Monday, February 02, 2009

A Bigger Torch: Trying out the Nortel Mid-Range and the Red Max

Friday and Saturday - Nortel Mfg - makers of the Nortel torches, and sellers of flameworking supplies - had an open house.

This was a great opportunity to go and try out new torches. I spent Friday working on a Mid-range and Saturday working on a Red-Max.

I thoroughly enjoyed using the Mid-Range. Despite it's rather unsexy name - this was really a joy to use. This torch comes with a torch mounted on the top - in this case - it is a Mega Minor, but you can get a Minor instead. As I am completely comfortable with the Mega, I think that is what I would choose. With this, you can work on finer detail, glass that is sensitive to heat, or just transition gradually from the torch you are used to.

The mid-range itself is the bottom portion of the torch, with separate gas and oxygen controls. Watch the video to see the torch running first just with the mega, and then turning on the mid-range. BTW - the procedure for lighting the second torch is to just turn it on. It should catch immediately by the proximity to the other flame - but if not - huff on the torch and blow it toward the other to have it ignite.

I personally have a burning desire to work larger and larger, and I run into the barrier of having enough heat to keep the entire bead warm. Working faster would be nice too - but the struggle of spending more time heating the bead evenly so it doesn't crack is frustrating. You will note that Susan, in the video, refers to this - "insurance heat."

This set up was propane and tanked oxygen. My question was, of course, if one is using concentrators - how many does one need? A quick poll seems to indicate, keep adding them until you are happy - but I would venture that 2 x 5-Litre concentrators would be a minimum. I understand that there is a gal in the area using 6 x 5-litre concentrators to run her mid-range torch. The work she does is big and awesome, and she is doing it for a living.

Using this set up, I did not have troubles with scorching the glass or over-heating it. I did successfully make a large bead with a nice layer of dichro in it. The flame is wide, but seems to be quite controllable. Moving up and down the flame gave me a lot of range for keeping the bead warm all over, without having it get soupy. I could still melt the rods quickly. I think that even for production spacer and smaller work - this torch would be an advantage in that you could just work faster.

As I have been experimenting with some glasses lately that need a lot of heat, i.e. TAG Dalai Llama and Tibet (remember the instructions to "heat the snot out of it") - this torch would definitely get you there a lot sooner!

I'll try and get photo's of the beads made so you can see the sizes. More on using the Red Max later.


  1. Anonymous10:22 p.m.

    My wife, Jana, has been using the Mid Range with the Mega Minor since December and totally loves her torch "Scarlet". Highly recommended.

  2. Sorry, no comment. Just a question. In your opinion, would this torch be fit for working on small boro ?
    Thank you for your time.

  3. Absolutely! The gal you see in the video (who isn't me!) uses hers for soft glass and boro all the time.