(Update: it looks like this isn’t available as a Bernzomatic product anymore, but you can find it here: Worthington Cylinders Map/Pro Oxygen Torch Kit)
I just picked up this lovely little torch and practiced a bit around the shop. Here’s a little video showing how this thing works in the hands of a rank amateur (me):
They are a little vague about the rod specifications, so here is the breakdown of the types of rods Bernzomatic sells for this, with their uses:
- PC3: Copper phosphorus rods, used to braze copper and bronze, may be used to seal copper pipes in plumbing applications without draining the water.
- WB5: Bronze flux-coated rods, most versatile and will provide the strongest joint, use to braze copper, bronze, galvanized iron or steel, brass, stainless and chrome-plate.
- NS3: Nickel-silver flux-coated rods, braze steel, stainless steel, galvanized iron or steel, bronze and chrome plate, slightly lower melting temperature than bronze brazing rods.
- AL3: Aluminum soldering rods, use to join and repair aluminum objects.
Pretty versatile, if it actually works for these materials. I’m getting some aluminum rods in to try those out. All in all, for the job I needed this thing was pretty much perfect. Let’s look at the total cost.
Bernzomatic OX2550 kit from Home Depot: $60
Additional O2 tanks: 2@10: $20
Rods: 2@$6: $12
Rod- $6 per 2×12″ rods
O2- $20 per 2×12″ rods
I’d estimate a 12″ rod is going to give you about 6″ of weld, so you’re looking at $26 for about 12″ of weld. Definitely more expensive in consumables than MIG or TIG, not as strong, but for the small, occasional job? It seems perfect to me.
Conclusions? You’re simply not going to get anything this easy to use for this kind of money. For anyone who can solder, it’s not too hard to translate that skill to brazing and braze-welding with this torch. Let’s look at the options – MIG, a cheap, wire feed kit will be maybe $150, plus extras, and my personal experience is it’s so frustrating to use I’ve practically given them away, just to get rid of them. Nobody I know who has one actually uses it. TIG? It looks like a basic TIG setup is going to cost you around $250, and again, you need the extras. TIG is a bit less forgiving than MIG from what I’ve seen, but gives you a better weld. I have no idea if the $250 units are adequate, but I’ve been told they are. Gas torch kits, with proper large tanks and stuff are about $100 for the kits without the tanks. I’m not sure how you get the tanks, I assume a welding supply, and I don’t know how much they are.
The other option is to take it to your local welder. We have a guy down the street who would have done the job for about $50. One part- a simple bead on a seam, would have been no problem. The other part – the headlight bracket – needed a fairly critical setup to fit the angles and such. I would have to have looked over his shoulder to get it done right. All in all, it would have taken a whole Saturday morning, if he even works on Saturdays. Using this little torch I got both done in about 15min, it’s done right, and I can move on.
For what it is, I’d recommend it without hesitation. For any work needing high strength, or more than about a 12″ bead, I’d look at something more robust.