Posts tagged ‘repair’

Zippo Lighter Repair

I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t know this, so I’ll point it out, and try to clarify some issues.

Your Zippo has a lifetime guarantee. Lifetime. At no charge! I’ve had my lighter around 30 years or so, and they still repaired it. Assuming your grandfather handed down a Zippo to you, and it stopped working, you could send it in, and they’d repair it.

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Lighter insert

Here’s the part that a lot of people find confusing. Your case will NOT be replaced. You’ll still get back the same 30-year-old lighter that you sent in. Only the insert inside, the part with the flint wheel, chimney, and lighter fluid reservoir will be replaced. So if you have that beloved Vietnam Zippo and you send it in, the only part of the lighter that will be replaced is the “guts” of the lighter. Your original case will be returned. If you’re romantically attached to the insert, they’ll return the old insert as well as replace it with a new one.

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Interior hinge assembly

Now, say your hinge breaks or is coming loose. Send the lighter in, and Zippo will repair the hinge and send the lighter back to you.

If you have an attached logo, say a 3D Harley-Davidson emblem on the case and it comes off, Zippo will re-attach it for you.

The one thing they will not fix is scratches. Painted Zippo’s almost always develop scratches, presuming they’re being used. So that cool looking black matte finish lighter will eventually look scraped and scuffed up.

So you’ve tried waving your Zippo around to clear vaporlock, and you’ve trimmed and replaced the wicks over and over, and none of that is keeping you from having to strike the lighter more than once, it’s time to send it in.

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Top of pipe insert

Also, if you’ve switched from cigarette or cigar smoking, to pipe smoking exclusively, you can send in your Zippo and request a pipe lighter insert.

It’s good to send the whole lighter in to Zippo, as they can snug up the case onto the insert. I had sent my inserts back in a couple of times without it helping, and finally sent the whole lighter in for repair, and the insert fits snug now, and I haven’t had any additional problems.

The best way to send your Zippo in for repairs is to allow all the fluid to evaporate (I gave mine 3 days). Put it inside a padded envelope, and send it in the mail. Unless you have proof of cost, not worth, it’s not worth putting insurance on, but you can use Delivery Confirmation to track when it got there. If it’s a really valuable lighter, send it Registered Mail. Registered Mail is how diamonds and gold are mailed through the postal service. Each Registered package is transported under lock and key from the minute it enters the Post Office, to the moment it’s delivered.

If you enclose an email address, Zippo will also email you to tell you that the lighter has arrived. The whole process from start to finish takes around 10 days, depending on how you sent it. Registered Mail moves a little slower because of the hightened security involved. International repairs will take longer (and yes, overseas Zippo’s can be repaired).

Your Zippo is guaranteed for life, and it’s one of the best guarantees on anything. Don’t let a beloved Zippo lay around abandoned because it’s broken. Send that puppy in.

You’ll find complete repair information here (and follow the dang instructions): Windproof lighter FAQs

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Bottom markings

On a non-repair related subject, check the bottom of your Zippo. You may see a series of slashes, dashes or similar marking. These may indicate the year the lighter was manufactured, or provide additonal information about the Zipp. Here’s the Collector’s Guide. It’s in PDF format.

Here’s an old Zippo ad. Did you know they had a theme song?

Here’s one for the kids. Encouraging smoking. I’m going to hell for posting this one.

And an example of the kind of tricks you can do with a Zippo. Unless you’re me, as I’d probably set myself on fire.

Household Items for Pipes

In addition to specialized pipe tools and supplies, I keep a small supply of household items I’ve used before to maintain or repair my pipes. Some of these I used once, others more frequently. These include:

  • Non-Iodized salt and as pure alcohol as you can get (150 proof or 75% minimum), for the pipe sweetener recipe.
  • Toothbrush for scrubbing out pipes without destroying cake or for cleaning out meerschaums without damaging them. I sawed my toothbrush from both ends. Cutting the extra plastic off of the brush side allows the brush to be able to scrub all the way to the bottom of the pipe. Make sure to round off the edges after cutting the toothbrush, as you don’t want a ridge scraped into your bowl.
  • Clear nail polish to apply to loose stems and fine sandpaper for tight stems.
  • Facial tissue for wiping out pipes. You can also keep around rags or paper towels.
  • Q-tips which are great for the gunk inside the shank. Sure you can scrub it, but it doesn’t drag out all the goop that lives in there.
  • Microfiber cloth for applying Paragon or Halycon wax. You can also apply Briar Pipe Wipe with the cloth, but don’t use the same cloth for both. Of course, if you have a buffing wheel, use it instead with some Carnuba wax.
  • Bleach for refurbishing extremely oxidized pipe stems. Don’t let the stem sit in the bleach more than an hour. Safer still, you can use “rubbing” compounds available in your local auto parts store (Turtle Wax or Simoniz).
  • Superglue for careful repair of meerschaum cracks.
  • Alcohol wipe to wipe out the insides of meerschaums. The wipe should be squeezed out of excess alcohol before cleaning. Do not get any of the alcohol on the outside of the pipe! Before you complain, there’s a dozen ways “recommended” to clean the inside of meerschaum bowls. A little aftershave, antibacterial wipes, the list goes on, including the alcohol wipes. My reasoning is thus; the alcohol will evaporate making the inside more porous. The more porous, the more absorbent the pipe. Of course, I could be full of bull-dooky.
  • I’ve used high heat non-toxic silicone aquarium seal for when I burned out chunks of the inside of a pipe. I found one that was rated to 400 degrees. If you think this is insane, you can mix cigar ashes and a very small amount of water to make a mud, and use this “putty” to fill the holes. I did not have luck with this at all, which is why I had to resort to an alternate method. Smoking slower prevents the damage in the first place, which I did eventually learn.
  • No matter how tempting, do not use a pocket knife to ream out your pipe bowl. Pocket knives are handy for a lot of things, but nothing I can think of involving your pipe.
  • Compressed air. Use a single extremely short burst from the inside of the shank if you want to blow dottle wedged in the pipe hole. Don’t use long or multiple bursts as these result in extreme cold air freezing the surfaces it contacts.

This is just a list of some non-specialized items I’ve used for maintaining or repairing my pipes. If you have anything to add, I’d like to hear it.

Meerschaum Stem Replacement

I have a Meerschaum I really like to smoke. Not a collectable, not some delicately handled pipe, not fancifully carved; just a pipe I enjoy smoking. It’s been dropped who knows how many times, scratched up, and been the subject of strange experiments involving heat guns and beeswax. Basically, it’s a beloved beater.

That being said, for the second time, I managed to drop it directly on the lip of stem, breaking the lip. Nasty sharp edge. It’s not like a tough vulcanite stem.

Stem ReplacmentSince I’ve been through this before, I ordered a stem replacement from Cup O’ Joes, but after ordering it, I wish I had seen the one from Tobacco Barn as it’s much less expensive.

On getting my replacement stem, I had to carefully unscrew the existing stem tenon “receiver” from the shank portion of the pipe. See that “carefully?” Well, I managed to break the shank. Duh!

Okay, there’s no easy way to repair a broken meerschaum. Most say to give it up. On the more laborious side, there’s a recipe using powdered chalk and the white of an egg. Now mind you, I told you at the start that this is a pipe I enjoy solely for smoking, and it’s already worn and torn, so I used the fastest, least attractive fix I could think of: superglue gel. The gel is ideal for porous surfaces. Mind you, it leaves a glorious scar across the repair if you’re less than careful…uh, like me. It’s not worth the investment of replacing the pipe (although I do plan on eventually replacing one of my briars with another simple meer) and the damn thing still smokes beautifully. I touched up the scar with a special paint marker I bought for a Halloween project a few years ago, so it blends with the shank.

So I finally carefully screwed the “receiver” into the repaired shank. Voila, good as…well, it works. And the shank? Just another scar that says, “I love you.”

Okay, that just sounded wrong on so many levels.

Meerschaum Ideas That Did and Didn’t Work

I had originally titled this “Homemade Pipe Bombs,” but I thought that’d be in bad taste, and I’d get Googled by a swarm of 15-year old’s. Today, we’re going to take a look at a bunch of homemade pipe remedies that both worked and didn’t work.

I’ll start with something that did work. Cleaning meerschaum’s are a challenge in itself, but the simplest thing I’ve made that’s been really helpful was a toothbrush cut down to about 2 1/2″. It lets me scrub out the meerschaum without damaging the inside. It also preps the pipe for something that I’ll cover later.

Before you try any of these other meerschaum remedies, I’d suggest trying a beater meerschaum, something simple that isn’t a collector’s piece, and you’re more interested in smoking your meerschaum than in preserving it’s pristine state.

One of the worst things I’ve done came from the Internet. The idea was to accelerate the coloring process of the meerschaum. The idea was to coat the meerschaum in beeswax using cotton swabs or something like them, allow the wax to solidify, then heat the meerschaum with a heat gun, melting the wax off. It accelerated the coloring alright, but it also stripped the finish off of the pipe.

Since I don’t have carnuba wax or something like it, and a buffing wheel, I bought Paragon Pipe Wax, which doesn’t require a buffing wheel, and managed to restore the finish. I think meerschaums are immersed in these arcane wax mixtures that are hard to replicate, so the Paragon finish was much easier to apply and a simpler solution.

What’s important to know about a meerschaum is that you don’t want any cake to build up in it. Cake is good for briar pipes but very bad for meerschaums. If cake starts to build up, gently scrape the inside of the bowl. Do not ream it, or hack at it until you reach pure meerschaum.

I’ve read all sort of wacky ideas to keep the inside of your meerschaum clean, including alcohol swabs, not using alcohol swabs, antibacterial wipes, not using antibacterial wipes, using nothing, using this, and using that. Honestly, the possibilities are ridiculous. I decided to use something designed for pipes, and specifically designed to remove excessive buildup: Arango Pipe Spray. The way I use it is to spray all of the inside of the pipe surface, then use a couple of facial tissues to wipe the bowl out. You can also use the Arango Pipe Spray to spray out the inside of your stems. Ive noticed that even after using pipe sweetener to clean out the stem, when I use the Arango, a lot of gunk still comes out of the stem. Under no circumstances should you get the Arango on the outside of the pipe.

Another idea to accelerate coloring was to put the meerschaum in a jar with a lid, or a plastic container with a lid, and to blow smoke from another pipe into the container and seal it. I didn’t notice much of a difference, except my pipe stunk. And it make sense that it wasn’t terribly effective. Meerschaum colors as the tar and nicotine are leeched from the inside of the pipe. By attempting to color it from the outside, the finish would act as a barrier from the smoke blown inside of the container. I’m now interested in getting a coloring bowl and seeing how that works. Another product that looks interesting is Meerschaum Antiquing Compound.

Next stop, Briar Ideas That Did and Didn’t Work…