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Propane Weed burner to heat steel?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Rynothealbino, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Rynothealbino
    Joined: Mar 23, 2009
    Posts: 162


    Hi, in a recent quest to drop a Model A front axle I came across a problem. I built myself a pretty nice jig out of some stock I had laying around (actually stainless I got out of the dumpster at work), but when it came to heating up the axle to drop it, the best I could get was a dull red out of it. That was using a dedicated Smiths cutting setup with about a 1/2" tip. So then I switched to a 5/8" or so rosebud tip borrowed from a friend. That got it a little hotter, but still not enough to drop the axle very well. A local machinist was telling me I could use a propane weed burner for this job. He was saying he has used them to heat heavy iron castings to prepare them for welding, as well as to melt large amounts of aluminum. I was looking at this one: Sellers-_-Product Page
    . Do you guys think this would do the job? am having my doubts after seeing how much a rosebud struggled with the job. Also, he was saying that you could use chunks of drywall to create a box around what i was heating to keep more of the heat in. Obviously the box would burn away after a while, but it would keep the heat more localized while it lasted. Any thought on this, or what else I could do? Besides using a second torch. Thanks.
  2. GREASER815
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 973


    Nah...just use a bic lighter.
  3. flatheadpete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2003
    Posts: 9,678

    from Burton, MI

  4. badshifter
    Joined: Apr 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,158


    What else can you do? You could use any number of HAMB vendors/guys to drop it for you correctly. I understand the do it yourself deal, but the money and effort you spend on a real critical part would be better used elsewhere. But, to answer you're original question, I don't think any weed burner will get it near hot enough. Oh, and if you do make a drywall box, please video and post it for us.
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  5. belyea_david
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 134

    from Regina, SK

    I have used a similar torch to heat a large (~4" diameter, 3/8" wall steel) tube in order to insert an Aluminum bung in it. It worked well. The .pdf below says the torch is used specifically to preheat oil pipelines prior to welding. Although, I've not done it myself. I think it will do the job. You will need a full tank of propane.

    Good Luck......Dave...
  6. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,755


    My cattle raising neighbors use a weedburner type torch to heat their branding irons instead of having a fire to do it these days but it would be asking a lot of one to heat and axle that hot.
  7. Armstrong
    Joined: Apr 17, 2004
    Posts: 371


    The propane rig will work. BUT you need an old style propane bottle that doesn't have the restrictor built into it in order to get enough flow to get the temp you need. All 20# propane bottles now have the restrictor. To get a bottle that does not I think you need to go to the 100lb bottle.
  8. burl
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 634

    from Minnesota

    I doubt that it would work.I tried using one to heat a frame on a snowmobile to bend it back into shape and it struggled to do that.Went through a 20lb tank pretty fast.I had an axle dropped by sid and it was money well spent.
  9. Dyce
    Joined: Sep 12, 2006
    Posts: 1,863


    I used 2 rosebuds to drop a 32 heavy axle. It was just enough. You need to be able to control the heat enough to keep it away from the spring perch and king pin holes. The weed burner I'm afraid would be a little to slow and spread the heat over to big of an area.
  10. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,541


    I would think that oxy/acetylene with your rosebud would get hot enough to melt your axle. Turn your oxygen tank pressure up and try again.
  11. mickeymoto48
    Joined: Dec 21, 2008
    Posts: 23


    Badshifter definitely has it right. For an axle done right, go to the pros.
  12. hilbily666
    Joined: Apr 6, 2011
    Posts: 17

    from georgia

    Oxy/acetylene should more than do it. Just mess with the pressure on the bottles to get it just right. I'm an apprentice in the Ironworkers union and we don't need the weed burner torch to heat up steel to make it bend!! And we mess with some thick ass steel!
  13. Maybe the rosebud you borrowed was too large for your acetylene tank. The tank has to be large enough to support the torch used. You can also manifold two smaller tanks together to get adequate flow.

    Two rosebuds seems to be the best for quick and even heating.

    Looks like an easy project at first; but there is lot more involved to get it right.
  14. Rynothealbino
    Joined: Mar 23, 2009
    Posts: 162


    You might have something there Rich, I have been wondering about that same exact thing. I am not sure on the exact size of my tank, but it stands up to the middle of my chest or so. I had nearly full bottles starting this project, but after making a few attempts at dropping an old junk axle the acetylene was only half full. Needless to say I had an oh $#!* moment realizing I had burnt through that much gas. I did have some success though and managed to drop one end about an inch and a half before I gave up. It is just so slow at the moment...if only I could get a couple hundred more degrees out if the torch.
    I know the easy (and smart) thing to do would be to have somebody like Titus drop an axle for me, but I am stubborn and cheap, and really enjoy doing stuff myself. I am fully aware of how difficult this is, but have almost all the kinks worked out at this point and just want to make it work. Maybe I could preheat the whole axle to a few hundred degrees so it doesn't pull so much heat out of the bend area? I can get smaller areas hot enough, but getting the whole thing hot at the same time is where I am struggling. Hilbilly666, do you have any suggestions for a proper setup to use with either a large cutting tip or a rosebud? Thanks for all the replies so far.
  15. hilbily666
    Joined: Apr 6, 2011
    Posts: 17

    from georgia

    You know what I have class tomorrow at the Union hall so I will ask one of the instructors that is pretty much a torch setup king. Ill see what he has to say in the way of tips,gauge settings, and what ever else he can think of that will be a good match for what your doing.
  16. 48 Chubby
    Joined: Apr 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,015

    48 Chubby
    Member Emeritus

    Facts to keep in mind-
    Propane burning in air- about 3600 degrees
    Propane burning with oxygen- about 4600 degrees
    Acetylene burning with oxygen- about 6300 degrees
    A bigger flame ain't a hotter flame or any cooler.
    I would be willing to bet as much as 25 cents that a feller would screw up 4 or 5 good axles before he ever got his first one properly dropped.
  17. 23crate
    Joined: Oct 6, 2010
    Posts: 168

    from nz

    dude you need to get the steel to a temp of around 2100f bright orange red to have any major movment easily . plus should be re-tempered .. you can do it propane/ oxy but the wait is at least 2 coffees and a burger ... also if you dont be too careful- it will then become a weak point -- which may result in a 3 peice axle when you rather be usning the brakes to haul the old girl up
    i would suggest get one of those who know how to do this job - to do it ... DIY is awesome one of my favorite pastimes, but some stuff is best left to those who can

  18. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    i have a propane forge in my shop, a couple weeks ago i needed to bend some 1" by 3" flat bar, a couple of minutes in the forge and it was like bending butter, an axle would take maybe a minute in a perheatd forge, i have thought about build a forge just to bend axles, two venturies one pointed at the top near the spring perch and one pointing at the under side near the king pin, i'm thinking of a sandwich opening box with openings that would keep the heat away from the perch and king pin area.
  19. 60 ford
    Joined: Nov 23, 2007
    Posts: 1,806

    60 ford

    I think I'd let a pro do an axle drop for me instead of risking it myself, and I do all my own work...but a front axle is to risky to experiment with. Just my 2 cents.
  20. Fenders
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 3,922


    How did the pros become pros? The guy wants to learn, and Model A axles are cheap to learn on.
  21. hilbily666
    Joined: Apr 6, 2011
    Posts: 17

    from georgia

    Hey man I talked to my instructor. He said make sure your oxy and acetylene are full use a rose bud tip and make sure your heating up the whole area and not just one spot. He also said to play with the gauge adjustments until you find a good flame. Hope that helps.
  22. Fe26
    Joined: Dec 25, 2006
    Posts: 543


    Good advice on the waiting time for a home made set-up. Not so good on the Tempering, axels are not Hardened and Tempered, they are Normalised. This is a very big and important difference. To Temper an axel would create a hardness which would be likely to fracture while in service.

    Check out my many posts on how to correctly heat and post heat axels.
  23. pool
    Joined: Jun 24, 2005
    Posts: 318


    Check out ron reils propane burner website lots of good info for the do it yourselfer there.
  24. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,924

    Deuce Daddy Don

    Your instructor better think that statement out!!
    As an old retired pipe welder, & welding since 1951, when you use a rosebud tip, you never need any more than 10-15 lbs. on acet. & 35lbs. on oxy.
    Now, if your tanks are of a SMALL nature, you need to get Commercial size tanks before even starting your heating project.
    Your instructor is correct on heating the whole area to be bent!-----Don
  25. Rynothealbino
    Joined: Mar 23, 2009
    Posts: 162


    Fe26, do you have any links to those posts? I looked at your profile and could not find find anything. Thanks. So it looks like I am going to have to track down a second torch to use. Maybe I will revisit this when I have the time and know how much I am going to want to drop my axle for sure. Maybe by Christmas break I will return to this.
  26. rodl
    Joined: Jan 14, 2011
    Posts: 255


    I don't know if what you're trying to achieve is the best way to drop an axle - I've never done one, however you won't get enough heat out of propane. Get an oxy/acetylene heating tip - looks like a pepper pot. Place fire bricks under and behind the section you are heating to localise & concentrate the heat and you'll get better results. I would think that you would then need to retemper the axle so that it didn't remain 'soft' RodL
  27. 23crate
    Joined: Oct 6, 2010
    Posts: 168

    from nz

    good call -- my bad (sorry)
  28. Basically, you have to build a small forge.
    The refractory bricks will hold the heat in.

    Make the forge with a small opening on each end.

    That burner should be plenty, but you have to contain the heat.
  29. And what temp is required to bend steel ?
    Much less than 2000 F.

    Closer to 1400 F.

    You need a big flame, to create a lot of heat.
    So the part is the same temperature, all the way through.
    Flame temperature is only part of the problem.
  30. 296 V8
    Joined: Sep 17, 2003
    Posts: 4,672

    296 V8
    from Nor~Cal

    There’s a lot more to doing this than heating and bending…..that’s the easiest part.

    Also heating it all evenly results in to much stretching / thinning on the outside radius’s( real bad on A axles.)

    You are going to find you need a lot more heat than you think …. Better to have to much and have the option to turn it down. You have a lot going on all at once with little time …. Struggling with a weak torch isn’t an

    Also if you don’t have dyes / something its bending over .. the ends will not look the same and steering arms will be to close.

    If you get it to hot it will be soft and not hold camber.

    Do you have the tools to fix the holes? …. Because they almost always egg shape

    Do you have a big press to fine tune the camber and get any twist out of the ends … this is very hard to stop from happening and must be delt with cold after the drop.

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