Living in the heart of the salt belt, I cannot count how many times I’ve gone to repair our homestead equipment only to get stuck (literally) when removing a rusty bolt. I’ve had some success freeing rusted bolts by using the heat of a small propane torch, but those don’t always get hot enough. For this reason, I’ve had my eye on a small acetylene portable torch kit for a few years now.
I’ve seen these small acetylene kits at Tractor Supply, Home Depot and Harbor Freight. They usually run $300 to $500. Up until recently, I couldn’t justify the cost for the limited usage I require, but at the start of snow-plowing season, I finally had an urgent reason to make the purchase.
Farm Equipment Failure Prompts Torch Purchase
I had a catastrophic failure with our homestead plow. It was a user error: I didn’t fully seat the left plow pin and half the plow detached during usage. This ultimately caused the large steel plow bracket on our truck to bend and make it impossible to use our plow until fixed.
Rather than buy a new bracket or pay a mechanic to repair this, I decided to buy an acetylene torch kit for $330 and attempt to bend the metal myself. My hope was to fix the plow bracket and then also have the torch to cut steel, weld and bend metal in the future on our homestead. In the end, this all worked out and I did fix our plow bracket. I’ve since also cut metal with the torch and tried my hand at old-school welding.
Comparing Harbor Freight Kit to Others
After some research, I purchased the kit from Harbor Freight for $330. I cannot say for sure, but I found a few reviewers online that said the Harbor Freight kit is actually made by Victor (a reputable torch company). Also, if you look closely at the Harbor Freight kit and then look closely at the Tractor Supply Kit (for over $100 more), they look identical and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were made by the same company.
Overall, I was impressed with the build of the kit. The hoses, valves and torches all seem to be very heavy-duty and well made. The directions and operation were fairly smooth. I am happy with the purchase and I was able to repaid my plow, which was my main goal, but there were a few cons…
One negative is getting the acetylene and oxygen tanks filled. Most welding suppliers will fill these, but I needed my tanks filled on the weekend, and there was no welding supplier open to fill the tanks. I learned that Tractor Supply will swap these tanks out but only the Thoroughbred brand tanks and these were not Thoroughbred tanks. I found that Farm and Fleet would swap them, so that is what I did.
The cost at the time of writing this was about $70 total for Acetylene and Oxygen tank swaps. This was fairly expensive and the Acetylene doesn’t last long. I’ve also read online that for safety reasons, you are not supposed to use more than one-tenth of an acetylene tank per hour. It’s pretty hard not to exceed this limit, so this kit is only really good for one-off small projects. Perfect for heating up a rusty bolt from time to time on our homestead but if I wanted to do more metal work, I’d really need to get much larger and more expensive tanks.
Overall, I am happy with my Harbor Freight Acetylene Torch Kit. Acetylene is expensive but for limited usage from time to time on my homestead, it is well worth it for me.
I also did a video demo and review of this kit:
Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and Instructables.com, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his Homestead How YouTube page, Instructables, Pinterest, Facebook, and at My Evergreen Homestead. Read all of Kerry’s GRIT posts here.
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