Oxyfuel flame adjustment and flame typesOxyfuel flame adjustment

The oxyfuel gas welding torch mixes the combustible and combustion-supporting gases. It provides the means for applying the flame at the desired location. A range of tip sizes is provided for obtaining the required volume or size of welding flame which may vary from a short, small diameter needle flame to a flare 3/16 in. (4.8 mm) or more in diameter and 2 in. (51 mm) or more in length.

The inner cone or vivid blue flare of the burning mixture of gases issuing from the tip is called the working flare. The closer the end of the inner cone is to the surface of the metal being heated or welded, the more effective is the heat transfer from flame to metal. The flame can be made soft or harsh by varying the gas flow. Too low a gas flow for a given tip size will result in a soft, ineffective flame sensitive to backfiring. Too high a gas flow will result in a harsh, high velocity flame that is hard to handle and will blow the molten metal from the puddle.

The chemical action of the flame on a molten pool of metal can be altered by changing the ratio of the volume of oxygen to acetylene issuing from the tip. Most oxyacetylene welding is done with a neutral flame having approximately a 1:1 gas ratio. An oxidizing action can be obtained by increasing the oxygen flow, and a reducing action will result from increasing the acetylene flow. Both adjustments are valuable aids in welding.

**Flame Adjustment. **

Torches should be lighted with a friction lighter or a pilot flame. The instructions of the equipment manufacturer should be observed when adjusting operating pressures at the gas regulators and torch valves before the gases issuing from the tip are ignited.

The neutral flame is obtained most easily by adjustment from an excess-acetylene flame, which is recognized by the feather extension of the inner cone. The feather will diminish as the flow of acetylene is decreased or the flow of oxygen is increased. The flame is neutral just at the point of disappearance of the “feather” extension of the inner cone. This flame is actually reducing in nature but is neither carburizing or oxidizing.

A practical method of determining the amount of excess acetylene in a reducing flame is to compare the length of the feather with the length of the inner cone, measuring both from the torch tip. A 2X excess-acetylene flame has an acetylene feather that is twice the length of the inner cone. Starting with a neutral flame adjustment, the welder can produce the desired acetylene feather by increasing the acetylene flow (or by decreasing the oxygen flow). This flame also has a carburizing effect on steel.

The oxidizing flame adjustment is sometimes given as the amount by which the length of a neutral inner cone should be reduced, for example, one tenth. Starting with the neutral flare, the welder can increase the oxygen or decrease the acetylene until the length of the inner cone is decreased the desired amount. See figure 11-1.

Oxyfuel flame adjustment, flame temperature.

Lighting the Torch.

To start the welding torch, hold it so as to direct the flame away from the operator, gas cylinders, hose, or any flammable material. Open the acetylene torch valve 1/4-turn and ignite the gas by striking the spark lighter in front of the tip.

Since the oxygen torch valve is closed, the acetylene is burned by the oxygen in the air. There is not sufficient oxygen to provide complete combustion, so the flame is smoky and produces a soot of fine unburned carbon. Continue to open the acetylene valve slowly until the flame burns clean. The acetylene flame is long, bushy, and has a yellowish color. This pure acetylene flame is unsuitable for welding.

Slowly open the oxygen valve. The flame changes to a bluish-white and forms a bright inner cone surrounded by an outer flame. The inner cone develops the high temperature required for welding.

The temperature of the oxyacetylene flame is not uniform throughout its length and the combustion is also different in different parts of the flame. It is so high (up to 6000°F (3316°C)) that products of complete combustion (carbon dioxide and water) are decomposed into their elements. The temperature is the highest just beyond the end of the inner cone and decreases gradually toward the end of the flame. Acetylene burning in the inner cone with oxygen supplied by the torch forms carbon monoxide and hydrogen. As these gases cool from the high temperatures of the inner cone, they burn completely with the oxygen supplied by the surrounding air and form the lower temperature sheath f1ame. The carbon monoxide burns to form carbon dioxide and hydrogen burns to form water vapor. Since the inner cone contains only carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which are reducing in character (i.e., able to combine with and remove oxygen), oxidation of the metal will not occur within this zone. The chemical reaction for a one-to-one ratio of acetylene and oxygen plus air is as follows:

C2H2 + O2 = 2CO + H2 + Heat

This is the primary reaction: however, both carbon monoxide and hydrogen are combustible and will react with oxygen from the air:

2CO + H2 + 1.502 = 2CO2 + H2O + Heat

This is the secondary reaction which produces carbon dioxide, heat, and water.

**Oxyfuel Flame Adjustment, Flame Type **

here are three basic flame types: neutral (balanced), excess acetylene (carburizing), and excess oxygen (oxidizing). They are shown in figure 11-2.

Oxyfuel flame adjustment, flame type

The neutral flame has a one-to-one ratio of acetylene and oxygen. It obtains additional oxygen from the air and provides complete combustion. It is generally preferred for welding. The neutral flame has a clear, well-defined, or luminous cone indicating that combustion is complete.

The** carburizing flame** has excess acetylene, the inner cone has a feathery edge extending beyond it. This white feather is called the acetylene feather. If the acetylene feather is twice as long as the inner cone it is known as a 2X flame, which is a way of expressing the amount of excess acetylene. The carburizing flame may add carbon to the weld metal.

The oxidizing flame, which has an excess of oxygen, has a shorter envelope and a small pointed white cone. The reduction in length of the inner core is a measure of excess oxygen. This flame tends to oxidize the weld metal and is used only for welding specific metals.

**Neutral flame. **

The welding flame should be adjusted to neutral before either the carburizing or oxidizing flame mixture is set. There are two clearly defined zones in the neutral flame. The inner zone consists of a luminous cone that is bluish-white. Surrounding this is a light blue flame envelope or sheath. This neutral flame is obtained by starting with an excess acetylene flame in which there is a “feather” extension of the inner cone. When the flow of acetylene is decreased or the flow of oxygen increased the feather will tend to disappear. The neutral flame begins when the feather disappears.

The neutral or balanced flame is obtained when the mixed torch gas consists of approximately one volume of oxygen and one volume of acetylene. It is obtained by gradually opening the oxygen valve to shorten the acetylene flame until a clearly defined inner cone is visible. For a strictly neutral flame, no whitish streamers should be present at the end of the cone. In some cases, it is desirable to leave a slight acetylene streamer or “feather” 1/16 to 1/8 in. (1.6 to 3.2 mm) long at the end of the cone to ensure that the flame is not oxidizing. This flame adjustment is used for most welding operations and for preheating during cutting operations. When welding steel with this flame, the molten metal puddle is quiet and clear. The metal flows easily without boiling, foaming, or sparking.

In the neutral flame, the temperature at the inner cone tip is approximately 5850°F (3232°C), while at the end of the outer sheath or envelope the temperature drops to approximately 2300°F (1260°C). This variation within the flame permits some temperature control when making a weld. The position of the flame to the molten puddle can be changed, and the heat controlled in this manner.

**Reducing or carburizing flame. **

The reducing or carburizing flame is obtained when slightly less than one volume of oxygen is mixed with one volume of acetylene. This flame is obtained by first adjusting to neutral and then slowly opening the acetylene valve until an acetylene streamer or “feather” is at the end of the inner cone. The length of this excess streamer indicates the degree of flame carburization. For most welding operations, this streamer should be no more than half the length of the inner cone.

The reducing or carburizing flame can always be recognized by the presence of three distinct flame zones. There is a clearly defined bluish-white inner cone, white intermediate cone indicating the amount of excess acetylene, and a light blue outer flare envelope. This type of flare burns with a coarse rushing sound. It has a temperature of approximately 5700°F (3149°C) at the inner cone tips.

When a strongly carburizing flame is used for welding, the metal boils and is not clear. The steel, which is absorbing carbon from the flame, gives off heat. This causes the metal to boil. When cold, the weld has the properties of high carbon steel, being brittle and subject to cracking.

(d) A slight feather flame of acetylene is sometimes used for back-hand welding. A carburizing flame is advantageous for welding high carbon steel and hard facing such nonferrous alloys as nickel and Monel. When used in silver solder and soft solder operations, only the intermediate and outer flame cones are used. They impart a low temperature soaking heat to the parts being soldered.

**Oxidizing flame. **

The oxidizing flame is produced when slightly more than one volume of oxygen is mixed with one volume of acetylene. To obtain this type of flame, the torch should first be adjusted to a neutral flame. The flow of oxygen is then increased until the inner cone is shortened to about one-tenth of its original length. When the flame is properly adjusted, the inner cone is pointed and slightly purple. An oxidizing flame can also be recognized by its distinct hissing sound. The temperature of this flame is approximately 6300°F (3482°C) at the inner cone tip.

When applied to steel, an oxidizing flame causes the molten metal to foam and give off sparks. This indicates that the excess oxygen is combining with the steel and burning it. An oxidizing flame should not be used for welding steel because the deposited metal will be porous, oxidized, and brittle. This flame will ruin most metals and should be avoided, except as noted in (c) below.

 A slightly oxidizing flame is used in torch brazing of steel and cast iron. A stronger oxidizing flame is used in the welding of brass or bronze.

In most cases, the amount of excess oxygen used in this flame must be determined by observing the action of the flame on the molten metal.

MAPP gas flames.

The heat transfer properties of primary and secondary flames differ for different fuel gases. MAPP gas has a high heat release in the primary flame, and a high heat release in the secondary. Propylene is intermediate between propane and MAPP gas. Heating values of fuel gases are shown in table 11-3.

Heating values of fuel gases.

(b) The coupling distance between the work and the flame is not nearly as critical with MAPP gas as it is with other fuels.(c) Adjusting a MAPP gas flame. Flame adjustment is the most important factor for successful welding or brazing with MAPP gas. As with any other fuel gas, there are three basic MAPP gas flames: carburizing, neutral, and oxidizing (fig. 11-3).

What MAPP gas flames should look like.

A carburizing flame looks much the same with MAPP gas or acetylene. It has a yellow feather on the end of the primary cone. Carburizing flames are obtained with MAPP gas when oxyfuel ratios are around 2.2:1 or lower. Slightly carburizing or “reducing” flames are used to weld or braze easily oxidized alloys such as aluminum.

As oxygen is increased, or the fuel is turned down, the carburizing feather pulls off and disappears. When the feather disappears, the oxyfuel ratio is about 2.3:1. The inner flame is a very deep blue. This is the neutral MAPP gas flame for welding, shown in figure 11-3. The flame remains neutral up to about 2.5:1 oxygen-to-fuel ratio.

Increasing the oxygen flame produces a lighter blue flame, a longer inner cone, and a louder burning sound. This is an oxidizing MAPP gas flare. An operator experience with acetylene will immediately adjust the MAPP gas flame to look like the short, intense blue flame typical of the neutral acetylene flame setting. What will be produced, however, is a typical oxidizing MAPP gas flame. With certain exceptions such as welding or brazing copper and copper alloys, an oxidizing flame is the worst possible flame setting, whatever the fuel gas used. The neutral flame is the principle setting for welding or brazing steel. A neutral MAPP gas flame has a primary flame cone abut 1-1/2 to 2 times as long as the primary acetylene flame cone.