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Fire Piston

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 1346 days ago 3976 views 20 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project that was inspired by Woodsman Woodworker. That was the first time I had ever heard of a fire piston so I had to watch the U-Tube videos.

This Fire Piston is made from Guayacan wood and I should have read about the wood first before trying what I did. It is an oily wood and it loads up sandpaper Right Now- even Abranet. I started by turning it and then knurling the head for a grip surface. That was like knurling greasy metal. It kept loading up so I finally gave up and left only one knurled ring. For the inside tube I used 1/2” copper stub ( like they show in one video) because it is closed off on the end. I turned an aluminum shaft end and cut the o-ring groove to make it tight. The ram cannot be pushed all the way to the end of the tube because it compresses the air so well. This is a good thing because the fire is started by the heat generated by compressing air- it gets to 800 degrees.

In all the videos they talk about having some grease handy to lube the o-ring and I thought of Mads and his neat little grease boxes, but I have to smack the head so I could not put one with the sliding cover. I improvised with a couple PVC threads glued into the head. It makes a neat grease box that the cover threads on. I put a Buffalo Nickel in the end to make it unique.

I had tried it for a few days with no real success using dry paper towel and shavings- it would just get them brown but not lit. Everyone on line was talking about char cloth so I found out how to make some. My friend Tim ( the grill man) is always grilling so he heated the can of charcloth in his charcoal grill( for 6 minutes with tin foil on top and a vent hole) and that made the difference. One smack of the ram and that cloth was lit and that stuff stays lit for quite a while if you blow on it.

I finished the fire piston with EEE and Shellawax.
The following is a U tube site that tells about how a fire piston is made. The materials can vary. You can just put fire piston in search field on the the U Tube site and you will get your choice of many videos on the subject.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Win_t0xtcQs
You can read about the history and see a sketch of a fire piston in the link below:
http://www.onagocag.com/piston.html

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!





19 comments so far

View mafe's profile

mafe

9435 posts in 1686 days


#1 posted 1346 days ago

Hi Jim,
Thats one really nice gadget you have made there.
Hope one day to me able to make turnings in a quality like that.
Elegant touch with the build in greasebox.
So you are automatic a member of the GBOC.
Best thoughts to you,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View sedcokid's profile

sedcokid

2663 posts in 2195 days


#2 posted 1346 days ago

Jim,
What a gadget you have made… The wood is pretty and finish is great!!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1578 posts in 1849 days


#3 posted 1346 days ago

Wow Jim that is nice, i seen a picture of one for the first time this year on youtube and i was amazed. Awesome job on yours.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View Ilija's profile

Ilija

40 posts in 1360 days


#4 posted 1346 days ago

Great job, I’ve been thinking of making my own diesel piston like this for a long time, one question though, does the female part have metal pipe inside or the piston rubs the wood on the inside?

Thanks

-- Ilija Trajkoski

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

2885 posts in 2191 days


#5 posted 1346 days ago

Hmm thats way cool never heard of those,, I think I’ll go check out youtube also…. very nice job

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View dakremer's profile

dakremer

2447 posts in 1688 days


#6 posted 1346 days ago

thats really cool Jim. I’ve never seen one of these before! Looks like a fun project to make – yours looks great! Thanks for sharing

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Cher's profile

Cher

934 posts in 1690 days


#7 posted 1346 days ago

Hi Jim, you are very busy lately, I would like to see the youtube videos if you could send the link please.
Nice work here Jim, thanks for sharing.

-- When you know better you do better.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11055 posts in 1702 days


#8 posted 1346 days ago

Hi Ilija. The one I made has a copper tube inside( a stub tube closed off on the end). You could use just a hole in the wood as long as it is smooth and consistent in diameter. The object is to build up compression. This was the forerunner of the diesel engine.

Hi Cher. I have added a site to see the fire piston in action and to show what they made one out of. Just put in fire piston and hit shearch on U Tube and you will get lots of sites to learn about them. There is one I saw where they showed a primative one with a 1/4” ram going into a wooden tube 3 3/4” long with twine on the end for a seal instead of the o-ring. They leave 3/16” clearance ahead of the rod at the bottom of the hole. I’m making another one with a smaller diameter aluminum tube to see if it starts easier.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View dakremer's profile

dakremer

2447 posts in 1688 days


#9 posted 1346 days ago

......see kids….Physics IS fun! :) (always been one of my favorite subjects – and you’ve combined it with my OTHER favorite subject – woodworking)

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View nobuckle's profile

nobuckle

1120 posts in 1358 days


#10 posted 1346 days ago

Very impressive! I’ve been a fan of the fire piston ever since I first saw one. I’ve not attempted to make one yet but with some of the details you’ve provided perhaps I should dust of my lathe. Thanks for sharing.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View NormG's profile

NormG

3985 posts in 1601 days


#11 posted 1346 days ago

Never saw one before, great work, guess never realized was missing something useful until you see it

-- Norman

View NormG's profile

NormG

3985 posts in 1601 days


#12 posted 1346 days ago

I just watched a video, just amazing tool.

-- Norman

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1057 posts in 1805 days


#13 posted 1345 days ago

Cool work on a hot project, Jim! I never thought of using a copper stub… you would think it would occur to a plumber, wouldn’t you? Do you see any particular advantage to it over simply boring the hole?

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11055 posts in 1702 days


#14 posted 1345 days ago

Hi Mary Anne. I used the copper stub because it was smooth and straight. I’m not so sure I could have made that quality of a hole in wood, but I think it could very well be done that way. You just don’t want to lose any of the air during the compression of the plunger so it makes enough heat. I saw the copper stub in a U Tube video and then when I went to Menards looking for a tube I found the stub for $2.50.
I have since found a lot of smaller tubes at our Habitat for Humanity store that are 12” long and for less than $1. Each will make 2 fire pistons. I have 4 tubes made with plugs in them already.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 1704 days


#15 posted 1345 days ago

That sure beats rubbing two boy scouts together. And none of the screaming. Wow.

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