Hello! First, thanks for having me!
I bought a "B" Acetylene bottle at a garage sale the other day. I know next to nothing about the cylinders and what not, but I thought this one odd as the valve is offset, not to mention the welded(?) stylized cursive "Prest-O-Lite" logo on the tank.
I'm a bit of a history buff, so I did a bit of research, and found my way to this forum. There was a thread about acetylene bottles, and sure enough, there was a B cylinder with an offset valve, like mine, except not the same logo.
The tank was half full (darn!) but I thought it prudent to at least do some research and make sure this isn't something that should be used in a restoration or something, as when I turn it in, I won't see it again.
Any info you folks might have on this bottle, I would appreciate it! There doesn't seem to be much in the way of acetylene bottle collectors amazingly enough (joke), but perhaps as a component of a restoration, it would be needed to be "correct"?
I have one of those Prest-O-Lite B-tanks with "welded stylized cursive" logo. The date code is stamped on the top and I believe mine dates from the '30s.
These older tanks have asbestos in them and, at least in Canada, since 1995 must be condemned by the gas suppliers and not refilled.
I am using a 1913-dated tank for my 1912 KisselKar acetylene lamps. This earlier style does not the 3D logo, rather the tank is nickel-plated and the logo and instructions are what looks like silk-screened copper.
OK, thanks for that info!
Do you know why they continued to make them into the 30's in that design? I suppose sealed beam headlights were not yet the norm? Or at least, there were still acetylene headlights out there?
It is fascinating to learn how long acetylene has been used, storage alone is a complex undertaking!
The only stamp I see that is a date (year) is 46, but there is also a "32-15" which is obviously newer.
The Prest-O-Lite data plate looks like it was glued on to the top or something, and doesn't appear to have ever been plated.
Does it have a gauge in what should look like the bottom? Any such tank has some value to early automobile hobbyists. With a gauge is worth more.
Some think it would be wrong to turn it in to the gas companies because in many states they are required to destroy them. They can be refilled by knowledgeable people but can be very dangerous. The gas supplier I buy from has news reports of a recent disaster posted on the wall to help warn his customers. It was caused by an improperly and illegally filled tank.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Dorian, there would have been very little demand for headlamp acetylene in the '30s, as electric headlamps were the norm by 1913.
It would have been some other application that required the tank to be laid on its side (your offset valve allows the tank to be used horizontally).
I bought this acetylene flashlight off tbay a dozen years ago, and never tried to use it. Dunno what use it had; maybe fire dept?
Other info says it could have been on a 1918 Henderson with slight modification. It has the gauge in the end.
I bought my son's Prestolite tank three years ago from my local welder. I asked him to look in his recently delivered refills for one with an offset valve and Prestolite on the side. He sold it to me outright for around $70.
I wonder if what you have is for a Plumbers Torch? I have one with a regulator & torch on it that was used by plumbers when they used to put lead solder on the sink drains where they went into the wall. These torches are handy for repairs to radiators.
Prest-O-Lite made a big business in containerizing acty gas for lamps on early cars in the brass 'teens. Today they sill make plumber size tanks for sweating copper pipes.
The early auto tanks are filled with asbestos to keep the acty gas for sideways mounting, those early tanks have valves and gages at the ends.
Some even came all nickel plated, the instructions and name plate black silk screened on the cyl.
On this one I pained with a chrome like paint for the look, and added the reproduction decal.
Mounted on the car, just for looks, as this T was retrofitted with elec lamps for modern use.
Ralph, love your "flashlight"
Dan, Nice job on the tank, It looks great on your car!!
Most weld gas suppliers will sell a new "B" tank but with a center mounted valve. They will also sell you a refilled, inspected, older, offset style, as Tom Miller has purchased. In my experience, they will not sell or refill a "B" tank that still has the gauge in place. If you take your tank to be refilled, they must first inspect it, (x-ray I believe), to ensure its safety. This will cost more than buying a refilled offset tank outright and you'd still have to have yours filled after inspection, if it passes.
The reason that a center mounted valve can't be used in the horizontal position is the fact that there is more than just acetylene inside. Acetylene is very volatile and even unstable unless also stored with acetone. In the horizontal position, the acetone can be ejected from the tank unless the valve is high enough to be above the acetone level. There is also a "porous media" inside the tank to keep the acetylene & acetone mixed together and to keep it from sloshing around. Apparently, the older style porous media was asbestos. Part of what is inspected for in old tanks is that the porous media is still intact and not damaged or loose within the tank.
All that being said, I am not a weld gas/acetylene expert. These are all things explained to me when I was going about trying to get a filled tank for my 1912 Overland.
These tanks were used for more than just early auto lighting and that's why they're still available today. As others suggested, plumbers still like them for their portability.
As far as acetylene goes, it's very safe to handle and use when you follow the directions and warnings. It's very unforgiving however if you don't!
I have an early brass roadster with a much later tank mounted under the seat. There is enough room for it complete with a regulator.
Occasionally I have lite the lamps (even the kerosine ones) and driven around the motel parking lot just after dark. I am talking about when on tours. Most of the T people have never seen the acetylene lamps actually lite.
The modern tank with the regulator makes this reasonable safe. I have never tried to use the original carbide generators.
Be careful mounting pressurised tanks under seats. Any leak could lead to trapped gas and an explosion from a spark. Steam car people have lost their lives using propane tanks under seats. It is more dangerous than a gasoline tank under the seat.
Hey Ralph - that "flashlight" would look just about era correct on Diane's Fire Chief's rig - don't you think ?
Ralph, that is just the nicest looking flashlight I've ever seen. I'd like to find one for my racer.
Again, thanks for all the info!
I looked a bit closer at the tank, and it does have the gauge at the bottom. "Original" I guess, has "Prestolite" printed inside the gauge, and it shows pressure. Not real accurate unless they filled them higher than 225PSI that they apparently do today...it reads about 150PSI at half tank.
I talked with the folks at the shop I have my tanks filled at, and he said these aren't particularly rare. Worst case he said I'd have to pay a $15 re-certification fee, but of course I wouldn't get this tank back...they'd just exchange it for a full one.
I've always wondered... if a gas supplier is bound to condemn and confiscate the original tank you have if you turn it in to be refilled... how do you refill that original tank? I assume (due to the particular nasty characteristics of acetylene over 15 PSIG) it's not something one could do in their home shop from a welding tank...
Or can it be done safely?
The federal laws govern when and how often gas cylinders need to be retested before they can be refilled. I lost my old shorty Oxygen cylinder that way. Had to buy a new one. You can still get the "B" size prestolite tanks here.
Nobody is suggesting they will confiscate your tank. When Dorian suggested that you wouldn't get your tank back, he meant it's because it would be a bother for the refill guys to keep track of it that closely to see that you get the very same tank back. Really, I would think that that policy would vary between suppliers.
If you DID somehow face your tank being confiscated, it would be for your own good. Never take it upon yourself to refill a tank. Some have responded here in the past who do refill their smaller tanks from larger welding tanks. Please don't do this.
This older post ( at the end of its thread) notes that perhaps in Canada those old tanks with asbestos in them are treated in an unkind way.
Many welding gas supply companies in Califunny will not refill the old tanks. Several, including in way out of the way Eureka, have told me this. Some, have told me that once you give them the old tank, they may not give it back (Califunny liability laws) and to ask them about it before you let go of it.
I have an original Prest-o-lite tank for my mostly '13 speedster and intend to use it. Where I buy my welding supplies says they will NOT fill it, but otherwise they treat me well. I will do some more checking when I get ready to get my lights working.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Hey Ralph - Just wondering,......didja' get a pair of roller skates with that acetylene "flashlight"? I see the roller skate key hanging off of the "flashlight" by a string. I wonder how many old folks on this forum remember wearing their roller skate key around their neck by a string while roller skating down the sidewalk? Hmmmm,......maybe that whole outfit was for roller skating at night, huh?
Seriously, that "key" looks just like the roller skate keys we had as kids. Is that for operating a gas valve or something? Interesting,.......harold
Good eye! It looks just like the roller skate key I had when I was about ten. I finally learned to skate by the time I was about eighteen.
Actually, Harold, that's not my flashlight, but a pic I took off tbay. That one sold for $370. Mine looks exactly like it, save for the key. I just don't have a pic of it.
I will take my own pix and list it on tbay once I dig that far into the garage..
Btw, I was lucky to have shoes when I was of the age, let alone skates.
Hey! I've got one of those fancy flashlights. Different tank but has gauge in the bottom. Wish I knew what its off of.
Would trade for a set of windwings for my 26 roadster. I Have the clamps but need the rest of the brackets.
I was told that these were used on lead cars in the mines before things were electrified.
Here's the tbay info from the one I showed above:
Misspelling is not mine-------
8:45 PM 2/15/2005
Offered here is a rare antique acetoline flashlight. The acetoline tank is a standard 13 1/2" X 4" Prestolite and the light is a 7 1/2" inch diameter Victor (same size as a motorcycle). This appears to be factory made because of the quality of the bracketry and the nice wooden handle. It looks like it has never been lit because I see no carbon in the light. There is even an original key for the acetoline tank and it still has the guage and the mica guage cover (They were always painted red like this inside the ends). The components would look nice on an original paint bike. If you can find a picture of the original 1918 Henderson that was in the AMCA museum a few years ago, you will see a similar prestolite setup on a motorcycle. For a motorcycle it is turned upside down so the tank is on top and the handlebar crossbar goes where the wooden handle is now. The existing foot bracket would have to be cut off and the headlight would need different stantions. Or of coarse you could enjoy this rare original piece as it is. It is a beautiful object it it's own right. Buyer pays actual shipping and insurance. Casheer check, money order or paypal accepted as payment.
ANTIQUE MOTORCYCLE HEADLIGHT PRESTOLITE FLASHLIGHT NOS Item number: 6510829557
sold for $370 and met reserve.
User ID Bid Amount Date of bid
ithor ( 266) US $370.00 Feb-15-05 18:29:42 PST
alan1111 ( 29) US $365.00 Feb-15-05 14:11:30 PST
bike_horse ( 49) US $253.50 Feb-15-05 09:51:03 PST
www-yesterdays-nl ( 83) US $252.00 Feb-15-05 09:21:22 PST
bike_horse ( 49) US $230.00 Feb-15-05 09:47:59 PST
lhall99 ( 695) US $210.00 Feb-13-05 09:32:15 PST
lhall99 ( 695) US $187.00 Feb-13-05 09:31:26 PST
Your story sounds more plausible, Phil. Haven't seen you on here in quite some time. We miss your valuable pix and insights.
These must have been used on something quite substantial as mine has heavy triangular cast iron brackets holding the tank rather than the straps as on the ones shown. Can send pictures when i figure out how to do it.
I would guess they were mounted either on a mine car, or on a fire truck, where they could be detached and used as a flashlight. A different version could be mounted crosswise on a motorcycle handlebar, but not as a portable, too.