I am just wondering, has anyone had any experience with what would work best as far as clean burning and white flame? Has anyone ever tried propane or any other type of gas?
Used to run mine off an acetylene welding cylinder, very low pressure. Don't think anything else would work.
Does your acetylene generator work? If so, just get some calcium carbide and run it. You might be able to find calcium carbide at your favorite welding supply store. I paid $20 for a 2-lb can. Calcium carbide is on T-bay often or you can find it online.
If not, hide an MC tank under the floorboard of your back seat and plumb it in that way.
Here is how I mounted one on my 1911 touring:
There is an article that I wrote for the Horseless Carriage Club. It was printed in the Gazette in the Sept-Oct 2014 issue.
Gosh, the light from those sure is beautiful !
In hope of not being abused i will tell the tale of a Keith and a bud. After a few years of frustating use of carbide [some good some bad] both men were shown a small bottle of [yellow] maqx power propylene hidden in the act genn which looked to be the best thing since sliced bread!! To make a long story short both tryed it and now lucky Keith has a Presto lite tank on his running board,and bud stand's a mc tank up behind the front seat! I have a old combination torch with small welding tip i use for a flow valve after a regulator.I think some of the propane and such might work if the jets in your lamps were the right size for propane?? I think the set up Keith Townsend posted might be one of the best idea's i have seen!!!!!!!!!!! Yes carbide will or might work but it's a pain in the butt and leaves a terrible mess!!!!!!!!!!! Bud.
Don't use propane,
A guy here tried it years ago on his Model T. not only was the light produced terrible it melted the brass chimneys of both headlights.
I also use Acetylene which is what the lights are made to use. (calcium carbide and water produce acetylene) I have always heard that the tanks should not be mounted flat. I have my small high pressure tank mounted at a 45 degree angle under the back of the seat. (Mother in law roadster) A regulator gets the pressure very low and the lights are easy to light. I do not do much night driving so the tank last a long time.
Acetylene will also dammage your lites if you do not get the flow right! It sound's to me the fellow should have payed attention long before his chimneys melted?????? Bud.
Every welder knows acetylene tanks should be upright. Even if you put it on it's side, you should wait about 30 minutes or more before trying to use it. It has to do with the acetone in the tank. If you get liquid from a horizontal tank, your regulator will not be able to handle it and a fire will occur in short order.
Some Prestolite acetylene tanks were made to lie horizontal on the running boards. A tank made to be used horizontal would have the valve offset from center and maybe a gauge at the rear. So yes current made tanks with the valve in the center at the top need to be vertical.
Bud - Ya, that team of Keith and B-U-D work well together! ")
I have the Prest - O - Lite tank with the offset valve mounted horizontally, and it works fine. I've read the article by Keith Townsend in the HCCA Gazette and it's great. Very thorough article and looks quite safe also. I wish I had known of that method before I bought and hooked up the original type Prest - O - Lite tank.
You cannot use anything but acetylene. Here are some excerpts from the article I wrote:
Those who know acetylene safety say that acetylene cylinders, unlike high pressure cylinders, are not hollow but are filled with a porous fiber. Old cylinders contained asbestos or cellulose fiber while new cylinders are asbestos free.
Acetone is added to stabilize the acetylene and new cylinders should never be used lying down. When an acetylene cylinder is placed on its side, the acetone will seek its own level and may come out of the valve if used right away. In addition, acetone can create pockets of pure acetylene, which is quite unstable.
Back in the day, the MC tank was designed to be mounted lying down between the handlebars of a motorcycle and provided acetylene gas for the single headlamp. The “MC” designation was for “motorcycle.” The MC tank is about 4" in diameter and about 13" tall.
Many cars had a B size acetylene tank that had an outlet that was offset to one side. It was not centered on the tank. This enabled the tank to sit in a horizontal position. They had special brackets and were designed to mount on a car running board. The bottom end of the tank had a gauge. The B size tank was 6” in diameter and about 19-1/2” tall (or long.) Prest-O-Lite was a company that made acetylene tanks for cars.
Some Model Ts were built with Prest-O-Lite tanks as factory equipment instead of acetylene generators. Often acetylene generators were removed from cars and Prest-O-Lite tanks were mounted in their places. The flow of acetylene gas was controlled by the valve which was barely cracked open. They did not use regulator. A pressure gauge was mounted on the bottom of the tank.
There are a variety of burners, also called tips, used for acetylene headlamps. They are rated by the amount of gas they consume per hour, measured by the cubic foot. They are often marked on the side of the burners. The come in a variety of gas consumption: 1/4, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, and 1 cu. ft. If a burner is marked 1/2, it burns 1/2 cu. ft. of gas per hour. Therefore, a pair of headlights equipped with 1/2 cu. ft. burners would burn 1 cu. ft. of gas per hour.
An MC tank holds 10 cu. ft. of acetylene gas and would power a pair of headlights equipped with 1/2 cu. ft. burners for 10 hours. The B tank would be good for 40 hours of illumination.
On the bottom of the headlamp are some slots used to focus the light. The screws are loosened and the entire burner base assembly can be moved forwards or backwards to get the spread of light you want. It is the same principal as adjusting Model T electric headlights. On the electric lights, the screw on the back of the headlight bucket moves the bulb forward and backwards. If the flame, or bulb, is too far forward of the focal point, the light has a narrow beam; If it is too far behind the focal point, the light is spread too wide. The idea is to find a happy medium. The angled slot on the bottom at the rear is for a screw similar to the burner base assembly. This screw anchors a retainer ring used to hold the silvered-glass Mangin mirror lens in place.
Burners are often mounted incorrectly, especially in non-functioning headlamps. They are supposed to be mounted with the top part of the Y front to back. The tips have small air intake holes on the sides where oxygen mixes with the gas. On the insides of the Y are larger holes. The mix of acetylene and oxygen comes out of these larger holes. The holes are aimed at each other, and meet at about a 90 degree angle. When the two flames meet, they spread fan-fashion into a flat flame.
: ^ )
Keith,I have Victor#2 lamps and my burners are mounted Y as you look at them.How do you turn them or replace them?? Is the regulater pictured a special small size?? Do you use a flow restrictor or valve? What size tips do you use??How do you open or shut your valve off that close to the floor?? Thank's in advance!!!!!!!! Bud.
I misspoke!! I guess i'm glad to say i just looked and my tips are mounted the right way!!Bud.
Is that an ALCO 3/4 you show lit? What pressure do you run? I can't quite see what the gauge says. I will be hooking mine up next week.
I saw Royce light up his acetylene lights on the Texas T Party at San Angelo this year. Really neat and brighter than I imagined.
I believe we should run a pad behind the Mangins. What do you recommend?
I picked up a Presto-O-Lite B side valve tank last week from my local welding supply. I'm going to stand it on the running board. I carry a 6-volt battery on the running board so my space is limited.
The folks that load the cylinders are about 50 miles from me. I talked to him Friday and he had about six really nice Presto-O-Lite B side valve tanks and he was sending two filled ones to my local welding house. They are NOT supposed to fill the tanks with the gauge on the bottom. Corrosion issue around the gauge boss and he will condemn those. The B tanks cost about $38 to refill and the MC's ten dollars less if I recall correctly.
Thanks for your help.
Ken in Houston
Ken, the reflector pads originally were thin round disks of asbestos, about 4-7/8" diameter. The T vendors today sell replacement pads made of hi-temp fiberglass with the edges sealed with hi-temp tape. The pad assemblies are good up to 500 deg. F. They are necessary to insulate the back of the bucket, protect the silver on the back of the mirror, and cushion the glass.
A non-pressurized* carbide generator, which only makes acetylene at the rate and quantity it is being burned, is safer to have on your running-board than a cylinder of ever-present, pressurized explosive (and if getting T-boned in a Tin Lizzie is bad, imagine how much worse it would be to take a T-bone hit on a full, pressurized cylinder of C2H2). -Other than that, at car shows, it would be more fun to demonstrate the technique of running a carbide generator. -I only wish my '15 had been born with acetylene-lamps.
*Okay, okay; there's some pressure in an operating carbide generator system, but it's so low that from a safety standpoint, you can pretty much consider it non-existent.
Your sitting on a very thin gas tank So?? Other than breaking off the valve or fittings i doubt a train wreck would dammage a modern tank?? If you start a carbide water reaction when does it stop?? I have seen pictures of later brass Ford's with carbide lamps so there should be nothing to hold you back!! Bud.
Bud has asked a question that came to my mind as well, for those with experience using their carbide generators:
If you're using a carbide generator and you're done using your headlights, I assume that you turn off the water drip, open the headlight doors, and blow out the flames. Do you then leave the headlight doors open so that any residual acetylene gas gets vented to the atmosphere? How long does it take for the generator to use up the residual water and for the reaction to stop?
I know Keith said you can't use anything but acetylene, but has anyone tried MAPP gas? It acts a lot like acetylene in a cutting torch situation.
On the E&J carbide generator, when the water valve is ON and water drips onto the calcium carbide crystals, acetylene gas is formed. When the water valve is OFF, there is a secondary hole in the valve that vents the formed acetylene gas that is in the generator to outside. The gas finds the path of least resistance; The vent hole is easier for the gas to go through than going through the tubing to the headlamps.
Typically the reaction within the carbide generator last for a few minutes after it is turned OFF.
I think my burners are 1/2. Use Very, very low pressure. It doesn't even register on my gauge. Have a helper work the gauge. Open the main valve one-quarter turn, and let some gas run through the line. When you can smell it, turn it off. Then dial the regulator down to zero, give the burner a blow to dissipate any lingering gas. Then light a match and have your helper slowly turn the gas up.
Have both headlamp doors open before you light them. After you get one lit, blow or fan out excess lingering gas and then light the second lamp.
Don't forget to check all your gas fittings with soapy water, put some air in the line, and look for bubbles.
Then dial in the regulator for the size of flame you want. I have some duct tape to hold mine in position, so once it is set, all you have to do is turn on the main valve and light them.
Also, The B tank with the side valve is designed to be mounted on it side. I would not stand it up without further research. If you are going to stand it up, why not a regular MC tank?
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I'm not saying it is the right way but I shut off the water supply, open the lamp doors and let them use up the acetylene in the lines. Once they go out I remove the rubber hose at the generator which is the lowest point in the line and let it drop down to let any condensation drain out and ventilate the generator. I then remove and clean out the basket and the diffuser. It is a good idea to have all the hoses and the copper piping slope downward to a low point where any moisture will collect and can be drained.
Great explanation, thanks Keith!
You guys make me jealous. I would dearly LOVE a car with acetylene headlights, and yes, the carbide generator is a must. I know some cars came with Prestolite bottles, but that would take the fun out of it for me. I guess until then, I will have to play with my miner's lamp. Same thing on a smaller scale.