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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Expertise Needed - Getting a wick to light with a flint wheel (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Inner circle
Gainesville Fl
3385 Posts

Profile of MeetMagicMike
I have a device which contains a 2 1/2 inch square piece of torch wick glued down to a metal plate. Next to it is a flint wheel type striker.

The idea is to soak the wick with Zippo lighter fluid and then ignite it using the spark from the flint wheel.


This all worked initially but after a while the wick wouldn't catch fire as often and would require multiple strikes.

The sparks seem fine so I thought perhaps I had overused the wick material. I would occasionally leave the device burning a little longer for effect and I thought perhaps it got burned (It does look blacker than when new).

I found the same wick material and cut it to size and replaced the old wick.

It still rarely catches fire!

Now what confuses me is this seems so simple it should be fool proof.

1) Striker makes spark - CHECK
2) Wick is soaked with Lighter Fluid - CHECK

So what are the other factors? Here are my suspects

3) Spark must be big enough - But how do you judge this? I would think any spark would do it.
4) The spark must hit at the right location - But where? The edge of the wick? Just above the wick?
5) Wick must be proper distance from spark - What is the right distance? Is it really that critical?

The device in question is a F*** W*****. It worked perfectly for about 6 weeks. This seems to happen to all my F*** W*****s. Why is it such voodoo to get them working again? It should be science. Wick, Fluid, Spark= Fire.

There are other threads to discuss various brands of F*** W*****, electronic vs flint, safety etc. I'd really like
some expert help on this one issue here.

Thanks in advance
Magic Mike

I took the Pledge
Dan Efran
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Regular user
Pittsburgh, PA
150 Posts

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I'm not an expert, but I've used such things a little, and I can at least suggest a few other points you can check.

Obviously, pay most attention to changes since it was working.

- The fuel can evaporate fast even in a closed device. Make sure you're using it promptly after fueling. In my experience this is the most common problem with these "big wick" items.
- Use sufficient fuel, too.
- Wick to striker distance shouldn't be critical as long as it's pretty darn close. You want plenty of sparks hitting the wick.
- For real world conditions you want a big burst of sparks. The difference between a nice full hot spark burst and a wimpy cold one isn't always obvious to the eye, but it can seriously hurt the reliability. When in doubt, try replacing the flint. Can you see the difference after you've done that? This seems like the most likely cause of the kind of eventual problem you describe. No, not just any spark will do. (If you can adjust flint tension, try that too.)
- Does your wick/fuel combo light easily with sparks from a different, reliable flint wheel? Say, a good unfueled Zippo? You can test the sparking distance requirements that way.
- Does it light easily with a match? You can test wick/fuel parameters that way. Watch your fingers.

Try some of those tests and at least you'll know a bit more.
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22800 Posts

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Just sounds like you need a new flint and you attached the wick to far form the spark.

Yes it does matter as to the distance and size of spark flying the distance.

If your screw is not tight, adjust it by screwing it in more, if it is tight against the setting, then buy new flints.

Attache an extra piece of wick next to the flint wheel. Not on top, but directly across from the flit.

If your wick is getting black and burning up, you need more fluid, put a piece of cotton under the wick before attaching it down. This will hold more fluid.

Good Luck!
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Profile of mrmetropolis
You might want to check in the "Up in Smoke" forum just a few above this one. There are good resources on pyro there.
"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary, for those who do not, none will suffice".-Joseph Dunninger
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
11176 Posts

Profile of Michael Baker
I have a firebook that occassionally has the same problem. What I have learned is that when the book is closed, after having been lit is when the problem most often occurs. The solution seemed simple. The area surrounding the spark/wick had become vapor-locked, and lacked the oxygen needed to get things started. I found that a quick blow before striking the flint wheel would start the air circulating, and it almost always takes care of the problem. This may or may not work in your case.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Inner circle
Gainesville Fl
3385 Posts

Profile of MeetMagicMike
Thanks for all the good ideas. I'm thinking it is the flint. My eyes are not so good so it's tough for me to see if the flint is changeable. I also just emailed the guy who I think makes the wallet so I'll see what he has to say.

I think the comment that a really hot spark may not look that different from a wimpy spark was what I needed to know. It makes sense that my flint got worn over 6 or 8 weeks of heavy use.

As far as checking in the "Up In Smoke" section it specifically says that that area is for the discussion of fire routines and NOT such things as fuel recipes. But I know people don't always follow the rules so I'll check there as well.

I think it fits better here because we can discuss the mechanics freely without engaging in exposure.

@ Michael Baker - Wow that is a lot of f*** from your b***! Looks great.

(I prefer to use F*** W****** instead of spelling it out because I don't want people I do the trick for to Google it and end up here. Yeah, I know it's allready exposed elsewhere but I don't want to contribute to it)
Magic Mike

I took the Pledge
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Inner circle
Gainesville Fl
3385 Posts

Profile of MeetMagicMike
Thanks every one. I changed the flint and what a difference.

So here is the summary of this thread:


This is so obvious that I feel a little silly for not realizing it but I was confused by the fact that there WAS a spark. So I skipped that and went on to the wick. Also the screw to change the flint is tiny. I had a heck of time getting it out and even more trouble getting it back in.
Magic Mike

I took the Pledge
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Inner circle
7574 Posts

Profile of hugmagic
I used a Tim Starr Firebowl to doves for years before taking it out of the act. Never had problem with it lighting or even having to replace the flint.

I do remember that one time I over loaded the wick with lighter fluid. Since this was my opening effect, I just tucked it under my arm inside my coat to produce it. Worked quite well and never had a problem. But the extra lighter fluid gave me a lovely underarm rash for about a week.

Thankfully, I no longer do it or any fire effects.

Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
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