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Newbie wanting to talk tanks...

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  • Newbie wanting to talk tanks...

    Greetings folks. As a student in an excellent motorsports program, I have been learning MIG and TIG welding and have pretty ambitious career goals in that field. I am wanting to start acquiring my own tools and equipment to put my plans in motion, but am on a severly limited budget.
    Currently I have a MIG welder, and am saving and searching for a decent TIG. Also, as long as I'm a student I get 48% discount on Snap-On tools, so I want to put money towards some things there as well.

    So to keep with my budget plans I need to buy an airgas tank for my welder and have a few questions to see if I can save some money.

    I figured that I would just get a tank for argon/co2 mix, but thought I will be welding stainless on occasion, and it would be nice to use the same tank when I get the TIG, so could a tank purchased and filled with argon/co2 mix later be filled with pure argon?

    Also, would it be plausible to have the tank connected to both a TIG and MIG welder simultaniously, and also have another outlet with separate regulator for back-purging?

    I was thinking a 125 cu. ft. tank would be decent size for me, but as the nearest filling station is 30 miles away, would it actually be more practical to just opt for a 250 or 330 cu. ft. tank? How often am I going to be going fo refills?

    Oh and is steel my only choice, or can I go for aluminum to save my back?

    Any recommendations on tank brands or sources?

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    Yeah, lets avoid snap on welders, basically junk. Save up for a Miller Diversion.


    • #3
      I don't really know what you mean by an "airgas" tank, since AIRGAS is a brand and the tanks used with MIG and TIG are usually gas or mix of gasses and not "air", but...

      Yes, you can have your tank(S) filled with pretty much whatever gas or gas mix you want. Note, though, that you will often NOT get your same tank back when exchanging tanks/getting refills unless you tell them that you want YOUR tank back and then you might have to wait until it gets done (maybe done elsewhere). One advantage of just taking whatever tank they give you (obviously the same size as the one you brought in) is that all the tanks they send out with customers will be within hydro and you pretty much won't have to worry about this.

      Also, YES, you can plumb up tanks to different/multiple machines, manifolds, regulators, mixers, etc. Your ability to dream up what you want/need and your ability to get all the fittings and parts to make it work and still be safe are the only limits.

      As to the question (if that is what it was) about how often you will need to get refills...that depends upon how much you weld, how much gas flow you need and how many cubic feet the tanks are. GENERALLY, gas purchased in the largest practical tank for you or your application will be cheaper per cubic foot than the same gas purchased in smaller tanks.

      There is a lot to learn about the ins and out of tanks, but here are some things to think about......

      There are many sources for tanks and there are generally two "types" of tanks..(1) OWNED and (2) LEASED or RENTED. Obviously OWNED tanks are owned by you...the weldor...and YOU are responsible (ethically and financially) to see that they are current (an LWS will charge you anywhere from about 15 bucks on up to do a hydro if you bring in one that is out of date). On the other hand, rented or leased tanks belong to an organization such as your local welding supplier and they are responsible for the hydro checks. GENERALLY if you intend to keep/use tanks for a long a long period of time, it is cheaper in the long run to use tanks that you own since if you rent or lease tanks, you will have to pay a monthly fee for the use of the tanks and that goes on FOREVER. Note, though, that in some areas LWS places don't want to refill tanks you own and only want to do their own tanks and a lot of them will try to tell you that you can't even own tanks...but I am not sure how they can do that other than refusing to fill yours or even what the ins and outs are of legalities in all the various states, counties, etc. Here in the Reno, Nevada area, owned tanks are not at all unusual and I have never been questioned by anyone about my tanks.

      I have never been asked to prove ownership of my tanks (and I own ALL of mine...MIG, TIG and OXY/ACETYLENe), but, as I have heard of weldors being questioned about ownership at some point, it is a good idea to keep any and all papers, receipts, records for your tanks just in case. ALSO, when you are buying a tank, be sure that it is an OWNED tank and not (as is commonly the case) either a leased/rented tank or a stolen tank. If you do happen to (unknowingly) buy a leased or rented tank and then take it to be filled, the LWS will take it and keep it and all you MIGHT get back is a "thanks for bringing the tank back!" and you will simply be out whatever amount of money you paid for the tank. There are, however, tanks around that appear to be leased or rented tanks judging by the markings on them, but often they were once owned someone that went out of business and the tanks got sold off. The best way to know what you are looking at is to ask your LWS or other KNOWLEDGEABLE person/organization about the tanks in question. I don't think anyone knows EVERY ONE of the marks that have been put on tanks over the years and there aresctually still some tanks around that are legal and safe and sound that have marks on them dating back to early in the last century.

      And, a good relationship with your LWS (even if they ARE a long ways away) will be a good thing when it comes to trying to learn more about tanks and getting them filled. Some of the guys (and gals) that work at these places can be very knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to tanks.....and SOME will BS you, either out of ignorance or because they are trying to get the max bucks out of you.....BEWARE!

      By the way, one way to save your back is to build a good, safe cart for moving tanks and another is that, when you get to the LWS, let THEIR guy do all the tank moving/loading, etc. Remember to put the screw-on top back on when you bring one in as they will either charge you for one or refuse to let you carry off a full one without a top!

      One more comment----48% off of the Snap-On tools is a *ell of a deal!!
      Don J
      Reno, NV

      Never pick a fight with an old guy. Old guys are too smart to fight and get hurt. They'll just kill you and get it over with.


      • #4
        Snap on = way over priced even with 47% off, compare first to save money.... I have my truck fully loaded with a complete mechanics box with mostly craftsmen, northern tool, and gear wrench stuff.

        3/4" socket set from snap on = $800 - $384 (48% discount) = $416
        3/4" socket set from northern tools = $89 and will hold up just as long.

        Savings of $327 for a Tig

        I haven't broke my northern 3/4" breaker bar and I had a 6' pipe on it and 2 guys trying to break a snow plow bolt in the field. They may be priced cheap, but when you see how thick they are, you will be impressed.


        You can't have a mig and tig tank for all. Just see what color matches what and where. Both processes for mig are included so be careful what you choose for what material.

        Tig - 100% Argon
        Aluminum mig - 100% Argon
        Steel mig - 75/25, 90/10, 100 CO2, 98/2, ect
        S/S mig - tri mix, 98/2 oxy or co2

        From one start off guy to another, don't settle for cheap just to get. Buy what you need at the right price.
        Last edited by Country Metals; 09-08-2011, 02:11 PM.


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies.
          I don't plan on buying a Snap-On welder, I am really interested in a Synchrowave (I have been using a 250DX). And as for tools, I don't plan on opting for a full set, like sockets and wrenches. I have a pretty full set of Craftsman standard tools.
          But things like their 80-tooth ratchets, and a few adjustable length sockets, stuff like that where the quality is noticeable.
          Also, they offer an incredible deal on boxes. I buy one now at 48% of and in three years, if I decide to trade up, they will give me the full cost back for that box to trade up. (If I put off doing the bachelors program for a year, I'll still be a student then...) Plus I figure nothing would look better in a shop than a clean white snap-on box...

          Back on topic...

          When I was a teenager I played alot of paintball so I had to get my tanks re-valved every 5 yrs, and I had friends with "fill stations" (60lb bottles) that they took to the LWS to get checked, so I don't think they have a problem with people owning the tanks. That would really get me the maximum for my money. And yes, I guess refilling a larger tank makes my money go further.

          I'm working on building a wheeled cart for my Lincoln 125 MIG, So I guess I should build it for a big bottle.

          I suppose an Ideal situation would be to have a large tank for my 75/25 and a separate tank (biggest I can afford after the larger tank, but still smaller) for pure argon. Because otherwise I may need to waste my mix to fill the tank.

          I'll keep thinking on it. But thanks everyone..


          • #6
            Keep your eyes open for used tanks. They come up on Craigslist every now & then. The 80 cf & 120 cf are the most popular customer owned & are usually not rented. It doesn't matter (where I'm at) what you find, so if you found an oxygen you can trade it for the same size of any type of gas (check with your LWS just to make sure).
            Trailblazer 250g
            22a feeder
            Lincoln ac/dc 225
            Victor O/A
            MM200 black face
            Whitney 30 ton hydraulic punch
            Lown 1/8x 36" power roller
            Arco roto-phase model M
            Vectrax 7x12 band saw
            Miller spectrum 875
            30a spoolgun w/wc-24
            Syncrowave 250


            • #7
              Copper Acetylide and manifolding cylinders

              In most localities it is illegal for do it yourself manifolding of compressed gasses.
              Copper Acetylide is chemical compound of Acetylene gas and pure copper.
              Copper acetylide can form inside pipes made of copper or an alloy with high copper content, which may result in violent explosion. [1] This was found to be the cause of explosions in acetylene plants, and led to abandonment of copper as a construction material in such plants.[2] Copper acetylide can be prepared by passing acetylene gas through copper(I) chloride solution in presence of ammonia:

              Since it is a case of the higher the copper content in an alloy of the piping. And in general K or L type pipe/tubing or fitting is made from scrap metals rather than v*rgin copper. It was thought that it could be used But the current thinking is since you don't know what the alloy percentages is in it now.DO NOT USE COPPER FOR ACETYLENE GAS
              I talked to the guy who runs the local welding companies acetylene plant. What he said was "just put a gun in your mouth, your loved ones will have more to bury". He has been the Smith welding supply acetylene plant operator for 25 years.
              So unless you are doing a very high volume of cutting and need it. It isn't worth the expense to have it done. The hard piped manifold system according to the code.

              As a tid bit of additional info. Silver, and mercury when combined with acetylene also form Silver acetylide, Mercury acetylide. Which are not as sensitive to heat and shock as the Copper acetylide. Which is so unstable that it generally can go kaboom as it forms under the right conditions.

              As to manifolds for oxygen and acetylene gases. Why bother as to the extra equipment you need to meet the codes for install and room for separate storage of full and MT cylinders(different rooms) along with the segregation of the types of gases.
              You need a special back flash preventer Liquid type. Regulators, valves and a host of other things.
              The section of the NFPA codes are 51 51A and 51B are the sub sections.
              They aren't cheap for the sections.

              Schedule 80 black iron pipe is the rule if 3/4" or less welded joint preferred.
              glen, If your not on the edge, your wasting space


              • #8
                OK...maybe when I said that building a mxing/manifold/distribution system could be done, I should have added, BUT BE PREPARED TO OPEN YOUR WALLET, as it can get expensive REAL FAST!! The only ones I have ever seen were in facilities that had good reson to have such a thing and could afford it (all big places, not one man shops!)....also weren't afraid to CHARGE their customers for their (quite expensive) services!!
                Don J
                Reno, NV

                Never pick a fight with an old guy. Old guys are too smart to fight and get hurt. They'll just kill you and get it over with.


                • #9
                  Also, YES, you can plumb up tanks to different/multiple machines, manifolds, regulators, mixers, etc. Your ability to dream up what you want/need and your ability to get all the fittings and parts to make it work and still be safe are the only limits.
                  Good explanation,,, I have my tig and alum mig ran from same bottle, put a Y after the flow meter, I even added valves, turn my tank on and turn the valve that goes to the machine on.


                  • #10
                    My suggestion is to buy one tank to your MIG, and one to your TIG. I HAD, two 80 cf tanks for my TIG, and I only bought the second tank after a job paid for it. I had another job of some thicker aluminum, and wanted to add an Argon/Helium mix. Also, you may want to weld aluminum with your MIG some day, and that will require using Argon too.

                    As for buying your own tank, the hydro is good for 10 years, at least in CA. I knew I had past that date on my 125 oxygen tank, but it last me a long time. I finally had to get more oxygen yesterday, and so had to pay a $25.00 Hydro fee, on top of the oxygen fill. I just exchanged bottles.

                    When you own a business, I supposed renting has it's advantages. No wasted time waiting for someone to fill your tank, and you can write off the rental fees. The smaller tanks are much easier to handle, less money to fill, and depending on how much welding you do, probably a better way to go.


                    Miller Dynasty 200 DX
                    HF 44991 or X2 mini mill
                    HF 33684 mini lathe


                    • #11
                      I put Quick connects on my hoses/machines so I can easily switch between my Mig and Tig when I need Argon for the Mig aloominum projects.

                      Bottles: 30 miles away, I'd probably opt for 2 small bottles so ya have a back up and much easier to handle.
                      Ed Conley
                      Passport Plus w/Spool Gun
                      Miller 125c Plasma 120v
                      O/A set
                      SO 2020 Bender
                      You can call me Bacchus


                      • #12
                        I would not go with aluminum cylinders. I can cross-carry a 125 steel just fine, they are far more durable and longer lived.

                        I purchased mine from the local welding shop, I never have to worry about hydro, the exchange takes but minutes and I can get other supplies at the time. Sure, I could get one from Northern Tool or Tractor Supply but that is in a cage outside, I have to find a clerk with the key and then make sure it isn't an empty.