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Little Torch vs. Meco Midget


#1

New Thread - Little Torch vs. Meco Midget

(In response to the thread: How good is the Little Torch?)

I understand that many people use The Little Torch and are happy
with it. But the torch has severe limitations, which people either do
not understand or are able to get around as described below. The very
small size of the tips along with the use of Oxygen/acetylene limits
this torch to very small work; chain repair, retipping and small gold
fabrication. It is fine for that size of soldering operation. But the
torch is not a good heat source for larger objects and silver
jewelry. The Little Torch’s flame works best in oxidizing mode,
which makes it impossible to heat things slowly with a reducing
flame, as often desired. The only way to heat a large object is from
a distance with a flame that is really too hot.

I prefer the Meco Midget torch or another similar size torch. The
Meco Midget is the brass model seen in all my books and videos. We
have a Meco Midget at every bench here at the Revere Academy and run
them on natural gas and O2. (The torch also runs just fine on bottled
propane at 400 degrees F. hotter.) The Meco Midget torch is very
versatile, both in the range of heat and in the convenient knobs,
which make it easy to control in one hand. The Meco Midget can heat
very small jewelry pieces as well as large objects and even melt a
couple of ounces of gold.

Using the torch without any tips works well and produces a whole
range of large flames, from oxidizing to reducing. This is how I
introduce the torch to students. You can also add a rose bud that
spreads the flame wider. You can make the flame smaller with a set of
tips, which are graduated in size. And you can also use hypodermic
needles (available from some Jewelry suppliers) that fit right onto
the Meco and can make the flame minuscule, as small as you would ever
want.

I feel the Little Torch, with a cute name and slick packaging, has
been oversold to jewelers for decades, while the more useful and
versatile Meco Midget gets no attention at all. Some catalogs don’t
even offer it or a comparable torch anymore, just mini or melting
torches. I wonder how people are going to learn to make jewelry if
they are limited to the Little Torch’s small oxidizing flame. It is
certainly less than ideal for silver jewelry.

After almost 40 years at the bench, having tried every torch I could
lay my hands on, I stand by the Meco Midget for most jewelry work. To
find a resource, Google: Meco Midget Torch. And, just for the record,
I have no financial interest in the Meco torch.

Alan

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, Inc.
760 Market Street Suite 900
San Francisco, California 94102
tel: 415-391-4179


#2

I do not mean to challenge such an authority like Alan Revere, but
my credo was always to shoot “Kaka del Toro” down whenever I see one
flying.

I have been using little torch for the last 12 years exclusively. I
recycle my scrap by myself which I melt using little torch. As long
as I limit myself to 4 once at a time, I am fine. There is special
melting tip for little torch. My soldering technique primarily is
reducing flame. I cannot even remember the time when I had to use
oxidizing flame; I do use neutral occasionally. I never had any
troubles. So I could not disagree more with Alan’s comments.

Alan wonders “how people are going to learn to make jewelry if thay
are limited to the Little torch oxidizing flame”. Well, I would
expect him to know that secret lies in the hands which operate the
torch and not in the torch itself.

I have never used Meco MIdget. It may be a fine tool, but we should
not maline tools which served so well for so many years, just
because we want to promote something else.

It also would be nice if all of us would abstain from acting as paid
promoters in this forum. There is enough of that going elsewhere.

Leonid Surpin.


#3

There are reasons why the Smith Little Torch has the reputation it
has. I don’t think you would go very wrong with that choice. However,
the post, “Little Torch vs. Meco Midget,” brings up some good points
to consider. “But the torch is not a good heat source for larger
objects and silver jewelry.”

That said, I will throw a curve into the discussion. First, I am a
partisan fan of a German torch. However, this is the torch I like,
and own. I am adding this link because they have switched from a
sponsored site to one they own themselves, so the old links will not
work.

http://www.planert-jewellery.com.au/precision_lp_gas_torch.htm

This works great on silver, I know having used air/acetylene. This
can also do things those would have a problem with, or not do. With
a 0-60 regulator this can operate on a disposable canister. (This was
a serious consideration.) Dose this have serious drawbacks? I would
say yes, it has never had the coffee made or my eggs ready yet.
Seriously the only thing I consider a downside is that the hose is
rather stiff, so if you have one you may want to consider a
"swivel-it" connector. This will alloy gold or silver, but not
platinum or palladium. On the other hand, the cooler flame is
actually an advantage on silver. I will not tell you this is a better
torch (it is a good one), because that depends on what you need to do
with one. I will also add for the record, that I have no financial
ties to this torch, just like it. Other than that, if nothing else I
would say you might want to take a look.


#4

Alan:

I am also a fan of the Meco Midget torch. I have one and love it.

My concern is that from the research when I bought mine is that they
are not being manufactured anymore, tips are hard to find etc. Do
you know if the Meco Midget is still in production and where can one
find a variety of tips? I like the NG-Ventilated tips from Otto Frei
but they are getting harder to find. Do we need to stockpile parts
and tips for it?

Thanks.
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#5

I have both. I also have the Smith Air Acetylene torch as well as
several Victor Journeyman torches. The Meco Midget is tough. At TIJT
Paris Texas, I used it for first semester. Second through forth
semesters I used the Smith Little torch. Oxy - Natural Gas was used
for everything. This includes Platinum and casting.

The little torch is easier to hold and wield. The Meco Midget is more
flexible. I have Acetylene for the Smith Air Acetylene torch and
Victor Journeyman torches ONLY. I use propane in the 1 lb disposable
tanks which I refill with an attachment I bought at Harbor Freight I
purchase Propane in a 5 lb. tank. I check for leaks with a spray
bottle of Windex on FUEL GAS ONLY.

The 1 lb disposable tanks I buy new, use until it will not seal =
completely, then dispose of safely. Smith makes a fixed setting
Propane regulator. I like it. Inexpensive and no problems.

Robb.


#6

A torch is a concoction of brass tubing that mixes two gases and a
flame comes out the end. There has often been this recurring,
“What’s the best torch?” thing here on Orchid, but they are all just
tubing that has a flame coming out the end. I’ve used just about
every type of torch there is - they all gave me a flame - funny how
that works. I’ve logged about 10,000 hours on the Mecco - it’s
comfortable, reliable, durable. What Alan says is largely true - the
Smith Mini is fairly limited, and the Mecco can do the Smith’s job
and more. The Smith isn’t limited by tips, it’s limited by the
tubing - there’s only so much gas available through that 1/4"
tubing. The point being, really, that I can make a flame with my
torches that can solder 30 gauge wire, or I can get a flame that’s a
foot long - cutting torch, too, for that matter. It’s not the
handle, it’s the flame. If you’re content with the flame a mini
torch give you, then you are. You’re just not going to be making any
men’s belt buckles with it, but that’s your prerogative, isn’t it?

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#7

The Meco line was bought out by Victor years ago and discontinued
the line but someone(name escapes me) continued to make the jewelers
torch. torches can be found at:

http://tinmantech.chainreactionweb.com/html/meco_midget_torch.php

Kent ( the tinman) should be able to help as much as is possible.
http://www.americantorchtip.com made tips for all sorts of equipment
– they may be able to help.

I never owned a midget torch but did have other Meco equipment.

jesse
I don’t remember that all the tips are available.


#8
I am also a fan of the Meco Midget torch. I have one and love it.
My concern is that from the research when I bought mine is that
they are not being manufactured anymore,...Do we need to stockpile
parts and tips for it? 

As I said, I am not involved in any way with these products. I
cannot answer your questions.

Alan

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, Inc.
760 Market Street Suite 900
San Francisco, California 94102


#9

All,

Re Alan’s comment about ‘The Little Torch’, I must run counter to
his remarks about severe limitations. I have used The Little Torch
for clost to 25 years and it is my primary! I prefer and mostly use
propane/O2 but have also used Acetylene/O2 in the past. I do have a
Victor acetylene/air on my bench as well but use it mainly for
brazing, melting, annealing and soldering LARGE items. All other
items, (both gold and silver) bezel/backs, bails, prongs, sizings,
chain repair, even some castings; you know, the day to day stuff, are
done with The Little Torch. Now, it is important to know what one
means by “large” and what one means by “small”. Using a LT tips 5
thru 7 can produce a reducing flame from 3 to 5 inches long. On the
other hand, a 3 or 4 tip (can’t go below 3 with propane) gives a tiny
oxidizing flame perfect for re-tip and the finest of chains. What
more do you need? Casting, get a rose bud tip…it will do up to
almost 3oz. It might take a bit of time but if you are in a hurry,
switch to the Actylene/air.

I think what we have here is a preference!!! Its what one gets used
to and what one’s requirements may be. I do like the aceylene/air
Smith torches we have at the school and can do a lot with them. Its
what all my students learn on. But…those who tend towards smaller
work, also learn on The Little Torch.

I have never used the Midget but propably would like it!!! But,
since The Little Torch does what I want and need, why spend the extra
$??

Cheers to all from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where
simple elegance IS fine jewelry!

PS. I’m continuing to recover well from aortal surgery in Feb but
expect to be out of action for another 2-3 months. Now I face a
couple of other arterial procedures in May. I guess those wonderful
slices of home made white bread soaked in pork drippings I loved as a
kid are catching up with me!! Wish me luck!


#10

Dear All,

Here is an another view comment and some torch history. I have used
the Hoke torch for years, since 1976 or so. The Smith NE 140 and NE
150 were an industry standard as well as the Hoke (Vigor made a very
similar unit). The Midget was a smaller brass version of the Smith.
The little torch came sometime in the early 80’s I think.

In trade school in 1977 I started using the Smith because it was
also capable of casting 10 oz of metal as well as doing bench repairs
and annealing.

Smith stopped making the NE 140 and 150 so when I started teaching
the program we switched to the Hoke. OK for bench work and annealing,
but not for casting. We kept the Smith NE 150 and 140 for the casting
area. We still use them everyday, even though they haven’t been made
for years.

The Hoke torches are now being replaced with brand new Meco Midgets.
Stuller sells them. The little torch is just too small even with the
larger tip to do some of the work. We use natural gas and oxygen
because it is an industry standard. Acetylene is too bright, hot and
sooty for our work. The Midget has a slightly finer control than the
Hoke. We modify all the tips for a small, med and large opening. The
torch tip holes supplied by the manufacturer were designed by someone
who never worked on jewelry.

In my own shop I use a larger Smith for casting, the Hoke for the
bench and I am trying out the new Meco Midget for a comparison.

It’s interesting to watch the Rio Grand videos. Ed Friedman does a
lot of the demos and uses a Meco Midget. At this point Rio does not
even sell them.

It’s not the torch it’s the operator.

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson


#11

The reason I bought my light torch is my hands are medium sized, it
fits well in them. I knew Meco was absorbed by another company, but
didn’t know who.

Just Google the name and go from there for Mecco parts.

Jerry


#12
I do not mean to challenge such an authority like Alan Revere, but
my credo was always to shoot "Kaka del Toro" down whenever I see
one flying. It also would be nice if all of us would abstain from
acting as paid promoters in this forum. There is enough of that
going elsewhere. 

Ummmm…Mr. Surpin, Admitting that you have never used a Meco Midget,
and then suggesting that Mr. Revere is in some way benefiting from
recommending the Midget, may have the rest of us believing that you
don’t have both oars in the water. The Meco Midget is no longer in
production. Hard to draw a commission from a discontinued item.

I bought my frst Midget after the end of the copper tip of my Little
Torch melted onto a platinum piece I was welding. Trying to push a
device that was inadequate for the job. I stress inadequate

I have recently located and purchased my second Midget from a
supplier’s remaining stock, having used the previous one for more
than 10 years and requiring a second. My shop uses The Little Torches
as well, and a Presto-Lite. You may be able to use the Little Torch
for all of your needs, but it will not do everything, and that is
precisely why Mr. Revere recommended the Midget. It will, if pressed,
work as the only torch a shop would ever need.

Surely, Mr. Revere will accept your apology.

David Keeling
www.davidkeelingjewellery.com


#13

I have & love my Meco Midget. Hence, my concern about finding parts
for it & my questions in my first post.

I have used: an air/acetylene torch (for years), a Little Torch
where I took classes, and now the Meco Midget. I can compare all 3
from actual experience.

When I decided I need a hotter torch and one with smaller tip I
spend a great deal of time dithering between the Meco Midget and the
Little Torch. I talked with salespeople, fellow jewelers, other
Orchid members.

What I finally decided was that the Meco Midget was the more
versatile torch. I can’t say it any better then Alan did. It has
more uses, works beautifully with silver both large and small. It
handles gold. The little torch is too small a torch. It had a huge
learning curve when working with silver, especially when working with
large pieces, silver is such a heat sink. I can’t imagine being able
to do some of the work I do, with a Little Torch. The Meco Midget
allows me to try a huge range of projects, as it doesn’t limit me by
its’ size.

I think Alan is right on. I recommend the Meco Midget over the
Little Torch whenever I am asked.

hth
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#14

This is a fascinating thread and very helpful.

I have been relegated by fire codes, home owner assoc., and
insurance adjusters to maintaining a Smith Little torch (w/disposable
propane & oxygen) in my home studio for about 15 years. I never
thought about it much since I always had access to the natural gas
(Hoke and Meco), acetylene (Presto-lite or SilverSmith), and even
hydrogen torch options available at work, or at the colleges where I
was teaching.

As an apprentice I was trained on and still own a Hoke hand piece. I
always considered it to be the best, and most versatile torch I ever
used with Natural gas and compressed oxygen. I am sorry to hear that
the Hoke is no longer made to the same quality standards as mine was.

I have found the Smith Little torch w/propane and oxygen to be very
similar to my old Hoke although slightly limited for the volume of
metal it is able to heat. I primarily use a neutral to slightly
reducing flame for objects up to 3 inches square in sterling that is
up to 16 gauge (1.3mm) thick with the Smith and a 7 tip. I have had
no problem getting the entire mass up to soldering temperature before
my flux is exhausted.

It seems it is the fuel choices combined with particular torch hand
pieces that is really being debated in this thread.

I agree with Alan, that the Little torch with acetylene and
compressed oxygen produces too hot of a flame and is not a good
option
as far as torch hand piece and gas combinations go.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


#15

I’ve used the Meco Midget for 14 years now. I use it with natural
gas and oxygen. My preference is for the ventilated tips for more
heat, and the little guys for bitty repairs.

A few weeks ago, I began to use a new ventilated tip that I got from
Otto Frei. I observed that the tips I have used for 14 years may have
gotten dirty over time. I plunked the old ventilated tips in my sonic
for a few minutes, blew them dry and they work exactly like the brand
new one. I probably didn’t need to buy new but now have the extras I
may need in the future.

Didn’t Victor buy the Meco line? And then quit making the best torch
I’ve ever used. I wonder how or who we could get to start making it
again? I’m sure the little torch is great, but there is room for two,
especially when so many of us still love the Meco after all these
years.

Does anybody here have good success with the little torch using
residential pressure natural gas and oxygen? Specifically natural gas
without a concentrator?

Judy Hoch


#16

Well, I use the standard full size Smith torch all the time. I can
put a #000 tip on it and do very small things or I can put a #4 tip
and burn a hole in something else (great for annealing vessels). You
know that old adage that if you don’t use it sell it? Well, I have
the Smith mini torch and have had it for over 30 years and haven’t
used it but a handful of times. I just really like my standard
torch.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA


#17

Judy,

Yes, I’m using the little torch with residential pressure natural gas
and bottled oxygen. I have no concentrator. My work is mainly
fabrication in 14k gold, with a tiny bit of silver work thrown in now
and then. I was accustomed to the little torch with propane and
oxygen at work, so this set up took a bit of getting used to. The
flame sounds different, and right of wrong, the sound of my torch is
just as much a part of how/why I adjust my flame as the look of the
flame. Once I got past that, I was fine. I’m pretty happy with it.

Brenda
Nesheim Fuller Design


#18

I’ve seen more than one response to this thread that the Meco Midget
torch is no longer being made. However, I purchased one last year
from Otto Frei and they are still carrying them. I have the Oxy/
Propane set-up, which I have connected to a disposable propane tank
(as I live and work in a townhouse) and a refillable oxy tank. But
the torch is also available in an Oxy/Acetylene set-up.

I purchased this torch after struggling with my Smith Little Torch
on a very large silver piece. Personally, I think it’s nice having
both torch options. The Meco Midget would probably be the best choice
if you can only get one torch set-up. But I can get more control with
the Smith Little Torch on small tasks (especially gold and
Argentium) and it’s so light and easy to handle. However, I haven’t
tried the Meco Midget with the hypodermic needles as suggested by
Alan Revere.

I’d also like to clear up a misunderstanding that some seem to have
about torches and the tank set-ups. The torch is a separate entity
from the tank set-up and in the case of both the Meco Midget and the
Smith Little Torch, both are available in versions for setting up
with either propane or acetylene.

Hope this helps.
Bonnie Cooper


#19

I have enjoyed reading this thread I hearing the wide range of
responses.

During this thread I have had two jewelers come in and buy little
smith torches to replace there midgets. And stupid me ask why
(everybody is going to love this one) they want the smaller tip that
screw on, the small tip in the midget uses an adaptor with push on
tips and they keep blow off the tips. I ask why are you runing your
gas pressure so high the response was that is where I like it! How
can you help these people???

Rodney Abel


#20

Dear All,

First I want to say I have great respect for all of your opinions and
your experiences, it means a lot to me when this group offers its
expertise and critiques. However, while I agree the Little Torch does
have some limitations I can see there are a few opportunities to
clarify just a little regarding the Little Torch.

Alan had stated

The very small size of the tips along with the use of
Oxygen/acetylene limits this torch to very small work; chain
repair, retipping and small gold fabrication. It is fine for that
size of soldering operation." 

You may not be aware – and others may not be either – that the
torch has various tips that range in orifice and flame size, please
see below. Also there is a very informative chart on page 390 in our
tools catalog, it describes tip size and the flame size for each
tip. We also have rosebud tips available for acetylene or propane
for melting up to 3 ounces of silver or gold or these can also be
used to anneal large forms such as hollowware.

#2.006 less than 1"
#3.011 up to 2"
#4.020 up to 7"
#5.029 up to 6.5"
#6.037 up to 7"
#7.047 up to 7"

Also stated

The Little Torch's flame works best in oxidizing mode, which makes
it impossible to heat things slowly with a reducing flame, as often
desired. The only way to heat a large object is from a distance
with a flame that is really too hot." 

That hasn’t been my experience. I teach classes at Rio using oxygen
and propane, as well as various jewelry shows using disposable
propane and oxygen tanks, all the time routinely creating reducing
flames, neutral flames and oxidizing flames. I feel this is a very
important part of any soldering curriculum.

I wonder how people are going to learn to make jewelry if they are
limited to the Little Torch's small oxidizing flame. It is
certainly less than ideal for silver jewelry. 

I have personally used this torch for many silversmithing
applications including melting several ounces of silver. Some of my
work included hard soldering western style belt buckles, hard
soldering heavy cuff bracelets, each weighing several ounces. And
I’ve never had a problem using either acetylene or propane as a fuel
source. Not enough heat? Bump up to a larger tip. Too much heat?
Back off or use a smaller tip.

Please understand that I have no problem with anyone’s preference
for the Meco Midget, or any other torch. I have a Meco as well as an
acetylene air system, and I like them for some applications. Yes I
am a tool junky! But after using these torches extensively, my
preference is actually for the Little Torch, because of its light
weight and flexible hoses, as well as easy to adjust torch handle.
Everyone has a different learning curve and different preferences,
they key is to be able go with what works for you. I guess that’s
what makes the jewelry world so unique, different strokes for
different folks.

Respectfully yours,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Support
800-545-6566
505-839-3000 ex 13903
technicalsupport@tbg.riogrande.com