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.