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Making MagLites (semi) useful again - MagLite Fire Piston

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by storl, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. storl

    storl Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Apr 17, 2007
    I finally completed my MagLite fire piston last night after fiddling with it off and on for several days. The original intent was to make a fire piston that could be easily replicated by someone with basic handyman skills, with inexpensive parts that are widely available, and with tools that most people have or can obtain on the cheap.

    I started out using a galvanized pipe, but that was a complete failure. The inside of the pipe was way too rough, and I am way too lazy to smooth it out. The next attempt was with a copper pipe, which did work fairly well, but I could not think of an easy way to have a removable cap made with common tools. So I sat there thinking about what I could possibly own that had a tube with a smooth interior and a removable cap on the end. I know, in hindsight, it is awfully obvious.

    I used a MagLite because many people already own at least one, and it is completely worthless to me. I haven't touched my MagLites since I bought my first Fenix flashlight a few years back, except to use a couple of 2D bodies to make some obnoxiously bright lights. I started trying to get a fire piston working using a 2AA MagLite body. The first attempt worked pretty well, but I could not get a proper seal for the life of me with an o-ring. I tried all kinds of sealants and epoxies on the piston and around the o-ring with zero luck. Then I wandered around Ace Hardware for a while and came across a plumbing part that looked just right, and it worked perfectly.

    The final result is a MagLite that you can start a fire with with no lasers or other electronics involved. Is it practical? Hell no. You can take ten more effective fire starting tools in the space that this would take up in a tool kit. Is it fun? Hell yes. Starting a fire quickly and easily with a few simple parts is pretty cool (hot?).

    Head over to the wiki for detailed instructions and a video of the fire piston in operation. If using wikis is against your religion and you just want to see the video, it is here.

    The next step is to make one out of a Solitaire, as someone on youtube already suggested. :)

  2. tknife

    tknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 18, 1999
    That is totally cool and innovative man! I have a maglight or 5 laying around, I am gonna try this. Nice work.
  3. CanDo


    Mar 10, 2006
    Nice. Fire Pistons are pretty cool. I made one with brass plumbing parts and a bolt in the hardware store. A few weeks later, a similar design came up on the instructables website so you can look it up there to get the idea. I'll be making some instructions soon :)
  4. storl

    storl Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Apr 17, 2007
    Thanks! It's easy and you'll have fun with the finished product.
  5. tholiver


    Feb 22, 2003
    Very Cool!
    Saw your vid on youtube yesterday.
    Looking forward to the Solitaire conversion!
  6. kr1


    May 30, 2006
    Pretty cool. :thumbup:

    I have a gutted Solitaire flashlight that I would love to make useful if the conversion works, and of course, if I can find the damn thing now. :eek:

  7. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Cool! The first time I heard about fire pistons was a few months ago when I joined BF and I was curious to see how they worked. Seems to be all about heat and presure!
    Good job Storl,
  8. storl

    storl Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Apr 17, 2007
    I dug up a Solitaire last night, so I'll head to Ace today and see if I can find they parts there that will work with it. I'll let you guys know how things go.
  9. kr1


    May 30, 2006

    Now I have to see if I can find mine. :D

  10. ivan51


    Dec 9, 2003
    hmmm thats a perty cool idea!
  11. Moogusida


    Mar 26, 2011
    Yes, it's a very important thing to have in your pocket when your matches got wet and you have to make a campfire. I will purchase this thing for sure.
  12. GhostWolf


    Feb 2, 2004
    Another use for the AA maglight when they crap out on you is a waterproof match container. I take a hacksaw and cut the threaded end off, where the head attaches. Then I cut a circular plug out of whatever I have laying around(antler,wood, scrap micarta). Secure the plug with a little JB weld and you have a handy little waterproof tube. Heck, you could even use a small button compass as a plug to make it more versatile.
  13. jbob24


    Sep 23, 2010
    Hmmm... Where did I put my 4d maglite...

    Fire and a club all in one? This needs to happen :D

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