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the zippo lighter, often imitated but never duplicated.

few products have stood the test of time like the zippo lighter. if there was any one bit of classic americana most people can identify, it's a zippo. it's a simple, well engineered design that always works if properly cared for. a zippo will stay lit in a strong wind when most other lighters just give up. in production since 1932, millions of zippos are out there. this instructable will show you how to rebuild your lighter.

this instructable takes for granted that you have the ability to use basic hand tools and work with small parts. you are dealing with a fire starting device that contains flammable fluid. please exercise caution. it may be a good idea to keep an extinguisher nearby as lighter fluid is extremely flammable.

zippo offers a lifetime warranty on all their traditional lighters. you don't have to do some of these repairs yourself but i personally try to fix all the ones in my collection before resorting to sending them in. the folks at zippo are gracious enough to honor their lifetime warranty so i only use it when needed. by doing some of this yourself, you don't run the risk of your lighter getting lost in the mail.

Step 1: ID your lighter

is your lighter a real zippo? the zippo design was not only copied, but even counterfeited complete with zippo markings and all! an experienced zippo collector can spot copies easily without looking at the bottom and can even spot the counterfeits.

here's what to look for on the 2 most common zippo lighter styles.
1) the only steel zippos where made during ww2 and for a short while around 1953.
2) the zippo "click". go to your local place that sells new zippo branded lighters and ask to see one. hold it in your hand and flip the lid open with your thumb. note the distinct metallic "click" it makes. that sound is unique to all real zippos.
3) all zippos are stamped on the bottom. this stamp not only identifies the lighter, but also serves as a way to get an estimate of how old your zippo is.

counterfeits?!? yep. i have one that was trying to pawn itself off as a john deere zippo. when i received it, i noticed it didn't look right and didn't feel right in my hand. edges were sharp and it just had a cheap look to it. it was chrome plated steel which no new zippo is. they even went as far as stamping it on the bottom with zippo markings but those didn't look right either. fakes are out there.

why does this matter?
this instructable is geared towards zippos but applies to most similar windproof lighters. as a zippo collector, i want the real thing but the instructions given here can be used to rebuild any windproof style lighter. the only exception is the drill bit lengths given to remove stuck flints. those are zippo specific.
I've sent my old lighter to the zippo company to have the hinge rewelded and have the emblem repainted. They charged me about $45.00. Which to me was well worth it! Here's a couple pics.<br>
<p>So much for the lifetime warranty&hellip; I can't believe you had to pay. And you're actually happy about it? I'd be really furious.</p>
<p>What do you mean, &quot;So much for the lifetime warranty&quot;? He had the emblem repainted. The finish (chrome, paint, etc.) and decoration (logos, emblems, etc.) of a Zippo are not, and have never been, covered by the warranty, as those are cosmetic things, not functional things. Hinge repairs are covered by the warranty, and if that was all he'd had done, it would have been free, as usual.</p>
<p>What I meant was, it all should have been covered by a so-called lifetime warranty.</p>
<p>Why would the paint of a decorative emblem be covered under their lifetime warranty? Their trademarked motto is:</p><blockquote><em>It works or we fix it free</em>.&trade;</blockquote><p>The finish and decoration have nothing to do with whether or not the lighter works. <br></p>
<p>BTW the best cheapest lighter fluid to use is Coleman Camp Fuel. It is a refined naphtha that has almost no odor at all and costs less than $5 a gallon at Walmart. This is almost a lifetime supply. Compare that to the tiny expensive little tin of Zippo or Ronson lighter fluid, which is a smelly, less refined naphtha.</p>
<p>Coleman Camp Fuel works fine in a Zippo or any other wick-type lighter, but with regard to refinement, you have things backwards. Coleman Camp Fuel produces slight, but noticeable, smoke when burning (most noticeable if you light it, close the lid to snuff out the flame, and then immediately open the lid again, at which point you will see a small puff of smoke), and you can also hear crackling from the flame. Both of these things indicate impurities. Zippo-brand lighter fluid does not produce any noticeable smoke and it does not crackle when burning. On top of that, a Coleman Camp Fuel flame imparts a noticeable flavor to my cigarettes (not good), while a Zippo fluid flame doesn't, which also indicates that Zippo fluid burns cleaner. </p>
Well, ignoring your aggressively rude tone for the moment, first of all, the Coleman fuel is dearomatized naphtha so it lacks a lot of the aromatics that make naphtha, in general, and Zippo lighter fluid, in particular, impart a disagreeable petroleum odor and taste when used to light tobacco products or charcoal briquettes. The same goes for use as lantern or stove fuel. Obviously that would be a big concern for Coleman products, so they, early on, made sure their fuel was 'deodorized'.<br><br>I have never experienced any unusual smoking or crackling from the flame produced in a lighter using Coleman fuel. I haven't smoked in many years and I never used Coleman fuel for lighters when I did. I did, however, use Zippo and Ronson fluid, and I always hated the strong taste they imparted to the lit tobacco, especially pipe tobacco that required a longer time to light, and funneled the vaporized fluid into the tobacco where it remained the whole time. So my experience is the exact opposite of yours. If that is, as you so quaintly put it, having &quot;things backwards&quot;, then I guess it depends entirely on your point of view&hellip; From mine, it would seem that maybe you are guilty of your own accusation&hellip;
<blockquote>Well, ignoring your aggressively rude tone for the moment</blockquote><p>Stating facts is not rude at all, much less &quot;aggressively rude&quot;.</p><blockquote>first of all, the Coleman fuel is dearomatized naphtha so it lacks a lot<br> of the aromatics that make naphtha, in general, and Zippo lighter <br>fluid, in particular, impart a disagreeable petroleum odor and taste <br>when used to light tobacco products or charcoal briquettes. </blockquote><p>Zippo brand fluid says right on the can &quot;low odor&quot;. I have two Zippos in front of me right now. One has Zippo fluid in it and the other has Coleman Camp Fuel in it. Just from opening the lids and smelling both of them, I guarantee no one could tell the difference in a blind test. The real difference is in how they burn, which I've already detailed.</p><blockquote>I have never experienced any unusual smoking or crackling from the flame produced in a lighter using Coleman fuel.</blockquote><p>Here is an audio recording I just made of my Zippo with Coleman Camp Fuel in it:</p><p><a href="http://vocaroo.com/i/s0he9kuJGCnq" rel="nofollow">http://vocaroo.com/i/s0he9kuJGCnq</a></p><p>Make sure your volume is turned up and take note of the crackling. For comparison, here is a recording of my other Zippo with Zippo brand lighter fluid in it:</p><p><a href="http://vocaroo.com/i/s05dR8NRgmPM" rel="nofollow">http://vocaroo.com/i/s05dR8NRgmPM</a></p><p>Note that there is no crackling at all, which indicates it is burning very cleanly.</p><p>I tried Coleman Camp Fuel (brand new can of it) in one of my Zippos just the other day (which is why it still has some in there), and I've always used Zippo brand lighter fluid, so my experience with both types of fuel is, in all likelihood, more current than yours. This is relevant not only in the sense of current memories being more reliable than old memories, but also in that Zippo reformulated their fuel several years ago. The crackling and slight smoke from the Coleman fuel didn't really bother me in and of itself (though over time it would probably leave more soot on the wick and surrounding parts, due to burning less cleanly), but the first drag off my cigarette lit with the Coleman flame tasted bad, and the rest of the cigarette wasn't much better, so obviously I won't be using it again. I don't notice any bad taste from Zippo fluid; if I did, I wouldn't use it. </p>
<p>i'll have to try this. great tip!</p>
<p>i'll have to try this. great tip!</p>
<p>Nice Instructable with some very useful tips. But I don't understand how you can consider the Zippo a well engineered design. It really isn't. Because the lid has no seal, fluid evaporates from the reservoir fairly quickly and you have to constantly refill it. The location of the hinge makes it difficult to open the lid one-handed, especially for man-sized hands. You have to then manually turn the flint wheel to light it. A much better designed lighter is the legendary Austrian made IMCO Triplex Super 6700 developed in 1936 and improved over the years and made up until 2012. Prior to that, starting in 1918, they made the original classic brass &quot;trench lighter&quot; that you sometimes see on TV and in movies. I saw one closeup recently in an episode of the show 'Manhattan'. The Triplex is in the shape of a cylinder and has a tight-fitting cap that prevents evaporation of the lighter fluid. The fluid remains in the reservoir for weeks in my experience. Second it is fully automatic and lights first time every time, one-handed, with a flick of the thumb lever. It is cleverly designed with a thumb lever that opens the lid and turns the flint wheel at the same time.It has a removable tank-like reservoir that you can pull out while the wick is lit and use as a candle for emergency lighting or to light a pipe or a wood fire. It has a windproof vented chimney with an adjustable collar that allows you to adjust the size of the flame by sliding it up and down with your thumbnail. When I demonstrate this to people, they just assume it is a butane lighter, and they are amazed when I show them that it is a regular flint and fluid lighter, and tell them it was designed in the 1930s. The flint chamber is accessible by a spring-loaded push-button that allows you to swing the cover away. To replace the flint, you slide the button to one side and it opens a chamber where you drop the flint in. It also reveals a 'secret compartment' where you store a spare flint nice and dry. Then you slide it back, under spring tension against the flint, and you swing the cover back in place and close it, locking it in place. The whole operation is faster and slicker than the old spring with the screw thread. They are also tough and longlasting. I have one I got on eBay from the 1960s and it still works perfectly.</p><p>Excellent videos showing the Triplex in action:</p><p>EDC: 5 Reasons to Love IMCO TRIPLEX Lighters! - YouTube</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmcD5tuSG5E</p><p>Zippo VS Imco - YouTube</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNk3E-nnpQ8</p><p>Zippo vs. Imco Triplex Super - YouTube</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvLjS9qlsQk</p>
<p><em>&lt;&lt;&lt;But I don't understand how you can consider the Zippo a well engineered design. It really isn't.&gt;&gt;&gt;</em></p><p>Yes, it clearly is. Anything that does what it's supposed to do and generally lasts a lifetime (or longer) is well-engineered. Also, the Zippo uses better quality (and more expensive) materials than the Imco Triplex. The Zippo has a stainless steel insert and a brass case, both of which are very corrosion resistant. The Imcos I've seen are made out of chrome-plated mild steel and aluminum, and if the chrome gets damaged, they will rust (I don't know if they made stainless steel versions or not). The Zippo is also a simple, smooth geometric shape and is more compact, thus it rides better in your pocket, and even fits perfectly in that small 5th pocket of jeans (&quot;watch pocket&quot;). On top of that, the smooth, flat sides make for a nice &quot;canvas&quot; for decoration, if so desired.</p><p><em>&lt;&lt;&lt;The location of the hinge makes it difficult to open the lid one-handed, especially for man-sized hands. You have to then manually turn the flint wheel to light it.&gt;&gt;&gt;</em></p><p>Flicking a Zippo lid open with your thumb and then swiping your thumb down against the flint wheel isn't even remotely difficult. It is a fast, intuitive, and natural motion. Someone would have to be incredibly uncoordinated in order to have any difficulties with it.</p><p><em>&lt;&lt;&lt;The Triplex is in the shape of a cylinder and has a tight-fitting cap that prevents evaporation of the lighter fluid.&gt;&gt;&gt;</em></p><p>No, it doesn't prevent evaporation. They are more sealed than a Zippo, but they are not perfectly sealed, and a perfect seal is the only thing which can flat-out prevent evaporation. </p><p><em>&lt;&lt;&lt;Second it is fully automatic and lights first time every time, one-handed, with a flick of the thumb lever.&gt;&gt;&gt;</em></p><p>No, they do not light the first time, every time. In fact, at least one of the videos you linked to shows a failure to light at the 1:14 mark (I say &quot;at least one&quot; because that's the only one I watched):</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/kmcD5tuSG5E" width="500"></iframe></p><p>Despite of the fact that so many people like to proclaim that their favorite lighter lights &quot;first time, every time&quot;, in my experience, there's no such thing as a lighter that lights &quot;first time, every time&quot;. There are however, plenty of lighters that light &quot;first time, most of the time&quot;, Zippos included (as long as you don't overfill them). <br> </p>
<p>the sign of a great mechanical design is reliability and simplicity. a zippo lighter has both.</p>
<p>Did you not read that the IMCO I have from the 60s still works perfectly? And it has so many 'extra' features that are standard.</p>
<p>Just curious... why not send them in? They will fix them for free, forever.</p>
page 1, last paragraph ?
Doh!
<p>Triplex is superior to zippo - no question. I had one that belonged to my granpa who had it since 1930s. Lost it ~10y ago in a beach and i was realy depressed not just bcos it was a an antique but bcos it worked like new had you been caring to replace the wick and it's cotton every few years. Tight and robust lacking all that zippo cap defects.mal</p>
My oldest zippo is pre WW2. Still works as designed.
The old ladies at Bradford PA know when your doing tricks with them, especially when a brand new lighter comes in with a busted hinge. :-) They will still weld a new hinge on and send you a penny and insert. From my experience, if your lighter needs the spot welds redone then they will replace the stock pin with a roll pin. But if you tear the hinge apart so they cant put a roll pin in then they will weld a new hinge on there. <br>Roll pins make it difficult to do certain tricks with. :-( <br>It just amazes me all the stuff that was invented in the early 30s that has gone through so few changes and still works today. The Zippo lighter, the browning Machine Gun. America!
<p>Even things like power tools that were manufactured in the 40's 50's 60's that are indestructible compared to modern versions. Electric motors that last for decades. Everything has fancier logos, and more expensive marketing, but its mostly a lot of cheap junk. Love my Zippo, and I'm glad to see that there are still some American companies with quality. </p><p>MERICA! </p>
<p>How this hinge can be fixed?</p>
<p>Sir, those are some nice Zippos.</p>
You could just send it back to zippo and get a brand new one.
yep, that is true. however some folks have sentimental attachment to their lighter and want it back. generally zippo will fix your lighter if you send it to them. the risk here is the postal service loosing your favorite lighter. if you can do some of this yourself and not risk loosing the lighter then why not have at it?
they fix the original they ask if it's sentimental before they replace
useful but I send them to zippo first. they fix it no cost and have sent me new inserts for free when I have
Thanks for the tips. I've been pondering how to tighten up the hinge on an old Zippo for some time. This looks like it should do the trick.
Nicely done!

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