Does anyone know when they started using acetylene tanks to power the gas head lamps on cars? Second, where does one find those type tanks, and then the gas for them? (I assume welding supply for the gas).
Prestolite tanks, which contained acetylene under pressure, were first introduced in 1904. Before (and after) that time, the alternative for gas lamps was to use an acetylene generator, requiring chemicals mixed in a device which generated the gas. It is common to see the tank on cars in period photos, mounted either on or under running board, or strapped to side of car.
You can buy them, find them on Internet or Ebay. They had a nice decal applied to them which is usually in bad shape, but you can cosmetically restore them to look very nice. The problem you'll have is getting them filled, there are so many regulations on pressure containers, that unless you own a gas supply business, I'll bet you won't find ANYONE to fill such an old tank.
What a lot of people do is restore a Prestolite tank for appearance, use a small modern tank under the seat or elsewhere, and "T" into the supply line so that it appears you're using the old tank, when you aren't....
Thanks David. I have carbide gas generators that came with two of my Model T's, though I've not yet used them. I found a source for, and bought some calcium carbide. But my latest vehicle (1906)was plumbed for an acetylene tank, and I didn't know if it was converted from the carbide gas generator or was originally plumbed for the tank. Since I have to buy something for the car to power the headlights, I didn't know which way to go, acetylene gas tank or carbide gas generator.
I think Keith posted his small tank set at a angle so it could be hidden under the seat.We use a small tank standing in back of the front seat hidden by the robe on our robe rail.Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
This is that post about using tanks and getting them filled. Some gas supply companies will fill, but not tanks with old pressure gauges.
I mounted a small bottle under the car on the inside of the frame using a bracket that I made up to keep the tank on an angle so the valve is in the position it would be in if the bottle was the early style with the off-set valve. It is a bit of a pain to open the valve but no more difficult than checking the oil. I used to use the acetylene generator on the running board but my wife was always nervous about putting the car away in the garage after using it. Keeping it clean was also a pain so the hidden bottle is actually a breeze. I have been able to get an old tank filled after removing the gauge in the bottom of the tank but it ain't easy.
Dan,The post i was refering to/or trying was where a mount was made to hide a modern small tank under the rear seat at a angle so you would not pick up accatone in your lamps,tubes,and hoses.Spelling opt! Bud.
The Prest-O-Lite "B" tank, 40 cubic foot, is the tank you want and they aren't hard to get. Dan aimed you at an earlier discussion we had on running acetylene gas. The B tank will run your two headlights for 26 hours.
Model T Number 1 was shipped with a Prest-O-Lite B tank. The B tanks are/were used because they are big enough to meet the 1/7th drawdown rule for two 3/4 foot burners. That hasn't changed in more than a 100 years.
The B tanks are available from your local welding supply, Prax-Aire, Airgas, mixed in with the center valve B tanks. The Prest-O-Lites are the ones with the offset valve and they will have Prest-O-Lite embossed on the side.
I have three of them and swap them at Prax-Aire like you would a propane tank at Lowes. To start, you buy a filled tank for about $130. When you take an empty back to swap (I only swap for another Prest-O-Lite) it costs about $28 or so including tax.
I wouldn't buy a tank off ebay because there is a $35 charge to update the test on the tank and it could fail and then you have nothing but an old tank nobody will fill.
The Model T headlights use 3/4 cubic foot per hour burners. I drove my '14 last night and I use 3/4's. The 1/2's and 5/8's burners will work.
I use a small Uniweld two gauge regulator. Run it at 3 psi and the other tells me how much acetylene I have (tank pressure). Others prefer to crack the valve and set the flame that way but you don't know how much acetylene is left. That was what the bottom valve was for on the old style tanks, tank pressure.
The MC tanks, 10 cubic foot, were/are intended to be used on motorcycles with a single 3/4 cubic foot burner or less. You run the risk of drawing acetone into your regulator if you run two 3/4's on an MC.
The American Compressed Gas Association warns against confining a fuel gas cylinder such as acetylene. That is dangerous.
If you lay it down on the running board, be sure you have the valve to the high side of the tank. That's to keep the acetone laying in the bottom of the tank and not in your gas lines.
I don't light the acetylene until I am ready to drive. The bonnets and lamps were meant to be air cooled by driving the car and don't get hot.
Ken in Texas
Thanks all for your input.
When looking for a tank, I've found most welding supply folks have no idea what a Prest-O-Lite is and you have to look at their "B" tanks up close to find them.
There were two in this group at PraxAire when I swapped a tank in December. The two styles of valves can be seen.
I took the one with the modern "coarse" valve in the left corner because I use a regulator. The one in the middle has the old style square stem and is the "fine" valve that works best for just cracking it open. I believe the square hole in the Model T ignition key fits it.
Ken in Texas
The Model T could be had with a carbide generator or a Prest-o-Lite tank.
What is your 1906 car?
Where is the POL tank mounted?
Was the POL original to your car? I think if the POL tank was an aftermarket conversion, I would expect to see the original holes for the carbide generator bracket in the running board, or wherever it was mounted.
If the POL is original, there would not be any holes for the carbide generator bracket.
In 1906, I would think that they would have only drilled holes for what was put on the car in the factory.
Although Prest-o-Lite was common, there were other suppliers for acetylene gas tanks for headlamps as well. It sounds like maybe you have brackets, but do not have a tank. Is that correct? If you could post some pictures, it might be helpful.
: ^ )
Are the Prest-o-Lite decals still available somewhere?
>>>You run the risk of drawing acetone into your regulator if you run two 3/4's on an MC.<<<
Hi Ken - Is that why they recommend mounting the little tanks on an angle and not laying them flat on the running board?
>>>The B tanks are/were used because they are big enough to meet the 1/7th drawdown rule for two 3/4 foot burners.<<<
Metal strapping big enough for a B tank was bolted to the underside of the rear floor boards on my car (in a horizontal fashion) but it looks to me like it would be really unhandy getting to the valve and gauge unless the top of the tank was toward the rear of the car. Should the B tank also be mounted on an angle for optimum operation or is the offset outlet valve sufficient for horizontal use?
Mounting the tanks at an angle doesn't improve the operation. If you pull gas out of the tanks too fast, you will pull some acetone with it.
The offset valve POL "B" tanks were made that way so they could be mounted horizontal. It would be a lot easier to get to on the running board.
I have mine upright on the running board, which is OK too, because I already had a battery box on the running board. It's easy to turn the lights off from the driver seat that way.
Ken in Texas
Jesse is absolutely correct. A hidden MC tank should be used for short demonstration purposes only, not continuous use. Otherwise the acetone will be drawn into the regulator. I designed and fabricated a bracket to hold an MC tank at an angle. If you used two MC tanks, plumbed them in parallel, and used 1/2 cuft burners, you'd be okay. Here is a picture of the set up I made.
Later I got the Prest-O-Lite B tank, and made the bracket that I could swap the B tank for the carbide generator back forth, depending if I want to burn the lights, or have the generator on for show.
You can get a Prest-O-Lite decal from Restoration Supply.
It's been said before, but worth repeating: A welding supply company will not fill an acetylene tank with a gauge on the bottom.
I'd still like to see some pics of your project.
: ^ )
By Ken Parker
I drove my '14 last night and I use 3/4's. The 1/2's and 5/8's burners will work.
We use a hidden vertical mc tank but i also use a torch head and valve in back of the reg to control volume?Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
The burners are marked/stamped on the brass tube. The Anco deluxe are marked by ink on the ceramic "Y". The Y should be perpendicular to the mirror or you run a chance of breaking the Mangin.
The 1/2 burners are good for demonstration but you need 5/8 or 3/4 if you intend to drive with gas lights.
The 1 cubic foot burners are too big for Model T headlights and should be used on a larger gas lamps like the E&J 377 or 388's.
Kenneth has a good way to set his flame size. I do the same thing with a small brass Radnor gas torch valve between the radiator and headlight.
Ken in Texas
My two Model T's have the carbide gas generators on them - came with the cars. I found a supply of calcium carbide, so I'll use the generators.
The car I was inquiring about had an acetylene tank UNDER the rear seat. It is a 1906 Cadillac Touring car. The tank is missing, but the connections are there. I have the option of getting a new tank, or getting a carbide gas generator. Based on information posted here that you should not put the tank in an enclosed area, the fact there are no running boards on the car, and that I have calcium carbide, I'm going to go with the carbide gas generator as the best option.
Steve, I'd really love to see a picture.
There is another option that is a lot easier to use. There are special bulbs that can be mounted in the place of the V burner in the headlight. Wire can to run thru the tubing and unless someone looks very careful, a quick look will not see the modification. This is a lot easier to use in a hurry as night approaches. You will need a battery to power the lights.
I have had this system for years on one of my early cars and I like the simple switch I use to turn the headlights on.
Oh, I forgot, I have a second early car with a small tank mounted under the seat similar to the picture Keith posted. I have a pressure regulator on the tank and it is fairly easy to turn on and light the headlights.
Hi Stephen! How are you?
And picture of which cars? You'll get to see the 1912 Torpedo in the St. Pat's parade here in St. Louis soon. The '14 Touring in in pieces, the engine getting rebuilt, and soon I'll start restoration and painting of the chassis and body etc. Hope to have it done by next spring. The '06 Cadillac is in a restoration shop now, saving the original body etc etc from deterioration.
Ok, had a couple of requests for pictures, so I'll try. The first is the body being prepped for painting. We were fortunate there was no rot. The second is the chassis. The third is 110 year old string holding the springs in alignment, and the last is the car before restoration started. The picture does not reveal the amount of deterioration that has occurred in the top, leather, and body. Which is why we're restoring it, to save all the originality. Chassis
Steven, great pics, what shop is the work being done at?
I live in Hillsboro, MO, not too far from you, I'd like to know the shop and what you think of their work in case I ever need their services.
The shop was recommended to me by two model T folks in our club, and also by a friend who checked with someone who also owns several old cars, and they've had work done there. It is Manns Restorations in Festus, MO. They are quite impressive, but I won't know what I really think until they're done. So far it has been great, and they've encouraged us to come down regularly and check on their progress. They give regular progress reports with time stamps on what they've done. Everything has to be paid for in advance, with deposits made before the work is done. So every few weeks they get another check from us so as to keep the work going steady. And their shop is full of projects they're working on. I'd encourage you to go by and check them out.
Thanks, Steven, I'll drop by there the next time I'm in Festus.
The last time I was there was two weeks ago at Mercy hospital, getting my gallbladder removed.
All better now, though!
Keith Townsend wrote a detailed article in the Horseless Carriage Gazette, Sept-Oct. 2014, on installing an MC tank in your car to run the lights. I recommend you get a copy.