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wsteve464
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You don't need heavy duty. Use a smallish torch smith aw1a, victor j28, mecco midget ( might be a bit odd shaped for some). You may have to watch Ebay for a used torch handle as some of the smaller ones are out of production. I use oxy/acetylene others use oxy/propane. I found propane was not hot enough for the way I work. Use smaller diameter hose as it is less weight to hold up while brazing. Practice the crap out of brazing before wasting money on proper frame tubing. Aircraft Spruce sells 4130 tube rems for a reasonable price.

Read through this thread, a lot of good info in it.

https://www.velocipedesalon.com/foru...ane-30480.html

Good Luck
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Old 09-07-18, 03:20 PM
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bikingman
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Thank you for the insight wsteve464 - The advice on heavy-duty v med-duty torch kits aligns with my initial guess earlier on. I realized that frame building requires a fraction of torch time when compared to industrial brazing/cutting and thought perhaps med-duty would be fine. I turned to heavy duty because I want something, 'that lasts.' I'll reconsider and thanks again for the other advice as well. Greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-07-18, 04:18 PM
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"Heavy duty" in the context of a torch refers to the material you'll be working with, e.g. thick steel plate, etc., not the overall sturdiness of the torch. With steel bicycle frames, you'll be working on thin tubing and sometimes in tight spaces a "heavy duty" torch would have a hard time reaching. Smaller torch bodies can hold smaller tips, which come in handy for delicate work with braze-ons and such. I used a Smith AW1A at Trek, and it was just the right size. It can hold a big enough tip to heat heavy pieces like bottom bracket shells and fork crowns, and small enough tips for more delicate work.
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Old 09-07-18, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
"Heavy duty" in the context of a torch refers to the material you'll be working with, e.g. thick steel plate, etc., not the overall sturdiness of the torch. With steel bicycle frames, you'll be working on thin tubing and sometimes in tight spaces a "heavy duty" torch would have a hard time reaching. Smaller torch bodies can hold smaller tips, which come in handy for delicate work with braze-ons and such. I used a Smith AW1A at Trek, and it was just the right size. It can hold a big enough tip to heat heavy pieces like bottom bracket shells and fork crowns, and small enough tips for more delicate work.
Ah, I thought heavy duty element referred to some intrinsic sturdiness of the kit. Good to know it's not that, and deals with the workpieces instead. I'll change my records to include a lighter duty touch kit. Thanks JohnDThompson
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Old 09-08-18, 07:39 AM
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you want an aircraft-style torch. The small torches are plenty heavy-duty. The big torches are just plain old too heavy. Unfortunately, you probably can't find a kit with a J-28 (or clone) or A1WA included. I considered getting the ESAB kit. Looks like a nice torch, but tips are a problem.
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Old 09-08-18, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
you want an aircraft-style torch. The small torches are plenty heavy-duty. The big torches are just plain old too heavy. Unfortunately, you probably can't find a kit with a J-28 (or clone) or A1WA included. I considered getting the ESAB kit. Looks like a nice torch, but tips are a problem.

Nice, good point on the availability of smaller nozzles. I've got the J-28 listed in my parts list - I'll look into the A1WA. At this point, I'm planning to buy an outfit from my local supplier. Smaller nozzles and lighter tubing along with the fact that (as you said) I can't seem to find a premade kit that includes these parts supports going to my local supplier. Plus most kits online seem to include a cutter (and no flash arrestors?), which I don't think I need at this point.
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Old 09-08-18, 10:28 PM
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Dan, this question has been asked and answered many times on this and other frame building forums. It can be good to refresh and perhaps improve our answers to these basic questions because there can new information and maybe a different way of saying something can make the concept clearer. You can benefit from past answers by using the search feature.

I’m a big promoter of using propane with an oxygen concentrator for reasons of convenience, cost and safety. I can use either fuel without thinking about it but the advantages for propane are big if you get the right equipment. If you are curious about those reasons use the search feature with my name where I write about this in detail various places. I got started using propane in Ukraine where we do a charity bicycle project. It is a place I organized for my frame building students to make basic frames for practice after they finish my 3 week class. They get valuable experience and others benefit from their work so it is a real win win.

While I like most of the aircraft style of torch handles, I personally prefer the Uniweld 71. I combine it with a Victor UN-J mixer/elbow (that is specifically for propane) and use Victor TEN tips (also made for propane). These tips have a recessed end to help keep the flame attached. However the best tips for propane are multi-port tips made by TM Technologies (where it is a good place to get most of your equipment) for the Meco Midget torch handle. They provide a more stable flame. Paige also makes multi-port propane specific tips with Meco threading.

To get my Uniweld 71 torch handle with a Victor UN-j mixer elbow to work with Meco multi-port tips, I have to get an adaptor from TM. I braze this onto a UN-J with a bronze sleeve (made by Hillman sold at most hardware stores) as a connector between the 2. I need to drill out half of one end to 5/16th to fit over the UN-J. The adaptor is 1/4” in diameter.
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Old 09-09-18, 08:17 PM
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A list of brazing equipment from the tank to the flame:

Here is a list of the brazing equipment I would choose if I was starting with some explanatory commentary. This list of course represents my own preferences so others will chose differently. In my framebuilding school shop I have both oxyacetylene and propane and a variety of torch handles and tips so students can find out for themselves what they like best. While my choices may not be what others choose, this list can serve as a sequence guide for any choices. TM Technologies sells the Meco multi-port tips and Ultralight hoses. For convenience, a lot of the other equipment can also be bought there.

1. A propane BBQ tank available everywhere for about $50 full and $20 (or less) for a refill. This kind of fuel tank lasts me about 3 times longer than my big acetylene tank – which costs me $65 for each refill.

2. A propane regulator with a CGA 510 fitting that attaches to a propane BBQ tank. Some newer acetylene regulators work okay with propane. The problem is that propane is more corrosive to seals than acetylene so old ones would need to be upgraded. Almost everything on this list can be bought from TM Technologies including a propane regulator. They typically cost around $100

3. A “B” size regulator side Flashback arrestor: They come in 2 types, one designed for connecting to the regulator and the other type to the torch handle. A flashback arrestor has a male and female end. The difference between the 2 styles is that flow in the regulator one goes from the female to male end. The one that attaches to the torch handle flows from the male to the female end. A regulator one can not be attached to a torch handle and a torch handle one can not be attached to a regulator. I don’t bother with a flashback arrestor on an oxygen concentrator. The arrestors want to go as close as possible to the tanks to protect them in case your flame cuts the hose. $55 a pair from TM

4. 3/16” rubber hose (it is smaller than the other common ¼” size). R rated is for acetylene use only. T rated is for use with propane or any other gas including acetylene. If this is going to be connected to a TM Technologies ultralight hose, it should have a B fitting on one end for the flashback arrestor connection and A fittings on the other to connect to the TM hoses. Hoses can be bought with both A or both B or an A and B fitting. TM sells this A/B hose in a 12 ½’ length for $25.20. There are reasons to extend your hose length including hanging them from the ceiling to keep them off of the floor.

5. A brass male /male “A” connector. This connects the 2 hoses together. $4.90 at TM

6. TM Technologies ultralight hose. It has “A” female fittings on both ends but comes with 2 A to B adaptors. Almost nobody wants to use heavier standard hoses after using these. This hose is more robust than the even lighter Smith Kevlar hose. $49 from TM

7. “A” size check valves. $30 at TM

8. An “aircraft” style torch handle with A size hose attachments. A typical cost on Amazon for a Uniweld 71 is $80.

9. Whatever mixer/elbow/tips fit your needs. The price of a Victor UN-J can vary a lot. Somewhere around $45 is typical. One trick many “discount” online welding supply outlets use is not keeping them in stock but rather have them drop shipped from Victor. The difference can be 10 days extra shipping time.

b. The Gentec clone to the UN-J is their 881W. It costs $32 at Torchtools.com.

c. Victor TEN tips. I usually use Victor size #3 and 4 (and sometimes a 5). I’m more likely to use a multi-port tip in the smaller diameters because they are less likely to blow out because of blowback when the flame gets close to the work like when doing fillet brazing. These vary in cost depending on the supplier and the size of the tip. Prices can be anywhere from $20 to more than $40 per tip.

d. The Gentec 883TEN tips (the Victor clones) are much cheaper but don’t seal as well to the UN-J as the Victor tips. However they work and are only $11 each (+ shipping and handling) from Torchtools.

e. My favorite multi-port tips are sold by TM Technologies to fit a Meco Midget torch handle and come in 7 different sizes. These are made for the jewelry market so the smallest ones are not suitable for frame brazing. I like a very small flame when fillet brazing so the OX-1 is fine by me. Probably most would prefer the #2. Otherwise I typically use the number 3, 4 and occasionally the 5. These are not cheap at $24.50 each.

f. TM Technologies sells a brass adaptor whose threads on one end fits the Meco tips and is a plain ¼” round on the other. It was made so the newer Meco tips can fit the now obsolete Meco Jet torch handle. This piece can be brazed on to a UN-J (or a Smith AT-61) with the help of a bronze sleeve packaged by Hillman that can be bought at most hardware stores. For the UN-J, the sleeve is 3/8” OD with a ¼” ID. Its length is 1”. Since the OD of a Victor elbow is 5/16", half of the sleeve needs to be drilled out 5/16” to accept the UN-J.
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