Michael and all,
Many people will have many different opinions on water torches. I
will try to give some background of my experience with them.
Hopefully, this will aid in your decision.
Back in the late 70's I did some testing on several models put out by
Krohn Industries. The machines were ok but kind of pain to fill and
maintain. The technology was there but not perfected. We had them
for a couple months. You had a very hot flame but little control.
I have done testing of several units for Rio and have found the
technology to have improved vastly from the old days. You have more
torch control, a variety of tips, and you only need to mess with the
electrolyte once a year. The rest of the time you fill it with
distilled water and flux solution. You do have some consumables but
the cost is minimal. Methyl alcohol and a powdered flux. Easy to mix
and you refill when the machine is low. Not real tough.
The Hot Flame 100 is a REAL nice machine. More features than the
Hydroflux welder but beneficial features like a digital screen that
tells you when to add solution or water. You can increase line
pressure for a larger flame/more heat, or when running multiple
torches at a time. You also have a bypass which will allow you to
have a pure Hydrogen/oxygen flame without flux, for platinum.
These machines are safe in a small studio or home as there are no
stored gasses other that what is generated to keep the pressure in
the torch hose. This is good if your working in a home where your
homeowners insurance may be voided with stored flammable fuels.
Safety is always good! These torches have come a long way and are
considerably more user friendly and considerably more reliable then
There is a jeweler just down the street from us who does not have
another torch at his bench, just a water torch. He does gold,
platinum and silver. I own one as well. Other than casting or the
real odd very large piece, I haven't used my little torch in at
least two years. I add distilled water when needed. How easy is that?
I like mine. If there is someone in your area with one, see if you
can take it for a test drive. Or have your instructor set up the one
at the school. I am not familiar with the SRA unit but they all work
very similarly. If this an older model, you may have more
maintenance or possibly less control with it.
Phillip Scott G.G.
Technical Support & Sales