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Before you begin a cutting operation with an oxygas cutting torch, make a thorough inspection of the area. Ensure that there are no combustible materials in the area that could be ignited by the sparks or slag produced by the cutting operation. If you are burning into a wall, inspect the opposite side of the wall, and post a fire watch as required.


Setting up the oxygas equipment and preparing for cutting must be done carefully and systematically to avoid costly mistakes. To ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of your coworkers and equipment, make sure the following steps are taken before any attempt is made to light the torch:

0 Secure the cylinders so they cannot be accidently knocked over. A good way to do this is to either put them in a corner or next to a vertical column and then secure them with a piece of line. After securing the cylinders, remove the protective caps. Cylinders should never be secured to a structural member of a building that is a current conductor.

0 Standing to one side, crack each cylinder valve slightly and then immediately close the valve again. This blows any dirt or other foreign matter out of the cylinder valve nozzle. Do not bleed fuel gas into a confined area because it may ignite. Ensure the valves are closed and wipe the connections with a clean cloth.

0 Connect the fuel-gas regulator to the fuel-gas cylinder and the oxygen regulator to the oxygen cylinder. Using a gang wrench, snug the connection nuts sufficiently to avoid leaks.

0 Back off the regulator screws to prevent damage to the regulators and gauges and open the cylinder valves slowly. Open the fuel-gas valve only one-half turn and the oxygen valve all the way. Some fuel-gas cylinders have a handwheel for opening the fuel-gas valve while others require the use of a gang wrench or T-handle wrench. Leave the wrench in place while the cylinder is in use so the fuel-gas bottle can be turned off quickly in an emergency. Read the high-pressure gauge to check the contents in each cylinder.

0 Connect the RED hose to the fuel-gas regulator and the GREEN hose to the oxygen regulator. Notice the left-hand threads on the fuel-gas connection.

0 To blow out the oxygen hose, turn the regulator screw in (clockwise) and adjust the pressure between 2 and 5 psig. After the hose has been purged, turn the screw back out again (counterclockwise) to shutoff the oxygen. Do the same for the fuel-gas hose, but do it ONLY in a well-ventilated place that is free from sparks, flames, or other possible sources of ignition.

Connect the hoses to the torch. The RED (fuel-gas) hose is connected to the connection gland with the needle valve marked "FUEL." The GREEN (oxygen) hose is connected to the connection gland with the needle valve marked "OXY."

With the torch valves closed, turn both regulator screws clockwise to test the hose connections for leaks. If none are found, turn the regulator screws counterclockwise and drain the hose by opening the torch valves.

0 Select the correct cutting tip and install it in the cutting torch head. Tighten the assembly by hand, and then tighten with your gang wrench.

Adjust the working pressures. The fuel-gas pressure is adjusted by opening the torch needle valve and turning the fuel-gas regulator screw clockwise. Adjust the regulator to the working pressure needed for the particular tip size, and then close the torch needle valve. To adjust MAPP gas, you should set the gauge pressure with the torch valves closed. To adjust the oxygen working pressure, you should open the oxygen torch needle valve and proceed in the same manner as in adjusting the fuel-gas pressure.

In lighting the torch and adjusting the flame, always follow the manufacturer's directions for the particular model of torch being used. This is necessary because the procedure varies somewhat with different types of torches and, in some cases, even with different models made by the same manufacturer.

In general, the procedure used for lighting a torch is to first open the torch oxygen needle valve a small amount and the torch fuel-gas needle valve slightly more, depending upon the type of torch. The mixture of oxygen and fuel gas coming from the torch tip is then lighted by means of a spark igniter or stationary pilot flame.


NEVER use matches to light the torch; their length requires bringing the hand too close to the tip. Accumulated gas may envelop the hand and, upon igniting, result in a severe burn. Also, never light the torch from hot metal.

Figure 4-17.-MAPP-gas flames.

After checking the fuel-gas adjustment, you can adjust the oxygas flame to obtain the desired charac­teristics for the work at hand, by further manipulating the oxygen and fuel-gas needle valves according to the torch manufacturer's direction.

There are three types of gas flames commonly used for all oxygas processes. They are carburizing, neutral, and oxidizing. To ensure proper flame adjustment, you should know the characteristics of each of these three types of flame. Figure 4-17 shows how the three differ­ent flames look when using MAPP gas as the fuel.

A pure fuel-gas flame is long and bushy and has a yellowish color. It takes the oxygen it needs for combus­tion from the surrounding air. The oxygen available is not sufficient enough to burn the fuel gas completely; therefore, the flame is smokey and consists of soot. This flame is not suitable for use. You need to increase the amount of oxygen by opening the oxygen needle valve until the flame takes on a bluish white color, with a bright inner cone surrounded by a flame envelope of a darker hue. It is the inner cone that develops the required operating temperature.

CARBURIZING FLAME.- The carburizing flame always shows distinct colors; the inner cone is bluish white, the intermediate cone is white, the outer envelope flame is light blue, and the feather at the tip of the inner cone is greenish. The length of the feather can be used as a basis for judging the degree of carburiza­tion. The highly carburizing flame is longer with yellow or white feathers on the inner cone, while the slightly carburizing flame has a shorter feather on the inner cone and becomes more white. The temperature of carburiz­ing flames is about 5400°F.

Strongly carburizing flames are not used in cutting low-carbon steels because the additional carbon they add causes embrittlement and hardness. These flames are ideal for cutting cast iron because the additional carbon poses no problems and the flame adds more heat to the metal because of its size.

Slightly carburizing flames are ideal for cutting steels and other ferrous metals that produce a large amount of slag. Although a neutral flame is best for most cutting, a slightly carburizing flame is ideal for produc­ing a lot of heat down inside the kerf. It makes fairly smooth cuts and reduces the amount of slag clinging to the bottom of the cut.

NEUTRAL FLAME.-The most common preheat flame for oxygas cutting is the neutral flame. When you increase the oxygen, the carburizing flame becomes neutral. The feather will disappear from the inner flame cone and all that will be left is the dark blue inner flame and the lighter blue outer cone. The temperature is about 5600°F.

The neutral flame will not oxidize or add carbon to the metal you are cutting. In actuality, a neutral flame acts like the inert gases that are used in TIG and MIG welding to protect the weld from the atmosphere. When you hold a neutral preheat flame on one spot on the metal until it melts, the molten puddle that forms looks clear and lies very quietly under the flame.

OXIDIZING FLAME.- When you add a little more oxygen to the preheat flame, it will quickly be­come shorter. The flame will start to neck down at the base, next to the flame ports. The inner flame cone changes from dark blue to light blue. Oxidizing flames are much easier to look at because they are less radiant than neutral flames. The temperature is about 6000°F.

The oxidizing flame is rarely used for conventional cutting because it produces excessive slag and does not leave square-cut edges. Oxidizing flames are used in conjunction with cutting machines that have a high-low oxygen valve. The machine starts the cut with a oxidiz­ing flame then automatically reverts to a neutral flame. The oxidizing flame gives you fast starts when using high-speed cutting machines and is ideal for piercing holes in plate. Highly oxidizing flames are only used in cutting metal underwater where the only source of oxy­gen for the torch is supplied from the surface.

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