Okay, I hope that this post will be received in the way it was written: a gentil loving opinion - from the woman who owns and has worked on the following torches (yes, I STILL own them all! I can take pictures if you like!). I am listing them in the order I purchased them:
Nortel Minor Burner
Carlisle Mini CC
Carlisle Bunsen Burner
Today's hideaway: A silver bic-lighter cover
Are you impressed? Looks like a torch-vendors showroom in my studio. Here are my impressions/opinions. Sentences in Italics are "borrowed" from a variety of websites (thanks to ABR Imagery, Flametree Glass and Wale Apparatus). Hope you guys don't mind!
Minor: Pros: Always liked the Minor Burner, it's relatively cheap (around $ 169) , next to indestructible, most studios have it, so, if you work "away from home" you don't have to get used to a different flame type or temperature range. Very solid torch, can't tell about the customer service of Nortel, since it never broke down. The Minor Bench Burner is one of Nortel's most popular surface mix torches. Economically priced, the Minor allows professionals and beginners alike to work with power greater than the Hot Head. The small stature of the Minor is standarized for making beads, marbles and small sculptural work. The Minor accommodates flame sizes from approximately 1/8" to 3/4" diameter.
Bought about 5 of those over time to give to friends. Cons: the barrel gets hot and I can't rest my hands on the torch, which I like to do to steady my hands when applying dots.
Lynx: Seven jet, triple surface mix torch. Perfect for lampwork bead making, with hard or soft glass! This torch is a little powerhouse! G.T.T.'s creation of their patented Triple Surface Mix Technology makes their torches hotter (Getting more BTUs out of propane than any other oxygen/propane torch on the mareket today, even a higher BTU output than oxygen/hydrogen torches is achieved with this technology. These torches burn cleaner, and have more flame characteristics than any other torch on the market today. This is the first triple surface mix size in the line up of G.T.T.'s triple surface mix torches, and serves as the center fire for all the larger two and three stage G.T.T. torches.
I bought the Lynx (which at about $ 435 is on the expensive side) because I learned to make miniature paperweights from Loren Stump and thought that I would need a torch that is able to get a very small sharp flame. After my class, I never made another mini-paperweight, so, that feature of the Lynx was not important to me. Pros: very quiet torch that gets very HOT if you want it to. Great for Boro-work, if you have the bottled oxygen to back it up. The torch is very cold, great for steading those hands on. Con: While I love my GTT (Glass Torch Technologies, manufacturer, the two most adorable twins in the world, Willie and Wallie) torches, they have several "issues". In the first 6-8 month, depending on how much you work, the valves re-adjust themselves...I think it has to do with the material that is used, it expands for a while, until it's broken in. That means, you have to add propane or oxygen while you work, because the flame gets smaller and smaller. That takes some getting used to, but no big deal. The major drawback for me was the fact that the Lynx does not like the kind of small flame I use to work with, so the torch "cloggs up" after a while. You see small glowing dots forming on the top of the torch, which I think is a carbon build-up, stemming from the fact that the propane does not get burned properly when the flame is too small. Talked about this with Willie, and he basically told me to turn the flame up - the center flame (the cones) should be at least 1/2 inch long. If I turn my torch up that high, the flame is way too hot for my taste...So, I kept running it on a small flame, with the result that my jets got dirty and I had to send the torch in for cleaning. Willie and Wallie are great guys, but they are not the most organized, so, in order to have a "back-up" torch while they were cleaning my Lynx, I bought a Bobcat. Which brings me to the next "review":
Bobcat: Seven jet standard surface mix torch for beadmaking and small to medium borosilicate work.
Retails for about $ 195.
Same pros and cons as the Lynx...basically, as long as you don't turn on the second oxygen valve on the Lynx, the Bobcat and the Lynx are the same torch! With the same issues...so, now one of my torches is always at service at GTT - the Bobcat is still out of my hands, I think Willie and Wallie have forgotten to send it back, which I JUST realized. Better give them a call.
Piranha: Made in the US by BETHLEHEM. A fairly new torch that is supposed to cater to the people who use the Minor. Was highly recommended to me by a friend in Florida (Heather Ferman) - so I bought it when it was on special at Art Glass House. I think I paid about $ 190, usually it sells for around $ 250. It's surface mix torch for working soft or borosilicate glass with 6 ports in a pentagon shape. The Piranha has a versitle flame size from needle sharp up to 15mm in diameter. The face diameter is 3/8". This torch can be removed easily from its base to be used as a handtorch or lathe burner.
I used it once, and I didn't like it because of the BODY size. For the flame size the torch is really big and "bulky" - and I couldn't get my hand close enough to the tip of the torch. So, there is nothing good or bad that I can say about working with it, it's a personal choice, I think a guy might like this torch better BECAUSE of the size. It's a little "macho"....
Wale Firebird: Small bench burner with nine fuel tubes. This small bench burner has two different diameter propane tubes and square oxygen holes.
It has hardened, spherically shaped valve stem tips, lapped to a 00 micro inch finish...
The FIREBIRD was designed specifically with the needs of the artistic and scientific flameworker in mind. A multi-purpose torch, it will work both soft and borosilicate glass with ease. The torch is surface mixed yielding you a very safe, quiet and versatile flame. All of its critical components are made of stainless steel. Don't be fooled by its size! Because of Wale's unique design on this burner you will be amazed at the size of borosilicate glass you can work. You can obtain virtually any flame diameter from a small pinpoint to a soft bushy annealing flame.
I bought this torch directly from Wale...(speaking of that, I think the deal I made with Mike DeMasi is that if I like it, I keep it and pay for it, if I don't like it, I send it back...I haven't used it much, so, I think I have to make up my mind what to do about it. Basically it is similar to the Lynx/Bobcat, can't tell whether it has the same "issues", but I think it might be a little less "fickle", though I haven't used it enough to tell. The price is around $ 245, so, it's a little on the expensive side.
Bunsen Burner: Carlisle's Bunsen Burners are manufactured from brass and are nickel plated. The Bunsen Burner bases are manufactured out of steel. Designed for use with Propane. The Bunsen Burner #130 is the largest of the single head Bunsen Burners available from Carlisle MachineWorks, and comes equipped with a heat intensifying head made of perforated metal - allowing for a very stable and broad flame. 8 3/4" High with a base width of 3 1/2". Integral Hose adapter that fits from 1/4" to 3/8" ID hosing included.
I bought this torch after my workshop with Lucio Bubacco, haven't used it yet, but I don't plan to use it for making beads, but to build a "miniature glory hole", by building a simple "housing" with firebricks and putting a steel plate on top (Lucio is using the steel plate from his mother's iron! Very stylish.) We used this setup to preheat parts that we wanted to apply to beads, and the space between the torch head and the steelplate is a wonderful heat to gently heat the entire bead without getting a lot of direct heat onto the raised detail. For people who make huge beads this might be a great little addition on their workbench. All you need is an extra propane tank, not even a regulator, so the investment is minimal, since this torch sells for less then $ 100...
Carlisle Mini CC: When Carlisle first set out to create the Mini CC, their goals were simple. Create a burner that is suitable for producing soft glass beads and smaller borosilicate work, that featured the durability that Carlisle is well known for. When the Mini CC went from concept to production, Carlisle found that they had produced a burner that boasted a new flame profile that is revolutionizing the soft glass torch market.
Using a very different flame pattern from many of the other torches in its class, the Mini CC presents an extremely hot flame that is also very bushy. This bushy flame creates a soft working environment that also provides superior radiant heat, giving the ability to work with larger soft glass pieces with a reduced chance of thermal shock. With a versatile flame atmosphere that can be set for reduction, neutral or oxidizing flames, the Mini CC presents a quick and easy way to produce the many color effects of today’s glass artist. The raw firepower of the Mini CC is quite impressive, and capable of working borosilicate glass for beads and small sculpture.
Built with a very durable design, the Mini CC features a brass housing, stainless steel tube matrix of 7 fuel gas ports, and a stainless steel base with mounting holes. For the adjustment of the torch head angle, a ball joint is attached between the torch head and the base, allowing for 15 degrees of adjustment in any direction.
Carlisle continued to add to the allure of the Mini CC by offering a free Instructional DVD with every torch sold. This DVD not only visually shows the user how to achieve all of the many desired flames, but also incorporates 5 demonstrations by Doug Remschneider. This DVD rounds out the Mini CC as truly one of the most exciting
entry-level torches available on the market today.
I copied this from Wale Apparatus website (www.waleapparatus.com)
, and there is absolutely nothing I can add to this description. It's my torch of choice! I have bought 15 of these torches so far, to use in my private classes, and almost every student bought the torch they have used. I love my Mini CC, one of those "C"s might actually stand for CORINA....
Hothead...no comment on that one right now...there is a separate thread on this torch where all has been said.
As for the "usability" of these torches with Oxygen Concentrators/Generators: I use a generator myself (an Oxybox 15, which is relatively expensive at $ 2000, but I'm a "pro" and I need the extra umph it gives me. I can even run two Mini CCs at the same time, which is wonderful when I have a student over or a friend who comes to play. I also have a $ 300 refurbished medical concentrator (from www.suncoastbeads.com
) - which runs both the Minor Burner and the Mini CC just fine (only ONE torch at a time though!).
My recommendation for beginners: Get a cheap concentrator and a Carlisle Mini CC or a Minor. If I had to make a choice between a Minor and a Mini CC, it would be the Mini CC, because the torch is QUIETER than the Minor, and the range of flame is wider...meaning, you can get a smaller flame and a wider flame both. And getting the DVD in the package is a great helpful bonus that is well worth the extra $ 20 you have to spend for the Mini CC. And no, I don't get paid by Carlisle to say these things...but hey, there is a thought!