Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

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Wanna-Be
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Location: Brady, WA

Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by Wanna-Be » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:44 pm

Several years ago, I talked and old friend and retired machinist out of his carbide generator. I gave him a full acetylene bottle for this complete and working unit along with about 2 lbs of carbide in the bottom of a medium size metal drum.
Until now I haven't charged it with water and carbide because my weld shop hasn't been heated and that letting the water freeze in this unit could damage it. Beginning this winter season I expect to have enough heat in that portion of my shop so I be ok.

I pulled it out and found the 80+ year old labels were still readable and I noted that 14 ND (no dust) carbide is specified and I should fill it with water before adding the carbide. And that was about the extent of the operating instructions. The machinist friend that I got this from is now deceased so no instruction help there.

I went on line and found a real nice write up of this unit but mostly it talked about it being manufactured in the '20s as a portable Acetylene gas generator.

I searched ebay for info and source of calcium carbide. Found on generator with a asking bid of $640 and it was a horrible mess and was being sold as a collector item. All the carbide for sale were only via purchase certificates since ebay won't allow carbide to be sold on their site. Classified as explosives or gun powder. However I did a Google search and found a couple selling small quantities for miners lanterns and one that sold the 14 ND for cannons, etc.. However, again, small quantities of a few pound and rather expensive.

I'm posting this for a couple reasons. First to provide pictures of my unit and ultimately report on how it works. 2nd, to ask if anyone is familiar with these and could provide some guidance on how it to start, operate and shut it down when not in use. 3rd, does anyone know of a bulk source of carbide, 30 to 50 pound. Or if someone wants to split such a large amount.
Carbide Gen 2.jpg
The attachment Carbide Gen 1.jpg is no longer available
Steve
Attachments
Carbide Gen 1.jpg
Jet vert Mill, Champion 12X30 lathe, Amer. Mach. Tool radial drill, 24X60 LeBlond lathe, Scharmann 3" Hrz Brg Mill, Steptoe 18" Shaper, S/B Shaper,B&S (No.4 36") Gear Cutting Mach., Verson 22.5T Press Brake, Enco 12" hrz. saw, McEnglevan foundry furnace, Rockwell 14X42 lathe, K&T 2H univ horz. mill,DoAll 16-2 Vrt. bandsaw,Canedy-Otto drill press,Buffalo Iron Worker

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ken572
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by ken572 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:13 pm

Wanna-Be

This might be helpful:

http://www.chaski.org/homemachinist/vie ... 44&t=97010

Ken. :)
One must remember.
The best learning experiences come
from working with the older Masters.
Ken.

dly31
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by dly31 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:43 pm

I would make sure I fully understood the carbide feed system, how it automatically regulated and shut off, and how to manually shut it off before I would try to get it operational. Be sure the pressure gauge is working accurately and that you know the pressure limit. Those generators used to be very common in welding and auto repair shops up till the 1950's and less common in earlier home use. Although I am sure there were some accidents, the generators had to be pretty safe.
Don Young

hammermill
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by hammermill » Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:32 pm

http://www.karstsports.com/mingradcalca ... ldrwdIqjTp

this source explained lots of the reason for cost as it is 90.00 for 10 pounds

putting it in to service is ill advised,insurance may not cover damage,firecodes may restrict amounts on site etc.


it is a wonderful find,as a antique restoration may damage its value.

Wanna-Be
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by Wanna-Be » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:47 am

hammermill wrote:http://www.karstsports.com/mingradcalca ... ldrwdIqjTp

this source explained lots of the reason for cost as it is 90.00 for 10 pounds

putting it in to service is ill advised,insurance may not cover damage,firecodes may restrict amounts on site etc.


it is a wonderful find,as a antique restoration may damage its value.
Their price per pound is about right since the 40# drum that my friend purchase 40 years ago cost $450 and was divided with two other "home machinists".

I called this source and find that the minors grade 1/4" - 1/2" is all they sell. the Sight Feed needs Grade 14 (ND) which is granular, about the size of coffee grounds. I suppose it could be pulverized but that would produce dust which caused problems in the metering of the carbide into the water.

I did find another supplier in my Google search that specifies Grade 14 ND (not dust) and I will call them since they didn't indicate cost for quantities beyond 2 pounds. I still have to call them.

Thanks for the warnings. I appreciate that. I did have some system operator experience of a medium size carbide generator unit that was in the US Navy shipfitter school in San Diego, wayyyyy-back in the 50s-60s. This was an installed system and the gas was piped, at 12 psi (system max pressure) to the welding stations in the school building. Also, we had a similar system at the Des Moines Tech trade school in Des Moines, IA in the mid 50s. I don't remember to many specifics other than starting and stopping the carbide fee each morning and at the end of the class day. An instructor filled the unit chambers with water and carbide as needed.

Steve
Jet vert Mill, Champion 12X30 lathe, Amer. Mach. Tool radial drill, 24X60 LeBlond lathe, Scharmann 3" Hrz Brg Mill, Steptoe 18" Shaper, S/B Shaper,B&S (No.4 36") Gear Cutting Mach., Verson 22.5T Press Brake, Enco 12" hrz. saw, McEnglevan foundry furnace, Rockwell 14X42 lathe, K&T 2H univ horz. mill,DoAll 16-2 Vrt. bandsaw,Canedy-Otto drill press,Buffalo Iron Worker

scmods
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by scmods » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:38 pm

One of my old books details a number of patent acetylene generators with operational diagrams. Their purpose in this volume seems to be predominately for home lighting, as "that electric thing won't last"

Maybe some of this would be of use if you need more info. PM me.

They're right about the dustless thing, as too fine material could bypass the metering assembly and cause uncontrolled gas production. Remember, this was from an era where wallpaper had arsenic in it, poisons were readily available at the drugstore, as was dynamite at the hardware store, and the air was brown with coal smoke. Maybe it is better to savor this as a historical novelty and let it go at that.

Good luck
Bill Walck

Harold_V
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by Harold_V » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:50 pm

scmods wrote: Maybe it is better to savor this as a historical novelty and let it go at that.
It may well be that there's not much choice in the matter. It bordered on the impossible to acquire calcium carbide 20 years ago. I expect that it's extremely difficult today, and would be cost prohibitive if a source was found.

Time marches on. Things change. Some for our common good-----others not so much.

Harold
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

Wanna-Be
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by Wanna-Be » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:25 pm

I have researched the sources for carbide and it all seem to come from China or there about's. It is not so much the price but the quantities they are dealing in are on a commercial scale. Nothing for the little guy and the only US based vendors sell for Caver lanterns and it is too fine for the shop size carbide generator that I have. Besides their quantity price would be too prohibitive.

I think this 40 lb drum cost about $400 30 years ago. Probably a strain on the shop budget then as it would be now.

I have enough left in the drum for year or so, after I sift out the fine dist. (maybe some "Caver" might want the fines.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who knows how to get this grade of carbide in at 20 - 40 lb quantities in the US without any significant handling or licensing problems. If the quantities are much higher, I would seek out others looking into this to share a shipment.

Just last week I talked with one of the three buddies who bought this drum for there carbide generators. He claims all three generators worked flawlessly and he sold his after a number of years, when his carbide supply was nearly gone and no one wanted to chip in for another drum (if available). I think that is why my friend, the previous owner, stopped using this one. Saving the remainder of the carbide for the day another day??

Steve
Jet vert Mill, Champion 12X30 lathe, Amer. Mach. Tool radial drill, 24X60 LeBlond lathe, Scharmann 3" Hrz Brg Mill, Steptoe 18" Shaper, S/B Shaper,B&S (No.4 36") Gear Cutting Mach., Verson 22.5T Press Brake, Enco 12" hrz. saw, McEnglevan foundry furnace, Rockwell 14X42 lathe, K&T 2H univ horz. mill,DoAll 16-2 Vrt. bandsaw,Canedy-Otto drill press,Buffalo Iron Worker

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ken572
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by ken572 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:09 pm

Wanna-Be wrote:I have researched the sources for carbide and it all seem to come from China or there about's. It is not so much the price but the quantities they are dealing in are on a commercial scale. Nothing for the little guy and the only US based vendors sell for Caver lanterns and it is too fine for the shop size carbide generator that I have. Besides their quantity price would be too prohibitive.

I think this 40 lb drum cost about $400 30 years ago. Probably a strain on the shop budget then as it would be now.

I have enough left in the drum for year or so, after I sift out the fine dist. (maybe some "Caver" might want the fines.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who knows how to get this grade of carbide in at 20 - 40 lb quantities in the US without any significant handling or licensing problems. If the quantities are much higher, I would seek out others looking into this to share a shipment.

Just last week I talked with one of the three buddies who bought this drum for there carbide generators. He claims all three generators worked flawlessly and he sold his after a number of years, when his carbide supply was nearly gone and no one wanted to chip in for another drum (if available). I think that is why my friend, the previous owner, stopped using this one. Saving the remainder of the carbide for the day another day??

Steve
Steve, :D
Would this work for you :?:

Enlarge the photo.

http://cheapcarbide.com/cc/index.php?ma ... cts_id=208

Ken. :)
One must remember.
The best learning experiences come
from working with the older Masters.
Ken.

PeteH
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by PeteH » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:16 am

My memory of this is a bit vague, since I haven't been caving in 40 years; but IIRC, the carbide we used was the 1/4"-1/2" size, and we bought it in one-pound cans. either from gun stores (people used acetylene lamps for blackening iron sights) or from some hardware stores, usually in the mining regions.

It was pretty cheap, about $3 a pound by the one-pound can, and maybe $1 a pound when someone bought a big drum, which I think was 40 lb. And no HazMat fees in those days.
Pete in NJ

Wanna-Be
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by Wanna-Be » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:38 am

Looking at these suppliers grade descriptions causes some concerns. "consistency of ground coffee" is not specific enough for the Sight Feed system requirements (as warned) it must be 14 ND (No Dust) to prevent over feeding. As I enlarge the picture of this "fine" consistency of ground coffee, I see many smaller grains that would indicate it wasn't screened or graded to any reliable means.

Since there are still carbide gas generating systems still in service in the US Navy shore base facilities and trade schools, I would expect there is still a reliable source out there someplace. And who ever is producing our bottled acetalene must have a source for properly graded carbide.

I have enough left for a test run and maybe a year or so at my rate of gas welding work. I can us propane for burning or heating but the prices are going to high in that now.

The search goes on.

Steve
Jet vert Mill, Champion 12X30 lathe, Amer. Mach. Tool radial drill, 24X60 LeBlond lathe, Scharmann 3" Hrz Brg Mill, Steptoe 18" Shaper, S/B Shaper,B&S (No.4 36") Gear Cutting Mach., Verson 22.5T Press Brake, Enco 12" hrz. saw, McEnglevan foundry furnace, Rockwell 14X42 lathe, K&T 2H univ horz. mill,DoAll 16-2 Vrt. bandsaw,Canedy-Otto drill press,Buffalo Iron Worker

PeteH
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Re: Sight Feed Generator Co. carbide generator

Post by PeteH » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:00 am

The "ground coffee" stuff sounds like what they use in Big Bang cannons. I remember that stuff used to degrade pretty quickly, even if you kept the tube (like a toothpaste tube) closed. It would turn to a white powder, calcium hydroxide. So would the "miners'" grade stuff, but more slowly.

I'd worry that the CaOH powder might interfere with proper feeding.
Pete in NJ

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