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Jeweler's Propane Torch


#1

I usually just lurk and read everybody’s amazingly informative
emails, but I have this stupid torch problem that’s driving me
insane…

A few months ago I purchased a basic torch kit as an insurance
replacement. It’s a very basic setup: small disposable propane fuel
tank, 4 foot flexible hose, and three tips (pin point, brush, and
pencil tips). (Grobet USA Cataloguenumber 14.226…it’s also similar
to the Bernzo-matic Pencil Torch)

Of course I never really used it for a few months, and now that I’d
like to I can’t get the thing to work properly. I was hoping somebody
was familiar with it and could tell me whether I’m just terminally
confused, whether the thing is broken, or whether it’s a generally
useless piece of equipment!

The problem is that I can’t seem to be able to regulate the amount of
air mixing with the propane and the flame I’m getting is completely
inappropriate for soldering. Nice for a candle-light dinner, but
that’s about it.

The tips screw on to the “handle”. I’ve screwed on the "pin point"
tip as far as I can, and I get a pleasant flickering yellow flame with
more flames coming out the sides of the tip. I get a slighter more
energetic flame with the mid-sized tip, and an almost, but not quite,
usable flame with the largest tip.

I was hoping somebody had was familiar with this torch and had some
bright ideas??

In the event I can’t get this to work, I’m considering investing in a
Little Torch with the small disposable oxygen/propane bottles. From
what I understand the bottles are relatively expensive, and I was
wondering if anybody had a rough idea of how long each bottle lasted?

My other idea is to try the “Smith Propane and Air Soldering Outfit”
(from the Rio Grande catalogue). Has anybody tried this kit? Does it
create a reasonable, adjustable flame?

Since I’ll be using it in a room that used to be a “dining room”, my
options are a little limited :slight_smile:

Many thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Rita.


#2

Have you ever considered using an aqua torch? It’s pricier but I
prefer it since I’m using it in a residence. The flame size is a
little limited, you can’t do very large pieces but for jewelry it’s
suitable for most projects. Leda


#3

I can’t find a picture of this torch. Does it have a regulator? If
so, it sounds like you don’t have the pressure set high enough. I
think you must have what’s called an “inspirator” type torch. This
is a torch that draws air in to mix with the fuel as it burns. The
fuel must be escaping fast enough through the torch orifice to create
the vacum behind it necessary to draw in adequate air to combust all
the fuel. You should see a soft blue, brush shaped flame with a
lighter blue “cone” at the base of it. If there is no regulator,
make sure the tank valve is adequately open and there is nothing
blocking the air intake on the torch.

David L. Huffman


#4

I also use propane and oxygen, on both of my sets, I have dual
regulators on the oxygen. It lets me know how much oxygen I have
left, (so I can plan for the tank replacement) and also does the
proper amount of pressure. Do you have your oxygen tanks properly
regulated? It sounds to me, with that sort of flame, that your oxygen
isn’t doing what it is supposed to.

But I could be wrong.

A. Austin
Silversmith


#5

Rita:

Sounds like you may be out of propane. If you shake the bottle,
there should be some shaking around in there. Easy to check, just
get another bottle, they are cheap enough. Or, you may have
something clogging the tip. See if you can get a thin wire into the
tip to ream it out, or try blowing it out, maybe with compressed air.
Check for leaks, too. These little torches are very simple, there
isn’t much to go wrong, and I can’t think of anything else it could
be. For best results, the bottle should be propped up so that the
neck is about six inches from the table, I think. These things are
fine for simple soldering, but for larger silver pieces, some people
have trouble getting enough heat and graduate to an acetylene-air
torch, which is probably the next cheapest outfit. If you want one
of those, check around at the pawn shops, I occasionally see one
there. You need to know what it looks like, as sometimes they have a
bottle attached, and sometimes not. Cheaper, of course, to find one
with the bottle. Check on what a bottle costs before buying a torch
alone.

HTH,
Roy


#6

.Rita… go with little torch…you can use propane and
oxyegen…propane can be bought in hardware store …i think 30 Ib
bottle is 20 ddl plus the gas…think about renting a large
bottle of oxyegen with ox .it will last you all year. or you
canpurchase a small oxyegen…that you can handle fairly easy…but
all means go with Little Torch.

clyde in south texas


#7

Rita, The torch you have is not familiar to me! It doesn’t sound like
a very stable setup! You didn’t say whether you are doing a lot, or
little, of torch work! If you are doing a little at a time, get the
best that you can afford. The “Little Torch” is a very nice torch and
will do most if not all of your torch work. A water torch will do a
lot of small work! If you are doing a lot of melting and/or casting
you should get a larger torch with access to bigger tips! Call Rio
Grande and get a Tool Catalog and see what’s available! It might be
worth your while to check with your fire insurance to see if using a
torch in the house is okay! GL

Rio Grande’s number is 800 545 6566 (Catalog is free!)


#8

G’day; The problem as described says several possibilities to me;

  1. that the tip needs screwing more tightly into the tube; it sounds
    to me as if it were leaking just below the tip. 2) that there is
    insufficient gas pressure; the container may be almost empty. The
    bottles nearly always have the TARE (empty) weight and the weight
    plus liquid gas stamped on them somewhere. So weigh it on kitchen
    scales, a spring balance or if it is a larger bottle, use bathroom
    scales. A third possibility is a slightly more complicated one -
    which we in NZ in particular have to put up with.

Liquid propane is actually manufactured by ‘cracking’ 'mineral oil’
products, and synthesizing various things with a catalyst. This
process not only gives propane, but other gases too, like methane,
which is valuable as a source for further syntheses, and distillation
purifies and isolates the various liquefied gases. Now we come to
the bitter bit. One product is propane and another is butane. Propane
is valuable, but butane isn’t quite so valuable, so after they have
filled a few thousand cigarette lighters and spray cans what do they
do with the rest? They are left with thousands of tons of the stuff -
it isn’t worth very much for further syntheses. Some they flare off
from huge burners at the manufacturing site. But they discovered
that camper’s, barbecue etc propane bottles could be diluted with
butane, and perhaps nobody would notice. Mostly such users don’t, but
some jewellers do. After I have had and used a bottle for a while,
the flame gets miserable and finally won’t burn, just as if the bottle
is empty or the nozzle blocked. But it isn’t that; there is still
quite a bit left; one can feel it swirl, and the bottle weighs quite a
bit more than the tare weight.

It is because propane has a lower boiling point, so evaporates from
the bottle first, leaving quite a bit of butane behind. But butane
has a much lower vapour pressure too, and doesn’t evaporate (boil) so
easily at room temperatures. So. One has a gas bottle that when
weighed informs one that up to a third of the original gas weight is
present. So it is, but it is mostly butane - which is too ‘lazy’ to
climb out of the bottle, and although it will ignite and burn well
with a really big brush flame nozzle, the idly biddy ones we use for
jewellery have such tiny orifices that the gas can’t escape fast
enough to burn properly. But if one goes and gets a fill, the fresh
liquid gas mixes with the unburnt butane and voila! You are even
worse off because you finish up with almost pure butane eventually!
Only three possibilities remain. a) put a big burner on the bottle
and take it down the garden/yard, turn on the gas and light it, let
it burn itself out. b) Take the bottle to a remote spot, turn it
upside down, open the valve wide, stand clear and let 'er go! (but it
might be unlucky to light up a cigarette whilst waiting.) c)
Complain bitterly to the manufacturers. They won’t do anything. Or
even answer one’s polite letters. So we’re back to a) or b)

Finally, someone suggested putting a wire down the nozzle to make
sure it isn’t clogged. Sounds OK. BUT! Most propane/air burners
have a nozzle orifice so small that even 30 swg wire won’t go down it.
Any thinner and the wire will bend first, but don’t ask me how they
drill the holes in the first place!

Bit wordy, eh? But the butane dilutant is one of my pet peeves.
There; feel a bit better now. Cheers

Johnb@ts.co.nz, Mapua, Nelson, where it’s apple blossom time, but the
lambs are dying in the storms.