[balloon-makers] homemade burners?

Tom Deering hot-air at deering.org
Sun Apr 1 06:28:28 CDT 2001

Keith Sproul flew his homemade Rutgers balloon today, and I was on 
hand.  It was a blast to "crew " for him.  It also gave me a chance 
to study the burners, and I noticed several things about them.

Both copper and stainless tubing was employed.  The tubing is not 
welded or braised.  They use compression fittings, so the tubing 
didn't need to be flared (tough for stainless).  The jets are holes 
drilled into plugs. Neither burner used wind skirts. I noticed one 
used a blast valve by Swagelock.

For pilot lights, one seemed purpose-built, but used rotary wood rasp 
as a wind screen.  The other used standard propane torch heads as 
pilots, attached with a compression fitting.

Your comments give me a lot of ideas, Duane.  I can't wait to find a 
decent hardware store and start tinkering.


On 3/31/01, SCPYLOT at aol.com wrote:
>Tom, as it happens, we're bending up a model burner this weekend from copper.
> Compression fittings should work well with this.  After we get it working
>hope to use it as pattern for stainless.  That will look much better and give
>a lot more safety margin.  Besides, the cat's food bowl of stainless looks
>about the right size to make the base out of.  I have used standard furnace
>nozzles in the past for my home-made glow burner attachments, (before most
>manuf. built then in.)
>As far as skirts are concerned, I feel that the burner needs some protection
>in the bottom portion during inflation, etc.  Besides, the can gives you some
>protection from the constant dripping due to the burner producing water as a
>product of combustion.  Most people who flew the old Adams and  Raven
>balloons had a large collection of shirts that were stained from the black
>soot coming down on their head and shoulders.
>Rego DOES make a blast valve.  Head, TBW and others have them as standard in
>their burners.  Not sure what the part number is but your local propane
>supplier should be able to get one for you.
>Barnes came up with a very simple pilot light system that used tubing with a
>plug that had a plug that obstructed most of the flow but was almost fool
>proof.  Another posssibility is buying a standard propane torch at the local
>hardware store and using the torch part plumbed to a vapor line from your
>main tank.  Works great, as Head has used this since he started building
>Duane Clark in South Carolina, where it's 72 and almost Spring today.
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