Upgrading to new torch, new help

I got a Minor burner right now and I want to grow into a torch and work more with Boro and make larger items like big marbles, paperweights, sculptures and experiment with glass blowing. It was easy to choose a torch to start with but now Iím so confused about the different manufactures of torches and different torches. We I ask people about them they just say I use this itís the best and you should use it. Not very much input or information to go on when deciding on a new torch thatís best for me.
Also Iím confused about premix and surface mix. Why are some torches premix or surface mix, seems that premix id for Boro only? What are the advantages of a premix torch for Boro over a surface mix torch used for Boro? A lampworking instructor told me that prefix is old technology and is on its way out and to only buy surface mix torches.
The torches Iím looking at are,
Nortel - Red Max
National Ė 8M (premix same question above)
GTT - Lynx
GTT - Phantom (split manifold, what is this used for and advantages?)
Bethlehem Ė Barracuda
Carlisle Ė CC
I donít know what it is but seems the GTT torches are the new thing and everyone loves them so Iím leaning to them. Is they a website for GTT? I know that they are coming out with a new range of torches and would like to get more information.
I thank you in advance for any help Iím hope everyone can help me narrow the choices down.

* A split manifold (on a Phantom) has separate fuel and oxygen inputs for the center fire and the outer fire. This allows you to turn the outer fire on and off using a foot pedal. Some folks love this. If you are looking at making large marbles and paperweights, you might consider one of the larger GTT torches like a Mirage or Delta Elite. When I took Loren Stump's class, I used his Delta Elite to make a paperweight.
I normally use a Lynx. The center fire on the larger GTT torches is basically a Lynx. The Lynx is not suitable for making large marbles and paperweights.
As I understand things, the Carlisle CC is recommended for boro only.
I wouldn't consider the national especially suited for making large pieces either.
The Nortel Red Max or Bethlehem Barracuda should work for larger pieces.
Not everyone loves the GTT torches. I love mine, but I know several lampworkers who don't like them. And premix is still around and quite appropriate for some uses. Surface mix torches are quieter. Premix torches are hotter. If possible, try some of them. It is important to be comfortable with your torch.

* Hi Robert! I am one of those who is not enthused with the GTT torches. Their flame is very focussed, which doesn't work well for me. They are very nice torches, but just don't do what I want. I now have a Bethlehem Baraccuda, which I love. It is suitable for small softglass pieces, as well as lsrger boro pieces. I really like the flame characteristics. It is sort of like a really big Minor torch, with more versatility. It is surface mix.

* Hi,
If you are planning to work both boro and soft glass, you will want to stay away from pre-mix torches. Soft glass can be worked with a pre-mix but it is not desirable. Surface-mix torches are great. They are more gentle on boro colors and have a much wider flame variety (making it easier to get oxidizing flames) than pre-mix. Pre-mix torches tend to be more on the reducing side and most boro colors work better with an oxidizing atmosphere. Pre-mix are not necessarily hotter than a surface mix. The Minor tends to be slower at working boro but Bethlehem and GTT are both hotter than a pre-mix.
I have re-arranged the torch list by my priority. Taking into consideration size, heat, and value.
Bethlehem Ė Barracuda (great torch all around especially for the price)
GTT - Phantom (another great torch but pricier)
GTT - Lynx (great torch but if you are going to go big you will outgrow it quickly)
Nortel - Red Max (really good torch but get it with the Minor on top)
National Ė 8M (can be used as surface or pre-mix)
Carlisle Ė CC (great for boro but kind of harsh on colors)

* Not that i'm into "safety", but i understand that the surface mix torches are safer. Less chance of mishap.
Have a Nortel Midrange and am completely satisfied with it .... and it puts out enough heat to do rather large sculptures. Haven't tried paper-weights so can't say for certain about that, but some of my sculptures are approx. that size ......
Highly recommend the Nortel Midrange.

* I dunno, Kirstian, based on the post Lewis Wilson made on your board last week, the Barracuda isn't sounding like a very hot torch, I believe the comment Lewis made was "frozen".
It it was me, Robert, I'd stick with the tried and true torches and not experiment with new torches until they've been out in the market for at least a year or better.
I've got a Midrange at the studio now if you want to drop by and fire it up. I tried it last week, and compared it side by side with my GTT Mirage and I was surprised at how much heat it actually put out.
The heat from the Midrange was almost as hot as the Mirage. It took about 30 seconds longer to melt 1" heavy wall boro tubing on the Midrange than it did on the Mirage. 30 seconds is no big deal.
Lessee, the Mirage is what, $1800? and the Midrange is $269. Looks like a no-brainer to me, especially considering the Midrange is "off the shelf" at most dealers and GTT torches can take awhile to get. Just a thought...
Especially for what you plan on doing, I wouldn't spend a whole lot of money - concentrate on your technique, then worry about the torch. If you get too big of a torch without knowing how to handle the heat, you will be disappointed.

* I dunno, Kirstian, based on the post Lewis Wilson made on your board last week, the Barracuda isn't sounding like a very hot torch, I believe the comment Lewis made was "frozen".
It was also explained in that post that Lewis was trying to push too much oxygen through the torch. Trying to make a Bethlehem look and sound like a GTT will make the flame cold. It was also stated in that thread that the owner of the torch that he was demoing with repeatedly tried to let Lewis know that he needed to lay off the oxygen to get the flame hot like he wanted it.
The heat from the Midrange was almost as hot as the Mirage. It took about 30 seconds longer to melt 1" heavy wall boro tubing on the Midrange than it did on the Mirage. 30 seconds is no big deal.
Now that is a huge stretch....

* Believe what you want.
You can put down Nortel all you want, but the fact is that their torches do pretty much the same thing as GTT torches, which is melt glass, and they do it without a lot of snap and dazzle. And they do it for a lot less money, and they are usually sitting on someone's shelf ready for immediate sale.
Say what you want, but if you want to buy a torch NOW, then buy a torch from a company that makes sure their product is on the shelf and ready to sell. That's Nortel.
It doesn't need to have a shiny cowling, it doesn't need to have 6 or more valves, it just needs to melt glass, fast and efficiently.
And it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

* I'm not putting Nortel down at all. What I'm saying is that a Midrange has nowhere near the heat that a Mirage does.
I am a big fan of Nortel torches (except the Major) and always have been. Their SSQ is a wonderful torch, I just wish they would make up their minds about selling it.
I am a huge fan of Bethlehem, particularly the Barracuda. I like the gentle, soft heat they produce. Gentle and soft as in the flame characteristics, not the heat. They produce a tremendous amount of heat with a softer flame.
I am also a huge fan of Willy and Wally. I may not use their torches but that is because I don't like the flame characterists. They are a very hot torch, it's just a different kind of flame than I like to use.

* Personally, I prefer GTT torches because they are extremely hot, focussed, and can adjust to any flame size and setting that you want. Right now I use a Lynx, and can make a 2" boro marble on it. And the Lynx is about the same size as your minor. So I'd say if you want to move up, and you have the money available, get a Phantom. The split manifold can be helpful. I think the biggest benefit is that you can use a foot pedal to turn the outer fire on or off. I don't think the Lynx would be a worthy upgrade though.
Even though I am a GTT fan, I have nothing but respect for Bethlehem. They make some great torches. The Barracuda sounds like it's a pretty nice torch too. It won't get as penetrating a flame as a GTT, but I've heard that it's a hot torch. Also, for the price I think it's the best torch out there.
The Carlisle CC is a standard. It's a solid torch. There's not much more you can say about it. It's nice, hot, and durable. The bad part is they usually have a premix centerfire. I do have friends who do amazing stuff on a Carlisle, but I think you would be happier on the Phantom.
The other torches I would not recommend. If you get an 8M, Red Max, or a Lynx you'll want to move up in no time. I think a big concideration is price too. The Barracuda is only like $750, while the Phantom is about $1100. There's a big difference there. If you can afford it, I'd say go with the Phantom, you will not be disappointed.

* Thanks everyone for the replys and information.
Mike A - I'll have to stop by the studio one of these weekends before you go on vacation and fire up some torches and get a feel for some to see what I like. I'm going to minneapolis this Saturday in the after noon so maybe I'll get there in the moring. I need to get some boro and firt anyways.

* I have not been at this long but, I LOVE my red max it will do boro and it works bullseye just fine for me. I got it as soon as I saw it. not fancy just good.

* its no contest in my opinion bro,
if your serious at all about lampwork get a GTT!!!
they are by far the best torches on the market and incredibly versatile....
ask robert mickelson or loren stump, from soft glass to boro these torches are just amazing,
the triple mix design is so incredibly versatile, that getting one of these torches will be the last torch you ever have to get, you can do everything with it!!!
i worked on a midrange for years, also bethelehems, and a herbert arnold, and the midrange and beths do NOT compare in heat output and versatility....
the herbert arnold is a great torch, but very complicated...
the gtts are worth sourcing out and worth the wait, you really wont regret it....

* [quote=MikeAurelius]I dunno, Kirstian, based on the post Lewis Wilson made on your board last week, the Barracuda isn't sounding like a very hot torch, I believe the comment Lewis made was "frozen".
Mike, I was really concerned about that comment Lewis made about the Barracuda being frozen....Because I love that torch, and as the sales manager for Bethlehem, it's kinda my job to try to find out what the problem is, or was..
(If ever I suspect that perhaps one of "my" torches aren't operating properly, I like to check things out and make sure equipment, lines, regulators, etc., are operating as per spec.....)
So I was lucky enough to know the owner of the Barracuda that Lewis was using during his demo. I asked him if he could tell me what was going wrong with the torch....
He told me that the torch as being operated "almost as wrong as possible" and that "the oxygen was so high there was a candle poking out the side the entire time".
He said that despite his repeated urgings for the oxygen to be turned down to a less agressive level, he was ignored... and a hissy, noisy, terribly over-oxidizing setting remained in place.
Also he stated that we should be aware that "the performance characteristics during that demonstration did not reflect the performance characterists of the torch", and that immediately following the demo, he ran over and mercifully reset the flame to a soft quiet flame, and that the torch ran just fine. He said it was painful to him to watch his torch being run in such a way, despite his advice......
He also stated that despite the hideous torch settings, Lewis still managed to make a "huge piece of boro even though the torch was set wrong" .
Lots of people, including some of my dearest friends, feel most comfortable with a high oxygen agressive look and sound to their flame. It works for them and they are happy. Their work makes the world happy. But noisy, agressive flame settings are just the opposite of what Bethlehem torches like. They are most effective when set to a soft, bushy, penetrating flame...really, really hot, but not using up tons of oxygen and screaming at you.....
Just wanted to set the record straight....
This is my very first post on wet canvas.....
Been meaning to hop on for the longest time....
So, here we are....

* Thanks Marcie for posting that information. Ellen

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