Archive for September 2008

Zippo Vaporlock

It’s actually referred to as a “gas lock” by Zippo. I’ve had the case to my Zippo for nearly 30 years, but the insert’s been replaced multiple times, including once with a butane insert. But what I have now, is not surprisingly a pipe insert. The “chimney” is mostly closed on the top, and there are two large circle openings on either side for the flame when the lighter is turned sideways. You set one of the openings on the rim of the pipe, and draw down into your tobacco.

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Lately, my Zippo has gotten stubborn about lighting. It was taking me 10-20 tries to get it lit, although I knew the flint and wick were fine and there was plenty of fuel. Finally, I thought of a car engine vaporlock, and how the car would sputter, if start at all. So I did a little search and came up with this.

This is from the little manual that comes with a Zippo. “When using your Zippo lighter indoors, open the lid and raise the lighter upward before flicking the wheel This upward movement eliminates gas lock which could prevent lighting on the first zip.”

When the lid is closed the fuel from the wick evaporates and is collected inside the cap. When the cap is opened, that evaporated fuel doesn’t allow any oxygen to reach the wick allowing it be ignited by the spark.

When you go to light your Zippo you should move your hand upward slightly. This movement will push oxygen into the chimney. Another option you can do is to blow lightly into the chimney before you first attempt to light your Zippo.

The new Zippo fuel in the black container does not impart any flavor to your smoke.

By the way, I met a guy once who said he gave up his Zippo because it would “burn” his skin when it was in his pocket. This happens when there’s excess fluid on the outside of the lighter, and the fluid comes in contact with the skin.

There’s an easy way to avoid this. Fill the lighter. Try to avoid overfilling, but if you can’t, you can’t. Close the lighter and rinse it in water or wipe it down with a damp cloth. This cleans the fuel off the outside of the case. Dry your hands, but don’t overdry them, in case you do something stupid. Open the lighter, and flick the spark wheel. If you’ve overfilled it, a huge flame will erupt. Keep the case open, and allow the flame to burn down to a less than insane level. Close the lighter, and wipe it down or rinse it again. Set it on it’s side on a towel to dry. This allows any additional excess fuel to evaporate off of the case.

Oh, the stupid part? I wiped down the case once but got some of the fluid on my fingers. When I went to light the thing, I caught my hand on fire. Fortunately, the damp skin protected me, but it was a bizarre moment looking at all my fingers on fire. This is why I’m an idiot. Keep that in mind when you’re following any instructions I give you.

Belated Birthday Greetings

Meerschaum Dust Pipes

Thought I’d tell you a little about meerschaum dust pipes. When meerschaum is processed or carved, dust is created. Rather than waste the dust, some meerschaum pipe manufacturers will mix the dust with an emulsifier and compress the whole thing into a mold.

Meerschaum dust pipes are heavier, less absorbent, and don’t smoke as well as true meerschaum. While it may not be important to you, they’re also less valuable.

There’s no strenuous regulation of meerschaum pipes, so the only way to increase the odds of you getting a true meerschaum pipe is to buy from a reputable dealer. Also, the quality of the carvings are a good indicator. Good carvers usually don’t waste their time manufacturing dust pipes and the level of carvings are impossible to mold. S. Yanik is an example of one amazing pipe carver, and I feel guaranteed that my S. Yanik pipe is genuine meerschaum. It’s impossible to press that level of detail on the pipe.

Duck Stamp includes phone-sex number

September 5, 2008

The federal government says it has no choice but to reluctantly keep distributing to millions of waterfowl hunters a toll-free phone-sex-service number that features a breathy woman promising callers that they can “talk only to the girls who turn you on” for $1.99 per minute.

About 3.5 million federal “duck stamps,” featuring artwork by a Plymouth artist, are affixed to a card that bears the misprinted number, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday.

All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must buy and carry the current Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, commonly known as the duck stamp. Sales of the stamp raise about $25 million each year to fund wetland habitat acquisition for the national Wildlife Refuge System.

Rachel Levin, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, called the misprint, which connects callers to a phone-sex service, “an unfortunate typographical error” that her agency “really regrets.” She adds that the agency will keep selling the $15 stamps with the naughty number because reprinting the card would cost too much.

The correct number, 1-800-STAMP24 (1-800-782-6724), is for people wishing to order additional duck stamps. Levin said two digits of the phone number are transposed on the card that holds the self-adhesive version of the stamp. That incorrect number, 1-800-872-6724, translates to 1-800-TRAMP24. Callers to “Intimate Connections” are warned that they must be 18 years or older before proceeding.

Levin doubted that the digits were purposely transposed. “As far as we know,” she said, “it was just an error.”

The stamps were produced by Ashton Potter Ltd. of Williamsville, N.Y. Messages left with Ashton Potter’s executives were not returned.

Levin said reprinting the cards would cost about $300,000, and “that’s a lot of money we could be putting into” conservation.

“The stamp is perfectly usable,” she said. “It will just be a lot more interesting for people now.”

There is no similar error involving the type of duck stamps that require moistening. Both types have been on sale since June.

The 75th-edition duck stamp features artist Joseph Hautman’s depiction of a pair of northern pintail ducks. The artwork was chosen last October in a contest.

“Oh, no,” Hautman said upon learning of the error. “It’s just an accident, I hope.”

Hautman said he understands why Fish and Wildlife would not want to pay for reissuing the stamps, but he said he’s unsure whether that is the right decision.

Suppose it will be a collector’s item?