The recent Yukon thread got me thinking about how would you run carbide lights in the winter.
Sure if you had a acetylene tank available, no problem. But in rural outlying areas that is not likely to be the case. I wonder if adding alcohol to the water would work? Alcohol was used as engine antifreeze in the early days.
It could well explain the BIG headlight on the car in the picture
Case could be brought forth that most people put there cars up for the winter. Good question because like a radiator, water would freeze up. While working the gas being made might have provided some heat to keep the tank from freezing.
But would the alcohol in the water cause a much bigger flame? Even being dangerous? I have no idea. I just know alcohol burns.
Wonder if they brought their water tanks indoors overnight? Based on limited experience with miners lamps, I'm thinking the reaction is exothermic, so maybe the heat generated keeps the water from freezing during use in suffering temperatures? Of course, I'm asking, not telling. Hopefully some who knows for sure, can say if any of this makes sense.
Dang spell check. That's supposed to be sub freezing temperatures, not suffering temperatures.
Hal, I quite like suffering temperatures.
The Prest-O-Lite tanks have acetone in them which I believe is much more flammable than alcohol. When you exceed the draw down capacity of an acetylene tank, the acetone will be drawn in with the acetylene gas. It is my understanding that when that happens with our headlights, the flame at the burner diminishes with the introduction of the acetone, rather than become bigger. I've never noticed it because I have two 3/4 burners on a "B" tank.
A Prest-O-Lite "A" tank would run the gas lamps on that Locomobile for 45 hours. Looks like a "B" that's on it and a couple of them would last longer and most of the high end cars had tanks.
Carbide generators produce water/moisture in the gas and I would imagine using them in extreme cold would be a perfect pain in the rear. The lack of water and lime in the gas lines was one of the selling points of Prest-O-Lite and Search-Light gas suppliers.
I use a POL tank and the advantages are very clear even today, clean water free gas. Back in the day, the POL tanks were an upgrade over the cheap generators. The tanks used to cost three or four times as much as a generator. Today the economics have reversed and the POL tanks are much less expensive than a carbide generator AND much more practical as they always were.
Ken in Texas
They're all suffering temperatures !
"As a rule, man's a fool,
When it's hot, he wants it cool,
When it's cool he wants it hot,
Always wanting what is not. "
I have yet to "fire up" my carbide generator. Set with a slow drip, does the canister get warm enough to keep the water tank from freezing ? I guess what I'm asking is if the reaction that produces acetylene gas releases heat ?? As for alcohol in the water, how would that affect the reaction of water with carbide ? I'm wondering now if the popularity of prestolite tanks was partly due to usability in freezing weather. Of course, if it gets cold enough (-30F and lower) not much of anything works, especially me !! ; )
Years ago Royce posted instructions which are very good.About the only thing i could add would be to use compressed air and blow out your lines before use.The carbide generator produces a very nasty caustic mess and MUST be cleaned following use!!! Bud.
If you just had to go somewhere at night I guess you could fill the tank up with warm water then wrap it in a quilt or blanket to insulate it then take off and when you get to where you are going take the top tank off and inside with you.
Yes, the reaction of water on the carbide releases heat and moisture. Is it enough to keep a carbide tank from freezing? Don't know. The instructions for using the carbide generators tells the operator to "open" the gas lines to get rid of the moisture between uses of the gas headlights.
I live in the tropics so I never really thought about what you guys call "cold weather" regarding acetylene lamps. To me, less than 45*F is cold! I do believe you are correct, and onto something I never thought about, the POL tanks being popular in the cold weather areas.
The "rear gas line" in the 1913 and 1914's is a 44 inch brass tube that runs along the frame (earlier cars had even more exposed brass gas line tubing). In less than 25-30*F temps, that rear gas line could easily freeze up and you have no lights using a carbide generator. The brass gas line on the radiator would be OK once the engine got running.
Acetylene freezes at -113*F and acetone at -139*F so I guess I'll never see that happen here in Houston.
Ken in Texas
Ken You may see those temps if Cleveland Browns ever win a football game!
I'm going to add a set of instructions that were in a NOS Victor carbide generator I have. You can see water/moisture in the lines is a problem, "Useful Hints".
E&J also sold a period accessory to collect the water/moisture created by the generators.
Be careful about getting any residue up in your burners. It can plug up the very tiny holes of the burners, cause the flame to be unbalanced and crack a mirror. I always light up any new, or used, burner outside the headlight to keep that from happening. Just put a burner stand in a small vise and run a hose to it. The mirrors are too hard to find.
Ken in Texas
I've never run the acetylene generator in the winter, but the Prest-O-Lite tank works perfectly!
No muss, no fuss!
: ^ )
We saw sub freezing, 20* to 25*ish for five days in 1989, and we came to an absolute standstill here. Killed all the banana trees and everything. Even the mosquitoes died on that one!
Ken in Texas
It's four below in Minneapolis right now.
The neighbor kids are playing hockey in their backyard.
Looks to me like they are frozen Stiff in position!