MAPP gas/ acetylene/ propylene/ propane

Hi Folks-
What are the MAPP users among you going to do now that it is being discontinued? I changed to MAPP from acetylene a couple of years ago and love it. I can do everything with it (except weld) that I could with acetylene, and it is much safer and far more economical. Now my supplier is recommending propylene instead. Anyone have any thoughts?
-Rob


visitor's picture

What about brazing?

Hi Rich - I just read through this thread as I have been considering switching from acetylene to a cleaner and safer fuel for a while. My salesman from Advantage Gases & Tools suggested I switch to propelyne. I primarily use copper sheet and braze with copper phosphorous alloy, but I also braze with bronze rod and occasionally use brass sheet. I do not want the clean look of most modern welders or cutters - I like the bubbled edges I can get with my oxy/act set-up. He said I would need to switch out my regulator, hoses, and tips if I change over to propelyne. Is propelyne a good substitute for my needs or would you suggest something else? Thanks in advance!


Rich Waugh's picture

If you're flame cutting

If you're flame cutting copper sheet almost any fuel gas you use will produce a raggedy, drooly edge due to the high thermal conductivity of copper. Propane is way cheaper than propylene and would do just as well for your purpose, I believe. I use it for most all my oxy/fuel cutting. I don't cut copper with it - I use my plasma cutter for that. The oxy/propane, for me, is primarily for cutting heavy steel plate.

That said, I'm really impressed by the quality of cut that can be achieved using high purity propylene/oxygen with the right cutting tips. There is one company in the Midwest somewhere (I can't recall the name right now) who makes a superb set of cutting tips for Victor or Smith's torch bodies. I've cut 3" steel plate with the setup and produced a cut that looked almost like it was cut with a band saw.

If you switch for acetylene to propane you would need to get Type T hose, a propane regulator and different cutting tips for your torch. You could probably use your acetylene regulator, but you should first get it checked out by a regulator repair place to make sure the seals and diaphragm in it can tolerate propane. An acetylene regulator would limit your available pressure to around 15 psig due to the built-in safety limits on acetylene regulators, but for thinner copper sheet that would be plenty of pressure. You may already have Type T hose - look on the hose and it will tell you if it is Type R or Type T.


bigfootnampa's picture

MAPP gas discontinued?

There seems to be plentiful supplies available at this time and sales people that I have queried do not know of any impending cut-off. Is this a for sure deal or just rumored? I only use it in small quantities but I like it where I do use it.

Apparently the Petromont/Varennes plant closing (April 2008) either has not yet affected consumer supplies or supplies are developing from offshore sources to replace the missing production.

Anyone know the latest developments?


Rob Sigafoos's picture

Since I first posted this

Since I first posted this thread 2 years ago I have switched to propane (from acetylene or MAPP). I now run my torches directly off the 1000 gal tank outside, with flashback arresters on the torch ends and the tank (oxygen) end and the wall inlet (propane) end. I have been very happy with the change over, both due to safety and cost. I find I can use the oxy/propane for everything but welding, which I do with stick, TIG or MIG. I can braze, cut, and particularly heat with the oxy/propane without problem.
As always, thanks Rich!
Rob


Rich Waugh's picture

I think you're gong to be

I think you're gong to be able to find MAPP gas in the little disposable cylinders for along time to come. They're still making the torches and I doubt they'd be doing that if the fuel were due to be discontinued anytime soon. As for larger refillable cylinders, I can't really say. I don know that the big Stateside gas supply, Airgas I think, who has been buying up all the other suppliers, is pushing their proprietary Chemtane gas and they may well discontinue to provide MAPP. MAPP gas has a specified chemistry while the Chemtane is a witches' brew of whatever they can get away with (red, buy cheap and sell dear) so I think you can read the future in that one. (grin)

As Rob has found, for cutting and heating on a job shop or industrial scale it is hard to beat oxy/propane. Readily available anywhere and good for everything except fusion welding of steel. If I could get the stuff here, I'd switch over to high purity propylene gas - I watched a demo and experimented with the stuff at a blacksmiths conference a couple years ago and it blew my socks off. Amazingly clean cuts with almost never a blowout - very forgiving of sloppy technique. A lot of that had to do with the special tips the particular company had developed, I think. While only a bit more spendy than regular two-piece propane tips, they were much better machined and finished. High-class stuff, for sure.

Rich


Kevin2's picture

propane torch

Could anyone recomend a torch hose combonation to use with a 20lb. propane bottle. Thanks, Kevin


Rich Waugh's picture

Many years ago I modified a

Many years ago I modified a BernzO-Matic propane torch to run on a barbecue bottle. I used high pressure hose and it was uncomfortably stiff and unwieldy, but the HP hose was necessary due to the tank pressure.

After that debacle I bought a propane/forced air torch from my jewelry supplier and used a Fisher adjustable regulator on the cylinder. That way I could run supple hose - I used automotive fuel line, as I recall, but I would use a better grade of hose if I was doing it again. Still low-pressure hose, but something that is more durable. I used the same hose for the air supply, which came from a small salvaged pressure blower intended for cooling machine tools. A small compressor would work fine, too. The air/propane torch gave me a good range of flame sizes form fairly small to about 6" long and was very clean and pinpoint due to the nozzle configuration. I used that for a few years until I switched to O/A for my jewelry work.

The torch I used for this was the "blowpipe" style common in Europe.  This is similar, though mine was more comfortable and ergonomic.  Don't know where you'd get one these days, though it would be easy to make the basic torch body and use store-bought tips on it.  The actual torch I used is pictured here.  It's an Andersoen & Forrester Model 2-X, made in Denver, CO. 

BlowpipeBlowpipeTipTip

 

 

 

 

 

A&F is apparently still in business, though I have no idea if they still make that torch or tips.  Be worth a try on their 800 number to find out, though.  It's a really great torch for a silversmith.

This same blowpipe style of torch is readily homemade from plumbing fittings if you want/need a really big torch for annealing or patinating larger pieces.  I made one from 3/4" copper plumbing pipe to use for annealing my raised pieces.  Just add air and gas, either propane or natural gas if you have it.  Propane is a bit hotter.

One source for your propane hose would be a welding supply.  The hose made for Prestolite torches would work, but I find it uncomfortably stiff, as previously noted.  Also, they come standard with "B" fittings which only work on a "B" acetylene cylinder.  I'd suggest looking at Grainger or McMaster-Carr for a more appropriate hose rated for propane.  Possibly an RV supply place might carry bulk hose too, for use on camper stoves.

 

Hope this helps you some.

 

Rich


visitor's picture

Thanks Rich. That suits me

Thanks Rich. That suits me as I only really use the MAPP gas on my little torches... I have propane/oxy for cutting. I do find lots of uses for small handy torches though and actually get a lot more use from them than from my big torch set. I could live without them but they are so handy and many times I can avoid starting a forge fire and save time and fuel by using them. The MAPP is the greatest for plumbing too, the extra margin of heat available has saved me many times in difficult spots.


Rich Waugh's picture

Yep, when you're down near

Yep, when you're down near the minimal end of the working heat range, that couple hundred degrees can get significant pretty fast. I need to buy myself a new little propane torch - seems all of mine are so old and corroded that they just don't function worth a darn anymore. I suppose I could pick up some new hose for my Prestolite and use it, but schlepping around a 144 cu/ft acetylene cylinder just to do a quick bit of soldering seems silly. I may put my money where my mouth is and buy a MAPP torch, who knows? :-)

For most small work I really like the Smith's Little Torch - what a gem! Having all that heat in such a small package is a lifesaver at times.

It's impossible to have too many different torches. Well, it's impossible to have too many tools of any sort, actually. (grin)

Rich


visitor's picture

Mapp for cutting

Hi Rich. I'm in an industrial setting here. We have used oxy./ acet. , oxy./ propane, oxy. proplene, and now a new salesman has come in and asked why am I usung oxy. proplene, I should be using MAPP~! Said my cutts would be cleaner especially on thicker material. We cut up to 7 inch material here. Afgter f\reading the older blogs I wonder how much longer is Mapp going to be around? Thoughts? Thanks/. Tom


Rich Waugh's picture

If you're already using

If you're already using high-purity propylene/oxygen and the best quality precision-machined tips you can buy you won't get any better than that, I don't think. If that doesn't do it for you you probably need to look into a honking big hydrogen plasma arc cutter or some such. I used one forty years ago to cut 8" stainless steel plate and the cut looked like it was done with a band saw. Of course, the big Linde rig had a dynamotor the size of a Volkswagen bus and the mains to it were something like 8/0 copper, 440v 3-phase - surprised that that whole end of the city didn't go dark when we fired it up. (grin)

I wouldn't invest in MAPP gas if you have the propylene available.

Rich


visitor's picture

propylene for silver casting

Enjoying your expertise comments! I am a high school jewelry teacher looking to re-introduce silver casting to my students with a vacumme caster instead of centrifuge. The spinning, molten silver does not work well with a class of 27 kids. My jewelry supplier is telling me I will need to switch to an OA torch instead of the propylene I use for soldering with the kids. My kids melt silver on accident all the time with propylene, so I can't imagine it not working with silver shot for casting. Can you chime in on this?


Rich Waugh's picture

Melting silver with propylene

I believe your salesperson was mistaken or misunderstood what you were saying. Oxy/propylene will work just fine and dandy for melting silver for vacuum casting. Any oxy/fuel torch will do the job, actually. A torch that uses air/fuel will not develop sufficient Btu's to melt metal for casting, even if it will occasionally melt a small piece inadvertently. It isn't so much a matter of the temperature as it is of total available Btu's of heat - you need the oxygen to get the most from the fuel.

I agree with your hesitation about doing centrifugal casting in a crowded class setting with high school students - the potential for a dangerous accident is just too high. While any casting is somewhat dangerous, (in that it involves molten metal), the vacuum casting has a much lower potential for problems. If you do it in a sandbox you should have no issues even if there is a spill.

If you want to exercise the maximum caution, you might want to consider getting an electric melting furnace like the Jelrus HandiMelt or similar, or even an induction melter. The closed crucible not only minimizes spillage issues, it also reduces oxide formation. Something to consider if you have the current available to run it.

Rich


visitor's picture

Here is an up date to MAPP

Here is an up date to MAPP gas production.Most of these substitutes are propylene, like MAP//Pro from Bernz-O-matic, some are mixtures with higher hydrocarbons or with other ingredients like acetone.

Many of these work just about acceptably in gas/air torches, but none work as well as MAPP in gas/oxygen torches.

Also information on defects with a Bernz-o-matic torch head and certain MAPP gas bottles. With a link to the website with the info and photo's Be forewarned that they have a number of graphic photo's of the injuries, from 3 of the parties.
http://www.bernzomaticinjuries.com/index.html

They are rebranded under a number of different names.
MAPP Gas Cylinder and Torch Injury Database
(Bernzomatic, Worthington, Lenox, Ace, Sears, Thermadyne, etc.)

A new green version of a type of MAPP gas is being produced. One is Called MAP
glen


visitor's picture

can acetylene torch be use with propane?

I have a oxy/propane set up, i want to change it to oxy/acetylene, can i use the same torch and hose?


Rich Waugh's picture

You can use the same hose

You can use the same hose (Type T), and the same torch body, but you'll want to get tips that are designed for acetylene. Propane tips are usually two-piece tips due to nature of propane, and acetylene tips are one-piece. Check with your local welding supply for the appropriate tips for your brand of torch.