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Prest-O-Light acetylene torch


#1

Hi all, I know the whole question about which torch to use is highly
subjective and depends as much on personal preference as anything
else, so I won’t ask anyone to comment on the relative merits of
Hoke vs. Midget, et al. Besides, you already have.

I’ve been using a plumber’s torch with either MAPP or propane (I’m a
lowly hobbyist) for some time now with decent results. Well, I’m
getting tired of the thing and feel like buying a proper torch now.
I’ve been reading the comments about the various options out there,
but what I haven’t seen mentioned is the Prest-O-Light acetylene /
air torch.

My question is: if I’m not planning on working with platinum is
there really any advantage for me to use Oxy/fuel as opposed to
straight acetylene? I work mostly with silver, sometimes gold. I’ve
used the Prest-O-Light torch many years ago and it seemed pretty
good aside from the soot when you spark it up. It’s also quite a bit
cheaper than any setup using oxygen.

Many thanks for the list! I read it every morning before setting out
to work on computer systems. One of these days I may stay home and
see if I can make a go of jewellery. In the meantime the fantasy
keeps me sane.

Regards,
Daniel Conlin


#2

I do not get any soot when I light my PrestoLite. this should only
happen if you are using straight acetylene without air or oxygen.

Marilyn Smith


#3

Hi Daniel, I have an air/acetylene setup (torch by Smith) and
absolutely love it. I have torch tips ranging in size from 00 to 4,
which gives me excellent control and a wide range of heat. The setup
is simple to maintain, cheap, and a little more portable than an
oxy/fuel setup (if that’s a concern).

With the air/acetylene torch, I can do all types of hard soldering
and can melt up to a couple of ounces of silver or gold for ingots or
pour casting (cuttlebone). If I were going to work with platinum,
I’d obviously need a different setup. And if I were going to do
large castings or work with heavy gauge steel, I’d probably want to
add an oxy/fuel torch to the mix. But for what I do, this one’s
perfect.

With regard to sooting up when lighting, I haven’t had that happen
at all with an acetylene/air setup. You get that with an
oxy/acetylene setup when you add the oxy in too quickly and it pops
off the torch. You can also get it with an acetylene/air torch in
turning it off if it doesn’t completely blow itself out (if you don’t
hear the “pop” when you turn it off, and it’s still burning a little
within the torch body), which sometimes occurs on the 0 and 00 tips.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller


#4

Hi Daniel,

My question is: if I'm not planning on working with platinum is
there really any advantage for me to use Oxy/fuel as opposed to
straight acetylene? I work mostly with silver, sometimes gold.
I've used the Prest-O-Light torch many years ago and it seemed
pretty good aside from the soot when you spark it up. It's also
quite a bit cheaper than any setup using oxygen. 

The Prestolite torch works fine for silver & some gold. That assumes
you have more than 1 tip with it. There are a number of different
sized tips available for the Prestolite torch. The tips are changed
by screwing them into the handle of the torch.

I’ve got both a Prestolite torch & a Smith Little Torch. The
smallest tip for the Prestolite puts out a much (over 10X larger)
flame than the largest LT tip except the Bud tip.

I’ve used the Prestolite with a small tip to solder 20 ga sterling
jrings when making chains. The LT torch is better (in my book) for
doing repair work on small things like retipping stone settings etc.
on gold where the flame needs to be concentrated in a small area.

I wouldn’t be without either torch, howver there are lots of folks
who’ve used the Pestolite torch exclusively for years with very good
results.

Dave


#5

Hello Daniel! I asked exactly the same question about a year and a
half ago. I am a silversmith most exclusively, working with gold
only on demand. The Prest-O-Lite torch is excellent, even more if
money is a concern for you. The five tips allow you to do work from
small soldering to making out small lingots (spelling here?) with
your scrap metal. The only inconvenient with using acet only is that
it’s always the same amount of oxy that comes out from the torch, so
you can’t control the oxydizing properties of your flame. In other
words, forget reticulation (unless someone with more experience
contradicts my thoughts - and please do!). I’ve never tried mokume
with that torch, so can’t help you with that. But considering you
are a hobbyist - and not a lobbyist like I just wrote :wink: -,
Prest-O-Lite should be your best bet…

Have a nice day!
Benoit Hamel, in a wintery Montreal, buried under a foot of snow!!


#6

Daniel, I use a B tank with acetyline and smith handpiece and tips.
I put off buying this for a number of years and I am so glad that
I broke down and purchased it. I seldom use acetylene and oxygen
mixture for working with silver. I have now had my torch for 15
years and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

Jennifer Friedman


#7
if I'm not planning on working with platinum is there really any
advantage for me to use Oxy/fuel as opposed to straight acetylene?
I work mostly with silver, sometimes gold. I've used the
Prest-O-Light torch many years ago and it seemed pretty good aside
from the soot when you spark it up. It's also quite a bit cheaper
than any setup using oxygen. 

The Prest-O-Lite torch is a decent torch, but a Smith (also
acetylene/air) is more comfortable to use. And there are more tips
available for the Smith. I’ve had one for a couple of years and love
it. Of course, the Prestolite is much less expensive ($68 - $80 for
the Prestolite and much more for the Smith acetylene/air.—NOT
OXYGEN) I bought mine at a local welding supply company. I called
first, told them what I wanted, and they ordered it for me. I am
able to work on Silver, sterling, copper, nickel, various karats of
gold without difficulty.


#8
 I've been reading the comments about the various options out
there, but what I haven't seen mentioned is the Prest-O-Light
acetylene / air torch. 

Daniel, I’ve been using a Prest-O-Lite for some time now and for the
most part I am happy with it but like any torch there are some
limitations. I strictly work with silver and the Prest-O-Lite for
the most part suits most of my needs. It’s too big for smaller
detail work, in my work that is soldering silver links. And recently
I found it was not quite big enough when I was working on a bracelet
for a mammoth 325 carat turquoise cabochon.

ESAB (http://www.esab.com/) now owns Prest-O-Lite and trying to find
a welding supply place that stocks Prest-O-Lite parts can be
problematic. I did find a jewelry supply place called JS Ritter that
carried different tips for Prest-O-Lite torches
(http://www.jsritter.com/). I have ordered the finest tip and the
largest tip in hopes to solve both the shortcomings I’ve found with
my torch. Otherwise I’ll be shopping for a torch to do my more
detailed work.

Also, I did at one time have problems with the needle valve on the
torch shutting completely off. ESAB referred me to a welding supply
place who referred me to a welding service place who was unable to
order the right part in two tries and did not have the right size bur
to regrind the valve seat. I was able to regrind it myself with one
of my burs and it now works fine. I don’t recommend anyone else
attempting to repair their torches but it was either repair it or buy
a new torch.

Just $.02 from a mostly satisfied Prest-O-Lite user…

Rick Copeland – Silversmith
rick.copeland@Covad.net
home.covad.net/~rcopeland
Colorado Springs, Colorado


#9

Daniel- I, too am a hobbyist. Several months ago, after much, too
much research, in the end, I decided to start simple and buy an air
/ acetylene torch. It is cheap, (I have a long list of other items
on my tool “wish list”). It is familiar. It is compact and
portable (I use a small MC-size single tank). I have yet to run out
of my first tank. And it does the job. It has done everything I
need - working in mostly silver and some gold. It is the perfect
choice for me right now. I figure I can always escalate to
oxy/propane or a natural gas hook up if my needs grow. My air /
acetylene torch will still be useful - a good choice for larger
silver pieces and the torch of choice for annealing. In the
meantime, I had the money to spend on good basic hand tools and a
flex shaft. It is not “dirty” in the same sense that oxy/acetylene
is. Oxy/acetylene generates soot if the mix of gases isn’t right.

I bought a Smith “Handi-Heet” torch package (SMI NE835A) - got a
great price from my local welding - gas supplier who had them in
stock, although the Silversmith model would normally be less
expensive. I also ordered the “0” size tip (NE180-0) and use it for
almost everything ( the standard 3 “handy heet” tips are too big for
my pieces.) The whole set-up was about half the price of the Rio
Grande and Indian Jewelry Supply catalogues. I use the Prest-O-Lite
in class, but decided to pay a little extra for the feel and the
one-hand adjustment of the Smith. Get the smaller tip (not the
smallest) whatever torch you buy (they all use different numbering
systems).

The disadvantages of the air/acetylene torch: it doesn’t burn as hot
and the flame is bigger than the Smith Little Torch or Mecco Midget

  • more risk of firescale. The torch is considerably bigger and
    heavier, too. If you plan to work mostly in gold, dual-fuel torches
    are preferred and more exact for close work. Platinum is a whole
    other world - lots of special needs.

Here’s the Smith Handi-Heet site:
http://www.smithequipment.com/products/hheet/hheet.htm. Smith also
an answer-man site where you can post questions and it has an index
with some good info at http://www.arcsmith.com/discindx.htm. Good
luck with your decision. Sounds like I’m in sales at Smith but I’m
just a satisfied customer. Carolyn


#10

I agree w/ Dave. I have a Hoke, a Smith LT, a Prest-0-Lite, and an
Elma water torch. I use the Hoke for casting & heavy gold repairs.
The Smith for general repairs-adding heads to mothers rings, etc.
The Prest-0-lite I have is from the '40’s or '50’s with a Bakelite
handle & several tips-2 I’ve not seen before. One is a #00 tip with
a cylinder on the end-the size of a Contadina tomato paste can which
puts out a long reducing flame that I use for patinas. The other is
a triangular tip with a continuous cone that I use for long 45
degree box seams (think sterling cigar box size works). I use my
water torch for finer chain repair & re-tipping, welding ring
shanks…

I wish I had a laser welder!


#11
My question is: if I'm not planning on working with platinum is
there really any advantage for me to use Oxy/fuel as opposed to
straight acetylene?

Hi Daniel, Acetylene is a very dangerous gas to have around the
workshop if its not totally necessary. You would be much better
using Propane or Butane and, of these two, Propane is the better as,
on high use torches, it is less likely to freeze up. Whether you use
Oxygen as well is dependent on the work you do and your own
preference. An Oxy/Propane set up is beneficial in being able to heat
only a small area and so reduce firestaining but, on the other hand,
it is easier to melt the piece if you aren’t careful ;o( .
Particularly on very small work - chain, rings etc., Oxy/Propane has
an advantage over straight Propane. I would reserve Acetylene for
welding steel or for the very tinyest oxy jewellery nozzles which
just won’t work with Propane - and I would store the Acetylene
cylinder well away from the workshop when not in use.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield, UK


#12

Benoit, I also work with acetylene/air, using a Smith torch. I’ve
not had any problem reticulating silver with it (as a matter of fact,
that’s one of my favorite tasks at the bench), and get nice control.
I’m not quite sure what changing the flow of air to the torch would
do in the case of reticulation, though, so maybe I’m missing
something here.

When I’ve felt I needed a true reducing atmosphere, I’ve soldered on
a charcoal block with the acetylene/air, which seems to work just
fine. I don’t need to do this often, as usually the combination of
my solderite soldering pad and/or firebricks create a good atmosphere
for silver and gold work.

I do “soot up” things like nails to hold my mokume stacks, ingot
molds, etc., very easily with the torch. To do this, after lighting
the torch change your grip on it so that the air flow in at the base
of the nozzle is partially obstructed … this will give you that
bright yellow, sooty flame needed to produce carbon.

Good luck and have fun! Karen Goeller (Getting ready to launch my new
jewelry website in the next couple of weeks – can’t wait!)
@Karen_Goeller


#13

Daniel,

      My question is: if I'm not planning on working with platinum
is there really any advantage for me to use Oxy/fuel as opposed to
straight acetylene? I work mostly with silver, sometimes gold. I've
used the Prest-O-Lite torch many years ago and it seemed pretty
good aside from the soot when you spark it up. It's also quite a
bit cheaper than any setup using oxygen. 

While the Prest-O-Lite torch is fine for silver and brass, an
oxy/propane torch will be much easier to use when working just on
gold. Unlike silver, you don’t have to heat the entire piece to get
the solder to flow on gold. You can, if you wish, still do
acceptable work with a Prest-O-Lite torch on gold. It is not
impossible, just harder to control.

Platinum is different. Platinum and acetylene do not like each
other. The Prest-O-Lite torch will not have a hot enough flame to
weld platinum, and platinum is welded, not soldered. An
oxy/acetylene torch will contaminate your platinum at the
temperatures needed to weld it. That sooty stuff you described will
ruin your metal, and the metal ain’t cheap!

White gold doesn’t like acetylene that much either. As long as you
work with the yellow alloys, the Prest-O-Lite torch will be fine.
You will also find 18k easier to work with than 14k, since it
doesn’t oxidize as readily and looks great with silver.

When you become more comfortable working with gold, you will
probably want to add an oxy/propane (or oxy/natural gas) torch to
your bench. Don’t get an oxy/acetylene setup.

In the meantime, you may want to clean the mixer in your torch.
That’s probably why you are getting so much soot when you light up.

Doug Zaruba


#14
 The only inconvenient with using acet only is that it's always the
same amount of oxy that comes out from the torch, so you can't
control the oxydizing properties of your flame. In other words,
forget reticulation 

Well, yes and no… I read somewhere (here?) a tip that will allow
some control of the amount of air with an air/ acetylene torch. Put
a tiny rubber band or a little strip of electrical tape partway
across the air holes at the base of the torch tip. You can push it up
or down for fine control, to produce a more reducing flame. I just
tried it with fusing, and it seems to help. As for reticulation, I’ve
done it just fine with the Smith torch (I much prefer the Smith to
the Prestolite because of the smaller, hotter flame) as well as the
Little torch. I just bought a propane/air Shark torch, but haven’t
tried it yet. If anyone has any useful info about this
torch–all help is always welcome!–Noel


#15

There is no difficulty reticulating silver with a Presto Lite torch.
Heat the silver with a soft bushy flame to annealing temperature and
pickle until white. Brass brush with detergent and water. Repeat
five times. This builds up the pure silver top layer that is needed
to reticulate. Use a smaller and pointed flame when doing the actual
reticulation.

Marilyn Smith


#16

Hi everyone, thank you all for the helpful advice. I’ve decided to
go for the Smith -Silver Smith- acetylene/air torch. I like the fact
that the tips go much smaller than the Prest-O-Light. That, and the
weight, has been my main problem with the plumber’s torch. At the
back of my mind I can’t help feeling that it’s a poor craftsman who
blames his tools and I should just stick with what I’ve got, but what
the hell. The Smith torch is quite cheap and very nice looking. Plus,
I’ve always been a bit of a tool junkie.

I should never have sold my oxy/acetylene welding equipment when I
moved into a flat a few years back; didn’t think I’d be needing it.
If I still had the tanks and regulators I’d be 80% of the way to
having a nice little mini oxy/fuel set-up (with great big tanks).

Am I right in assuming that standard Victor type two-stage oxygen
and acetylene regulators can be used with these mini-torches? It
looks to me like the best way to get this kind of rig is to find a
used oxy/acetylene cutting/welding kit and then buy the Smith or
Microflame or whatever to go with it.

p.s. I’m glad I never heard that reticulation was impossible with a
propane/air torch before now. It’s one of my favourite techniques
and I would never have tried it :slight_smile:

Regards,
Daniel Conlin


#17
The only inconvenient with using acet only is that it's always the
same amount of oxy that comes out from the torch, so you can't
control the oxydizing properties of your flame. In other words,
forget reticulation (unless someone with more experience contradicts
my thoughts - and please do!) 

Benoit, OK you asked for it! :slight_smile: The best reticulation I have done
was done with a Prest-o-lite torch. And I still hook it up to do it.
Don’t seem to get a wide enough dispersion of heat with my mini
torch. After 3 years of drought, we could use some of that snow!
Later, Mark

Mark Thomas Ruby
SunSpirit Designs
Loveland, CO
970 622-9500 studio
970 622-9510 fax


#18
The only inconvenient with using acet only is that it's always the
same amount of oxy that comes out from the torch, so you can't
control the oxydizing properties of your flame. In other words,
forget reticulation (unless someone with more experience
contradicts my thoughts - and please do!). 

Hello all , It has been several decades since I last used a
"prest-o-light" torch , but I remember you can obtain a limited
amount of control over the flame by “choking up” on the opening at
the top of the handle , where you screw in the torch tip .The opening
is where the torch obtains its air , so if you restrict the air flow
you will decrease the amount of oxygen in the flame and can thus
create a reducing flame . My memory says it is awkward , but you can
use your hand , [depending on your personal level of heat resistance
] or perhaps a masking tape , try to keep it on the handle portion as
the tip can become hot .

Mark Clodius
Clodius&Co. Jewelers


#19

Hi Daniel,

Am I right in assuming that standard Victor type two-stage oxygen
and acetylene regulators can be used with these mini-torches? It
looks to me like the best way to get this kind of rig is to find a
used oxy/acetylene cutting/welding kit and then buy the Smith or
Microflame or whatever to go with it

The Victor regulators will work well with the mini torches. The only
change that may be necessary are adapters for the smaller tanks (MC &
B).

Dave


#20

Hi Ian,

Acetylene is a very dangerous gas to have around the workshop if
its not totally necessary. You would  be much better using Propane
or Butane and, of these two, Propane is the better as, on high use
torches, it is less likely to freeze up.

I don’t know if I can agree with the above statement & I’m not
intending to start a ‘can you top this’ argument.

The only danger that acetylene presents is one of the cylnder
getting knocked over & the valve breaking off & the escaping gas
sending the cylnder bouncing around the room. This isn’t that much of
an exposure with acetylene as it’s usually under less than 500 psi
presure. It’ more of a problem with oxy cylinders that are usually
under 2000 psi when full. Acetylene & oxy cylinders should be chain
or fastened to a sturdy support to prevent them from being tipped
over while in use or storage.

Acetylene also disipates if there’s a leak in the connections or
hoses. Propane especially likes to pool in low places & doesn’t
disipate very well. This can leave explosive mixtures in unexpected
places in a room/building just waiting for a spark or flame to set
things off with a bang. I’d feel lots more comfortable with a
cylinder of acetylene in a building than with a cylinder of propane.

The BTU content of acetylene is also higher than that of propane or
butane.

Dave