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Orca/EZ torch with atmospheric oxygen

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Debbie K
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« on: September 09, 2013, 07:16:26 pm »

I got one of these at a local store (for really cheap!) and thought I'd give it a try. http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/product.php?id=99071&catID=214

I have only used propane before, and never had any problems with firescale. I noticed right away that I had some gnarly-looking firescale with the new torch. I didn't think it'd make that much difference, but the atmospheric oxygen really seemed to make the firescale bloom everywhere but where the silver was fluxed.

I know some folks use boric acid, borax and alcohol to reduce firescale, but in my experience it didn't work too well. I can go back to propane, but boy the little flame was sweet and I hate to give it up.

Any advice?

Debbie K
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deb193
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 07:46:18 pm »

is it firescale or just lots of oxidation
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Debbie K
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 09:30:23 pm »

Daniel:

Firescale. The oxidation wasn't that bad, but the firescale was difficult to sand off. I don't think I still got all of it off after sanding repeatedly.

I've used nothing but propane all these years and never seen anything like this with just propane. The little oxygen intakes on the side must be pulling in enough air to cause it; I'm going to try to back down on the intake (it's adjustable).

It's a shame because it's really neat; the flame is a tiny pencil-point. Oh well...

Debbie K
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2013, 10:02:44 pm »

seen that torch in a few DVD. looked pretty good. I hope the adjustment works.

maybe use a larger tip. pin-point flame works better when hotter. Small point propane is known to distribute more heat throughout the piece before solder flows. I've had some trouble getting enough heat on cab-sized pieces with the #4 tip on Smith Little torch, and that was propane & oxygen.
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Debbie K
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 06:41:00 am »

Thanks, Daniel, I'll give it a try. It comes with three tips and I was using the smallest one, I'll try it out with the larger tip. You're probably right about that heat distribution.

The little torch is a dream! But firescale is too difficult to deal with, I haven't had these kind of problems since I took jewelry in college with their equipment, I got a propane torch almost immediately. This new torch gets HOT HOT HOT fast! With the big flame on the old torch you're heating all over to get it to temp, I suspect that part of the problem was not moving the little torch enough.

Debbie K
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Bentiron
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 05:02:31 pm »

The one I used was hooked up to a propane tank but is yours using acetylene? I have used an atmospheric/acetylene Prest-O-Lite torch for most all of my jewelry making career along with an ancient Hoke propane/oxygen torch. I use a thinned Handy Flux over most all of the silver to help prevent fire scale and the only time I have trouble with it is when I over heat the piece. Usually when I'm rushing things and don't  have good torch control, like too much heat from above or  trying to solder with the piece laying flat on the ceramic pad.
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Debbie K
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 05:58:12 pm »

Bentiron:

I'm sure it's probably something I'm doing wrong. It uses propane, not acetylene. I used handy-flux, but didn't coat all the silver. Where I did flux, there was no firescale. Maybe I overheated it, and I did solder from above on a brick, had to on the job I was doing.

It's just going to be a learning curve, and I'm getting too old to learn much more (or too lazy)!

Debbie
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Bentiron
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 12:52:48 pm »

If you just raise it up off the brick with a few pieces of binding wire it allows some of the heat to get under the work and helps prevent overheating and thus firescale. They are a pretty good torch for the price.
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deb193
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 01:23:16 pm »

I'm trying to think through this. Wouldn't some of the heat getting under the work heat it more? Does it make a difference if the brick is heat-resistant or reflective? I mean is lifting off slightly form a heat-reflective surface actually mean less reflection and less heat into the work?
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Carol M
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2013, 02:37:57 pm »

Or you could try working with Argentium Sterling. yes
Zero Firesale there. yippie

Check out the bar graph in this report
  http://www.silversmithing.com/catra-firescale-report.pdf
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Carol M
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Debbie K
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2013, 02:49:01 pm »

Carol:

Maybe I will in the future, but right now I'm heavily invested in sterling and fine silver.

Bentiron:

I'll give it a try.

Daniel:

I'm not sure, but I think that the metal would get hotter quicker if it were raised up off the brick; I'm going to try it next time and use a bigger tip as you suggested. I hoping everything together will work.

Thanks to all of you!

Debbie K
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deb193
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2013, 03:50:21 pm »

Yes, it does. But unless the brick was absorbing heat (instead of reflecting it) I can't reason why.  Someday I'll run across the physics of this.
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2013, 04:02:08 pm »

Can this be used with the propane tanks you get at the hardware store?
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Debbie K
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2013, 04:45:11 pm »

Yes, it can be used with the disposable propane tanks (which is all I ever need) and the large ones usually used for grill. I have both adaptors, so I can use either but as I solder in my house, I wanted the little tank.

I'm really happy to have it, as I paid less than half of what most folks are asking for it. Kingsley has them on sale right now. http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/products.php?keys=orca%20torch&catID= This company was bought by Grobet, which is pretty good about stocking and standing behind their products, which is the only reason why I tried it. I dislike using oxygen assist torches, which is why I didn't want the Smith little torch. I think the oxygen is more dangerous than the gas, and don't want it in the house.

Debbie K
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2013, 05:57:08 pm »

Thank you, Debbie!  I have been wanting some way to change the tip & didn't think there was any. 
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« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2013, 05:03:07 pm »

It does make a big difference as to how much heat is spread throughout the metal if it is flat or up just a wee bit off of the brick. I actually got an enameling wire grid on fire brick for doing really large bezels, 2"+ stone size, and it makes all the difference in the world how easy they go down on the back plate. At the same time I'm attaching the bezel all the other decoration is getting soldered on, the balls, the leaves, the twists, just by getting it up off the brick so that the heat can get under there helps it get even heat all over all the pieces of silver.
Yes, Argentium will solve some  if not all of these problems of firescale and tarnish but for some of us who have been doing Sterling silver work for decades it is just not practical to set up another bench with dedicated tooling for another metal, maybe on a hobby level it won't matter if the scrap and swarf is contaminated with a bit of odd metal but when one does quanity work it does matter. It means that the our scrap cannot be melted down and rolled or drawn out for reuse, it just complicates the whole matter.
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Carol M
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2013, 10:54:33 pm »

It does make a big difference as to how much heat is spread throughout the metal if it is flat or up just a wee bit off of the brick. I actually got an enameling wire grid on fire brick for doing really large bezels, 2"+ stone size, and it makes all the difference in the world how easy they go down on the back plate. At the same time I'm attaching the bezel all the other decoration is getting soldered on, the balls, the leaves, the twists, just by getting it up off the brick so that the heat can get under there helps it get even heat all over all the pieces of silver.
Yes, Argentium will solve some  if not all of these problems of firescale and tarnish but for some of us who have been doing Sterling silver work for decades it is just not practical to set up another bench with dedicated tooling for another metal, maybe on a hobby level it won't matter if the scrap and swarf is contaminated with a bit of odd metal but when one does quanity work it does matter. It means that the our scrap cannot be melted down and rolled or drawn out for reuse, it just complicates the whole matter.

Actually Bent, that's a 'common misconception'.  I don't know about all recovery companies but I do know that with RioGrande you just put your scrap Regular Sterling and scrap Argentium Sterling in the same scrap pile to get it recovered.

I no longer work in Sterling and sold what I had to other students at the school where I'm taking classes and I take my own charcoal block [on my little copper spinner] as well as my own MyTFlux to class [because it works best with Argentium Sterling] but other than that I use the regular school tools and pickle and tumbler and ultrasonic cleaner, and it hasn't had any adverse effect on my Argentium pieces.

There are some 'different procedures' you use with Argentium though like you don't coat the whole piece in flux, just the part you're soldering or fusing. 
Also, in some cases, like when you're fusing granulation or doing any fusing, you use diluted MyTFlux and let the flux dry so that the pieces stick in place.  That works well when fusing dapped wires or little balls on domed beads etc too.  I love that there's no solder to show up....because ......there's no solder involved.
I do like that fact when I anneal Argentium it doesn't turn dark...the more times you anneal it the whiter it gets.  I use magic marker to tell if 'it's annealed'.  When the magic marker marks disappear.....it's annealed.  EasyPeasy.
Anyway, with Sterling prices as low as they've been in years, now's a good time to 'give it a try'.
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Carol M
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« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2013, 12:01:27 am »

Carol, I recycle my own silver, I draw my own wire, roll my own sheet from clean scrap so I can't mix my scrap. Yes, it fine if I send of my off to the refiners but the price allowed from my refiner does go down accordingly when assayed, if it has too much solder, too much copper or whatever in it the price I receive per ounce goes down for my "dirty" scrap. The "purer" the scrap the better the price. Why get 75% of spot when you can get 80% or even 95% of spot for good quality scrap, or better yet make your own product? I have been doing my own clean scrap for nearly fifty years now(not so much lately but old  habits of smithing die hard) and I'm not really interested in the higher price of Agentium compared to Sterling. I also know how it works, yes, it has it problems but so does Agentium, nothing is without fault, let the metal without sin cast the first......well something dunno
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« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2013, 04:48:31 am »

I use 'Prips" flux to help prevent firescale. It is used by heating the metal slightly and then spraying on the work piece.  At the right heat, the water in the flux will evaporate, leaving a white flux coating on the work piece. Then solder, using regular flux on the solder joint.  It greatly reduces firescale. I used to make my own (I forget the formula, but it is readily available) , but now I use the commercially available version. IIRC, Rio Grande carries it and it is not expensive. There is a small learning curve in getting the proper heat right and it adds an extra step in soldering, but it sure saves a lot of time in finishing the work piece.
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« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2013, 12:27:19 pm »

I'm still a bit of a newb and have only worked with copper (but yes, I'm making the jump to silver soon!), but I'm an Orca user and I've found it a bit difficult to get a nice gentle, purring reducing flame with the torch. The air intake adjuster is WAY too touchy; it always seems like the air is either full-blast or nothing. I've used both boric acid + alcohol and a more standard fluoride-containing flux called "Wolverine Joining Tech" that Gerard (Teton Art Gallery) was kind enough to send me. I don't think the boric+alcohol flux is really meant for solder flow, but I've found it to work best between the two at stopping scale. I'm a bit surprised it didn't work for you.

I'd also recommend trying the next tip size up, since it should be easier to get a reducing flame whilst keeping your heat up. I recall reading in the specs that the smallest tip that comes with the Orca has a max temp lower than that of the other two (which makes sense). Not sure if there's anything in there you didn't already know, but there it is!
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Carol M
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« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2013, 12:52:58 pm »

Carol, I recycle my own silver, I draw my own wire, roll my own sheet from clean scrap so I can't mix my scrap. Yes, it fine if I send of my off to the refiners but the price allowed from my refiner does go down accordingly when assayed, if it has too much solder, too much copper or whatever in it the price I receive per ounce goes down for my "dirty" scrap. The "purer" the scrap the better the price. Why get 75% of spot when you can get 80% or even 95% of spot for good quality scrap, or better yet make your own product? I have been doing my own clean scrap for nearly fifty years now(not so much lately but old  habits of smithing die hard) and I'm not really interested in the higher price of Agentium compared to Sterling. I also know how it works, yes, it has it problems but so does Agentium, nothing is without fault, let the metal without sin cast the first......well something dunno

Fair enough, Bent,
Actually that's very interesting that you recycle your own silver.  I've heard many Argentium folks do that as well because if they fuse a lot there's no solder in the mix.  Just Argentium Sterling.

Nearly 50 years [gasp].....you must have started with you were 2 years old!!!! [chuckle].
Have you ever tried Delft Casting???
Another of a looooong list of jewelry related 'toys' I'd like to mess around with.
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Carol M
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« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2013, 02:28:13 pm »

The piece you are working on should determine the type of torch you use. I have been making 'stuff' for 30+ years and have used most of the different types of torches. Here's my experience.

1. My first torch was a "Bernzomatic (?)". The type that the regulator and tip just screwed on the end of a propane bottle. Problem was that every time you lifted the torch to solder, the flame would change. I used it for silver, copper, N/S but I couldn't afford or even dream about working in gold or platinum. I couldn't afford anything else. I used it successfully for about two years and made a whole lot of scrap metal. I wouldn't recommend this torch to any beginner.

2. My second torch I bought at a flea market was a "Pres-to-lite" air/acetylene which is similar to the Smith A/A torch. This torch is what I recommend to my students for any and all work in copper and silver. I still use this type of torch (the Smith) today for most of the work in silver that I do.

3. My third torch, and my right hand since I got my first one, was a propane/oxygen  Smith "Little Torch". You can get a tip to give you any type and size of flame for the job at hand. If you are making your living doing jewelry, this is the torch I would recommend.  If you are just starting out and using silver or copper, you will have a loooong learning curve and end up frustrated with a big pile of scrap. But you'll be able to solder anything...

4. My fourth torch is an 'aqua' torch. It takes water and breaks it down into hydrogen and oxygen which it then burns. It has a very precise flame that is VERY hot. It is a special use torch. 

I have never used one of the butane torches for soldering. They weren't invented when I was learning to solder. :) I have one that I use at my wax bench and I would agree with what everyone else said about them.

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Debbie K
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« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2013, 04:14:19 pm »

Goldsmithy:

Ah, you're using Brown gas? I investigated that a few years ago but the set-ups were too expensive; I thought it might be useful in casting. I do centrifugal casting (even though I have a vacuum caster) and use Mapp to melt silver and gold, and Mapp and oxygen for bronze. When I do small to medium bronzes, I use the electric crucible, but I was looking into ways of melting larger amounts of bronze than it could handle. The last medium sized bronze I did required two crucibles to cast. I finally realized the best way to go would be a foundry, and I've bought all the makings for one, just waiting for the weather to cool down before I start that project.

Next time I order from Rio I'll try to remember the Prip's. I never had this problem with the propane only.

I've used a Bernzomatic with the hose for years and years, and to tell you truth, don't really know why I got the Orca, because the Bernzomatic worked well. But every once in a while, I want to focus in on a smaller area without melting all the solder on the whole piece. I know, improper technique, because the solder really does get a little harder every time you heat it, but it takes real concentration to not let the heat go too far. I will never, ever, be really good at soldering; I've just accepted my limitations and make design decisions that minimize solder joints. I'm better than I was, but a long way from good.

Rockaholic, I was using the small tip. I'm going to change over to the larger one and see how that works. Don't have anything I need to solder right now, so I'll practice on scrap.

Carol, I'm like Bentiron; I recycle all my silver. I use all the scrap for casting, and sometimes ingots that I roll or draw wire from. All my crucibles are for either sterling, gold, fine silver or bronze. I don't really want to gear up for another metal. If it were proven to work well with enamel, I might be a lot more interested, but the jury is still out on that score. I'm waiting for the enamellists to do the research for me; the PMC is a case in point. Yes, you can enamel it (sort of) if it is really, really clean and really burnished well, but honestly, you're much better off casting and tumbling fine silver. Most folks don't want to cast; it scares them and the equipment is expensive. I also like that sterling oxidizes, or tarnishes as you call it.

Debbie K
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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2013, 03:05:27 pm »

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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2013, 03:30:52 pm »

Thank  you, thank you, thank you!!!!  That is just exactly what I need to see. 
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« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2013, 05:00:29 pm »

Debbie, I got started in bronze casting from a request of a friend that was repairing a pair of fine dueling pistols that had been stolen during a burglary and recovered. The insurance company was paying for the restoration that my friend was doing and he was not able to find a foundry that would cast the necessary parts for the fee he had given the insurance company. So I figured that if the ancients could do it so could I, I just never thought it take me on journey it did. I built my own melting furnace, burnout oven, crucible tongs, the only thing I didn't make was the crucible. What a journey this was but it turned out well for the most part casting his necessary items. My first major purchase for casting bronze was a pyrometer, it is so necessary to determine the correct temperature to pour the bronze. The last pour I made before my back got so bad I couldn't lift the crucible safely was 65# of bronze, that's a good sized sculpture! I really didn't feel all that safe with my back hurting like it did so I haven't handled a big pot like that since.
I like the aged patina(tarnish) that comes on old well worn Sterling silver jewelry, it has a real mellow look to it that only comes with years of wear. I don't know that Argentium will ever get that look. I grew up in Santa Fe, NM and the Indians used to have all of this jewelry made from old Mexican pesos and it had such a nice look to it, not just the turquoise but the metal, that's the part I loved, the metal.
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« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2013, 05:20:21 pm »

Brown gas???? I have been using propane or acetylene and air/oxygen forever and I never investigated it. I lust for a laser  welder. You're never to old to dream yes
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« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2014, 07:50:24 am »

I got this info from the guy at Kingsleynorth...

Hi, 

Okay, here are some recommendations:
 

Mix the following-

         1 cup denatured alcohol

         1 tablespoon boric acid - http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/product.php?id=101286&catID=527

         Mix ingredients well

 

Paint this on the surface of the metal and flame it off. If you use too much it will inhibit solder flow. After it is flamed off the surface, quench it in the pickle ( do not quench if there is a stone set, it could fracture the stone).
 

Let me know if you if have any questions.

Thank you,
Richard
Kingsley North, Inc

www.kingsleynorth.com
1-800-338-9280

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2014, 10:37:32 am »

Fire scale isn't particularly due to the type of fuel gas or torch other than if the torch requires a long time to heat the piece. Reducing fire scale is accomplished through a thorough covering of flux (I use handy flux) and quickly bringing the piece up to soldering temperature, completing the solder and removing the torch. Extended heating of the piece causes fire scale. If the torch is too small or the fuel gas doesn't burn hot enough you spend too much time trying to get the piece up to soldering temperature. I heat a spot on the fire brick with a large hot flame until it glows red. Then I slide the piece over the hot spot, reduce the size of the flame and complete the solder join. This method is simulating having a torch under the piece while heating the top for the soldering. Some people use a tripod to hold the piece in the air to apply the torch under the piece. I don't like tripods because you have to have a large torch and flame just to heat the tripod and screen. This just extends the heating time and exacerbates the opportunity to generate fire scale.
I use a Little Torch with a #4 tip and oxy/acetylene as gases. Acetylene burns the hottest of any fuel gas by far other than maybe hydrogen.
Bob
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