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Speaking of water torches


#1

Speaking of water torches…does anyone out in Orchid land use one?
I just got one for use in the home studio I am setting up and would
appreciate any hints, tips, secrets, or other on using
one.

As always TIA…Smithy


#2

Oh, yes. We in India use it a lot. They’re extremely cheap & safe as
compared to butane!!!

A small tip… snuff out the flame before you switch off the
generator or you’re likely to get a fright from the loud bang it
makes+maybe rupturing the tube!!

APoorva


#3

I’ve been using one for about 11 years and wouldn’t be without it.
It’s capable of powering tips from #26G to #16G, but I mostly use
sizes from 22G to 18G.

I still have Sievert Air/propane, and Microflame oxy/propane
torches, but seldom use them. I assumed that the Sievert would be
used for annealing and the Microflame for melting, but have found
that the water torch gets used for almost everything. I can even
anneal silver wire with it.

I use MEK as the flame modifier and that serves for everything
except melting and/or soldering platinum. If I replaced the MEK with
meths or plain water then it would tackle platinum too, but its just
too much bother to empty and refill the booster tank. That’s when I
use the Microflame.

I cut little recesses in some foam rubber to make an insert for a
little plastic box that I use to store the tips - see

It’s then just a second or so to change tips, which is very important
because there is almost no way to control the flame size without
changing tips.

When I first started using it I was very worried about melting
things, but after a little practise that concern soon dissipated. If
you’ve only used an air/propane torch before then you will be very
surprised at how small a flame you need with the water torch - much
smaller than you would think.

IHTH
Regards, Gary Wooding


#4
I just got one for use in the home studio 

Which one did you get? I am very interested in the water torches, in
fact I was about to ask questions about them. I talked to a Rio
customer service rep and he said they were really popular because
that is about the only torch that can be used in an apartment
building.

But, I didn’t ask if they are just for tiny spot fusing or if they
can produce a nice big flame??

The Rio Water Torch seems to do the same thing as the Hydroflux
welder. Only the Rio torch gets hotter (6000F vs 4850F).

Sandra Gilbert
Snohomish WA


#5

I would recommend the Spirflame - or any other brand water torch over
the hydroflux welder. First, Okai corp., the manufacturer of the
hydroflux welder has never answered a phone call or email in more
than three years regarding the torch i have now and before this one,
another identical torch that I lost in hurricane Katrina, was also
in need of replacement parts and then too they did not respond
regarding their product.

Another benefit of the Spirflame is that it is a dual cell torch-
two gas producing chambers so the torch runs cooler than the
hydroflux welder, for which the learning curve is greater given the
plastic topped (hypodermic needles) tips provided with the "kit"and
sold by vendors like (i had to find metal tips from a medical supply
source rather than a jewelry tools supplier). The Spirflame is the
clear winner when it comes to customer service;a manufacturer that
cares about his product, and technique to an extent simply absent in
Okai corp.

I went to for assistance with the hydroflux welder They could not
answer my questions nor could they get a response from Okai when
acting on my behalf. In actual application I don’t recommend water
torches as one’s sole torch unless you have to comply with an
apartment council or similar organization’s rules or city or state
laws regarding contained gasses in your area: if you have a choice
for your everyday torch I would go with an oxy : fuel set up unless
you have very fine precision work to do and can’t afford a laser
welder, or if you work largely in Platinum group metals. I turn on
the torch about once for every twenty uses of any other torch and
teach water torch use once in a two year schedule to a class as
there aren’t that many people using them given the accessibility of
relatively inexpensive bench-top laser equipment. It is far more
advantageous to learn to use an oxy/fuel or fuel gas and ambient air
torch for practical reasons as well: If your sole torch is a water
torch and anything happens to it and servicing is required you would
be out of business for at least a week with returning it and turn
around time ( i believe Spirflame will lend you a unit though should
it be necessary whereas Okai has no such offer that I am aware of ).
Practically, until you become skilled with the water torch you may
want to use a paste flux as the air pressure generated tends to blow
solder paillions around until you master the operation. Don’t get me
wrong, i do love having one available for fine work because of the
precison possible with the torch and the romanticized concept of
saving money by using equipment that produces its own fuel-- but for
a new jeweler or metalsmith the alternatives are far more
affordable, practical and widely understood when compared to any
water torch…rer


#6

Hi Sandra,

The Rio Water Torch seems to do the same thing as the Hydroflux
welder. Only the Rio torch gets hotter (6000F vs 4850F). 

It seems that you missed a bit of about water torches. I
don’t know specifically about the Rio or Hydroflux units, but all
the units I’ve encountered work in essentially the same way: they
produce oxygen and hydrogen by passing an electric current through
water.

It happens that the ratio of the two gasses are just right for
burning, but the there are some problems with using just oxy/hydrogen
for soldering: the flame is just about invisible, the temperature is
too high at 3,300 degrees C (5,972 F), and there is not really a lot
of heat (there is more heat in a cup of boiling water than there is
in a red hot needle).

To combat these problems, the oxy/hydrogen is passed through a
container of liquid before it gets to the torch. The container is
known as the ‘gas booster’ and the liquid can be water, or something
volatile such as meths, MEK, methanol, etc.

The liquid serves as a flashback arrester, and also as a means of
regulating the flame temperature.

Water doesn’t change the flame temperature and the flame remains
invisible, but MEK reduces the temperature to about 1700 C (3092 F),
and methanol to about 2700 C (4982 F). I think meths is somewhere in
between. As well as reducing the flame temperature, the volatile
fluid in the booster also increases the specific heat of the flame,
making it easier to use.

IHTH
Regards, Gary Wooding


#7
The Spirflame is the clear winner when it comes to customer
service;a manufacturer that cares about his product 

Two corrections needs to me made in the above statements:

  1. The Spirflame[tm] is a patented multicell Gas Generator. It is
    not the chambers but the number of cells which are not in a chamber
    which allow it to produce larger volumes of gas (multiples) in
    comparison to other water torches.

  2. The excellent service and technical support provided for
    Spirflames[tm] over the last 14 years has ended. The North American
    Technical Support Office was closed in June of 2009 due to the
    considerable loss of industrial sales in the 2007 and 2008 period,
    which went to Asia. North America no longer builds a great deal of
    the automation our systems were used in. This will continue until our
    economic conditions remain weak in the area of manufacturing.

It was my pleasure to manage North American operations for Mr.
Spirig, and this included our exceptional level of service. Frankly,
there have been a good number of customer complaints since this
office closed, and they continue.

All customer service and support questions are now referred directly
to the Swiss office. Due to differences in time zones, lack of
staffing, standard business practices and perhaps a better
understanding of engineering than people, the excellent local
service and support previously no longer exists. Unfortunately there
is no one in the US office who knows how to setup, run, or care for a
Spirflame[tm].

My apologies to all…
Gary


#8

Spirig USA imports those Swiss made by Spirig worldwide patented
Hydrogen Flame Generators (Flame from water). Main customer base are
hitec industries, but more and more quality minded goldsmiths do use
these KARAT250s.

Spirig has openings for Agents / Sales Reps / Resellers in many US
states. Applications would be welcomed to [spirig at spirig dot com].

Best regards
Ernest Spirig


#9

Gary,

Unfortunately there is no one in the US office who knows how to
setup, run, or care for a Spirflame[tm]. 

Sounds like a good opportunity to write the book on how to setup,
run, or care for a Spirflame :slight_smile:

Andrew Jonathan Fine


#10
Sounds like a good opportunity to write the book on how to setup,
run, or care for a Spirflame 

Dear Andrew, yes it is a subject which has long been neglected. In
the past, I always wanted to write an article comparing the different
units, what was required to properly and smoothly keep each of these
water welders at their best. There are quite some differences, each
have their place and over the years developed considerable experience
with each of them. But, I am still recovering from 14 very demanding
years of integrating these systems both industrially (automated) and
in the jewelry industry.

Spirig USA imports those Swiss made by Spirig worldwide patented
Hydrogen Flame Generators (Flame from water). Main customer base
are hitec industries, but more and more quality minded goldsmiths
do use these KARAT250s. Spirig has openings for Agents / Sales Reps
/ Resellers in many US states. Applications would be welcomed to
[spirig at spirig dot com]. 

A lovely product, and I was offered to stay with the firm on a
commission only basis. I had a yearly agreement with Spirig which
they failed to honor, mid year. What is not stated above is these
openings would be commission basis only without payment for the bulk
of the related work required. It is a very demanding product which
required considerable labor locally. In my case, doing the same
work, including delivery, trade shows, initial support, service
reminders, repairs without any form of payment for this work. A new
and novel Swiss concept which lacked survival for the employee (me).
There was not sufficient markup for the Karat unit, as it is in the
Spirflame[tm] industrial markets. Selling through a distributor, is
not possible either unless the price was raised significantly. This
then prices the Spirflame[tm] Karat 250 beyond the bulk of the
jewelry market. An almost perfect Catch 22.

I can strongly recommend the product. Not the firm, it’s support,
and any agreements it might make, but then fail to honor, like mine.
And I could not say this without it being true and well documented.

Gary Miller


#11

Hi Gary,

I've been using one for about 11 years and wouldn't be without it.
It's capable of powering tips from #26G to #16G, but I mostly use
sizes from 22G to 18G. 

I have one of the Rio water torches which I have been using for
about a year. As noted on the previous messages, there is next to
nothing in terms of using this torch so my use has been mostly trial
and error with fairly good results. The torch came with a box of tips
numbered 21 through 24. My question, what is the difference between
the different tips? I do mostly sterling silver bezel settings and
seem to get the best results from using #21. Any insight would be
greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Pam Wilson


#12
The torch came with a box of tips numbered 21 through 24. My
question, what is the difference between the different tips? 

The tip diameter, the numbers represent the wire gage of the tips.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#13

Hi Pam,

The torch came with a box of tips numbered 21 through 24. My
question, what is the difference between the different tips? 

You will have noticed that the torch itself cannot adjust the flame
size to any great extent; basically its either on or off. The actual
method of adjustment is to change the size of the tip. The number
stamped on the tip shows the diameter of the orifice in SWG units,
ie, the bigger the number the smaller the hole and flame.

#21 sounds about right for silver bezels, but I normally use #20 or
sometimes #19 for a ring shank. #18 to #16 are reserved for 'big’
jobs. #23 and smaller (bigger SWG number) jobs such as repairing
fine chains. For example, I used #23 to solder a single link of the
chain in this photo http://tinyurl.com/yckbj6d I’ve used #26 for jobs
less than half that size.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#14

I have a Turbo Weld from Rio Grande Jeweler’s supply, and just love
it. It has many tip sizes, and I use mine except for the larger
melting jobs. Just love it!

Catherine Thomas-Kemp