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Experience with a propane blowpipe torch?


#1

Does anyone have experience with a propane blowpipe torch? I’ve
tried looking for info on this online, but haven’t come up with much.
I am considering buying a German made blowpipe torch from Otto Frei
to use on my sailboat workshop, and am curious about the learning
curve and capabilities of a blowpipe torch.

I use propane for cooking aboard, but don’t want the added problem
of the oxygen tank.

I have an oxy/propane Little Torch that I have been using for at 10
years or so, working in silver and gold.

Tina


#2

I once worked in a shop, for about three years, where we pretty much
only used a propane blowpipe torch (except for casting we would have
all been passed out on the floor!) My employer was German trained,
and we did 18K granulation. It seems weird and scary at first, but
once you get the hang of it the amount of control you have is
addictive. Imagine being able to change the intensity of your flame
as you are working with it. Americans are almost entirely unfamiliar
with blowpipe torches, which I think is a shame. It is another tool
in the arsenal. I still keep one around. When you want a big bushy
flame nothing beats it, it can keep oxidation down to almost nothing
(especially if you quench the piece while it is in the protective
cover of the flame).

I always encourage people to at least try these things. There is also
the benefit of using no oxygen tank, which can be very handy, like in
your case. Practice a little circular breathing. I don’t know of any
directions available, but I’m sure they are out there somewhere, and
I’ not convinced you even ned them.

Catherine Galloway


#3

I trained using a blow pipe and a bunsen burner!

four of us working at the same time used to be able to cast in
cuttle fish bones.

I remember how easy it was to control the flame.

Who sells them now?


#4

Hello Tina,

I have used a propane blowpipe and I loved it!!! There is almost no
online about blowpipes because they are considered to be
"third world throw backs" by many jewelers.

Personally, I have not had the same control with any other torch,
except a blowpipe I cannot use one in my current situation because of
ventilation issues, the pilot light would set my fire alarm off.

Check out my blog Bench of an Apprentice where I have a series on
torches and I talk a little bit about blowpipes and I even speak
about how to do the cyclic breathing necessary to to use one.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1g8

Specifically these two posts talk about the blowpipe:
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1g9
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1ga

I had trouble with the torch from Otto Frei, I had to send back
several because they looked like badly treated returns that had been
repackaged. I eventually ended up sending back the final torch
because the adjustment knob was leaking.

When I am again in a position to buy another blowpipe I will be
buying mine from Fischer
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1gb

The biggest learning curve is the cyclic breathing but this is
something that is easily learned, perfecting it just takes
repetition, some people use a foot bellows for this. I have heard of
people using a small fish tank pump but I am not sure what size pump
they use. The pressure needed is very slight but it needs to be
steady, if the pressure is too high it will blow out the flame.
Casting blowpipes require an air source (compressed air, not
oxygen).

The myth that if you breathe in you will burn your lungs is not
true!!!

If you breathe in guess what happens? The flame goes out, that’s
it!!! If you take a full lung of air in through the torch that’s
another story, you don’t want to do this because you will breathing
in propane mixed with air, not good for you!

The best feature about blowpipes is that they have an automatic
pilot light, you only have to light the torch once! To use the torch
all you have to do is blow through the hose.

The mouth piece can get pretty knarly (order a few extra), I have
found that not bitting on them keeps them looking nicer longer but
that’s not what I am talking about. When you slobber all over the
mouth piece and then let it hang in the open air it tends to pick up
some pretty nasty tasting things, I suggest putting the mouth piece
in a container to keep it away from drafts, this way it stays as
clean as possible. Don’t put it in water because you will blow excess
water through the hose and extinguish your flame.

The hook ups for the torch require special fittings that allow hose
to be pressed onto nibs. The hose needs to have clamps on these nibs
or it will leak gas. The clamps do not need to be super tight, but
tight enough to stop the flow of gas. If the pressure through the
hoses is too much the hose could blow off the fitting. This happened
to me once and it scared me to death! This was right after I had
gotten the blowpipe and I was used to cranking up the pressure (on a
disposable tank). The problem was that I hadn’t propely tightened
down one of the clamps after shortening the fuel hose. Another great
thing about blowpipes is that you will not have to have the regulator
opened all the way.

The torch tip will get covered in soot after a while, this is normal
and easily removed. Some blowpipes have removable tips which is a
definite plus.

If you get the torch from Otto Frei, the tip is not removable.

All you have to is put some denatured alcohol into a sandwich
baggie, place the torch or tips into the baggie and then place the
baggie into your ultrasonic cleaner. If you have a support frame for
beakers you can prop the baggie and torch up on this while they are
in your ultrasonic cleaner. Then just run the whole thing through a
five minute cycle to clean it. If it is not clean run it for another
five minutes and so on, usually no more then ten minutes is required.
By using the alcohol, it will burn off quickly and not leave any
residue.

The blowpipe is an amazing tool, something every jeweler should try
before they pass judgment!

You have total control of the flame and it seems to attach itself to
your work and it heats evenly and solder flows so smoothly… Oh, I
miss my blow pipe!!!

Check out Giacomo’s videos on Benchtube, he uses a blow pipe in most
of his videos. Giacomo makes some of the most amazing fabricated
jewelry I have seen.

http://www.ganoksin.com/benchtube/users/Giacomo/videos/public
http://www.ganoksin.com/benchtube/users/skilman/videos/public

I hope I have been some help

Take care Tina,
Kenneth


#5

I think that the subject may be the mouth blown soldering torch. If
you do a google search for this you can find supply stores that sell
them. You need to choose if you will be using propane or natural gas.
You open the gas line and light the flame. Close the end of the air
tube with you tongue and, breathing through your nose, fill your
lungs with air. Then pretend to be an opera singer and use your
diaphragm to give a steady, weaker or stronger, air supply to the
flame. You must sit up straight (very similar to the position that
one takes when playing the piano) to completely fill your lungs and
have a good supply of air. Do remember to use the tip of your tongue
to close the air tube while breathing in to avoid sucking in propane
or natural gas.

Lois


#6

I trained using a blow pipe and a bunsen burner!

Who sells them now? 

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1gg