At the suggestion of Jeff Herman, I am looking into natural gas
torches that will operate at street pressure with compressed air
that will allow me to hard solder and fabricate fairly heavy (down
to 4 gauge wire) sterling silver and gold pieces and do small 1 - 2
oz melts. I have found several manufacturers who claim to operate at
street pressure to include, National (3B hand torch), Carlisle
(Universal hand torch), and even Meco (Meco Midget). I am sure that
Hoke and others might also work. What I am unclear about is the
source of compressed air. Obviously, I could use a non-lubricated
air compressor, but one manufacturer suggests a high capacity air
pump like that used in a fish aquarium. In the end, I am trying to
get any compressed gas cylinders out of my cellar and would
appreciate any discussion of this topic. I have also looked into NG
concentrators, but would like to avoid that if I can. I only ever
run one torch at a time. Thanks again to Jeff for helping me get
started on this search. Rob
What about a little diaphragm pump, like they use for airbrushes, or
a medical suction/air unit? (Same thing, basically, just built
heaver.) I use one of those to run my wax injector. I can't see why
it wouldn't have enough flow to feed a small torch.
They float by on craigslist pretty regularly, in the $25-50 range.
Rob - I used street pressure ng with compressed oxygen in my studio
for 12+ years. Meco Midget with ventilated tips worked just fine. New
manufacturer of those ventilated tips is Paige Tools. They were
originally sold to glass workers. The one hole tips usually supplied
for ng are useless with street pressure ng.
The community college where I first learned metal smithing used Hoke
torches, ng and compressed air. Worked ok.
Now I used a G-tec concentrator for natural gas and like it ever so
much better. Same torch - Meco Midget - best advice I ever got was to
try the Meco Midget. It is a work horse. I do have a longer neck for
when I'm using the huge "bush burner" tips from Paige Tools,
otherwise the torch gets pretty warm.
Best price for the Meco is from the Tin Man - Tinmantech.com. Get
your tips from paige tools.
I am unaffiliated with Paige Tools, I just find that their
ventilated tips are the best ever!
For years I have used a Hoch torch with low pressure NG and
compressed oxygen. You indicate that you want to avoid the gas
cylinders. Have you investigated an oxygen concentrator? I cannot
speak personally regarding the concentrators, but I am considering
borrowing one used by a family member, and trying it out.
There have been numerous threads on using oxygen concentrators with
NG. It might be worth your time searching Orchid archives for those
Just a thought,
Judy in Kansas, where a dip in temps goes along with the very
welcome rain. Still too cool to put my tomatoes in the ground.
I have been using an oxygen concentrator used for supplying medical
oxygen for about 6 years with a mini torch. Works great!
Do you use natural gas or propane with the oxygen concentrator?
I'd second the gas booster (I use G-tech with compressed oxygen),
although some people just hook up directly to the gas supply, doing
that is a real safety issue. The problem is that you need to prevent
the freak occurrence of ignited, pressurized gas from being forced
backwards down the gas line. You do that with a flashback arrestor
valve. But it takes a couple of pounds of pressure to push through
the safety valve and that is about all the pressure you get from the
utility, so you have no pressure in your torch when you use the
needed safety valve. With the booster you can increase the pressure
to as much as you need to solder or cast large melts as well as push
through the flashback arrestor. It's a much better way to go, both
in flame size and safety. They are very simple to hook up and not
terribly expensive, the people at G-tech are very helpful and