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Mini side arm burner trouble shooting

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Hey all!

With the recent acquisition of a propane regulator, I have been able to broaden my options in terms of what burners I am able to build.

I liked the simplicity and size of the Zoeller mini side arm burner, and picked up the parts to build it yesterday.


The only problem is that after assembly, my initial tests produce mediocre results....Just a very weak flame and nothing like the mini jet engines I see others using

First off, the plumbing supply house only had the 1"X3/4"x1"  reducing tee. I had seen other smiths building this same burner use a bushing to reduce the 3/4" down to 1/2".

At the time, I saw no problem in doing the same.....I'm kinda wondering now.

The .023 mig tips I got were Tweco, not Miller, and slightly smaller than the ID of the 1/8" pipe nipple. I simply soldered the mig tip into the pipe. After it cooled, it was slightly cocked over to one side, so I chucked it up in my drill and spun it against my vise to true it up.

There was a casting void in the 1" pipe plug which threw the hole off center by a smidge, but should center up properly with set screws.  The flare was done rather quickly out of regular carbon steel, not stainless.... Could the angle of the flare be to blame?

I will be the first to admit that I have only been experimenting with burners for a couple weeks, and am slowly learning the process as I put them together.

I'm pretty sure I have followed the instructions detailed on the website rather closely, but due to my inexperience I have a feeling that I am missing something pretty obvious.








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I used a reducer Between the tee and tube on my burner and it works.  Were you trying to use it in a forge or in the open?  How far you have the tip inserted past the air inlet is also important.  My burner seemed puny, but once it was inside of a box it was easier to tune.



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I forgot to add that I used a black pipe union for my flare.  In the second picture,  you can see how far the tip is extended into the burner tube.  The burner works a lot better when the tip is aligned in the middle of the burner.

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Hey Daniel, thanks so much for chiming in with your suggestions!

To answer your questions.: I was testing the burner outside the forge and didn't have the tip assembly fixed in any set position---to allow me to slide it in and out while observing what the placement did to the flame.....So far the results sound similar to what you describe-a rather weak, puny jet flame at 30+ psi. Usually when the tip is near-ish to the middle of the air intake hole. I also stuck a magnet over the intake and tried choking off the air supply to varying degrees, which didn't help matters much.

I applied a coat of this stuff over a 1" layer of insulation: http://www.lowes.com/pd_15879-138-35515_0__?productId=3572462 just a few hours ago, and am building up the wall thickness in layers, so it'll be a little while until it's dry enough to test and tune the burner.

I haven't seen or heard of anyone using this stuff to line forges. According to the label, this stuff is rated up to 3,000 and 'suitable for use in burn chambers', so it should work fine, but we'll see....

In the meantime I'll check the solder joint holding the welding tip onto the 1/8" pipe... Perhaps it's leaking.  I'll also drill and tap holes for the set screws instead of the makeshift copper collet I was using before.

The black pipe union (connector?) you're using, did you grind or forge it into a flare or use it as is? 1/2" to a larger pipe, (bell reducer?) or same diameter? I happened to have some mild steel tubing with a 15/16" ID which I hammered into a flare, that at least looked pretty close to those I've seen others build. I'll see what I can do to refine it into a true 1in12" taper. Failing that, I'll get a pipe union or try the dozen donut technique and stop by a local machine shop with a piece of stainless pipe in hand and see what happens......

Thanks again Daniel...I'll keep you in the loop.

Edited by Brasilikilt
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I built the larger Zoeller burners a while back - and after experimenting with the burners for a bit - decided to purchase a stainless tip off ebay that was flared and tapped with 3 set screws. I'm not certain what your budget is - but the tip was around 15$ total and works great - I used it as a template for my second burner tip I made. Search - Propane Forge Burner Blacksmith Stainless Nozzle - 

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When I said union, I meant coupling.  My plumbing experience is mainly with stainless steel Swagelok fittings.  My burner is a 3/4" black pipe tube with a 1" tee.  The reducer is 1" to 3/4".  The flare is a 3/4" coupling.  After reading that I'll have to reline the forge every so often, I wasn't too worried that this initial flare might not last forever.  Having built one burner, I feel like I could throw another together when the need arises. Leak checking all of the plumbing is a must.  I hope that that refractory works.  I got all of my refractory and insulation materials from hightemptools.com.  I believe that Wayne Coe also sells the necessary materials on his website, but I didn't know that when I ordered my stuff.  Good luck with building the forge.  I like to play with coal, but not getting dirty while forging is nice sometimes.  The last time I went into Starbucks with coal dust on my face was an experience.  I'm pretty sure they thought I was homeless.

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