Connecting Torches

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Printable PDF Tip & Tricks booklet.

Installing and Using Oxygen Mix Torches

Only use the appropriate diameter Grade T hoses to connect your torch to its oxygen and fuel supply. Technically, a torch is hand held and a burner is table mounted. However, burners are most often referred to as torches. Regular welding type Grade R or Grade RM hose, which is fine for acetylene, will rot with propane, butane or MAPP gas. Some lampworking torches connect to hoses with hose barbs and hose clamps. Most torches now use the same "B" size screw-on fittings to connect the hoses to the torch that is at the other end of the hoses, which connect to the pressure regulator.

For torches with screw-on connections, simply screw together the fittings of the torch to the fittings of the hose using appropriate open end wrenches. One wench is used on the "B" size nut of the hose (usually 11/16") and one wrench is at the base of the "B" size fitting on the torch. The green oxygen hose uses regular right hand threads. The red fuel gas hose uses left hand threads.

For torches that use hose barbs to connect the hoses, split the two hoses apart to about 8" (20 cm) from their cut end. The red fuel gas hose connects to the hose barb that leads to the torch's red gas valve. The green oxygen hose connects to the hose barb that leads to the fuel gas valve which will be either silver or green. Before putting the hoses onto the hose barbs, loosely slip the hose clamps over the ends of the hoses. Have the screw of the hose clamp orientate so that it does not sit near the torch's gas valve after tightening. This is so your fingers do not bump into them. Push the hoses onto the hose barbs at least three quarters of the way, if not all the way on. Slide one of the hose clamps over the area of the hose that covers the hose barb and center it over the barb. Tighten the clamp only enough to slightly bulge the hose, but not cut into it. Do the same to the other hose clamp. If the hose is difficult to push over the torch's hose barbs, wet them with water only. NEVER use grease or oil anywhere near oxygen. This combination is always explosive. If the hoses are reversed, the torch will not work properly.

Lampworking torches are typically used with oxygen and either propane or natural gas. To use hydrogen usually requires a special torch. MAPP gas is not recommended. Acetylene will not work with glass and will destroy most lampworking torches.

Connect hoses to properly installed pressure regulators. See our instruction sheet for proper pressure regulator installation and recommended pressures.

Typical oxygen consumption for most bead scale torches is 9 to 11 standard cubic feet (scf) per hour (260 to 320 liters per hour - lph). Propane usage is approximately 1 gallon per 250 scf of oxygen.

To adjust the flame properly: Using a flint striker, light the torch with only a small amount of fuel gas on. Both the red fuel hose and the green oxygen hose will have air in them until they have been purged. These hoses are purged by simply allowing the gases to flow through them. This only takes a few seconds. However, until the hoses are purged, lighting and maintaining a flame is difficult. Start by making the fuel gas flame only about 8" or 9" long (20 to 22 cm) (about as long as a hand span), then add oxygen. Adjust the oxygen until the flame has a small, crisp looking inner dark blue flame with its very tip ever so slightly fuzzy and maybe a hint of yellow. This inner blue flame will be about 1/4" to 3/8" (6 to 8 mm) long on most surface mix lampworking torches. For a normally used neutral flame, the general shape of the whole flame is rather straight. If the tip of the inner dark blue flame is very fuzzy and the general shape of the whole flame is slightly barrel shaped, you have a reduction flame, and while this is sometimes a desirable flame, you will find that some colors will reduce to grays or some other unexpected color. Increase the amount of oxygen or decrease the amount of propane to make a neutral flame. If the tip of the blue flame is extremely sharp and well defined, the torch starts to make a whistling sound and the overall shape of the flame is needle like, you likely have an oxidation flame. Increase the amount of propane or reduce the amount of oxygen to make a neutral flame. The life of the torch will be greatly shortened if the flame is too weak. A weak flame is one that doesn't have enough force behind it to make it burn straight. It curves upward. This causes the face of the torch to overheat and erode.

If you find that you need more heat, try working in the flame closer to the torch where the flame is hotter or adjust the gases to make the flame proportionately larger. You will find that a larger flame will give you more overall heat and that further out in the flame you are less likely to boil the glass, because the temperature is lower. If the flame becomes distorted, you probably have it set too high.

If you find that the glass burns or bubbles or has "scum" on it (scum is usually micro bubbles), then you are most likely getting the glass too hot. This can be corrected by one or all of the following: Rotate the glass more to better distribute the heat throughout the glass, try working in the flame further from the torch where it is cooler or adjust the gases to make the flame proportionately smaller. Also, sharp edges of glass heat up faster and overheat, than smooth surfaces do, because it cannot dissipate heat as easily. These sharp edges can be a major source of scum. It is always a good idea to remove the end of a cut glass rod by melting it and pulling it off with tweezers.

A reduction flame is cooler than a neutral flame, although its radiant heat may feel hotter to you, and has a large bushy look to it. It can also be very dirty and may deposit soot on the glass as well as reduce it.

An oxidation flame is also cooler than a neutral flame to the glass. The overall flame can be adjusted to very short and needle like. This type of flame is sometimes used for working with stringers, because it has a jacket of cool, unburned oxygen around it that insulates the part of the stringer not directly in the flame from the heat, thereby giving you better control. Usually, the easiest way to adjust the torch for this type of flame from a neutral flame is to leave the oxygen setting as is and reduce the fuel setting. A neutral or reduction flame tends to make the stringer soft some distance from the flame quickly and you can soon lose control of it.

Torches require periodic cleaning. You can usually tell when cleaning is necessary. You will see a carbon build up on the face of the burner or sometimes the fuel ports on the burner face may look restricted. You may not notice the flame reacting differently until quite a lot of carbon build up has accumulated, but a small amount of build up can affect flame quality and shorten the life of the torch.

Most of the carbon that builds up on the burner face is most often caused or accelerated by using a flame that is too weak. Dirty propane can also be a cause. Different torches build up carbon at different rates. Excessive carbon build up on the burner face works as a heat conduit and will transfer the heat of the flame to the burner face, thereby overheating it. Overheating causes eroding and or swelling of the metals of the burner face. This not only shortens the life of the torch, but creates poor flame quality. Dirty fuel ports, when left unattended, may get so restricted that getting the cleaning tool into them can be very difficult.

ALWAYS turn off the torch and let it cool before cleaning or you might melt the cleaning tool to the burner face. Only use the provided cleaning tool or an approved torch cleaning tool.

Cleaning is very simple and quick. Most of the carbon build up on the burner face can usually just be brushed off with a sideways stroke of the cleaning tool. To clean the fuel ports, insert the wire end of the cleaning tool into the port a short distance. The wire is smaller than the hole. Work the wire in and out several times while rotating the wire in a circular or cone shaped motion. This breaks off the build up that accumulates at the very edge of the hole. Repeat on all the fuel ports. Typically the oxygen ports stay clean. You can clean them as necessary.

If you accidentally touch molten glass to the torch and it sticks, immediately turn off the torch. If you try to remove it while it is still molten you will only smear it over the burner face and into the ports. After the torch has cooled, carefully use the cleaning wire and chip away as much of the glass as you can and then clean as usual. Use caution to not damage the burner face. Molten glass is corrosive to metal, so be sure to remove as much as possible. If only a very small amount of glass is still on the burner face and all of the ports are not clogged, the glass will usually burn away within a few minutes.

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