Gas Welding and Cutting Equipment (Part Three)

in Aircraft Welding

Equipment Setup

Setting up acetylene welding equipment in preparation for welding should be accomplished in a systematic and definite order to avoid costly damage to equipment and compromising the safety of personnel.

Gas Cylinders

All cylinders should be stored and transported in the upright position, especially acetylene cylinders, because they contain an absorbent material saturated with liquid acetone. If the cylinder were laid on its side, allowing the acetone to enter and contaminate the regulator, hose, and torch, fuel starvation and a resultant flashback in the system could result. If an acetylene cylinder must be placed on its side for a period of time, it must be stored in the upright position for at least twice as long before being used. Gas cylinders should be secured, usually with a chain, in a permanent location or in a suitable mobile cart. The cylinder’s protective steel cap should not be removed until the cylinder is put into service.


Prior to installing the regulator on a gas cylinder, open the cylinder shutoff valve for an instant to blow out any foreign material that may be lodged in the outlet. Close the valve and wipe off the connection with a clean oil-free cloth. Connect the acetylene pressure regulator to the acetylene cylinder and tighten the left hand nut. Connect the oxygen pressure regulator to the oxygen cylinder and tighten the right hand nut. The connection fittings are brass and do not require a lot of torque to prevent them from leaking. At this time, check to ensure the adjusting screw on each pressure regulator is backed out by turning counterclockwise until it turns freely.


Connect the red hose with the left hand threads to the acetylene pressure regulator and the green hose with the right hand threads to the oxygen pressure regulator. This is the location, between the regulator and hose, in which flashback arrestors should be installed. Again, because the fittings are brass and easily damaged, tighten only enough to prevent leakage.

Stand off to the side away from the face of the gauges. Now, very slowly open the oxygen cylinder valve and read the cylinder gauge to check the contents in the tank. The oxygen cylinder shutoff valve has a double seat valve and should be opened fully against its stop to seat the valve and prevent a leak. The acetylene cylinder shutoff valve should be slowly opened just enough to get the cylinder pressure reading on the regulator and then one half of a turn more. This allows a quick shutoff, if needed.

NOTE: As a recommended safety practice, the cylinders should not be depleted in content below 20 psi. This prevents the possible reverse flow of gas from the opposite tank.

Both hoses should be blown out before attaching to the torch. This is accomplished for each cylinder by turning the pressure adjusting screw in (clockwise) until the gas escapes, and then quickly backing the screw out (counterclockwise) to shut off the flow. This should be done in a well ventilated open space, free from sparks, flames, or other sources of ignition.

Connecting Torch

Connect the red hose with the left hand thread connector nut to the left hand thread fitting on the torch. Connect the green hose with the right hand thread connector nut to the right hand thread fitting on the torch. Close the valves on the torch handle and check all connections for leaks, as follows:

  • Turn in the adjusting screw on the oxygen pressure regulator until the working pressure indicates 10 psi. Turn in the adjusting screw on the acetylene pressure regulator until the working pressure indicates 5 psi.
  • Back out both adjusting screws on the regulators and verify that the working pressure remains steady. If it drops and pressure is lost, a leak is indicated between the regulator and the torch.
  • A general tightening of all connections should fix the leak. Repeat a check of the system.
  • If a leak is still indicated by a loss in working pressure, a mixture of soapy water on all the connections reveals the source of the leak. Never check for a leak with a flame because a serious explosion could occur.

Select the Tip Size

Welding and cutting tips are available in a variety of sizes for almost any job, and are identified by number. The higher the number is, the bigger the hole in the tip is allowing more heat to be directed onto the metal and allowing thicker metal to be welded or cut.

Welding tips have one hole and cutting tips have a number of holes. The cutting tip has one large hole in the center for the cutting oxygen and a number of smaller holes around it that supply fuel, gas, and oxygen for the preheating flame. The selection of the tip size is very important, not only for the quality of the weld and/or the efficiency of the cutting process, but for the overall operation of the welding equipment and safety of the personnel using it.

Starvation occurs if torch tips are operated at less than the required volume of gas, leading to tip overheating and possible flashbacks. Incorrect tip size and obstructed tip orifices can also cause overheating and/or flashback conditions.

All fuel cylinders have a limited capacity to deliver gas to the tip. That capacity is further limited by the gas contents remaining in the cylinder and the temperature of the cylinder.

The following provides some recommended procedures to guard against overheating and flashbacks:

  • Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for tip size based on the metal’s thickness.
  • Use the recommended gas pressure settings for the tip size being used.
  • Provide the correct volume of gas as recommended for each tip size.
  • Do not use an excessively long hose, one with multiple splices, or one that may be too small in diameter and restrict the flow of gas.

NOTE: Acetylene is limited to a maximum continuous withdrawal rate of one-seventh of the cylinder’s rated capacity when full. For example, an acetylene cylinder that has a capacity of 330 cubic feet has a maximum withdrawal of 47 cubic feet per hour. This is determined by dividing 330 (cylinder capacity) by 7 (one-seventh of the cylinder capacity).

As a safety precaution, it is recommended that flashback arrestors be installed between the regulators and the gas supply hoses of all welding outfits. Figure 5-21 shows recommended tip sizes of different manufacturers, for welding various thickness of metals.

Figure 5-21. Chart of recommended tip sizes for welding various thicknesses of metal.

Figure 5-21. Chart of recommended tip sizes for welding various thicknesses of metal. [click image to enlarge]

Adjusting the Regulator Working Pressure

The working pressure should be set according to the manufacturer’s recommendation for the tip size that is being used to weld or cut. This is a recommended method that works for most welding and cutting operations.

In a well ventilated area, open the acetylene valve on the torch and turn the adjusting screw on the acetylene pressure regulator clockwise until the desired pressure is set. Close the acetylene valve on the torch. Then, set the oxygen pressure in the same manner by opening the oxygen valve on the torch and turning the adjusting screw clockwise on the oxygen regulator until desired pressure is set. Then, close the oxygen valve on the torch handle. With the working pressures set, the welding or cutting operation can be initiated.