I went and bought a new bottle of butane to fill my torch, and I'm not sure if it fixed the problem. However, it was fixed enough to be able to make a bunch more of the sterling balls I'm doing.
It takes less than a minute, in most cases, to heat the sterling scrap up to the point where it forms the ball, so I can't say for sure if the torch will do what I want when I have to use it for longer periods of time.
We'll burn that bridge when we come to it.
Here is a picture of the scrap awaiting the torch. It is sitting on a charcoal block that is made for the purpose of firing metal with a torch. I have it sitting on a cast iron skillet that I don't intend to use again, and that is sitting on my stove, with the fan going. I really need a garage.
And here is the after shot. The torch sometimes causes the metal to roll around and move from its original position, almost like a wind is blowing on them. And, of course, they are not very pretty as they are covered in firescale. I take the melted balls and quench them in water, and then move them to a solution called "pickle," which is a mild acid that eats the firescale off. They come out of that bright, but not quite shiny.
I think I have made enough of these little deelybobs, as I called them last time, to use for my project. The next step fills me with trepidation, but I won't let that stop me.