Cartridge Heated Soldering Iron


I split this thread from the “ID Question” posted by “Flectarn” on his thread “New acquistion of cannon shells. Need some help identifying”

(He posted a photo of a cartridge…silver metal color…which matches that one in the middle of this next photo)

I would say your very last mystery cartridge is a “heat” cartridge for a “Kemode” soldering iron used by the military before batteries and the like were available.

(the small primer activated type is more scare them the a larger base plate type primer)

Here’s an assortment of the gizmo’s

“special purpose is me”



Pepper–That is downright weird. Could you explain in more detail how those “Kemode” soldering irons worked?


Nice collection of soldering irons. Brings back memories of when I actually used one. We lost comunication from an antena during a storm. I went on the roof, climbed the tower, tied off, and went to work soldering the cable. the iron worked well there was plenty of heat to make a good solder connection. Never thought of it being a collectable cartridge at the time or I might have saved one.
Gerald Ross
Demultiplexing repair specialist


I will scan the instruction sheet and/or type some highlights from it (but it’s at home and I am doing the dirty four letter word W-O-R-K !)

My understanding is that it is not “rocket science” as the cartridge is placed in the “business end” (heat tip end)(primer toward handle) and the “silver” end knob is pulled out (it is a spring loaded plunger…”firing pin”…and let go)…no trigger…no safety…pull…let go…assumed heats up…simple as that.

I am super guilty of not having been curious enough to fire one (or more) as I have dupes and should be reporting this from experience (but have none !)

I was very jealous to have seen one of these change hands at SLICS a few years ago and have taken to searching them out (as one doesn’t know what to look for if you don’t know what to look for !)

Yes “weird” and I love “weird” and it is up toward the top of “special purpose” cartridge ”weirdness”.

Anyone have anything “weird” ?..I am game !!!

(PS…Gerald send me an address…I know a guy with a dupe cartridge for you !)



That soldering iron cartridge is interesting. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Once the primer is fired, does it start some sort of slow-burning reaction inside the cartridge to keep the tip heated for a while?


No sense in me wrting what the photo’s “say”

I did mis-speak (I think) about the small primer version being more scare. I have no real experience to claim this. I did not check all my dupes, but believe I have more of the “small primer” types than not.


One of my relatives had one of these a long time ago. I had completely forgotten about it until I saw the pictures. I can only assume that there was a slow-burning material in the cartridge that was ignited by the primer. The device was probably patented, and the original patent would probably identify that material. Now, one would use a propane torch with an attached soldering tip if one needed to solder without electricity being available.


These soldering irons using a heating cartridge were designed by Frank A. Petraglia of New York, NY.

The first model from 1948 used a cilyndrical case.

Pepper, those in your colection are of the later model type (1968) using with a rimmed (or bulged) case.

A similar cartridge was also developed for an apparatus for heating milk, water, etc.


ummm…THE HUNT IS ON ! (need an “old” one) help ? !!!


See: … 16-62.html

wherein U. S. Patent 2,589,509 was declared invalid, and the reasons provided. The text of the original patent does not identify the cartridge filler other than as being a “heat generating material” and that the heat produced is as a result of a chemical reaction (burning is a chemical reaction). Very little information about the cartridge itself is provided in this patent.

There is a good summary of what is and is not patentable, and it’s very interesting with regard to this device, especially the prior use of the same principle by another inventor.

Several prior art patents are cited, some of which may cover the cartridge or the heat generating material. I did not look those up. If anyone cares to do so, they are listed at the end of the information within the link provided.

I imagine these things are at present more rare than Walker Colts, but probably would not command anywhere close to the price. Most of them are likely in landfills. Something else to look for at estate sales and yard sales. I go to lots of those, but have never seen such a soldering iron yet, other than what I previously mentioned.

It would be easy to convert one of the later models into a clandestine gun. I wonder if that was ever done?