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Thread: Show us your Home made fire pistons

  1. #21
    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batch View Post
    I would think it is a lot easier than making a fire piston.
    I can agree with that. It is a last resort, but it is a method.


  2. #22
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Default I made one from Lowe's hardware parts but this is better

    I got this fire piston from my Grand Father before he
    passed away.
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    He got this while in the Philippines during
    WWII. My Grand Father was a medic and he
    saved a boy that had his jaw blown off by parachute dropped bomb.
    My grand father saved the boys life and the
    father was so grateful (the boy was eating months later) that he asked my
    Grand Father if there was anyway he could repay him. My Grand
    Father had seen a fire piston used by one of the
    villagers and asked the Father if he could find one.
    The Father found and gave him two, my Grand Father gave one to a
    solider buddy that saved his life over there. My Grand
    Father gave me the other one before he passed away. It came with the
    fungus n fiber tender and a hand woven pouch to hold it in. The fire piston
    also has a hollowed out area for holding a supply of the
    tender. The fire pistons handle has a hole on the "knob" end for storing the
    fat/oil for lubing up the treaded piston seal. It works every time I try it.
    I thought I remembered hearing it was carved from a tusk?
    Very hard not wood for sure...
    I made my own for a copper "stub out" (Lowe's or Home Depot) about 1/2 inch ID
    (look like a 50 cal FMJ on one end and open on the other end) and a 1/2 inch OD
    dowel with a o-ring grove that was sealed with paint as the wood was allowing air
    to slip by the pistons compression. I used a knob on the end for comfort while
    shoving in the piston. Works every time as well... I use home made char cord
    and cloth in it.This is my first post! Love the knowledge you guys share on here!
    I'll try to make it over to the intros page soon.
    Glockster
    Last edited by Glockster; 09-14-2010 at 12:49 PM. Reason: cleaned it up a bit :-)

  3. #23

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    Glockster,
    That is an awesome story and a beautiful fire piston.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. #24
    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    very kool indeed ! ty for sharing that. Did he ever work it for you?
    Its the bits between birth and death that define a life well lived.

  5. #25

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    I don't have a pic, but made one from a mag-lite, it looks like a mini mag-lite. LOL! There's a tut for it on YouTube.

    I can't get it to work!

  6. #26
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Default Fire Piston

    Hey Guys!

    rwc1969: Did you put Teflon tape on the end cap treads that normally leak? and add JB weld to fill up the void? I hear shoving aluminum foil into it works to fill the void too. I made one from a Harbor Freight LED flash light that worked great!

    Erratus Animus: Yes he did show me how to get it to work, It was like magic to me when I was young. Grampa even used it to lite his cigarettes a few times in front of me. BTW I'm a fan of your posts!

    Sorry about the size of the picture! I'll resize it on my end...

  7. #27
    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard Glockster and ty for the kind words. Many ppl here are much better than me ,but I do try. If you have a question just ask them and I am sure they will help you the best they can.

    Take good care of that piston as with the story you told with it I would say it is priceless! thanks for sharing.
    Its the bits between birth and death that define a life well lived.

  8. #28
    "sorry backside" rebel's Avatar
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    Great story Glockster!

  9. #29

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    Yeah, that's a good story to tell around a camp fire and something to light it with as well. Thanks for sharing and welcome on board Glockster!

  10. #30
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Default Good Point Batch!

    Maybe I could add in some gory details to scary up the story a bit LOL

    Glad you liked it Rebel

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glockster View Post
    Hey Guys!

    rwc1969: Did you put Teflon tape on the end cap treads that normally leak? and add JB weld to fill up the void? I hear shoving aluminum foil into it works to fill the void too. I made one from a Harbor Freight LED flash light that worked great! ...
    Yes I did, thanks for asking. I even stuck it under water to check for air bubbles. She's air tight!

  12. #32
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Default DIY Fire Piston Info

    rwc1969: If the cylinder is airtight then I would next suspect the piston seal design. Does it push back against your hand after pressing it in? If not then your not getting a good seal. If the seal is good with a popping during pull out and pushing back during push in then I would suspect the char cloth. I gauge mine by tugging on the cotton fibers, if it crumbles in my fingers I over cooked it, if it does not pull apart easy or still has a hint of brown (= not black) I UNDER cooked it. it should hold together in between your finger and thumb as you roll it into a small loose ball for inserting into the void at the tip of the plunger. Once you get the right char cloth made write down the temp and length of cook time. I use the Altoids tins with a small nail hole that I plug about a minute after it stops smoking. The char cloth works every time now!
    BTW I tore apart my GF's cheap Swiffer mop for it's thin hollow aluminum tube shaft then added a slice about 1/3 around it with a thick hacksaw blade. Now I insert the dowels into the "JIG" so that the O-ring groove is at the right distance from the tip and the right cut depth all the way around the 1/2 inch dowels I use by twisting the dowels by hand while holding the blade in place so as not to slice into the jig which would effect O-ring seals on future plungers. Remember to paint the wood grain of the plunger around the O-ring landing (or it will not seal well) and lube it up with each use. I don't store mine with the plunger inserted cuz it's a pain to get back out IF it is not well lubed or drys out during non use.
    Best of luck to ya! It is a rewarding feeling when you get it to work after making it by hand.

  13. #33

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    Thanks Glockster, it does have excellent compression, but after thinking about it and reviewing what you just wrote I think it may be the "void" that is the problem. I'll experiment some more with it.

  14. #34

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    It works! with charcloth, but it won't work with chaga. If I cram the charcloth in real tight it works every time, but if I leave the slightest void it don't work. Pretty neat!

  15. #35
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Default Nice!

    So Glad you got it to lite up! My home made ones have almost no room once I push them in as to get the best compression ratio and highest heat (they say it can get up to 800 degrees F). The only void I have is the small one I stuff with char cloth like u did. Try it in a windy day and you don't even need to blow on it :-) Thanks for sharing your success!

  16. #36

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    It's quite repeatable using charcloth as long as I completely stuff the void with charcloth and press the piston all the way down until it bottoms out. But, if it's not pressed all the way down or there is any airspace whatsoever in the void it will not work.

    Definitely not something I'd rely on, but the fact that the maglite has a parabolic lens, which can start fires, and a water-resistant place to store charcloth and chaga built in, in the lens cap, it is somewhat of a dual purpose item I suppose.

  17. #37
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    So after reading y'all hard work on these here fire pistons, I decided to post mine.
    No, it doesn't work, so now I thinking that maybe the piston is too small?

    I sure there is a void, so maybe packing with char cloth, maybe?

    I have tried a rubber "O" ring, imitation sinew wrapped around the grove, tried
    greasing it up w/ Vaseline........Nada.
    Guess it's time to start over?

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  18. #38
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Is the cylinder material wood or did insert a tube of some sort? I have never used a cylinder made of wood, seem that air would escape the pressure stroke via the woods grains? I know on my design with a wooden piston the air was leaking around the O-ring landing until I sealed it with some clear enamel, after that worked like a charm... I have only used Copper stub outs of cheap Maglite look a likes from harbor freight. The plunger diameter should be OK since my 200 year old one is about that size AND a shorter cylinder, so your compression ration should be better. BTW: A friend tried to make one of all steel and the drill marks down the bore would not let it seal either.

    Good luck and if I can help further let me know...

  19. #39
    Still wet behind the ears Glockster's Avatar
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    Forgot to ask if your getting pressure that pushes back against your hand as you push in? Mine will almost pop back out of the cylinder if I slip off during the shove in.

  20. #40
    Rippin' Lips ClovisMan's Avatar
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    Here's mine with a parts list from Lowe's Home Improvement.
    1 – 1/2x8 Copper Stubout $4.98 Part Number 148876
    1 – 1/2x36 Oak Dowel Rod $2.32 Part Number 19418
    1 – 1.25” Round Knob $.97 Part Number 59278
    1 - #8 O-Ring 10 pack $1.97 Part Number 198967

    It works well with charcloth. I haven't been able to get dryer lint or cotton balls to light.
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    Last edited by ClovisMan; 11-29-2010 at 12:16 PM.
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