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Modifying air acetylene to propane torch

Hi I have a problem, my hubby got a torch for me and we did not
relies that it was air acetylene I have read on the board that it
could be used to make jewelry. But I wanted propane as I am just
learning to solder I wanted something easy to use and clean burning.
He got it from Thunder Bird and as it is out of the package I don’t
think it can be returned. It has a single tube and it is the design
I want so the question is can this be converted to propane? Is there
a converter for it ? If not should I use it? Or is it to hot for
small soldering? And were would I get the acetylene to use with it?
Thank you any help would be appreciated Lory

You will find that the acetylene torch is easy to use, on the Navajo
Nation almost all of the Native Americans use them. You can get the
acetylene gas at your local welding supply shop. Lloyd.

hi" Having used 'only acetylene and oxy in my home shop, I have
found that taking proper precautions with boric acid and alcohol
alleviate most oxidation problems, I find it to be a benefit as I can
fuse metal more easily and platinum is a snap. true hydrogen or
propane burn a little cleaner but they do not generate the heat level
that acetylene does. as far as making the torch work for propane is
not what it was designed for… get a hoke torch. you’ll be much
happier. ringman

The down side of converted acetylene to air/propane equipment

On the list a few days ago was a letter about converting a Uniweld
air/acetylene torch to burn propane. I would say unless there is a
compelling reason (insurance or code etc.) not to do it. As for the
alleged dirtiness of acetylene, I have never noticed a problem, but I
work with silver mostly, and had used the club’s equipment long
before I began a search for a torch I could use at home.

The air/propane torch usually seen is actually acetylene equipment
with different tips allowing it to burn propane. This comes at a
price, although it would work, but not that well. Uniweld rates the
temperature at 1750F for propane. Mapp will burn hotter (2400F), but
this needs to be explained. If looking at a chart, mapp and propane
burns in air (in laboratory conditions) at near the same temperature
and Btu output is also nearly the same. In practice mapp burns much
hotter, but the Btu dose not have the higher rating so the boost is
far less than you would think looking only at the temperature. As for
the usual sold not converted propane equipment, my honest opinion
would not be printed here.

There is only one propane torch I know of that make a claim to be
able to alloy gold and silver, is actually designed for professional
jewelers, and not a few full time goldsmiths use, to make an honest
living. It is not available through American dealers. Sadly most
solutions to gas restrictions fall on there face in real practice,
and are not any real solution at all. My nephew uses a mapp torch at
work for brazing, list price is $178, he said that he could
eventually melt copper if he held it on it long enough, although the
torch is rated at 2400F. You can forget using it to alloy. That 's
the way it is, i.e. reality, like it or not.

My advice on the torch in question is to just buy all the extra tips
for it, as it seems you do not have restriction problems. That is a
fine torch as is. Converting it to propane will degrade performance,
to a point I do not think you will be happy with it. When inquiring
into using such equipment Don Clark, president of the IGS said I
should rethink that. Moreover I could not find one serious (real)
jewelry maker that uses one. That said what I did find I like the LP
gas torch a little better than the club’s acetylene equipment,
because I can do some things with it that I would not try with the
other. Although to be honest I have done a few things that it would
be easier to do with the other, although it certainly got it done.
But again in the US you are not going to get a solution, although the
Shark available on Ebay comes closest. For lighter weight work it
will deliver, but has some limits, belt buckles forget it and such
and some larger things you mat have to use two which defeats the
purpose of a cheap torch.

As for the comments of using a Burnzomatic from their tiny 12-room
apartment to become rich I will not even comment on, except perhaps
that the money comes from selling something else, like some program
or such. The very first thing I made using my club’s torch was far to
large for the likes of that. I have little use for spending money on
a thing that cannot do what needs to be done with it. I am glad I did
the work to find something that would. I also think it is a bit
ridiculous to collect a number of propane torches to be able to do
what you should be able to do with one torch with little ado.

As you have already bought a good torch and to avoid the cost of
another one I would say go for it, you will be happy you did. The
Uniweld should be a close match to a Prestolite, if not the extra
fine tip will fit it, I say this because although rare there are
jewelers who use a Prestolite, no doubt some things would be easier
with a Hoke, Little Torch or what not. For silver work: there is a
reason why air/acetylene is the usual choice. If you had gas
restrictions I would say maybe to look at the LP gas torch, it has
some advantage, but so dose the other, this I know have used
air/acetylene. I would say that I do not know of any other propane
only torch that should be given a consideration compared to
air/acetylene equipment by, Goss, Smith, Prestolite and a few others.
Without a restriction I would have looked no further than acetylene
for my needs and Uniweld was one I considered.

Why is air acetylene the usual choice for silver? Silver soaks up
heat and spreads it throughout, in order to solder the whole thing
must be up to temperature. The softer flame (and lower temperature)
avoids much of the tendency to warp and buckle with large pieces of
metal that can occur so easily with a small very hot flame of
oxygen/fuel torches. This is why you are not likely to see an
air/acetylene torch on a jeweler’s bench (requirements being
different in repair work etc.) and why some silversmith so love the
Smith acetylene, although that is not what you would want to use to
re-prong a diamond ring with. The oxygen/fuel torch has a problem,
as far as ease, with larger silver jewelry construction, although for
fine gold work it is the thing to look at, for platinum it is a must.

Hi just wanted to say Thank you all for the help on the torch. I am
going to keep it just the way it is and ,as I am going to a real
town for the first time in months this week end hopefully I will be
able to find the right gas for it the welding supply here is way
over priced!! I did how ever order another one propane as I can get
the gas there at a good price. Wow a real town with malls and jewelry
sources!!! Lory

    He got it from Thunder Bird and as it is out of the package I
don't think it can be returned. It  has a single tube and it is the
design I want so the question is can this be converted to propane?
Is there a converter for it ? If not should I use it? Or is it to
hot for small soldering? And were would I get the acetylene to use
with it? 

Being familiar with T-Bird, you probably got a Prestolite, which is
a mixed air/gas torch. Although made for acetylene, it is frequently
used with propane, but the hose has to be replaced on a more frequent
basis. Propane does not get as hot as acetylene, so they get around
that problem by using a brass blow tube to introduce more oxygen into
the base of the flame. As long as you don’t have to do delicate work,
the Prestolite works fine. It’s still widely used in the Southwest
and what comes out of the hands of the local craftsmen is both a
testament to their skill with a torch and the effectiveness of the
torch. Although I’m pretty much a Lil Torch addict anymore, I still
use my Prestolite for a good many things (quick disconnects on my
tanks). There are times when you need a broad, gentle flame rather
than a tiny, intense flame. Get the tips at least up through a #4,
and if you intend to work with heavy pieces or cast, then you need to
invest in more tips and a blow tube.