Scale RC Forum Technical Helping Hand Soldering, Brazing & Welding Help & Advice My experience with a Cheap Chinese Little Torch

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  • #35742
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    Pete
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    Evening folks,

    I have been asked a few time about my thoughts on the cheap chinese knock off Smith’s Little torchs available on eBay. Now up until recently I had not been in a position to make an educated comment as to how good or bad they are, but just before the nationals I took delivery of one that I purchased on ebay.

    This weekend i finally got round to hooking it up to the gas and lighting it up. My intial thoughts are that it works ok with one simple mod, I have ended up using a genuine torch tip, as the supplied ones are not great. The problem with the supplied jets is that they are not very well made and gave a very poor flame shape when compared to a genuine tip. Genuine tips can be bought on ebay or from places like Cookson Gold I mostly use a number 5 or 6.

    The other thing I found is that the fuel and oxygen knobs do not have as nice an action or fine control over the flow rate as the genuine torch, but that said I am not sure that would actually be an issue if you have never used a genuine one.

    The main body of the copy is not as nicely made as the genuine one as some parts are epoxied together rather than threaded, I don’t have an issue with this as the joints are all nice and strong and well sealed and are in areas that do not get hot. I suspect it will eventually fall apart but as it cost just over £20 delivered as opposed to close to £200 for a genuine one, it is almost disposable.

    here are both torches together, I put the cable ties on the pipes of the copy as I had to remove the original clips to take the torch apart to look at how it was made, and yes I forgot to take any pictures ::doh::

    GOU94Ek.jpg

    and the flames of both (this is with the genuine tips on both torches) the copy has a number 6 and the genuine torch has a number 7, the copy is on the right.

    Z9gLKjv.jpg

    I have made a few joints with it now using both silver solder and regular brazing rod and am more than happy with the results (to be honest I can’t tell the difference)

    These are the rear cross member on the Willys chassis the first was made with the copy, the second with the genuine torch. Neither has been cleaned in anyway and both are a brazed joint rather than silver soldered.

    oXox5BS.jpg

    ly91KQT.jpg

    Both torches heated the metal (10mmx4mm solid steel bar) in about the same time and the braze flowed nicely into both joints smoothly.

    In conclusion I am pleasantly surprised by the cheapy and shall continue to use it (probably with the larger jet due to the way the flow knobs are less accurate) as it saves me having to swapping tips so often. I would definitely recommend buying at least one genuine smiths jet, even if it will cost more than the torch as the resulting flame will be much nicer to work with.

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    #67505
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    Dam
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    Well that’s a nice surprise, I thought it was going to burst into flames and blow you hand off. ::yikes

    If I were to buy one, what small gases do I need. :hmmm:

    #67559
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    Pete
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    dam wrote:
    Well that’s a nice surprise, I thought it was going to burst into flames and blow you hand off. ::yikes

    If I were to buy one, what small gases do I need. :hmmm:

    To be fair I clamped it in a vice outside the shed when I lit it for the first time ::lolz

    I use the normal blue (propane) bottles from B&Q, I found that the yellow (mapp) cylinders actually burn to hot with these little torches. I have a big oxygen cylinder from hobbyweld, but you can get disposable oxygen cylinders. The disposable cylinders are expensive (£35 plus) and don’t last very long. You will also need to get a couple of regulators for the cylinders, the propane one I made from a cheap brass plumbers torch, but the oxgen one needs to be correct to give the right (low) flow rate.

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    #67506
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    amellor03
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    Nice write up

    I’m a genuine torch owner and it’s well worth it.

    I bought a fake off someone unintentionally but never used it. I agree with all the points you raised on quality of the item, the one I had was bent from the handle.

    The question is do you risk it with a gas product?

    #67560
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    Pete
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    amellor03 wrote:
    Nice write up

    I’m a genuine torch owner and it’s well worth it.

    I bought a fake off someone unintentionally but never used it. I agree with all the points you raised on quality of the item, the one I had was bent from the handle.

    The question is do you risk it with a gas product?

    If I had recieved a torch damaged in the way you describe then, no I wouldn’t risk it.

    Due to the industries I have worked in, I have a fair bit of experience with flammable and explosive gases and associated equipment (I used to install and maintain gas system used in laboratories and test facilities), so am comfortable in my ability to assess the risks involved.

    The biggest risk is having the flame travel back up the inside of the pipe work and igniting the cyclinders (which is why flame arrestors are a good idea ;-) ) and the make and quality of the torch won’t really make much difference.

    In my opinion it is very unlikely for a torch to actually explode as the volume of gas involved is to low and not contained, what is more likely i feel, is that if the hose/pipe work or any of the fittings leak then it could lead to a flame coming out of an unexpected place. In fact one of the tips supplied with the cheap torch didn’t intially seal correctly leading to a flame at the union rather than at the end where it should have been.

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    #67507
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    amellor03
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    agreed but its a difficult one. would i use one if need be going off your review? yes. would i recommend one to a friend? no just in case its a really bad one

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