some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump
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  1. #1
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    some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    This is a thread about using an inexpensive used carbonator from a restaurant as a TIG cooler. I know this has been covered many times, but I came to some different conclusions than most other guys. So forgive me, and please bear with me for a bit.

    I read quite a few threads on TIG cooler builds using a carbonator pump. I remain confused about how exactly to dial in 50 psi and indeed where did the number 50 psi come from? I just bought a CK230 Flex torch, and the manual which comes with it calls out water not as pressure but as a flow rate - 1 quart per minute, or one gallon per 4 minutes.

    Further, a lot of people think you have to dial back the spring tension inside the torch to 50 psi. Well, I don't buy that. That valve is a relief valve, meaning it opens when the pressure inside the pump builds too high. A relief valve on a vane pump should never open in normal use and makes quite a racket if it does open. So I'm not going to worry about the relief valve spring, or about pressure at all, and to think about flow rate, i.e. meeting the CK spec of 1 quart per minute.

    My carbonator's pump is made by Procon, serial number 111A100F11AA 250PSI. Right in the middle of that long string that makes up the serial number is "100" - this is the flow rate put out by my pump. In gallons per hour. Dividing by 60 gets gallons per minute = 1-2/3 GPM. Multiplying by 4 gets quarts per minute = 6.7 which is a lot more than CK's spec of 1 QPM. So too much water is going to come out of the pump.

    I decided to try installing a bypass hose back to the tank. Originally, my bypass loop had a valve in it. I found that even with that valve wide open, I couldn't get the flow rate low enough. I then thought for awhile and realized that if all the water coming out of the pump goes into a tee, and there is the same (very low) resistance to each leg of the tee (as there would be with a bypass valve wide open) then half the flow would go out of each end of the tee. Half of 6.7 is way more than 1, so a valved bypass clearly wasn't going to work.

    So I moved the valve to the pump output leg of the tee. Nothing for slowing down flow like closing down a valve. I don't have to worry about the pressure inside the pump building too high, because the free-flowing bypass line back to the tank prevents that. With the valve on the output and the bypass tube wide open, I started running experiments to see how far I'd have to shut the output valve to get my flow rate down to 1 quart per minute (the CK spec). I used a stop watch and an empty gallon jug. I just plumbed in a piece of tube so I could run all of the pump's output into the gallon jug. Of course, I was shooting for the jug to fill in 4 minutes.

    I was amazed at how far down I had to turn the output valve. When I got 1 QPM dialed in, the flow was barely more than a dribble.

    That's as far as I've gotten. Here is a picture of the way I have my carbonator set up, and another one showing a 1 QPM flow rate.

    - metalmagpie



    Last edited by metalmagpie; 06-05-2019 at 12:41 AM. Reason: typo or two

  2. #2
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    You sure went the long way around

    Replacing the spring for the correct pressure control spring was less than $1 and I was all done

    Less pressure controlled the flow rate as a bonus.
    Dave J.

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  3. #3
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    I agree with Minnesota Dave. There IS a pressure reduction fitting on most Procon carbonator pumps. Procon even sells a gauge that hooks to the pump to set the pressure at whatever level you want. I set mine to 50 psi. It's possible that you picked a pump body that does not have the adjustable pressure valve.
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  4. #4
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by DougAustinTX View Post
    I agree with Minnesota Dave. There IS a pressure reduction fitting on most Procon carbonator pumps. Procon even sells a gauge that hooks to the pump to set the pressure at whatever level you want. I set mine to 50 psi. It's possible that you picked a pump body that does not have the adjustable pressure valve.
    My pump pressure spring was for too high of a range to adjust down.

    New spring fixed it though. Verified with a pressure guage permanently installed.
    Dave J.

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  5. #5
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Hmmm.

    Never had a problem. I adjust to 1 through 1.5 quarts per minute. Years ago I did have a high pressure spring that I reduced the OD on to lower spring pressure to bring down the flow. But knowing that softer springs are available is the ticket.

    I use EDCO distributing for rebuilds BTW, and those are far and few.
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  6. #6
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by DougAustinTX View Post
    There IS a pressure reduction fitting on most Procon carbonator pumps. Procon even sells a gauge that hooks to the pump to set the pressure at whatever level you want. I set mine to 50 psi.
    So the Procon pump has a built-in pressure regulator? I guess that's possible, although it is certainly called out in their literature as a relief valve.

    metalmagpie

  7. #7
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    This is a Procon document:

    https://www.proconpumps.com/content/...0Pump_spec.pdf

    At the top of page 2 is a volume chart. As I mentioned above, my pump is set up to deliver 100 GPH. If you go down the left column of that chart until you see 100, then move right one column, you read that my Procon pump with its output set to 50 psi delivers 102 GPH. This is 6.8 QPM, or almost 7X the flow rate called out by CK Worldwide for their water-cooled torches.

    So the real question is what's the design goal? To set the output pressure to 50 psi or to set the output flow rate to 1 QPM?

    I can see that it would be easy to swap in a weaker spring to get to 50psi and then call it good. Someone somewhere must specify that their water-cooled torches are only rated for 50 psi, although I have never seen that.

    So again I ask - where does the 50 psi number come from?

    metalmagpie

  8. #8
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Call Procon. They can tell you how to tweak it and what parts are needed if at all possible. They are familiar with TIG cooling applications.
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  9. #9
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    The hose psi rating is one of the reasons for the 50psi recommendation.

    Online resources from ArcZone and others says the same.

    The spring ratings in the procon pumps are listed in the document you shared.

    Mine came with the 250 psi spring, I swapped it for the low pressure one and adjusted it.
    https://weldingweb.com/showthread.ph...ooled-awesome-)
    ...and becaause the spring was under $1, they didn't even charge me for it because it wasn't worth it. He just put it in an envelope and mailed it.

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    Last edited by MinnesotaDave; 06-05-2019 at 12:29 PM.
    Dave J.

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  10. #10
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmagpie View Post
    This is a Procon document:

    https://www.proconpumps.com/content/...0Pump_spec.pdf

    At the top of page 2 is a volume chart. As I mentioned above, my pump is set up to deliver 100 GPH. If you go down the left column of that chart until you see 100, then move right one column, you read that my Procon pump with its output set to 50 psi delivers 102 GPH. This is 6.8 QPM, or almost 7X the flow rate called out by CK Worldwide for their water-cooled torches.

    So the real question is what's the design goal? To set the output pressure to 50 psi or to set the output flow rate to 1 QPM?

    I can see that it would be easy to swap in a weaker spring to get to 50psi and then call it good. Someone somewhere must specify that their water-cooled torches are only rated for 50 psi, although I have never seen that.

    So again I ask - where does the 50 psi number come from?

    metalmagpie
    For decades the rule of thumb has been 1 - 1.5QPM. Any more is going to over pressure your hoses.
    Last edited by shovelon; 06-05-2019 at 03:05 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    The hose psi rating is one of the reasons for the 50psi recommendation.
    Online resources from ArcZone and others says the same.
    I have seen that guy from ArcZone saying 50 psi is the way to go.

    I am certain I can get a different spring from Procon, thanks.

    I would love it if someone who has reset their pump to 50 psi and is using it like that to cool a TIG torch, would unscrew the water return line and put it into a 4 cup measuring cup and turn on their pump and measure how long it takes to fill the 4 cups.

    metalmagpie

  12. #12
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmagpie View Post
    So the Procon pump has a built-in pressure regulator? I guess that's possible, although it is certainly called out in their literature as a relief valve.

    metalmagpie
    Yes. Adjustable pressure/flow screw. See the small acorn nut on the side? Remove it and you will see a screw. Screw it in for more pressure/flow, out for less pressure/flow. When happy replace the acorn nut and lock it tight.
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  13. #13
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmagpie View Post
    I have seen that guy from ArcZone saying 50 psi is the way to go.

    I am certain I can get a different spring from Procon, thanks.

    I would love it if someone who has reset their pump to 50 psi and is using it like that to cool a TIG torch, would unscrew the water return line and put it into a 4 cup measuring cup and turn on their pump and measure how long it takes to fill the 4 cups.

    metalmagpie
    Many people have done so over the years - including myself.
    Dave J.

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  14. #14
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    The 102 gph @ 50 psi, is the unrestricted flow of the pump. Adjust to the 50 psi, and the amount flowing out of the torch return hose should be a about .25 gph . The restriction of the hose (my weld tec 20 torch has a very small lines) change the pressure/flow . Instead of the valve and tee bypass, you could put a pressure relief valve with bypass, but they cost a lot more than just buying the correct spring.
    I put a 20 psi pond pump on my 20 torch in a pinch, worked fine for a while. When I ran some longer runs of around 200-250 amps the power wire melted thru the hose. I flipped up my lid to find water spraying all over the welder/shop. it cost me $60 to replace the hose(vinyl) and its not as nice as the original. I was better off with the faucet and a regulator (the shop water pressure is 60 to 90 psi).


    Good luck, hope you get it running soon.
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  15. #15
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    I am using an old Bernard cooler with a Procon pump. My cooler setup cools a CK 18 tig torch and a Cobramatic Prince XL push-pull mig gun. I have the pump pressure output set at 48 psi. From the head of the pump I have a T fitting, with one leg going to the TIG torch and the other going to the MIG gun. I have a ball valve in the line going to the TIG torch to balance the flow betweeen the two torches.

    Since I am in the heart of ag country, I procured a couple sprayer flow gauges. These are cone-shaped devices with a ball that will rise to a calibrated flow level. These are somewhat similar to a ball-type flow meter used for shielding gas. I use gauges designed to flow one quart per minute, which is what both the TIG torch and MIG gun require. These flow gauges are plumbed into the return lines of both torches, with return lines leaving the flow gauges and returning separately to the sump. I use the ball valve in the TIG torch supply line to balance the flows between the torch and gun. I have a switching relay that automatically turns on the coolant pump depending on which welder is being used. I have the flow gauges mounted where they can be easily observed from where I normally weld.

    I have had ZERO problem with my setup and I use it pretty hard, welding 1/4" aluminum almost exclusively. The TIG welder puts more heat into the cooler, but the coolant sump temp has never exceeded 100 degrees F, even after nearly 2 hours of uninterrupted TIG welding.

  16. #16
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Done monkeying about testing flow just with tubes, I hooked up the TIG torch today. How humbling - it didn't push any water through it at all. Except maybe a dribble. Even when I opened my output limiting valve all the way. So now I'm going to have to rework it again and put the limiting valve on the bypass side again.

    metalmagpie

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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Don't confuse flow with pressure. They are not the same thing. 50psi spring is used to contain the pressure within the system to what the hoses can handle. The flow rate of the typical carbonator pump is just about what the tig torch needs to not melt anything. Swap to the 50psi spring and move on with life.
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  18. #18
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by 86turbodsl View Post
    Don't confuse flow with pressure. They are not the same thing. 50psi spring is used to contain the pressure within the system to what the hoses can handle. The flow rate of the typical carbonator pump is just about what the tig torch needs to not melt anything. Swap to the 50psi spring and move on with life.
    I agree.

    Back out the spring. And if it needs a softer spring put it in.
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  19. #19
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    The pressure is what controls the flow if going through the same system.

    A 80 gallon dual staqe compressor doesn't flow any different than a 2 gallon baby compressor with both regulators set to 50 PSI. It will flow the same and have same pressure if they were using same regulator and piping/hoses. Well until tank PSI falls below 50 on the little guy.

    50 psi is system rating so if you run it that vicinity the flow you need will be there.

    More pressure/flow may not cool better anyhow as if it is flowing too fast it will not take heat away but rather just pass on through not doing so much at the torch or the cooler. Like a car cooling system with the thermostat out and no restrictor in it's place.

  20. #20
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    Re: some thoughts on using a carbonator for a cooling pump

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmagpie View Post
    So the Procon pump has a built-in pressure regulator? I guess that's possible, although it is certainly called out in their literature as a relief valve.

    metalmagpie
    I have two TIG coolers. One is a Bernard 2500. The other is home built. Both use Procon pumps. Both pumps are adjustable for pressure. I added a pressure gauge on each unit and set the pressure to 50-55 psi. I've used both alternately for more than 20 years with no problems.
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