Friday, October 19, 2007

More Thoughts on the Mega Minor - Unboosted Natural Gas

Several folks have asked about the Mega and it's performance on unboosted natural gas. As I use propane or boosted natural gas, (depending on where I am) I hadn't had an opportunity to explore this yet - so today I stopped by Nortel Mfg (the manufacturer of the torch) to talk to Peter, the torch's inventor.

Household natural gas pressure in these here parts (Ontario, Canada) is about 1/4 psi. Ideally, the torch, in theory would like a 1/2 psi, or even 1 or 2 psi. That said, we hooked up a mega to unboosted NG, and a single concentrator.

We could get a nice balanced flame and I could certainly melt soft glass with it. I would say that you would be limited in size, both from the point of view of how large you wanted to work and how long it took you to melt the glass. But - the limitations are certainly reasonable for a casual lampworker who is making beads for jewelry. The slower speed would actually help many beginners - as a common issue that beginners struggle with is working too hot and having the glass get away from them.

For someone doing production work - it would be hard to make a profit working at that speed.

So we then hooked it up to tanked oxygen (didn't happen to have a 2nd concentrator lying within arm's reach) - to see how unboosted NG and higher pressure of oxygen performed.

This gave us a much larger, hotter flame, and was much faster at melting glass - not lightening fast - but certainly much faster and more gratifying for the terminally impatient. (Like me!)

Verdict? I would say that the Mega on unboosted NG and a single concentrator is fine for a beginner or hobbyist, making beads for their own pleasure, and tending to make beads under an inch.

The Mega on unboosted NG and tanked oxygen or two concentrators is much more gratifying and will make it possible to work larger and work faster.

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