If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' 'till you do succeed ; ) - Curly Howard -
Click on the picture to learn how to configure your fire piston for field transport.
Apply a SMALL amount of lube around the entire o-ring (less friction means faster compression)
Slide piston into the cylinder a couple of times to spread the lube onto the cylinder wall.
Remove the piston and clean all the lube from the end of the shaft, especially the tinder cavity.
Make sure you wipe all the lube from your fingers before starting next step.
Load a small amount of tinder into the tinder cavity in the end of the piston shaft.
Make sure the tinder is level with the end of the piston shaft and stays in place.
Don't over-pack the tinder cavity, use just enough to make it stay in the tinder cavity.
Apply another small amount of lube to the o-ring, being careful not to get any on the tinder
*** Use just enough lube to make the o-ring shiny all the way around ***
Slide the piston into the cylinder about a quarter of an inch or so and get a good grip.
As FAST as you can, push the piston in as far as it will go and pull it out in ONE MOTION..
*** SPEED is the key! ...the faster you are, the better chance you have for getting a live coal ***
Blow on the live coal to make it grow and extract it from the tinder cavity using a small pick.
If you fail a few times in a row, you should clean out the cylinder and start over.
When finished, clean the cylinder with a paper towel that has been twisted into a cleaning rod.
String Wrapping Demo
String Wrapping instructions
I recommend using individual strands of dried natural fibers. I don't recommend using non-natural strings such as fishing line or nylon string. Your string should have the ability to soak up water. The wick effect of natural fiber string adds to it's ability to easily conform to shape making natural fiber string a superior choice for seal material. Non-natural strings may scuff the cylinder wall and render the unit useless. I have used dental floss (nylon string embedded with wax) in the past but I don't recommend using it unless you really have to. Stick with natural fiber string and the unit should last a lifetime.
The string needs to be about as thin as sewing thread. Dental floss is a little thick and requires a dilligent effort. The string I used in the demo allowed me to make 10 wraps. 15-18 wraps is probably the maximum as the string will become quite thin and most likely break a number of times before you complete the seal. However, if you can manage it, the thinner the string the better. Thin string makes for a tight pattern which displaces air as well as having more surface area that makes contact with the cylinder wall. If your string is a bit too thick, you might be hard pressed to wrap a seal in 5 or 6 wraps. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying that aiming for about 10-12 wraps is a good target to start with. Dental floss only allowed for 8 wraps and was quite the bugger to get right. Just try what you have on hand and it will probably work.
I like to have about a foot of string to start with. 8" or so is enough but you can make do with 6" of string. The length of string needed will be determined by the diameter of the string. The thicker the string, the fewer wraps you will get and it can be shorter. The thinner the string, the longer the length needed to fill the o-ring groove to the proper level..
Get the string wet and keep it wet during the entire process.
Wrap the string using a good amount of tension so the string is packed tightly together.
If the string breaks or is just too short, simply add more string to what is already there.
Make sure your wrap is even and uniform in shape.
Wet the string seal again once it is the size you want.
Test fit the piston until it fits snugly into the top of the cylinder and slides easily.
Using a twisting motion, push the piston in about half way and remove it in one motion.
Repeat, going a bit deeper with the piston a couple more times to make sure it fits nicely.
If it feels loose, add more string, if it feels tight, remove some string.
Do not wrap too much string or the piston could get stuck or damage the cylinder.
Trim the string, wet it again, and force the end into the mass of fibers so it won't unwind.
Using your thumbnail, "edge" both sides of the seal to make sure it stays within the groove.
Wipe all wetness from the tinder cavity and load tinder.
Wet the string again making sure not to get the tinder wet.
Insert piston about a quarter of an inch into the cylinder and get a good grip.
As fast as you can, push the piston in as far as it will go and pull it out in one motion.
If you fail to get a live coal, clean the cylinder, adjust the seal, replace the tinder, and try again.