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Soldering with Propane torch in the house


#1

Hello - I live in Montreal, Canada, and started making jewelry last
year after a 30 years break.

I took a small class here last summer, and just came back from
Taxco-Mexico where I studied for a month. I really enjoyed the old
talented Maestro there, as well as his traditional approach. If not
very productive, it is however quite sensual as the hands do all the
work.

I came back here, and proceeded to finalize the workshop in my
condo.

I had bought a torch ( EZ torch model 114.251 at Otto Frei ) in
Mexico, and this is what we used in school. It requires a 5.23 lbs
refillable propane tank because of the nozzle.

Well, after contacting the jewelry school in Montreal, the Fire
Department, and several other places, I found out that, although a 5
lbs tank is permitted inside, I will be blacklisted from the
insurance company. This made me super- nervous ! I read everything I
could on propane, phoned Otto Frei, and found out that accidents are
rare, and good common sense needed.

I would like some opinion on this please…

The tank leaked a little yesterday, I don’t know if it was due to
overfill (there’s apparently a component preventing that, said the
guy at the hardware store ), but after nearly having a heat attack,I
tighten the bolt on the side + put it outside and it’s O.K now.

The alternative would be to purchase the small 14 oz (plumber-style)
because it’s insurable. But it’s not refillable, lasts about 2 hrs,
and also I don’t know where to buy the screw-on attachment for my
hose/ torch ( ??? ).

I would also like to know how to empty the 5.26 lbs tank in case I
decide to bring it back to the store.

Thanks !
A scared beginner


#2

cecile,

That’s the torch I use and I also use the small disposable tanks
because, I too, live in a condo and cannot risk the larger tank
exploding. My first disposable tank lasted for months, though I
don’t use it all day long for days at a time. I do know, it lasts
for more than 2 hours…much longer than 2 hours. The disposable
tanks are a good way to go for condo dwellers… They cost only a
few dollars, so I buy 4-6 at a time and leave the others in my
garage, so if I’m working and run out of propane, I have a
replacement on hand. Otto Frei sells a connector for the disposable
tanks and it’s $33.00. Call Otto Frei and ask if that connector will
work with you system. Your system look exactly like mine except for
that connector. It looks like you can just unscrew your connector
and screw on the disposable tank connector. Here’s a link:

http://www.ottofrei.com/store/product.php?productid=7271

You don’t need to empty the 5 lb tank before returning it. Just
throw it in your trunk and return it. I haul the 5 lb tanks all the
time for my gas grill and I’m still here to type about it. :slight_smile: I just
prop blankets around it so it’s not rolling around.


#3

I’ve had an acetylene tank in the house for years with no problems.
Its the kind that takes oxygen from the air instead of having a
separate oxygen tank. The oxygen scares me more than anything. To me
its the most dangerous because if it happens to fall it can explode.
I like the acetylene because it has an odor if it leaks. I always
turn my torch completely off when I’m done including at the tank. I
find this a good practice.

Hope this helps,
Linda Reboh


#4

if you are that concerned and nervous at the possibilities, though
very expensive, the hardware store tanks may be the way to go - or
sell the entire unit and buy a water torch if you plan to stick with
the jewelery making as more thqan a hobby…I would, after ensuring
that i have checked all seals gaskets, and the actual connection on
the new tank, return it…but chances are it was not screwed down
tight enough. Additionally, a flashback arrestor and check valve
could be a worthwhile investment ifyou opt to keep the refillable
tank.

Do Not use soapy warter to check the connections- as it promotes
rust.Propane collects on the floor of your studio as opposed to
acetylene that rises, with that in mind checking any electrical
outlets, lighting fixtures, etc. for arcing, sparks, etc. is prudent.
If you turn on a light and see a spark at the outlet (in a dark or
dimmed room) either hire an electrician or repair the terminals
yourself (make certain the wires on the posts are tight and taped
down, and if you have a multi-meter check for continuity to insure
that there is no short in any line). If you see a bluish flash at the
outlets (or behind a cover plate-which is why you should check in a
darkened room) that is a potential ignition source for propane- not
to make you more paranoid, just to illustrate that that is what you
are checking for.

To drain the tank to return it, connect the torch and turn it on
outside…it will quickly dissipate.Some dealers will trade in the
tanks for you and credit your gas content -I don’t know how it works
in Canada.


#5

The problem with LP (Propane) is that it is heavier than air and can
pool in a low spot if there is a leak. You can use a soap bubble
solution to check for leaks, I would reccomned using a specialized
one than is rated for oxygen just as a general principal although
not really needed for just LP.

The volume of the tank and the heaviness of LP is why the insurance
co. is unwilling to assume risk for it. You may be able to find an
insurer who understands the risks enough to give you a rider at an
additional expense. Also many apartments / condominiums even forbid
barbeque grills out on the little balconies. So a torch could
violate the covenants / rules etc.etc.

I would reccomend that you search out a welding supplier who deals
with a lot of LP equipment as a source for info, fittings, soap
bubbles etc. They tend to be a bit casual about some of the safety
issues sometimes as they work day in and day out with all kinds of
gases. But many of them have little brochures on gas welding which
you can pick up for free. I have some hoses that go from a BBQ grill
tank to a “plumbers torch” (also a glass workers “hot head” torch)
which I got at our local Lowes hardware store. You can find various
parts there and also sometimes in places that sell camping stoves,
lanterns etc.

You should be able to get the tank checked, refilled, disposed of
etc. at either a LP supplier or a welding supplier. I know that
welding gas suppliers have to deal with tanks with bad valves,
broken valve stems, leaking, recertification, etc.

Things are, no doubt, a bit different in Canada then in the US; and
even local differences are probable. But I hope this helps to give
you a better understanding and some ideas on sources outside of the
jewelry community.

Dan Wellman


#6

cecile

I’ve been using the same torch you have for about 6 years now, for
much the same reason, I live in a townhouse and can’t have a lot of
gas around. I use the 1 lb green camping gas (non-refillable) bottles
from sporting goods stores or K-Mart. They last for soldering about
30 pieces of jewelry. My torch came from Frei with the correct
connector for this type of gas bottle, a brass fitting with the screw
for shutting it off/turning it on. If this info doesn’t help, you can
contact me off-list.

Donna in VA


#7
The oxygen scares me more than anything. To me its the most
dangerous because if it happens to fall it can explode. I like the
acetylene because it has an odor if it leaks. 

INCORRECT

Oxygen tanks are not shock sensitive and will not explode. In theory
Acetylene is shock sensitive and can (but with a very very low
probability) explode, But not enough to work about in general, or
hell we would be watching the welding delivery trucks explode every
time they hit a pothole.

The worse an oxygen tank can do if it was to fall over and snap the
valve off, which by the way in a small tank would be rather hard, if
not impossible to do (You don’t have either the inertia or the
distance a 5 foot tank has when it would fall over). Not that I
recommend doing this, but I have seen e and d cylinders dropped more
than once down a flight of stairs by EMS personal when carrying a
stretcher with a patient and a tank down them, Other than some dings
and a swearing paramedic, no damage done. If the valve snaps off the
tank will be propelled forward at high speed and probably punch
trough most materials (Hmmm a tooltime hole punch???), but by no
meaning of the word will it explode.

As for Acetylene having an order, it is a very faint smell at the
most, in my experience, and by the time you smell it…it is way too
late the air you are smelling is over the LEL (Lower explosive
limit).

That being said if you have to use bottled gas IMO oxy-acetylene is
the safest to work with.

I like the concept of the water torch system, in as much as there is
no stored gas on site, the catch being if you can afford it…

Kay


#8

Someday, when I am in a more permanent location, I plan on switching
to natural gas because it is standard in almost all buildings around
here for heating and cooking. You might check with your utility
company to see what kind of gas they use and if you can get a hard
line piped in to your bench.


#9

Hello out there in Ganoksin land,

Regarding choosing a gas & a torch. I’m a returning silversmith.
Back in the 70s I worked for many years with a small butane
torch–with success for construction type jewelry.

When I could afford it, I switched to a Prestolite (air / acetelyne)
which was certainly better than little butane cans but could not get
hot enough (without the oxygen) to really melt silver & gold for
casting.

I had lots of problems with joints not taking-- I had to heat the
whole piece often multiple times–and consequently had contant
FIRESCALE problems-- despite all kinds of flux concoctions designed
to alleviate that problem.

I recent read a blurb on Otto Frei about a “German” torch which they
say is like a “Swiss” torch but better because it uses oxygen /
propane which burns cleaner than acetelyne (which apparently
pollutes the metal it is heating).

The complication is that a few years ago, my husband anticipating my
eventual return to silver/goldsmithing purchase a very tiny soldering
torch with itty bitty tips which I believe is made for
oxy/acetelyne. (Are these hoses/ fittings made for specific gasses?)

Anyway, then I read this old thing on Ganoskin about torches and
this guy suggests using an old propane plumbing torch—? (If I could
sustain lifting one for long periods, I might consider it). So I need
to make a quick decision on a torch and would prefer to incorporate
the itty bitty torch my husband found for me, but also want to be
able to melt a few ounces for casting.

Suggestions?

Thanks!
Carol


#10
I had bought a torch ( EZ torch model 114.251 at Otto Frei ) in
Mexico, and this is what we used in school. It requires a 5.23 lbs
refillable propane tank because of the nozzle. 

Cecil, Otto Frei sells an adaptor to use the EZ torch with a
disposable cylinder. It’s an exellent combination. There is also an
adaptor called a MacCoupler that I think I got from Harbor Freight
that allows you to refill the smaller cylinders from the larger one,
although I have yet to try it. Good luck!

Allan Mason
Hermosa Beach, CA
www.silvermason.com


#11

Carol,

I’m pretty new at all this, but I heard the tiny torch (gaz, I don’t
know) will never melt large amounts of silver/gold.

In Mexico, we used large, medium + small torches to melt + solder.
The kind you get at a welder’s shop, it uses propane only (no
oxygen), and it got the job done on bigger piecesas well as delicate
ones.

My EZ Torch from Otto Frei is good for everything except melting. It
works well and clean.

Cecile


#12

Oh I forgot to say : about the cumbersome 14oz propane bottle, you
can buy an orange plastic kit - wider at the base - that will
contain the bottle + keep it upright. You attach the hose to it,
place the whole thing on your soldering bench, and you’re ready to
go.


#13
I read this old thing on Ganoskin about torches and this guy
suggests using an old propane plumbing torch---? (If I could
sustain lifting one for long periods, I might consider it). 

No need to lift at all, just get one of the many hose/torch combos
available from Bernzomatic, etc… Keep the cylinder on the ground and
use the torch handle as you would a normal jeweler’s torch. It’sa
little clunky, though, but way better than having to lift the
cylinder too. Perhaps a better option is the EZ torch mentioned
earlier.

Allan Mason
www.silvermason.com


#14

FYI,

Just a correction on the oxygen bottle statement - “The oxygen
scares me more than anything. To me its the most dangerous because if
it happens to fall it can explode.”

Not exactly. The problem is that if the stem on any pressurized gas
bottle breaks off, the resulting release of pressure turns the
bottle into a torpedo. I saw a swimming pool after a bottle of
chlorine gas was done ramming around the sides like a billiard ball.
It looked like a wrecking ball had been at work. No explosion, but
plenty of force behind that bottle!

Judy in Kansas


#15

I know this is late, but I have not paid any attention to this list
(and most every other) for a while. I am tiered of the same reply,
but understand what kind of a problem this is for some, please
contact the agents/dealer for more questions.

You can get a torch that will run off of a disposable propane can
that is not only suitable for casting, but is hot enough to alloy
gold or silver, and is good for both fine work and general
selversmithing (construction, including belt buckles). This is a
very nice product, in my opinion, I have no financial (or other)
interests in the product/company etc. I do not know how long a 1-lb.
can lasts, but it is a very long time. (Ain’t cheap, thanks to the
record low dollar.) See agents

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

You will want all three tips, and need a 0-60 psi regulator. Due to
government regulations (US) the manufacturer will not ship directly.
(So much for “free trade” as China has no such barrier, i.e. the US
wants insurance as if this were a canister of gas, as in acetylene
etc., prohibitively expensive. Mine was shipped from Germany, but
"free trade" or is it Wally’s world policy kicked in. Can be shipped
from Australia, our government is not mad at them, yet.)

Student or other in need of something less than $100, that is
decent? See shark torch, Otto Frie is selling the EZ torch (same
thing) for $89.

This is not all that bad, although it is not in the liege as the
above, and has limitations. This is the low down on this (Did think
of getting one a long way back, found someone who used it in a class
they taught (insurance problem with acetylene.)

Do small butane soldering torches work?
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/do-small-butane-soldering-torches-work

Question, Edited:

I hope this is not a bother, but as you have no financial
interest in the matter, i.e. do not sell the item, I hope you may
give me an honest answer. I saw your Orchid post regarding the
Shark torch. I know you gave it a thumbs up, but I need to know,
and this is important, what limitations this torch may have. As
for myself, I cut rock. I also have got involved in
silversmithing, belong to a rock club etc. What I need to know is
if this torch can do large pendants, bracelets, and belt buckles
and bolos. The last two, if it struggles a bit but will do it may
be acceptable if it is not in the realm of ridiculous. 

Reply, Unedited:

Honesty, no problem! The Bernzomatic is a piece of crap,
wouldn't use it to burn down my house, let alone jewelry! The
Shark torch comes with three tips, from quite fine for small
stuff to large for much bigger jobs. I use a firebrick surround
when I'm doing big jobs, which helps bounce the heat back at the
object. Unfortunately, belt buckles and large bracelets are tough
with most torches, and honestly, I end up using two of them when
I do stuff that big. I can easily do bolos, and large pendants,
but I think the heavy weight of belt buckles might be
prohibitive. Now, if you have a Bernzomatic, you can use that in
one hand to keep the heat up in the whole piece and use the Shark
as the main focus for the actual soldering. It ends up being a
bit awkward, but it certainly works, and is definitely cheaper
than an acetylene set up. It is important to use the firebrick
surround, keeps the heat up, otherwise you're fighting a losing
battle. So in summary, it's not in the realm of ridiculous, by
any stretch, just needs an extra boost of heat to speed up the
process. In all other applications, I am quite happy with it,
especially due to the cost and the fine point flame available. 

Hope this may help someone, or satisfy curiosity.