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matto

how do the old blow torches work

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have about 6 or 7 old blow torches, have never seen one in use. would like to. figure you pump them up then light. but don t know. what do you look for in restoring them?

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I have one that I use. First empty the tank if it has anything in it and rinse it out well with a little gasoline.  The pump on most of them can be removed with a wrench. Usually the leather seal on the pump is dried out. If it's not too bad you can soak it with a little light oil and it will swell up and work. If not you may have to make a new one. I took the valve and needle apart and cleaned them up on mine. They work just like an old Coleman camp stove. Fill the tank up about 2/3 full of unleaded gasoline and pressurize the tank with the hand pump. TAKE IT OUTSIDE BEFORE YOU TRY TO LIGHT IT!

On mine there is a little trough under the burner/valve assembly. Open the valve and let a little gas drip into this reservoir and light it, carefully! The fuel burning in this trough helps preheat the burner to atomize the fuel. Slowly open the valve and let it burn in a safe direction as it heats up. As it heats up it will turn from a yellow to a blue flame as the preheat fuel burns up. They are kind of scary the first time you use them. I like to keep a fire extinguisher close by. You might have to add pressure to the tank after it burns a little while. They usually have a little bracket on top to support an old fashioned copper solder iron while it is heating. I used mine a while back to heat my irons while I soldered a gutter trough together on a job. You use two irons, keeping one heating on the torch while you use the other. 

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Thanks David, that is kind of how I thought they worked. Will have to get them cleaned up. The seal on four of them are good. They all pump up and hold pressure.

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Make sure they are gasoline or kerosene, most in the UK were kerosene/paraffin, jets may differ, take care, as David said, they can be scary, impressive, but scary if you are not used to them.

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Be sure to do a proper leak down test before you fire one of these things up. Finding a leak by way of ignition while you`re holding it or working in close proximity to it can be a bit more excitement than most folks are prepared for. :o

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INHO, those things were dangerous when they were new, which is why they developed modern soldering torches. Polish it up and put it on a display shelf. It will do its best and safest work there. However, IF you decide to ignore warnings, at least take it completely apart and rebuild it first making sure all moving parts move freely (pump and shutoff valve) and all parts that shouldn't move (everything else that doesn't move i, e. threaded joints) doesn't. Replace the old leather plunger. One reason they are dangerous is they can leak at many places and as the fuel is under pressure, the last thing you want is a fine mist of gasoline near an open flame. That is how the work but the mist should only come out the nozzle. Not the pump or any threaded fitting. This is only a couple things that can go wrong, but when they do, its hard to reverse quickly. I wanted to post some example links but the ones I found had language not allowed here but just Google "gasoline torch dangers"

My 2¢

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Mine sits on display in the garage.  I'm sure it'd be interesting to restore and light, but after an experience with a grease fire long ago and what I've read onlin,e that's were it's going to stay.  Tempting to disable it somehow to make sure anyone it might get passed down to does something dumb with it.  When I first inherited it, I was tempted to do something with it.

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My Dad had one of these. He used it to heat up solder in a little cup made of what looked like 1 inch or 3/4 inch pipe. The cup had a steel handle with wood over the steel to insulate you from the heat. The cup was filled with solder. When joining two wires you twist them together then dip them in the molten solder. It was a good idea to keep some rosin to dip the wire in before you dipped it into the molten solder. The heat from the solder in the cup made the joint very smooth and strong. The blow torch was kept in a central area away from flammables and the solder cup heated periodically as you were joining wires. This was before the twist on connectors we use today were common. The joint was allowed to cool then wrapped securely in electrical tape to prevent any chance of shorting. I imagine the joints were a lot stronger and less prone to thermal loosening than todays twist on connectors. It did require vigilance to make sure the torch was always pointed in a safe direction.

And do I make joints like that now a days?  Nope, I use the twist on connectors. If for some reason I am asking a wire to perform close to its specs I might twist the leads, solder them with a soldering gun, then put a twist cap on. That is fairly rare though. 

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