Flame throwers and propane canons

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks for making installations of all sizes or making smaller pieces and jewelry.
spectabillis
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Postby spectabillis » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:12 pm

Megaflow wrote:Your talking $500 in parts and materials

Knowledge on who to


Dont have the info readily avail, but I did not spend over $200.

No machining, all threaded off the shelf brass parts.

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Postby geekster » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:14 pm

I think it came to just under 500. Mostly because we had the nozzle made for a higher volume than the standard units so it was still kind of a one-off.

It was a vapor unit. We tried to use a large long pipe as the accumulator and it would have worked too, if there had been a pressure regulator on the tank. What we ended up with was the flaming hairspray can effect. We burned through a 120 gal tank of propane in about 2 nights. There still wasnt enough volume in that 2-inch steel pipe to act as a good accumulator.
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spectabillis
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Postby spectabillis » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:14 pm

thinkcooper wrote:Spectabillis, thanks for the link to McMaster-Carr! They look like a great resource for components. Have you seen any solenoid controlled brass valves for fluid/fuel in their catalog? How about any fluid couplings that can rotate on their axis?


No on both, but for a rotating fitting try a welding supply company. I do remember somewhere they had one for industrial welders that fit to a CNC unit that swiveled.

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Postby geekster » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:16 pm

would braided hose designed for natural gas work? I think I have seen some of those with swivel fittings.
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Postby spectabillis » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:21 pm

geekster wrote:I think it came to just under 500. Mostly because we had the nozzle made for a higher volume than the standard units so it was still kind of a one-off.

It was a vapor unit. We tried to use a large long pipe as the accumulator and it would have worked too, if there had been a pressure regulator on the tank. What we ended up with was the flaming hairspray can effect. We burned through a 120 gal tank of propane in about 2 nights. There still wasnt enough volume in that 2-inch steel pipe to act as a good accumulator.


I did not want vapor, wanted larger flames. But to be honest the adaptor from the disposable camping propane tank to the main pipe had low throughput untill you had it open all the way, so you had to turn it really quick. I dont know about the regulator/accumulator thing. But it sounds really strange that a 2 inch diameter pipe could not provide a good volume of vapor, unless it was really short.

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Postby spectabillis » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:24 pm

thinkcooper wrote:I think this is the only forum I participate on that doesn't have an edit function- hmm..

oh well, anyway-

Spectabillis, do you also know if there is a resource like McMaster-Carr in California, or even better, in the south bay area?


Sorry, been out of the bay area for too long. Damn, miss that home.

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Postby geekster » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:39 pm

spectabillis wrote: I dont know about the regulator/accumulator thing. But it sounds really strange that a 2 inch diameter pipe could not provide a good volume of vapor, unless it was really short.


Well, from what we saw from most of the vapor units and the bonefire "personal" units we had ... what you want is a good POP of gas when you first open that valve to create a ball of flame and then it settles down to a smaller torch. So you get a nice wow! and then fuel economy.

If you use a standard propane tank you fill the accumulator (in the bonefire units it is a fire extinguisher bottle) and have a rather good sized pipe to the nozzle but the hose to the propane tank is much smaller and acts as a flow restrictor. Once you dump the accumulator upon first opening the valve, the flow settles to whatever the smaller hose will deliver.

Our "problem" was that we had a pretty high pressure tank AND a fairly robust hose so the flow wasn't restricted enough. When we opened that valve, we got a little bit of "pop" but not as much as we were hoping for because the pipe dumped its contents too fast (not enough volume) and then we had the hairspray can effect because the flow from the tank to the pipe was too high. It would literally blow the flame out sometimes.

A larger accumulator and a closing off the valve to the tank a little would have made it a little more interesting to look at.

I wanna so something with liquid fuel too. Don't go looking but if you know offhand (like have bookmarked) if there is a document on the BM site that might list safety requirements/restrictions for fire art, please pass it along.
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Postby Alpha » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:46 pm

Doesn't the DaisyCutter munition operate by dispensing fuel vapor into the atmosphere and THEN igniting it? Seems like that approach would give a nice pop, if you could prevent the unlit vapor from floating into center camp....

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Postby thinkcooper » Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:47 pm

Geekster- At Ill Vill we had to have an official inspection on site before any public demos of the Lotus Girls' big kerosene flame thrower were permitted. I can connect you to our camp fire expert if you're interested in talking with them. Our fuel guy works with the DMV as well, as well as doing propane refills on the playa.

For shits and giggles, check out this flash animation from How Stuff Works on military liquid fuel, butane pressurized flame throwers.

http://www.thinkcooper.com/forum/images/flamethrower-animation.swf

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Postby thinkcooper » Tue Sep 28, 2004 10:00 pm

Guys, thanks for the idea about the welding supply house for a swivel fitting.

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Postby geekster » Tue Sep 28, 2004 10:16 pm

Interesting you should mention that because I was looking at some photos of the Lotus Girls unit in action tonite. I think for my first thing I would rather go with something pretty than something big ... and work my way up. Maybe something giving a fountain-like effect though with some small streams just to get the hang of some basics and then work up as my experiance/confidence grows.

Sure, I would be interested in hearing from your fire expert even if only to get some pointers to some useful reading he might think would be good for a novice to know.

I do have a basic working knowlede of mechanics, hydraulics, refrigeration, and electronics (my major area of expertise).
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buckethead alien
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Postby buckethead alien » Sat Oct 02, 2004 4:22 am

Anyone have thoughts on using Compressed Natural Gas?

=====

A friend sent me the following comments:

As far as blazing gas blasters go, any flammable
gas will work - the trick is to use a check valve, so
the gas can't flow back into the tank, and to
pressurize the tank to get the range. Propane tends
to not have enough pressure to be spectacular.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has a tank pressure of
3000 psi, same with hydrogen. CNG is used for
vehicles and cooking - we use it on our boat - and is
safer than propane because it is lighter than air.
Some places have a supplier near, some don't.
Hydrogen can be got from a welding supplier ...
You will need a regulator with
high pressure tanks, about a C-note. The hard part
is the orifice for mixing the gas with air to get the
big fancy flame.

=====

Doing anything with hydrogen would seem to be a bad idea, no?

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buckethead alien
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An alternate whistle valve source?

Postby buckethead alien » Sat Oct 02, 2004 7:11 am


thinkcooper
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Postby thinkcooper » Sat Oct 02, 2004 11:54 am

I'm no expert in gases but I've given some thought to CNG idea. I'm probably skipping some cirtical details but here ar my pro/con thoughts on the subject of propane vs. CNG


cons-

- High pressure limits the expansion tank options. 3000 psi excludes most commonly availble choices of tanks, fittings, hoses and requires any tank welds to be certifiable for safety, a regulator would be needed to limit the pressures of CNG into the flamethorwer. Propane gas pressures in the tank are 122 PSI @ 70F, 190 psi @ 100F.
- Challenging availability. CNG is harder to find. Propane can be refilled at nearly every decent gas station, and even on the playa.
- CNG tanks are far less common and more expensive than propane

pros-

- No propane tank icing issues. Liquid filled propane tanks will ice up if large volumes of liquid propane are evaporated to gas.

Propane can be very spectacular; it really comes down to how big your expansion tank is and how large a diameter your whistle valve is. Picture the blast from 50 gallon compressor tank filled with propane at 150 PSI, plumbed to a 1" diameter steel pipe, with a 1" whistle valve and good ignition source. You'd be seeing some enormous fireballs with that set-up.

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Postby Megaflow » Sun Oct 03, 2004 12:17 am

Picture the blast from 50 gallon compressor tank filled with propane at 150 PSI, plumbed to a 1" diameter steel pipe, with a 1" whistle valve and good ignition source. You'd be seeing some enormous fireballs with that set-up.


Stop already, you're giving me wood

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buckethead alien
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Postby buckethead alien » Sun Oct 03, 2004 4:55 am

United Brass Works whistle valves have a PTFE (Teflon) disc inside according to the company's PDF data sheet. According to the 3M Web site, PTFE has a maximum working temperature of 500 degrees F. Is this a problem?

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Megaflow
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Postby Megaflow » Sun Oct 03, 2004 9:35 am

If you use the $135 valve mc master carr sells it has brass or brnze seats and kevlar stem packing. Using this valve, even though it is more expensive will help to ensure that it wont melt a disc. Remember that you get both heat transfer from the flame and you also get very cold vaporized propane rushing by that disc. My opinion is that even if the ptfe would hold up to the heat the repeated heat cold cycles may take it's toll on the disc.

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Postby thinkcooper » Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:44 am

Megaflow wrote:
Picture the blast from 50 gallon compressor tank filled with propane at 150 PSI, plumbed to a 1" diameter steel pipe, with a 1" whistle valve and good ignition source. You'd be seeing some enormous fireballs with that set-up.


Stop already, you're giving me wood


That's the same reaction I get everytime I look at this dumpyard score, 170 psi rated, leak-free tank.

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buckethead alien
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Postby buckethead alien » Sun Oct 03, 2004 11:51 am

Megaflow wrote:If you use the $135 valve mc master carr sells it has brass or brnze seats and kevlar stem packing. Using this valve, even though it is more expensive will help to ensure that it wont melt a disc. Remember that you get both heat transfer from the flame and you also get very cold vaporized propane rushing by that disc. My opinion is that even if the ptfe would hold up to the heat the repeated heat cold cycles may take it's toll on the disc.


Where's the one you're talking about? I only see these ones on the M-C site.

page 377
4625K85
Lever-Arm Brass Globe Valve 400 Max Psi, 1" NPT Female Connection
$90.39 Each

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Megaflow
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Postby Megaflow » Sun Oct 03, 2004 5:29 pm

look up part number 4608k32


• Max. Pressure: W.O.G.: 400; Steam: 200 psi
• Maximum Temperature: 550° F
Pull on the lever to open and release to close. Lever is reversible, adjustable, and has a hole for a cord or chain ( 1/4" to 3/4" sizes have 1/4" dia. hole; 1" to 2" sizes have 3/8" dia. hole). Body and disc are bronze. Lever is bronze and stem is brass. Spring is Type 303 stainless steel. Packing is Kevlar fiber. Connections: NPT female.

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buckethead alien
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Postby buckethead alien » Mon Oct 04, 2004 4:14 am

Duh. Right under my nose on the page before. Ooof.

Regarding PTFE - data sheets say its working range is from -200 C to +250 C. Not that I am saying it's better than brass or anything, but this is some pretty amazing shit. I mean, think what happens on a frying pan.

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Postby buckethead alien » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:41 pm

Something to get your pyro working:

Ghost Mines and Colored Alcohol Flames

In the normal evolution of fireworks, you learn how to make something; then you make a larger one; then you make an incredibly huge one; then you make a couple more of those; then you start to look for ways to make it more interesting, maybe even prettier and smaller. Well, that's been my experience with liquid fueled fireballs, especially ones that can be fired out of steel mortars.

I started small. A friend of mine, who is a professional storyteller, wanted to create some "atmosphere" at one of his outdoor gigs. He wanted some flames in the background to burn with an "eerie" light. Well, I had a bit of experience with coloring alcohol flames and thought I'd give it a shot.

Green is easy. You mix a teaspoon or two of boric acid in a gallon of methyl alcohol and you're set. The boric acid actually reacts with the methyl alcohol to give you methyl borate, which is volatile. The boron in the flame gives it a very pronounced green color. The mix can be burned in an alcohol lamp or in the open (sterno can sort of thing). My buddy used a stainless steel bowl placed in a dish full of sand. Of course, once he had green he wanted other colors. But, those were a little more difficult.

In order to get an element to color an alcohol flame, you have to get it into the flame itself. And, unlike the boron, it's either tough or undesirable to produce a volatile metal compound. We fussed with that a while until we hit on the idea of a wick. Turned out that a piece of steel wool in the bowl of alcohol did the trick. So now we could produce colored alcohol flames in a rainbow of colors.

The elements chosen are obvious, but the actual chemicals are a compromise among solubility in methyl alcohol, cost, and availability. Turns out that roughly 50 grams per gallon always works. In some cases it doesn't all dissolve, but with calcium chloride or sodium chloride, who cares?

Coloring agents:

· Red: Lithium chloride (actually any soluble lithium salt)

· Orange: Calcium chloride

· Yellow: Sodium chloride

· Green: Boric acid

· Blue: (nothing - alcohol burns blue)

· Violet: Potassium iodide


This was a fun, low-level, non-pyrotechnic back yard project. The next step was to go large. I had been firing gasoline fireballs out of some mortars I had. Starting with a half gallon I had gradually worked up to blowing three gallons of gasoline out of a six-inch steel mortar using a charge of 40 to 120 grams of FFG black powder for lift. So why not shoot colored alcohol flames instead? Several folks at the "Do-It" event had a chance to witness my first shots of the half-gallon "Lampare Mines". Admittedly that was a bad name because many people were expecting an aerial effect. Upon seeing a daytime mpeg of these colored alcohol fireballs Harry Gilliam coined the phrase "Ghost Mines". I like it.

I'll launch some of these at the Western WinterBlast XII using the following gear:

Mortar: 4-inch inside diameter iron pipe, 2 feet long

Lift: Place 40 grams of FFg black powder, a pinch of sponge titanium, and an electric match in a very small (jeweler's supply) zip lock plastic bag. Squeeze all the air out, and tightly wrap it with both clear packing tape and then masking tape seal it against alcohol seeping in.

Fuel: One gallon of methyl alcohol with 50 grams of coloring agent

Method: Fill mortar with alcohol and coloring agent solution. Lower the black powder charge into the mortar. If the charge is tightly packed it won't float. From the friendly end of a 50-foot electric shooting wire, fire that thang!

Drawbacks: Typically there is some burning alcohol left behind in the mortar: HDPE and paper don't last too long.

Supplies: I get the methyl alcohol at the local lab supply, or fancy hobby shop, for $10/gal. Ethyl alcohol may work on some but the denaturing agent tends to give a yellow flame. I hear the boric acid doesn't work with ethyl alcohol.

No Man's Land: To get a really beautiful sky-blue color, add six grams of copper chloride and 200 ml. of methylene chloride (chlorine donor) to the gallon of methyl alcohol. Great color but it also makes a phosgene byproduct, something you might not want indoors. Any chlorine donor will do that. That is why I shied away from strontium and barium

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Postby thinkcooper » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:49 am

buckethead alien wrote:Something to get your pyro working:

Ghost Mines and Colored Alcohol Flames

...cool stuff....



Nice observations. Thanks!

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Postby spectabillis » Sun Jan 09, 2005 4:02 pm

flamebrain wrote:The Bonefire & Black Rock Blaster lightweight personal flamethrowers are not cheap, that's because of the way they're made. They're designed to stand up to the harsh playa conditions and always perform, and look good! They are made entirely out of corrosion resistant materials and many of them have been to Black Rock City for the last three years and still function perfectly...


this sounds like a veiled corporate endorsement, are you affiliated with bonefire?

the products are obnoxiously overpriced when they approach charging a thousand bucks per unit. for a couple of hundred bucks you can build your own, and a very safe one, even one that works on liquid that drastically outperforms bonefire units.

this comment makes me angry, you make me want to post my plans and diagrams with a source and cost listing for parts... just to take the money away that you suck from people here.

commercialist snakes on the eplaya.

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Postby crazybuthappy » Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:27 pm

Something I have been meaning to say for a while, it really takes a certain type make a home made flamethrower. I have been reluctant to post step-by-step instructions on the web for fear someone will just follow the steps and blow themselves up.
I really don't think Bonefire is making a killing in the flamethrower market (bad choice of words). I think he/they are turning out a good product for a price some people are willing to pay. Plus he/they are still active in helping the less experienced.
The higher cost is in a design that requires little to no maintenance and is safe. Sure you and I can make <$100 flamethrowers because if you design and build a flamethrower yourself you intimately understand the limitations and risks.
Handing over it to someone and letting them fire it at will requires a completely different design criteria.
I think competition in this market would be great,

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buckethead alien
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Postby buckethead alien » Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:37 pm

As a satisfied customer, I think that one thing that may or may not be intentional in Bonefire Bob’s pricing is that at $850 or more, few jerk-headed kids are going to be able to afford one of these things and do harm to themselves or others. I think there would be a real risk if the price were lower of the things ending up in the hands of people who are too young to use them safely.
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Postby Megaflow » Tue Apr 19, 2005 2:48 pm

I have built and sold several flame throwers in the past year and the way I look at it is that they are custom built pieces that you can't go to a store and buy. The people that want them will pay what they are worth. You get what you pay for. Take a look at the construction and you will see that they are not cheap cheesy dangerous contraptions. Sure you can make one out of PVC and light yourself on fire. Sure you can make a liquid fueled thrower and give us all a bad name and do federal time with bubba or you can buy a well made quality piece that will survive the playa

http://community.webshots.com/album/230310076PBuoeH

spectabillis
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Postby spectabillis » Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:26 pm

crazybuthappy wrote:... I think he/they are turning out a good product for a price some people are willing to pay. Plus he/they are still active in helping the less experienced.
The higher cost is in a design that requires little to no maintenance and is safe. Sure you and I can make <$100 flamethrowers because if you design and build a flamethrower yourself you intimately understand the limitations and risks. ..I think competition in this market would be great,


I will be the absolutely first person to say my previous comment was too strong, I am very sorry for that.

But I still believe in the message of my comment. For a third of the price I would be far more willing to see people learn and make the units themselves. In the same spirit of people making art for themselves and not paying someone else, people making costumes for themselves and not paying someone else, people setting up camps for themselves and not relying on someone else... But yes, its dangerous, and I think that safety should give everyone some added incentive to share experiences.

Its still an anti-commercial event and I suspected flamebrain was affiliated with bonefire, directly or indirectly. If not, I honestly wish he would say so I can avoid a misunderstanding and give him the apology he would really deserve.

Crazybuthappy, Buckethead, Megaflow, I sincerely want you to know that I have nothing but respect for you. You have posted very helpful information and your contributions have helped others.

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Postby spectabillis » Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:30 pm

This reminded me. Someone posted a comment on another board that flamethrowers were now illegal in California, but still legal in Nevada.

Dont have a cite.

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Postby Megaflow » Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:45 pm

I can see where users of these devices get caught up in the enthusiasm and may post something like the guy did. A few of the people that I made flame throwers for are like little kids at Christmas the first time they pull the trigger and want to show and tell the world. I don't think too much of that post and I hope that I didnt sound offensive and I am not trying to commerialize this thread. It's all fun when we get to the playa. More fun if you have safe fire toys.

I feel that not everyone wants to learn or has the means to Tig weld or fabricate and that there should be a way for these people to get a flame device that they can enjoy and know that it is tested, well constructed. relable, durable but most of all safe.


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