Torc broke, thankyouverymuch

Tuesday 26 April 2016, 1.00am HKT

9.35pm local time, 27°C (81°F), relative humidity 90%

IT’S only a matter of time before it happens, and it had to happen tonight at 9.21.

torc unbroken1 2016 0425

Look at the metal fatigue at the 1 and 6 o’clock positions

I’ve been asking people for months for a soldering iron — colloquially called ‘naat gaai’ 焫雞 in Cantonese — precisely to forestall what was begging to happen.

By the way for the benefit of those schmucks who insist on using ‘làotiě’ 烙鐵 to Cantonese yakkers, that term is Mandarin and standard written Chinese — a term no Cantonese speaker will likely understand.

Hong Kong is still “The Cantonese-Speaking Capital of the World.” Learn your Chinese better, I guess.

torc unbroken2 2016 0425

“Why the f**k couldn’t you buy one yourself?”

Don’t be effing insufferable.

A soldering iron is a simple piece of hardware. It’s not that unique a thing. I’m considerably grown-up to know this already.

Of course I could’ve bought one at the nearest hardware store. I don’t need anyone’s approval and permission to buy such a simple thing.

I told you people already — something this thin and in the process of splitting cannot be repaired properly once it breaks into two.

It’ll keep breaking off no matter what soldering has been done to it. The metal has fatigued too much. Solder isn’t strong enough to provide real material strength for an item like this torc. Basic physics, boys and girls.

“Of course it can be repaired! Maybe you’re just ignorant about it.”

Ignorant yourself, mate.

You’d think I’d’ve known about this from actual previous experience when I said it can’t be repaired properly.

I’ve done soldering and similar metal repairs before. Physics and chemistry lab practicals do involve some soldering work, and there was metalworking classes too in school.

Mum was a Florence-trained goldsmith as well, and I knew from her this isn’t properly repairable to any significant extent.

You can mentalise about the repairability of this, but don’t mistake that (or an Internet search) with Mum’s formal training and my actual hands-on experience in this.

Maybe you too are just ignorant about this.

torc unbroken4 2016 0425

Fatigue No. 1  had travelled down to the base already

“Well, I’VE had MY jewellery repaired by soldering and they can withstand a nuclear blast. What makes you so f**king goddamned sure it’s unrepairable?!”

Because I’ve done it before, genius — and Mum too.

None of the items repaired could take a nuclear blast, literally speaking. They literally (not figuratively literally) didn’t stand a year’s normal handling before the next round of repairs.

The material is only as strong as it’s in its original or near-original state. Before an article breaks into two, it still retains some degree of its original strength. Soldering reinforces that original strength. That’s gone after material failure and breakage.

It’s like glass. You can repair a crack and the glassware stays good enough as before. Once it breaks into pieces, gluing them together even with superglue or your favourite lover’s super semen doesn’t do the trick.

What makes YOU so goddamned sure it’s fully repairable anyway?

torc unbroken6 2016 0425

Fatigue No. 2 was even more precarious

“So why a soldering iron from others instead of buying one yourself?”

Here’s the thing you lot probably don’t know about soldering irons.

A good soldering iron works best after being ‘broken in’ first.

For precious-metal work, it needs 3 to 5 full days of being switched on non-stop for the heat to temper the soldering tip thoroughly. I don’t know (or care) why it takes that long, but I just accept that workshop maxim at face value.

A soldering tip broken-in like that helps give a better-quality weld all round (your own technique permitting) — ask any bicycle repairman for a second opinion.

That’s why OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) use electrical soldering irons of a totally different design from the typical handheld workshop versions.

I can’t possibly have a brand spanking new soldering iron switched on solid for several days and nights.

You could do that in a proper workshop. It can’t be done in the office or at home. The place would be set on fire!

That’s why workshop people are so damned jealous of their old soldering irons. That’s why I’d been asking people for their old soldering irons — because they’ve been broken in already.

My bloody torc is made of silver, not some shitty base metal like lead, iron, copper or your brain matter. Silver soldering requires a good, solid, well broken-in soldering iron to get the quality. Know your metalworking, or starve.

How much more do you want me to explain this?

torc unbroken5 2016 0425

Just before the finality of it all

“I don’t think you’re right about this. In fact you’re wrong.”

Your view is duly noted — and summarily dismissed.

You misunderstand. Wasn’t asking for your approval or permission or confirmation.

It’s my torc, not yours.

My lawn — get off it.

torc broken 2016 0425 2131

Mum bought the torc for me before I was born

If ‘naat gaai’ is for soldering iron, know that ‘naat gwo naat gaai‘ 焫過焫雞 (‘hotter than a soldering iron’) is the Cantonese idiom for ‘in a rage.’

I am that right now.

Torc’s is over 50 years old, thankyouverymuch.

Now get out of my sight.


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 26 April 2016. Shortlink:

Commenting will close after 26 May 2016. Just sayin’.

2 Responses to “Torc broke, thankyouverymuch”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    I seem to recall a discussion with some Native American silversmiths about genuine silver “brittling” over years of wear. Something about skin chemistry and leeching. There are various alloys that prevent this, but they also reduce the value of the silver. I won’t lie about feeling your pain, but I recognize the sorrow over loss of sentimental value.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

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