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Anyone used this old Harris gas-saver?

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Anyone used this old Harris gas-saver?

Old 08-22-22, 06:16 AM
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Anyone used this old Harris gas-saver?



Just got this "Harris Calorific 64-2" on ebay, couldn't resist because it's old and funky, made of cast iron. I like old tools. Bought it even though I already had a very good gas saver, a Weldit W-101 from the '70s I think. It's actually Mario Confente's old gas-saver.

The Harris seems like it may not be very good at it's job, unless I'm just not doing it right? It doesn't shut both fuel and O2 off completely at the same time. There are adjusting screws for both valves, but it seems like no matter how I adjust it, one side or the other is left cracked open just a tiny bit. Maybe there's a sweet spot where both valves are completely off, but it must be a super-narrow sweet spot, because I haven't been able to hit it. So I left it where the O2 is still leaking a little when the torch is hung up. So at the moment, I can only use it briefly then go and turn the bottles off, not something I'd want to leave running for a full shift of work. Not that I, a retired hobbyist, ever do a full shift anymore, but still, I'd like it to work right and not waste gas.

The Weldit appears to be a better design. It really shuts both lines off when you hang the torch. Judging from the looks, I think the Harris may be much older. I'm getting zero relevant hits when I search that model number.

Any ideas? I might hook it up to a torch that uses my oxygen concentrator instead of bottled O2, and have it turn off only the fuel when I hang the torch, and leave the O2 running a little. I know that's not the recommended way to turn a torch off, but O2 concentratorsdon't like it when you turn the torch valve off. They freak out, and soon a nurse comes running in! Kidding but these generators are medical devices and a patient might die if the O2 stops flowing, so the alarm is understandable in their normal usage.

I'm still setting up my shop and deciding where to put things and how to do things. Soon though, I really should actually build a frame, or stop calling myself a framebuilder...

Today I did actually use both gas-savers at once, the Harris gas-saver with a little Smith AW1 torch with a Paige rosebud, and the Weldit with a big ol' Harris 43-2 torch with an enormous rosebud. I was heating a large heavy chunk of 5/8" thick steel plate, that was slow to heat up even with two rosebuds definitely not what I'm used to from the bike world. I wasn't sure which torch I was going to hang up when it was time to pick up the brass rod, so it was nice to have them both on gas-savers. (Turns out I hung up the small Smith and kept the big Harris running, it needed that much heat.) Running both rosebuds off one O2 and one propane bottlewith Y-splitters, I was using so much O2 that the regulator got pretty cold and it was covered in condensation when I was through. Didn't ice up though, thankfully. Fun!

Another over-long post, thanks if you read this far.

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Old 08-22-22, 07:24 AM
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I think maybe you should just bypass the oxygen side for concentrator use.

I have an old, ragged looking gas saver that I'm afraid to use. I have always wondered if I could get a rebuild kit for it. I suppose it would be nice under some circumstances. As messy as my shop is, I have to be careful not to misplace my striker.

At trek we had some A1Wsomething that had a pilot light. I have seen them on ebay occasionally. I loved those torches, but for some reason when they offered to sell me one I didn't buy it. They got rid of them because someone caused an explosion with one. Let the pilot light go out on lunch break, but the gas kept flowing. Turns out it didn't take much acetylene to shake the "red barn."
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Old 08-22-22, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I think maybe you should just bypass the oxygen side for concentrator use.

I have an old, ragged looking gas saver that I'm afraid to use. I have always wondered if I could get a rebuild kit for it. I suppose it would be nice under some circumstances. As messy as my shop is, I have to be careful not to misplace my striker.

At trek we had some A1Wsomething that had a pilot light. I have seen them on ebay occasionally. I loved those torches, but for some reason when they offered to sell me one I didn't buy it. They got rid of them because someone caused an explosion with one. Let the pilot light go out on lunch break, but the gas kept flowing. Turns out it didn't take much acetylene to shake the "red barn."
Wow, scary Trek story. I don't think we ever left the room with a pilot flame burning, any place I've worked. Seems like asking for it!

At R+E (early '80s) we used torches Angel had brought back from France, with a pilot light feature. A little lever shut both lines down to a candle-size flame but not sooty, had a little O2 in it I think. Of course you need a safe place to hang the torch when the pilot is burning, and a sizable hook on the torch so it isn't easy for someone walking by to knock it on the floor. Later (elsewhere) I used Smiths AW1A and liked those just fine, so I never went looking for Angel's Euro-torches. Maybe I'm not that picky about torches, I like a Meco Midget too. But now that you mention it, built in pilot light on the torch would save all this faffing about with gas-savers... hmm...

About bypassing the gas-saver for the concentrator: yeah I might, but this "feature" of the Harris not shutting one side all the way off might be all I need, and it'll keep the two hoses the same length and hanging symmetrically, soothing my OCD...

One more bit of info in case anyone's interested, the Weldit is still a currently sold item I think, with replacemment parts available. I was able to get a pilot thingum that's specific to Propane/LP. (can prolly dig up the part number if anyone needs one) I never tried it on propane with the original pilot part that's made for acetylene, might have worked fine. Probably safe to assume the old Harris is made for acetylene too, but the pilot worked completely fine on propane. The Weldit pilot has a cup around the orifice that should make it harder for a breeze to blow it out. The Harris has no such thing, and I do get breezes through my shop (which is outdoors under an awning), but it hasn't blown out yet. One more reason not to leave the area with a pilot burning, tho it's hard to imagine such a small leak causing an explosion is such a well-ventilated space. <touches wood>

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Old 08-22-22, 05:53 PM
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you brought up a good point, do they need to feed some oxygen to the pilot light to keep down smoking? Although acetylene will burn without smoke under certain circumstances, it's how you're supposed to set the amount of acetylene flow when you light the torch. Propane obviously doesn't need it.

The explosion was a freak thing, the torch slid on their table top and the gas was diverted into an upside down can. I don't think the gas leak could have been ignited if it weren't contained somehow.
They replaced the Smith torches with something even more svelte, but generally the same shape as an A1WA. Google search is broken when looking for something like that, those torches were A1WA with one letter changed, but I don't know which letter.

I suspect that torches with pilot lights aren't sold any more because of the explosion hazard.
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Old 08-22-22, 08:30 PM
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Michael Fabian sent me this excerpt from an ebay auction of a 1929 Harris catalog that shows the #64 "Gasaver".


Too bad the eBay seller cut off the text like that, but chuggers can't be boozers, or however the saying goes.

Looks identical to mine except for the nameplate. I wonder if it was already an old design by 1929, that'd be wild. I'm guessing mine is newer though, maybe a lot newer if they just didn't change the design for many decades.

Anyway, nothing too helpful there, just kinda cool I think.

What's $18.50 in '29 dollars worth today?
(Don't answer that, rhetorical question. Unless you want to...)
And should I bring my #64 to Antiques Roadshow? (definitely don't answer that one!)

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Old 08-23-22, 09:59 PM
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Old 08-24-22, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by vintage cellar
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Nice looking torch! Pretty sure I've never seen one. The internet tells me they were also called "Lite-O-Matic", probably unironically. Ah, those were simpler times, eh?

This webpage says they have 100 in stock, going for $94.52. I don't know them though, and my spidey-sense is tingling, seems scammy. Ah, I see the text is copied verbatim from an olde eBay sale that ended a year and a half ago, so definitely not a legit website. Look but don't touch.

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Old 08-24-22, 12:57 AM
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Old 08-24-22, 07:21 AM
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Thanks, brings back memories. Trek wanted to sell me one for $20, which is more than $60 nowadays. So if the $95 was legit, it wouldn't be too far off.

It would be nice to put some quick release fittings on one and use it for braze ons or other tasks like that where you're lighting the torch over and over. But last time I saw one on ebay, I didn't buy it
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