Yeah, I remember two of those generators, in fact, I was about a block from one of them when it blew up. Blew the big swinging doors open, blew the window glass out of all the windows, even flapped the tin on the roof. I rode my bicycle down there real quick, and the old blacksmith was staggering around in a daze. Fire truck rolled up a few minutes later, but there was no fire. It was all over with the bang. The old guy's face was red all over, his hair was burned off everywhere his hat hadn't covered, and he had two white circles over his eyes where the little old-time gas welding goggles had protected his skin. You could even see where the little bead chain over his nose had been. The other blacksmith in town kept his cleaned up and working like a new one, and as far as I remember, never had a mishap with it. My welding instructer years ago said to run, don't walk, if anyone offers you a job and you find out there's an acetelyne generator working in the shop. He said that sooner or later it would kill someone. My personal experience has been 50% - it shoulda killed old Lawrence, but for some reason it just wasn't his time. Wrecked his shop & put him out of business though. Hope I haven't discouraged you, ha.
As far as buying "big" cans of carbide - up until the mid 70's or so (I'm guessing) all the local hardware stores sold it in any quantity you could walk out the door with, but the last time I wanted some for my big coon light, I couldn't find it anywhere. The folks that used to sell it said it was too hazardous to mess with, too much liability, too much hassle. I remember when you could get a Prince Albert can full for a dime, but that was back when Hector was a pup.