Natural gas and oxygen WILL work for most jewelry repairs and
manufacturing … the problem is with the street pressure. It is
generally less than 7 lbs. This is sufficient – but it can be hard
to get the heat you need for larger sterling pieces. (Larger than
say 1 1/2" square) It is also difficult to melt for pouring ingots
and castings. Mind you, I said difficult – not impossible. My
partner for 30 years used natural gas and oxygen exclusively for
EVERYTHING! Including casting and ingots, and welding platinum –
but he would spend 10 minutes waiting for the larger stuff to get up
I started with propane/oxygen and prefer it – having tried every
combination available. We have 4 different fuel setups, with 5
different brands of torches for students to try.
As to getting a plumber to install a line for you, I don’t know
anyone I could recommend that travels over in your area. Shouldn’t
be a big problem though. Most any licensed plumber can give you a
bid on installing an extra service line. They generally take care of
the permits and arrange the inspection, just make sure it gets done.
If you are not making large sterling pieces this is the safest,
easiest to insure method.
Frei- Borel has always been great with me, I think that perhaps
there might have been an assumption on their part that you knew a
bit more about what you were trying to accomplish than you might’ve.
Talk to 'em some more. You’ll find someone there that will help you
with your problems. The Meco Midget has been my favorite all around
torch for over 30 years. Once you get everything right you’ll love
Leaks and explosions are really not common. My point was simply that
there are ways to cut down on the already infinitesimal odds, and
make reasonably sure that your insurance will be there if/when you
P.S. There are devices available that will increase the street
pressure, but the prices are still prohibitive for the average small
studio. Look into 'em just so you understand what is available. If
you need to know where to look, I think that Blaine Lewis at New
Approach School is using one of these units … maybe he’ll post the
site address again?