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Thread: Show us your Home made fire pistons

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    Default Show us your Home made fire pistons

    I know there are some resourceful ppl on this site so show us your Home made Fire Pistons.

    I did not craft the one on the right however I did redrill it and replaced the broken wood shaft. Once redrilled I place the same brass tube and cap into it like the one on the right.

    The one on the right I made complete with a cherry wood outside. Neither of these ever fail to light now with my char cloth. extra gaskets are carried on the shaft and seal the tubes from dirt when not used.
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    I have shown you mine so show me yours


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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    No fire pistons in my kit.
    Can't Means Won't

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    Ive never tried a fire piston, wouldn't mind researching and trying one after i get friction fire down.
    I Wonder Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink what ever comes out?"

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    No fire pistons in my kit.
    Any reason why?

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    Over Taxed Under Paid Swamprat1958's Avatar
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    Your fire piston looks good, I have seen several on-line but have never tried one. I will have to get over to the other side of the river and look yours over.

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    We need to find a time we both have some and I will get some supplies and you can make one quick. No need to buy expensive pistons that may or may not work every time - I say that because I have bought them! Brass tube with end caps, Flare the mouth of the tube with a flaring tool, T 6160 harden Aluminum shaft with groove cut with a file, and finally an o ring. Thats it!

    I put a wood outside on the one in the pic but a fancy paracord wrap would work too.

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    Over Taxed Under Paid Swamprat1958's Avatar
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    I think I would rather have the wood covering mine. Have you ever tried to make one out of wood?

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    I have and you MUST have a dense dense wood or seal and polish inside some how. That is why you see cocobolo and buffalo horn from fire pistons. Also I have a scar on my hand where the wood shaft on the buffalo horn piston snapped and when in my hand. this happened in the winter time so I think that might have been an issue , however I have never used a wood one since. Plus they are a pain to wrap.

    The reason the piston in the cherry wood does not have a cap is because you can hammer it on anything to get a great deal of heat with one shot.

    I know for certain that gross movements are all you will have if you are for certain hypothemic and I look at that in my choice of personal fire kit. Blast match, fire piston, fat wood , char cloth and wet fire. Cant go wrong unless you didnt bring them along

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erratus Animus View Post
    Any reason why?
    No particular reason. Just something that hasn't made it to my to-do list yet.
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    so much to learn, so little time...
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    You did a great job on them. Very nice. I've always stayed away from them because I prefer the KISS principle I guess. The gaskets always seemed like a fail point to me. I have no practical experience with them so my concerns may be unfounded but that's my view of them.

    That doesn't in any way diminish the fine job you did on those, however.

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    I had the same problem with the ones I bought, that is one reason I went to th rubber o-ring. There is a spare on each shat and a few more in my fire kit. I think I like them so much because I made them and so many others have failed at making them, however I don't use them as much as flint and steel or the blast match.

    The odd thing is as I think about it I rarely use a lighter because its harder to get a stable fire going than with charcloth. Now how backwards is that lol!

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Very nice work, thanks for posting.

    I have seen them for sale at anywhere between $40 to $150 bucks, depending on materials.

    I have tried to make one at one point, using wood only.
    Gaskets were sinew, the rubber, inside polished, and sealed.

    I fooled with it for a time, failed miserably and just sorta lost interest.
    I hate to give up on a project or skill set, but life is too short to beat myself up, for no reason, life does that pretty regular.

    My reasoning is:
    This is an object that has to be made/purchased. "OMG, I for to bring my" .......or "OMG I broke m"".......

    Has need of spare parts, and possible breakage, (as you found out).

    Large size, compared to matches, Bic, Zippo, Ferro rod, flint(rock)/steel, burning glass or parabolic mirror, wallet size magnifier.

    I'm sure that a fire piston isn't the only method of fire-starting you use.......I (and I'm sure most of us ) like redundancy.

    Has a "cool factor", agreed, but not cool enough for me to invest money or any more time in. (well, maybe I'll try the copper pipe....LOL)

    My main goal is to make fire with "found materials" so mainly working on friction.
    Materials, methods, tinder etc.
    Last edited by hunter63; 08-11-2010 at 11:34 AM. Reason: splin'
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    Senior Member SARKY's Avatar
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    There is a good reason I don't have one in my kit. first a good firesteel is pretty indestruckable and second a bow and drill is easier to make/repair in the feild.
    I know what hunts you.

  15. #15

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    That pretty much summed it up for me. I think they are cool. But, I can't justify carrying one when I have a lighter, ferro rod, and pretty decent fire drill skills.

    A lighter takes less space and doesn't require char cloth to start a fire.

    Still a cool thing to show off at camp. But, IMHO not a survival tool.

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batch View Post
    Still a cool thing to show off at camp. But, IMHO not a survival tool.


    A survival tools is "any" tool that allows one to continue to exist. They are not new nor gimmicks, only to the Americas are thay kinda new and that is because we as a ppl have forgotten the "primitive ways " because we have new stuff. I would wager that more ppl would go without a fire if they had to make and use a bow drill. Hard enough in a controlled setting to make work much less in dire need. lots of burnt calories.

    Wind kills the fragile flame of matches and lighters but strengthens the ember.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    What are some things you've used as the ember? I understand Tinder fungus works really well.
    Do you think one could be fashioned out of ALL natural materials? i.e. no rubber o-rings, no brass or copper inserts... This is the main reason I have not made one yet.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    I suppose you could since it has been around since the middle 1700" in roman and the same in the Asian and Pacific islands. you are just compressing the air at a fast rate and this creates heat up to and above 800*

    I read that the natives of Asia used cane for their tubes, wood for the shaft and the string for their gaskets, lubed with dog fat lol. It would be easier to construct a bow drill than to build a fire piston, however if I HAD to build either to start a fire that would be poor planning on my behalf to begin with. Primitive living skills are not emergency survival skills that ppl should rely on after reading a book or going camping.

    As for embers I use char-cloth. You can pre-soak your cotton in saltpeter then make the cloth for a cloth that will ignite even better than the reg cloth does. Cattail seeds and the one I bought a few years ago came with tinder fungus which worked very well.

    I am currently looking for more sources in my area experimenting with fungus.

    Its just a tool that I am adept at using because I trained with it and for where I live 98% humidity and a good deal of rain I wager the bow drill operator will be wishing he had another means to try and start a fire with.

    Preparation for survival is not preparation to survival outside your geographical area but rather the conditions that exist yearly where you exist. This is why we all have different tools in our BoB's and what seems trivial to one is treasure to another.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Pict's Avatar
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    I was just sent a simple fire piston as a gift. It was made by EB Primitives and sells on eBay for about $20.

    It uses little rubber discs screwed onto the piston as a gasket. I have made many coals with it so far. There are easier ways to light fire for sure but this thing is pretty neat.

    I like it for it's historical value. Apparently they were all set to be the rage when the wooden match was invented. The fire piston fell by the wayside after that.

    They produce a tiny little coal, but plenty to start a bigger coal going in short order. I have found it is just as easy to start the little coal going and then just use it on the end of the plunger to start another larger piece of charcloth burning in the center of my tinder bundle. You don't transfer the coal, just the heat.

    I doubt you could make one in the bush, at least not in a hurry.

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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erratus Animus View Post
    A survival tools is "any" tool that allows one to continue to exist. They are not new nor gimmicks, only to the Americas are thay kinda new and that is because we as a ppl have forgotten the "primitive ways " because we have new stuff. I would wager that more ppl would go without a fire if they had to make and use a bow drill. Hard enough in a controlled setting to make work much less in dire need. lots of burnt calories.

    Wind kills the fragile flame of matches and lighters but strengthens the ember.
    If you grabbed me on a normal day and drop me with just what I carry on my person I will have fire. If you strip me of my every possession and stuck me in the wilds. I would be able to make cordage and acquire the rest of my bow drill with out the need for other tools. I would think it is a lot easier than making a fire piston.

    But, that is what I meant and I did not mean to detract from your post. I just gave my opinion.

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