If you are like me, you like a great outfit. What makes a good outfit amazing? A dapper hat!
This hat mod will turn heads and sure to draw attention. You can add fire to almost any hat or helmet. For this writeup I will be using a trilby.
Step 1: A Word on Caution
Before you start this project, it is imperative you know what you are getting into. Wearing fire isn't for everybody. It requires absolute attention to your surroundings and those around you. More important than your surroundings is staying calm. There is a tank of compressed flammable gas on your hip, an open flame and hot metal inches from your head. I have been burnt many times wearing a fire hat, most were my fault and some were due to the actions of others.
If you decide to build and ultimately wear a fire hat, you are taking on a big responsibility.
Head icon from the Noun Project by Rémy Médard
Step 2: Tools and Materials
Two aspects of this design of note are the regulator and the pneumatic muffler. The regulator is not just a regulator, it's a regulator and a flow control valve. It's the most compact model I have found to date. A note about the regulator is that it has a reverse control. The pneumatic mufflers are what makes the fire hat windproof. My early models would frequently get blown out by the wind. Not any more, the mufflers were a real game changer. In high wind situations (like riding a bike) the flames will crawl down the back side of flame tubes and may make contact with the hat. It might be best to turn off the flame in these situations.
- Yellow gas teflon tape
- Smith propane regulator
- Aluminum or Copper tubing 3/8"
- Pneumatic muffler 1/4" NTP
- Pneumatic push fitting elbow 1/8" NTP
- Pneumatic push fitting tee
- Pneumatic tubing 1/4" OD
- Paddle wire
- Brass compression fitting 1/4" NTP to 3/8" OD tube
- Brass compression fitting 1/8" NTP to 3/8" OD tube
- 1/2" Webbing
- Zip ties
- A helmet, hat or visor
- A tank of propane
A note on parts and thread sizes. There are four sizes that need to match up. Compression fittings are for 3/8" OD tube. Pneumatic push fittings are for 1/4" OD tube. Pneumatic connector threads should all be 1/8" NPT. Lastly the Pneumatic muffler has a 1/4" NPT. When ordering parts do a sanity check or test fit everything at the hardware store.
Step 3: Make the Tube(s)
I have made fire hats with single flames and multiple flames. Depending on your design (one flame, two or more) you will need more or less of the pneumatic and brass fittings.
Per flame you will need
- One length of metal tubing
- One pneumatic elbow
- One of each of the brass compression fittings
- One pneumatic muffler.
If you decided to go with multiple tubes, be aware that symmetry is possible but a real pain in the butt.
Cut a length of your metal tubing (copper or aluminum) about twice as long as you need it. The extra length will help with bending. Your tips need to point up. As tempting as it is to have streamlined tips pointing back, don't do it. Fire likes to go up, so let it do its thing.
Heat will build up and move down the tubes. Heat is less of a problem with aluminum but a factor with all designs. Choose tube lengths that work with your comfort level.
Once the tube is bent to meet your design, use the pipe cutter and trim it to size.
Attach the brass compression fittings to each end of your tubes.
Apply yellow teflon tape to all the threads then attach the pneumatic muffler and the pneumatic elbow.
Step 4: Install the Tube(s)
Installing the tube(s) is more time consuming than you think, so be patient. For most hats, I use two connection points. One just above the elbow and the other at the top edge.
The lower connection takes the bulk of the load and I usually use a zip tie here. For this build I wound up sewing the lower connection instead of using a zip tie. You can use any means necessary to attach the flame tubes.
The upper connection is subject to more heat. This connection is where the paddle wire is used.
For plastic helmets, I have used coupling nuts. Coupling nuts help keep the metal tubes away from the helmet and the heat from melting the plastic.
Step 5: The Fuel Source
In order to be a mobile fire feature, you need a fuel source. The whole rig is pretty minimal, but the one thing there is no way around is the tank of propane at your hip.
Do not connect the fuel yet.
Use the webbing to create a little holder for the size of propane tank you want to use. I typically use the long thin tanks over the short squatty kind. Your tank holder should have have a belt loop so you can operate it hands free.
Its important to keep this in mind the regulator has reverse controls (righty loosy, lefty tighty), especially in times of emergency.
Step 6: Add the Plumbing
Now you have all the parts, its time to put them together. For my design I needed three lengths of pneumatic tubing. One for each side of the tee and another to go from the hat to the propane tank. When cutting the tubing its better to error on the side of too long. You can always trim it down till its perfect. Attach all the tubes and double check the regulator is in the off position.
Step 7: Test for Leaks!
Before you go lighting up your new toy, you need to ensure there are no leaks. Mix some water with dishwasher soap. You can wipe the mixture on or use a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to all the joints. This is a low pressure system, so any leaks will be minor, but still need to be addressed.
You can put water balloons on the tips or use pipe caps in order to seal the system. This will build more pressure and give better results.
Turn off your regulator completely. Attach the gas to the regulator.
Turn on the gas for a moment and look at each joint. If you see any bubbles you should tighten, push the connection harder or add more tape in that location.
If you pass the leak test its time to light it up. Ensure the gas is all the way off. Using a lighter, hold a flame at the flame tip and slowly turn on the gas.
Spray Bottle by Olivier Guin from the Noun Project
Bubbles by Wayne Tyler Sall from the Noun Project
Step 8: Alternate
Having a fire hat is pretty awesome. As you become more comfortable with it, you will get burnt less. Be sure you keep calm when playing with your new toy.