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Oxy/fuel or propane for heating parts.


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Most of the time I pick up the cutting torch and heat whatever steel or cast iron that I need to expand enough to press or hammer apart--or if it is larger, throw on a Rosebud heating tip and get the job done. If I am welding a large casting I my build a fire in the forge to preheat and maintain while welding and peening. But today I had a project that called for lots of heat and a big propane heating torch was the cheaper and in my opinion today a better choice.

The project:: A good friend and neighbor restores several tractors a year, usually Farmalls, and he had one recently gone through a '48 M with engine overhaul, clutch and we built a 3 point hitch for it and mounted a spool valve. He found an aftermarket Swartz wide front for in online about 60 miles away so home it came. This was set out for the widest setting possible and he wanted to adjust it in for the M he bought it for. It in his words "GROWED TOGETHER TIGHTER THAN DICK'S HATBAND." He spent a good part of yesterday heating, pulling and beating with 4 lb hammer to no avail--emptied a new acetylene bottle on the rosebud I loaned him. He had used all sorts of penetrating oils, homemade remedies, and witches spells and it had not moved a smidgen. I was babysitting sick granddaughter yesterday, so last night he called and said it was ready for junk pile--I told him I would be down this morning and we would get it apart or break it.

These front ends are heavy wall 4 and 4 1/2 tubing telescoped together with spaced bolt holes for through bolts. He had it tied to a dead man (BIG oak tree on one end and loader tractor on other. You could curl the bucket against the chain and put lots of pull on the setup. Instead of the rosebud I took my propane "Pear Burner" torch and a 20 lp cylinder of LPG (propane) along with a 36" Ridgid pipe wrench and cheater. You may call these heating torches, weed burners or some other name, but in Texas they are called Pear burners by anyone who grew up in the 50's and early 60's. I will explain later.

I got the pipe wrench on it where I could rotate the inner tube, and started heating the 10" or so of the outer tube that the inner was sleeved into. The propane torch does not get as hot as and Oxy/Acetylene rosebud, but it heats a larger area. I heated until the red started showing, hit it with sledge hammer while he ramped down with the pipe wrench. I had scratched a line with a carbide scribe and after heating 15 minutes and hammering and twisting, it moved a 1/16. Then 1/8, 1/4 and so on until it separated and fell on the ground. We had to tighten the tractor a couple of three times, but it came out. We re-hooked chains and tractors, heated the other end and with time and force and heat it relented. I did this for less than a gallon of propane (estimate by weight) . It worked. I still had to bring one of the spindles home and press it down in the hydraulic press as it was stuck also. I freed up and I may have to make a bushing for the top, but it is ready to sand, reassemble and put on the M.

Pear Burner:: In Texas in the great drouth of the '50s many ranchers had to reduce their herds of sell out as there was little grass and no hay. One thing we had was lots of prickly pear cactus. Ranchers found their cattle were eating the pear pads, but had lots of needles or spines in their lips, jaws and tongues. Some long forgotten soul discovered you could take a flame, burn off the thorns and you had cattle feed. It actually has fairly good feed value. An industry was born. My dad shipped cases of pear burners to his retail propane/butane dealers and home made burner rigs were born. You could mount a 150-250 gallon tank on a trailer and with a long hose, the rancher could sit in his truck, tractor or walk around in the prickly pear and burn it. Cows would follow close behind and eat while it was hot. It became widespread practice and Southwest Tank in Lubbock, a LPG tank builder, marketed a tank mounted on a trailer just to meet this market. They built 150, 250, and 500 gallon versions and had the hose and burners on them. You could even order one with more than one hose--one for the wife. The best thing is you could install a wet line on these and use them for a nurse tank to fill your LP tractors and trucks--lots of these in Texas in the '50s. I remember those days well.