Making Tin Can Toys

by Edward Thatcher 1919


Gasoline Torch

The plumbers' gasoline torch is often used by experienced metal workers for heating coppers. In inexperienced hands, this torch is rather a dangerous affair. Only one copper may be heated at a time and it is difficult not to overheat the copper in the fierce roaring flame. The cost of the torch and the cost of operating it are both greater than the blue flame kerosene stove. However, in experienced hands, it is safe enough and very useful about the shop. In using such a torch the directions should be most carefully followed; all joints, filler openings, etc., must be airtight when operating or a disastrous fire or explosion may result. The tiny jet opening in the burner must be kept clean.

Gas Furnace

In my winter shop in the city where gas is available, I use the gas furnace shown in Fig. 16. This is a most satisfactory and widely used heater for soldering coppers, as it gives an intense blue flame that may be easily regulated. When using a heater of this sort, one must be sure that it is lighted correctly or a smoky yellow flame will result. To produce a blue flame, air must be mixed with the gas; just as it is in a Bunsen burner or an ordinary gas stove, for that matter. Gas is admitted to the furnace through a small nozzle at the end of the mixing flue near the rubber hose connection. Air is admitted in the slot under the gas nozzle; a movable slide encircles the mixing flue over the slot to control the amount of air admitted. This slide must be tightly closed over the air vent when the gas is first turned on.

To light the heater, close the air inlet tightly, turn the gas on full and apply a lighted match to the burner. A yellow flame will result. Now open the air vent slowly, by pushing the slide forward a little way. The flame will change from yellow to blue and purple as air is admitted. When the flame is blue, it is giving out the most heat and is in the best condition to heat the copper. If the flame fires back and lights the gas at the brass nozzle over the air inlet, the gas should be turned off until the flame disappears. The air inlet is then closed, and the gas turned on and lighted, and then the air inlet is slowly opened until the flame turns blue. When the furnace is in use, it should be looked at occasionally to see that the flame has not fired back to the nozzle. Once satisfactorily lighted, the heater may be turned up or down as needed. If the flame is turned down very low the air inlet may have to be closed a bit to prevent the flame from firing back. The copper is placed on the rest provided for it over the flame. After the copper is heated to the flowing point of solder, the flame may be turned down or the copper placed to one side of the flame, so that it does not get too hot.

Charcoal and Wood Fires

When using a charcoal or a wood fire, the copper should be placed at the bottom among the embers. Small charcoal furnaces used for heating soldering coppers may be bought from the dealer in plumbers' supplies. Charcoal should not be burned in a closed room as the; fumes are deadly unless allowed plenty of constantly changing air. These furnaces may be connected with a chimney or burned in a room wit windows opened, without danger. A soldering copper may be heated in the glowing' embers of a camp fire or in the embers in a fireplace

Electrical Soldering Coppers

The electrically, heated copper is ideal for soldering as the heating coil is enclosed within the copper itself, the wire running out through the handle and connecting with ad ordinary electric light socket. The heat is maintained at a proper degree for melting the solder; hence it is an ideal equipment for those who can afford it and where electric current is available. The doctors of certain hospitals have recommended electrical coppers for the use of patients in making tin can toys. An electric soldering copper costs about $7.50 at the present time.

Common Soldering Copper

A suitable soldering copper or “iron" may be purchased at any good tool dealer's or hardware store; it should weigh about one pound for work with the tin can almost everyone has purchased a small soldering outfit at one time or another and tried to sold h family wash-boiler or some leaky tin ware; usually without success. Such outfits are invariably too small for large work or for the tin can toys. It must be well remembered that the heat flows from the copper into the work, and that the copper has to heat up the work to the melting point of the solder; hence a large copper weighing several pounds is used to solder wash-boilers, tin roofs, etc., and a small copper weighing a few ounces is use for soldering jewelry, etc.

A large copper in expert hands may be used to solder very small work but a small copper may never be used to solder large work together, because the copper not only has to keep the solder melted to the flowing point, but also has to heat the work itself at the joint to the flowing point of the solder before the solder will leave the copper and adhere to the work. In actual practice, it has been found that a copper weighing one pound is best. After one gets more adept with the copper, it will be found advantageous to have several coppers of different weights. A half pound and also a four ounce copper will be found very convenient for extremely small work. But, do not begin to s older with a copper weighing less than one pound.

Soldering coppers are usually sold in pairs at the large tool dealers, and coppers listed at two pounds really weigh one pound each; when sending in a written order be sure that you specify that the copper is to weigh one pound singly. A wooden handle especially made for soldering coppers should be purchased at the same time as the copper; these wooden handles are made large to protect the hand from the heat of the iron shank. The handle is usually furnished with a hole of the proper size drilled in it to permit the pointed end of the shank to be driven in the handle easily with a wooden mallet. If the hole is too small, it should be drilled out so that it is nearly as large as the diameter of the shank. The wooden handle must not be split when driven on with the mallet.