Q: I already have a Smith Little Torch, but I’m thinking that getting a ProCraft electric soldering machine will make my life easier, especially when soldering posts on earrings. Or am I deluding myself?
A: There are a very few instances where the electric machine is an improvement. Generally those are when the ability to solder without having the flame extend away from the working area, or needing to approach it, is an advantage. It can minimize heat damage to areas adjacent to the work area which are hard to avoid hitting with the flame. But in general, these instances are rare.
Usually you’ll find getting a good solder joint is easier with the torch, at least in my experience (which was rather limited with the electrical machine). The example that occurs to me as typifying their best use is the repair of some eyeglass frames where there is lacquer or other finishes, and one needs to avoid even slight accidental heating of areas any distance from the solder joint.
If you do decide to get one, you might want to check R.Allen Hardy’s book on jewelry repair. (At least I think that was the title—I’m dredging that up from two decades ago.) I recall a smallish size book from some time period around or before WWII which had a whole chapter on using the electric soldering machine.
But for my money, I’ll bet you’d be better served by adding a larger torch, like a Meco Midget, to your torch setup. Use the same fuel gases and regulators, just add Y connectors to run the extra torch. It’s a torch with a larger capacity, so it’s good for bigger items than the Little Torch will manage.
That’s just my opinion, though. I’m sure some people like the electric machine, or they wouldn’t still make the things—I’m just not one of them.
by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.