Basic Collecting
Safety Issues
Physical Exam
Fixing a Torch
Horror Stories
Small torches

Zangobob's Blow Torch Heaven

Frequently Asked Questions

Never ever, light a gasoline blow torch; they are too dangerous

Question: I sent an email to you quite some time ago, and I have not heard a response from you. Why is that?

Answer: I probably accidentally deleted your email. We get about 200 emails a day, and only a few of them have anything to do with blow torch collecting. Sometimes I hit the delete key too fast. It is possible that I may have mistaken your email for spam. Try sending your email again.

Question: I've sent a couple emails and they go on unanswered. What's the deal?

Answer: The DEAL is, I do not answer emails that do not have a clearly understood subject line. Don't write me with something stupid like ( Hey ) in the subject line and expect me to answer you. Subject lines like (maybe you can help) usually will result in your email being deleted. If such emails would appear to you as spam if you received them, then likely I will see it the same way and joyfully hit my Delete key. Also do not use multiple question marks; every spammer on Earth pulls that nonsense and all such formatted emails get cheerfully deleted. Your best bet is to write me a well formed, short and to the point email with a clearly understood subject line. Please limit your questions to one or two per email. Sometimes I answer emails while I am on hold, and waiting for someone to come to the phone. I can usually get an email response or two sent out in this amount of time. I can easily lose track of what I'm doing if your email contains too many questions. I then tend to procrastinate on formulating a response because of the time it will take to compile a complete answer. The result is that these emails often get lost or accidentally deleted. You can always write to me again if you have another question.

Question: I sent you a rather lengthy email regarding what I thought was an interesting blow torch collecting experience and I have heard nothing back from you. Why did you not answer my email?

Answer: Please do not take such things personally. The fact that you received no answer does not mean that we were not interested in your story. We do not have the resources to answer all of these kinds of emails. Rather, we prefer to answer specific questions and provide help when we can. Interesting stories sent to us by our web visitors are kept on file here at The Heaven. Rest assured that your story has been read and we appreciate the time you spent writing to us and sharing your story. We may eventually set up a space on our website where stories can be posted and thus shared with the rest of the torch collecting community.

Question: I bought this really interesting torch. Can you give me an idea how much it is worth?

Answer: We normally do not do appraisals because there are too many variables. There is no way we can give you the slightest meaningful guess without a picture. If you email us a question like this, please attach a picture and we will do our best. BTW we will use your picture on our website in the Manufacturer's Section if it is something unusual or otherwise a picture that we dont already have, and you will be given credit for the use of your picture. Please tell us if you prefer that we not use your picture. You will be helping the information availability of our website expand if you allow us to use your picture. Nonetheless, we will respect your preferences. Generally speaking, common torches that show normal signs of wear and age, and are physically complete and therefore repairable, sell for $15 to $30. The exact price depends on a lot of factors.

Question: I bought this torch with a label that says [label contents] and I wonder if you have any information about it?

Zangobob responds. Answer: All of the _information_ we have is posted on this website. If you don't find what you're looking for, then we don't have the information that you seek. This kind of question is way too open ended to be meaningful. Please use your time and our time efficiently by framing a more specific question. Even though we might want to, we do not have the time to write a Master's thesis in response to a question like this. This probably sounds harsh, but I do have a family, a house to care for, a wife to spend time with, a lawn to mow, shopping to do, probably just like you do. Please, ask a question that is specific and to the point. We will do our best to answer unless the answer appears elsewhere on our website.

Question: Are there any clubs or associations that you know of that specialize in blow torches?

Answer: Yes there is! It's called the Blow Torch Collector's Association. It is the best if not the only such club. The last we knew, they had a monthly newsletter available for a reasonable annual fee. We recently tried searching for their website and had a hard time finding it. However, there were many Google hits for it. Persistence paid off and we did find it. Check it out and get signed up to receive their newsletter. Below is the latest contact information we have for the BTCA:

Blow Torch Collectors Association

The association's mission statement: Our organization is a relatively young group which came together in early 1995 with a goal of preserving the history of blow torches, promoting collecting knowledge, and the trading and selling of torches within the group.

Ron Carr, the President of BTCA publishes a quarterly newsletter called "The Torch" for the hundreds of worldwide members. We welcome all interested collectors as new BTCA members.

Contact: RMCarr1@cox.net

Blow Torch Collectors Association

c/o Ron Carr

3328 258th Avenue SE

sammamish, WA 98075


Website: The Blow Torch collectors Association!

Please let us know if this link does not work. Forward their new URL to us if you find it, and we'll update our page here.

Question: Where can I get spare parts for my torch?

Answer: The manufacturers of gasoline blow torches have been out of business for many years. Parts from the original manufacturers are alas, no longer available. Some parts however can be made with simple tools and common supplies. The best approach is to buy torches that are in poor condition that are the same model as yours, and then use those torches for parts.

Question: Where is the best place to buy a blow torch?

Answer: The most common sources are antique stores, estate sales, flea markets and Ebay. All of these potential sources have their advantages and disadvantages, and there is no one best place to buy a torch in our opinion and experience. Ebay has the advantage of lowest prices for common torches. Its disadvantage is that rare or uncommon torches tend to sell for premium prices. Ebay tends to have the broadest price spread. Antique stores have the advantage that you can view the torch before you buy it. Prices tend to be the highest at antique stores, even for common torches. You can frequently find some good deals on uncommon or rare torches. This is because antique dealers tend to lump all torches into one category and typically do not take the time to research a particular torch to determine its rarity. Antique stores typically tend to focus on popular items in the interest of conserving display space. Finally, there is the flea market. It tends to be easier to find blow torches at flea markets than at antique stores because of the vastness of items and the size of a typical flea market. You could visit a dozen antique stores and find nothing but junk or common torches priced unreasonably high. The curators at Zangobob's Blow Torch Heaven have found the best samples at flea markets.

Question: Can you sell me a working blow torch?

Answer: We have a policy not to sell working torches. This is not to say that one of our sale items would not work. We do not encourage lighting gasoline torches due to safety concerns and would therefore never sell a torch with the idea that it is a working torch. There are simply too many variables to evaluate the safety risk. If you really need a blow torch for a legitimate application, then go to a reputable hardware store and buy a propane torch.

Question: Why do you insist that gasoline blowtorches are dangerous, yet you recommend buying a propane blow torch?

Answer: We understand how that could be interpreted as a rather odd position, given that gasoline and propane are both very flammable. Gasoline is more of a problem because of leaks. Liquid gasoline can be much more problematic from a safety perspective than propane can. Propane torches operate under very high pressure, and therefore, all of the fuel will quickly escape to the atmosphere and be quickly dissipated in the event of a leak. Liquid gasoline can spray out all over the place. This gasoline thus creates a very dangerous condition; it is highly suseptible to ignition until such time that it completely evaporates. It is the time delay between when the gasoline first leaks out and when it evaporates that very threatening safety conditions exist. This is the main reason that gasoline torches are more dangerous compared to propane torches. In the hands of an idiot, a spoon is dangerous. Ergo, any tool improperly used has the potential to be dangerous and sometimes life threatening if used carelessly. Given two choices, a gasoline torch or a propane torch, the gasoline torch is, without question, the most dangerous.

Question: I think the check valve is bad on my blow torch. Can it be fixed?

Answer: Check valves can be repaired. However do NOT plan on actually lighting your blow torch. More specifics on how to do this will be posted later. Please write us if you have an immediate need.

Question: The leather in the pump on my blow torch is bad. How can this be fixed?

Answer: This is an easy fix. Find either some eighth inch thick leather at a craft store that is smooth on one side or alternatively leather from an old wallet. Take a quarter, place it on the smooth side with the leather laying on a smooth surface. Draw around the quarter with a pen. Take scissors and cut out your circle from the donor leather. Take a single hole, hand held paper punch and punch a hole, dead center in the leather disk you just cut out. Reassemble the new leather on the pump handle in such a way that the smooth side of the leather rubs against the wall of the pump. You will have to liberally oil the new leather so that it can be worked back into the pump body. Oil lubricates the leather and makes this process much less frustrating.

Question: What are the most common problems that prevent blowtorches from burning efficiently?

Answer: A properly operating blowtorch will have a loud, roaring flame that shoots from the burner head approximately 3 to 5 inches. If the flame is not strong, blue in color, then the most likely cause is that the torch is plugged. The wick commonly rots, turns hard, and sometimes the undervein on the burner head gets clogged with carbon. In severe cases, the old wick has to be drilled out. In some situations, the fuel passageway has to be reamed out with a drill. It is also very common to find blow torches that have a defective check valve, which is the leading reason why gasoline blowtorches are so dangerous. Another problem, although not as common as the failure modes already mentioned, is the presence of cracks in the brass tank. These are usually stress cracks and are the result of a blowtorch being improperly stored.

Question: How many people work at Zangobob's Blow Torch Heaven?

Answer: Technically we are not an employer, so nobody works here. There are three primary associates and about six other interested parties that are connected with The Heaven. We all get together periodically for what we call a Torchology Session. We do this several times a year depending on the weather. We all have torch samples that we light, and we go through many safety precautions before the session. Sometimes there are as many as five people involved in our torch activities. All of us get together to attend area flea markets in search of unusual samples, parts and other torch related items or tools. We usually end a day of browsing and shopping by repairing our purchases to get them functional again. Moreover, the crew will get together for a troubleshooting session to solve difficult torch performance issues. Each of us have our own unique talents for torch repairing and these talents come together in a team driven spirit during a repair session.

Question: Where are you located and what are the chances of getting a tour of The Blow Torch Heaven?

Answer: Given that this is a rather small operation, we really don't have anything to show you over and above our torch collection. We Therefore do not have a tour policy. We probably could arrange a consultation if that would work for you. We are located in Dekalb County, Illinois in beautiful scenic Sycamore. That puts us about 30 miles south of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line and about 65 miles west of Chicago. An annual event that we look forward to here in Sycamore is the Steam Power show (Also affectionately referred to as the hillbilly farm progress show) in August and the Pumpkin Festival in October. If you have been to either of these events, then you were about two miles from the Zangobob's Blow Torch Heaven main laboratory.

Question: I have found many spelling and grammar mistakes on your site. Don't you believe in using a spell checker?

Answer: Zangobob responds. Sure, I believe in spell checkers and such. My first priority was to get a working website on line, and then address the spelling and grammar. I will agree that I let way too much time pass before addressing this issue. This website has been available for several years, and we're just now beginning to correct these errors.

I agonize over every grammar and spelling error you see. I regret that thirty years ago, when I was in high school, that I did not pay more attention to learning the rules of grammar and composition. It is a constant strggle for me to put together any kind of written document and not misspell many words, and struggle with sentence structure. I have always wanted to write a book. That may never happen because of the struggle I have with a simple ten page report. I am an Electrical Engineer with a BSEE degree, and have problems expressing myself in written form. I'm buying books on grammar and composition as well as practicing what I learn. I have fifty years of bad writing habits to break, and that is not going to be easy. I've come a long way in improving my writing style since creating this website. However, I have a great deal of improvement to do before I tackle writing a book.

We have our Blow Torches website on line at two different web servers, both of which have their own set of HTML documents. The index.html has been improved by fixing most, if not all, of the misspelled words. Our grammar checker still complains about wordy sentences. We'll tackle that later. We are working on WWW.blotorches.com right now and we intend to fix Members.aol.com/blotorches in the future. Had I listened in english class 30 years ago, I would not be faced with rewriting my entire websites now. You know the old saying. "There always seems to be enough time to do a half-assed job twice, but never enough time to do it right the first time." I am the poster child for that concept.

Here are some links to some other sites on the Internet

Created 03-27-07

Revised 06-02-07

Copyrighted (c) 2007 by Jeffery E. Glass Sycamore, Illinois USA. All rights reserved.