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Smith Acet/Air Flame


At school (where we worked in copper and silver) we used Prestolite
Acetylene/Atmospheric Air rigs. A year after graduation, I have
finally got my studio set up, and bought the Smith
Acetylene/Atmospheric Air torch … the kit that comes with the single
headed regulator, the hose, the 00 tip, the handle, and the striker.
I also bought some additional tips.

As soon as I fired it up, I felt that the flame was not ‘right’; it
didn’t look like the Prestolite flame that I remembered, although they
both use Acet/Air. So I did quite a bit of reading and all texts
speak of a ‘good’ flame as being blue and bushy … and this is what I
remembered from school. The Smith flame is very long (no matter what
tip), thin, with a sky/aqua blue cone, a light purple envelope and a
yellow tail that comprises about 1/3 of the flame length.

People whose opinions I respect are on opposite sides here. Some
folks I know who use the same rigs in their studio say that the flame
is fine. Others, equally sure, say that the yellow tail means that
there is too much fuel and too little oxygen in the flame and that it
is completely wrong for the Smith Acetylene/Atmospheric Air torch
flame. Smith has sent me another regulator to try (same model) and I
get the same flame. Since the torch involves Atmospheric Air, I can’t
adjust the air flow.

I have adjusted the regulator screw, the torch handle, cleaned out
the tips, etc. The tank is half full.

Yes, I can solder with the flame but I don’t want to be adapting
my soldering habits to a bad rig, if this is the case.

Please advise me; I’m extremely frustrated, can’t work, and am
considering returning the Smith for the Prestolite, but am now told
that the Prestolite is ‘wrong’ for the high karat gold work which is
what I want to do.

Yours in length and desperation,


Hello all:

There are as many ways to solder as there are preferences in gas.
The best choice is what really works best for you. I am right handed,
but I hold the torch in my right hand and have trained my left hand to
do the fussy adjustments. I like the flame control in my right hand
because it works for me.

Propane should be fine in an upstairs room. The problem lies when
you work in a basement and there is no place for the gas to go.
Because of fire regulations for our school, we are forced to use
acetelyene which works fine for 90 percent of the student work. But
you are right about the higher karat golds, and preferably I would use
propane because it is much cleaner. Yesterday I fired up my Mecco
torch for the first time with is oxy/acetelyene. Soldering went just
fine and the higher heat gave the extra little blast I needed to flow
18K hard solder.

There is no doubt that oxy/acetelyene is a hotter and more intense
flame, and it does take a little getting used to, but I trust my
soldering skills enough to get the job done right.

Good soldering has a lot to do with understanding how metal heats in
the first place. Gold likes a more direct and intense heat. Silver
likes to be heated all around first, and copper will just stick its
tongue out at you and say nah!

Most jewelers in stores have propane in the back room. The jeweler
down the street from us has one of those gas grill propane tanks,
smokes like a chimney and has no ventilation in the room where he
makes and sells his work. Personally I think it is very risky and I
wouldn’t think of soldering without proper ventilation. On the other
hand, he will probably live into his 90’s and I will kick off in my
late 40’s from trying to run a jewelry school!


In a recent Orchid Post, one writer suggested… " Propane should be
fine in an upstairs room. The problem lies when you work in a
basement and there is no place for the gas to go. "…

While it is true that propane will tend to pool in low spots, it can
just as easily pool in an upstairs room as in a basement. I strongly
suggest that you contact your local fire department to find out what
your local codes and safety practices are if you are considering the
use of propane anywhere in your home. Propane (and all flammable
gasses) must be treated with knowledge and respect.

Note that there have been a number of Orchid posts over the last few
years on gas and propane safety. Search the archives using the
keyword Propane in 1997, you will find a post that I sent in (July
30, 97) that discusses gas safety in detail.

Regards Milt Fischbein In Sunny Calgary, where its still snowing!