We have ignition. (c) 2015 J.S. Reinitz

We have ignition. (c) 2015 J.S. Reinitz

Today’s task was to change the wick in an old Zippo lighter I recently found while rummaging through camping equipment in the basement.

I used to carry it on hiking and backpacking trips but soon realized the fluid evaporates after a few days on the trail. Not wanting to add a can of flammable fluid to my normal loadout, I switched to disposable lighters and matches for my expeditions.

Still, I liked the allure of the Zippo. It’s good American product with a time-tested design, and my dad used to carry one. I decided to put the lighter back into service for other around-the-house (close to the refill can) conflagrations, like lighting birthday candles, igniting the grill and melting the ends of nylon rope.

(c) 2015 J.S. Reinitz

(c) 2015 J.S. Reinitz

The first step was to get a replacement wick. The official website carries them for 80 cents each, and I put two into the online cart before realizing shipping is $7.95. Really? I’m sure you can fit both in an envelope and get it anywhere in the country with a 49-cent stamp. I opted to go local and found the same product at the same price minus at the downtown cigar store, minus the hefty shipping cost and the wait.

With a small multi tool, I removed the cotton wadding from the lighter and pulled out the wick. Inserting the new wick took more than a few tries. Even though it had a copper wire to hold it straight, the cloth kept bunching up when I pulled it through the hole. Finally, I found success after forming an aglet (aglet, it’s a thing .. http://bit.ly/1D3wyhM ) with masking tape.

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