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Handyann 2018-06-01 10:14am

My candles disappeared!!
Hi all,

I'm a rank beginner but have just got a Bethlhem Minnow after using a Hot Head for a while. The BM is secondhand, and I also got a Companion 590i oxycon with it.

They worked fine when I gave it a first little try for a bout an hour or so- it was easy to regulate the candles etc. Today, I'd been working maybe 30 minutes and the oxycon suddenly flicked to the 'not working' light and the flame was all propane.

I switched everything off, then switched the oxycon on again and it went back to normal working apparently, re lit the propane then added the oxy, but I can't get my nice candles back no matter how I juggle the two gasses - they've completely disappeared. I'm struggling to keep the oxy flow up at 4ish now too.

The original candles were about 1/4 inch long, blue with little white tips and they were all the same length, so I think I had the set-up right.

I'm wondering if something has gone wrong with the oxycon. I did read that the foam lining which deadens the sound can become fragmented, block the fan and cause the unit to overheat and switch off.

If anyone has any ideas or input, I'd be very grateful. This setup is sooo nice after the noisy and slow HH that I don't want to lose it!

Many thanks,

KJohn 2018-06-01 6:30pm

check for kinks in your hose, especially near the machine and at the torch. this can block the flow
also what psi is your propane set at? And your oxycon should not be at full setting to maintain its purity. A bit under is fine...I hope you figure it out. It's every lampers worst nightmare. :(

Handyann 2018-06-02 1:51am

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for replying.

I checked the hose first, as it's quite long and easy to trap or kink, but it's fine. Also, I was using the torch with no problems for about 30 minutes beforehand.

As to the propane psi - to my chagrin, I'm not sure. It's got the presumably standard regulator, identical to this one:

which came with it and is rated up to 4 BAR. Trouble is, everything seems to be rated in BAR in the UK, not PSI! I'm also not totally sure how open it should be. I just crack it enough to get the propane flowing. Is that wrong?

I detached the oxy hose from the torch and checked the output, which seems fine if not quite even - the flowmeter ball does go up and down a bit, but I'm not sure if that's normal?

I've hunted the web, but can't find an exactly similar problem. Neither can I find a manual for the Companion 590i oxycon - the 590, yes, but the configuration is different. I want to get inside it and check there's nothing amiss, but although there's a long hinge down the back, I can't find a way to open it!

I normally manage to figure stuff out, but this is proving difficult. :sad:

So sorry for all the questions - it's a bit of a learning curve!

echeveria 2018-06-02 7:31am

It is possible that your concentrator is only putting out air, and that the oxygen is not sufficient to burn. Do you have a propane flame? Is there anywhere nearby that can test your oxygen purity on the concentrator?

Handyann 2018-06-02 9:59am

Hi Kathy and Kristen,

I think I solved it! I finally managed to find a proper service manual online, instead of the usual owner's manual, and discovered how to get the case open - only 2 screws, but one is located in a tiny channel right behind one of the castors. You need a screwdriver of at least 7 inches shaft to get to it! I'd never have spotted it without the manual.

Anyway, long short, it turned out that the internal hosing is so old that it's breaking up. I think it must have fractured minutely, giving the problems. I've replaced most of it this afternoon and we seem - fingers crossed - to be back in business.

For anyone in the same predicament, this site is totally ace - it has proper service manuals for pretty much every type of oxycon on the planet -

Where would we be with out the WWW and how did we ever manage before it arrived?

Many thanks to both of you kind ladies for trying to help. It does make a difference knowing that there are such nice folks around. :-D

echeveria 2018-06-02 11:07am

Well that would do it! Glad you found a solution and were handy enough to fix it yourself.

Handyann 2018-06-02 11:23am

Thanks Kathy. Luckily, I'm an antiques restorer in 'real life', and I'm so used to fixing things that it never occurs to me not to at least try.

I'm pleased to report that Brian the Oxycon (Martin Tuffnell apparently names his refurbed oxycons and puts a name sticker on the top!) is working beautifully and is actually a lot better than when I first tried - much hotter flame and the flow indicator is holding rock steady at 4 ltrs/min, where it was bouncing up and down before.

I have my beautiful candles back, so a result I think!! Now I just have to re-learn everything to cope with the higher temps! :fireblob:

Eileen 2018-06-02 12:55pm

Yay! I had no good advice, but was worried it was an oxycon fail of some type. It is good to know you were able to fix it!

Speedslug 2018-06-03 6:46am

Aye, those medical units really were designed to be overhauled every two years and replacing the tubing would have been as routine as replacing the filter.

Because the medical units were supposed to run 24/7/365 the overhaul thing never allowed the hoses to get old enough to become a problem until us hobbyists started using them 40 hours a week for 8 to 12 years.

Once one hose starts to show that kind of age it is probably best to just replace all the internal hosing you can get at.

Speedslug 2018-06-03 7:33am

Oh and that regulator you you put the link to?

That one is a single stage unit that puts out a different level of pressure for use with hothead type torches.

Hotheads need a powerful blast of fuel to suck in enough room air to make them burn correctly that's why hotheads are so noisy.

I would want to shop around and get a Two Stage Regulator.

You can obviously get by with the one you have but I am guessing that you have to just barely crank the knob on it and even then it might do a 'shut off the flow thing' on you if the room temperature goes up a little bit causing the metal to expand and pinch off the fuel.

I found an old thread about regulator settings here ;
And the 2nd post in it talks about using 8 to 11 psi on a two gas torch.

I also found a web page for converting Bar to PSI here and the list on the right side gives you all kinds of choices for making conversions;

In this case it shows that 8 psi = 0.5443677112 Bar & 11 Psi = 0.748505602900000122 Bar.

My guess is half of 1 BAR is just barely opening the valve of the regulator but having the second valve on the torch should give you enough control to make it work for you.

I did notice that the regulators on that website did not have an indicator on them and that reminded me that when setting up my first torch I was told to turn the fuel up and the oxygen down to light it and set the fuel only flame with its sooty yellow appearance to something like 6 to 8 inches long and them bring up the oxygen until the candles were just coming off the face of the torch to prevent the flame from over heating the torch.

But like the car adverts say "your mileage may vary".

Good luck.

ETA: I am used to regulators that look like this;
One dial shows me how much pressure is in the tank and the other shows me how much pressure I am getting to the torch.

Moira 2018-06-03 10:07am

Just to put my two penn'orth in: I don't know anyone in the UK that uses a 2-stage regulator for lampwork.

I think the standard setting for a 4 bar propane reg is 'full less half a turn', about 3 1/2 bar. I leave mine set to that all the time, and just turn gas on and off at the cylinder.

Glad you got the oxy sorted. There are some good videos on Youtube for oxy maintenance.

Keep on melting! :grin:


Shaper 2018-06-03 11:17am

A single stage two dial regulator is what most folks use. A two stage regulator will cost you an arm and a leg. The only time I would consider using a two stage regulator would be on a liquid oxy tank, but that is another story. The main use of the regulator you linked to is for BBQ grills or gas fire places.
I would suggest you consider looking into a different regulator than what you have on there now. It will give you much better control over your flame and gas usage.

Speedslug 2018-06-03 12:09pm

I probably got my regulator descriptions messed up.

My apologies.

Most likely a throw back to my limited scuba diving days in the mid 80s.
I think that was a two stage regulator.

But these days it seems everything from the past is just a bit fuzzy.

Shaper 2018-06-04 10:46am

BTW the link Speedslug put up is for the right kind of regulator. It is a single stage with two dials, one showing tank pressure and one for showing output pressure.

MaMay 2018-06-04 3:03pm


I have learned that gas pressure should be approx. 1/3 from Oxy pressure.

I guess a regulator with 50mbar or 30mbar should be fine for your setup. Donīt forget a hose rupture safety device.

Should look like:

You can call Gunnar (the shop owner, he speaks English)
0049 (0)4385 5960 444
You can give him the name of your torch and which Oxy you use. He is always very helpful and would tell you what you need and which settings would work best for you.

A regulator up to 4 bar is only useful for a Hot Head which needs a high gas pressure.

With your new torch/Oxy and a lower gas pressure you should have a significant larger setting range.

I run an Nortel Minor torch with an Invacare 5 Oxy /Pressure Relief Mechanism
Operational at: 35 psi + 3.5 psi (241 kPa + 24.1 kPa) .

My set up with propane should be:
Nortel Minor 0,2 - 0,5 bar gas pressure with this Oxy. Edit: My Oxy has an oxygen output like a brandnew one. I ran the Oxy at 3,5-4 l.

Now I run my torch on natural (household) gas and donīt need a regulator.

Uuuuh, hope this make any sense to you.


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