Yes, there are lots of torches out there, and like you, I can’t keep
track of all of them.
However, I do have my favorites. Most commercial shops I’ve worked
in over the years have had Hoke torches, powered by natural gas and
oxygen. Now with the quick-change, hypo-type tips made for them, they
make a beautiful sharp flame, from super tiny to huge. Sometimes I’ll
leave the tip off the adapter to get a big flame to solder larger
silver pieces. However, I’ve noticed that Hoke torches are not made
nearly as well as they used to be, and it is nearly impossible to
find good ones available. Our studio at UCSD has these torches on our
workbenches. I also own a Meco Midget torch, all polished brass, and
it is my shop favorite, although I prefer the Hoke’s quick-change
tips. At my Hillcrest studio, I needed to be able to make platinum
and palladium ingots, and natural gas just wasn’t hot enough.
Although half my studio torches (Hokes) run off natural gas/ oxygen,
the other half are run off of propane/oxygen.
For safety reasons, my propane/oxy torches are run off those little
1 lb. camping cylinders and bottled oxygen. I simply take those
little propane cylinders home and refill them from a big 5 ga. tank
at home. With the propane, it is cheap, clean, and very hot. No
problem melting or soldering platinum. I really like this set-up.
In both studios, I also have acetylene Prestolite torches for ingot
pouring and annealing. They are so easy to use, and practical. Oh, I
should also mention “The Terminator” in our UCSD casting room.
Several years ago, we purchased a German-made forced air and propane
casting torch. When it arrived and we unwrapped it, it was 18 in.
long, chrome plated, and looked like a high-tech weapon of some kind!
It was immediately nicknamed “the Terminator”, and is used for all
our centrifical casting. It has a cooler flame than acetylene/oxygen,
and much cleaner.
Lighting the Terminator up always gets everyone’s attention, but it
works just great.
As far as “the Little Torch” is concerned, despite all the
conversation about how great it is, you won’t see one in my shop. Why
is that, you suppose?