Tonteldoos and fire piston

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Iaan du Toit
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Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by Iaan du Toit » 18 Jul 2017 20:20

My whole life I have enjoyed working with my hands and making things. Lately I became intrigued by the Tonteldoos as used by our forefathers. After a couple of weeks of trail and error I am capable of starting a fire like the Voortrekkers did.

In my reading and research I came upon the term fire piston. As I have never heard of this it got my attention. There are a lot of you tube videos on the fire piston.

True to my nature I had to make one that work. Whenever I make something I always look at what scrap I have on hand. Then it struck me, I have two shot Patrol bonnet struts. After some time on the lathe I got it to work today. I first tried to use the tube and existing seal of the bonnet strut. I could not get the needed compression. I then machined a groove for an o-ring in the existing seal. Still the needed compression eluded me. My next idea was to machine a brass plug with a tight fit.. This worked. Next I would like to machine the brass plug to a smaller diameter an fit two o-rings.

I would like to make some changes to the current prototype when time allow. I will update this post with future improvements.

Now I can start a fire with steel and flint as well as a fire piston.

As a diesel fanatic I find it fascinating to be able to start a fire with the same principle that a diesel engine operate on.
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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by Tinus lotz » 18 Jul 2017 21:44

Nice.....daai lyk reg ek soek ook sulkes :salute:

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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by hugejp » 18 Jul 2017 22:45

Can we place orders?? Forum logo on the side??? :blonde:
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You CAN with a NISSAN!

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Michael
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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by Michael » 19 Jul 2017 04:37

Very cool Iaan!!

I actually did not even know these things exist, but I really like it.
What does one use as the fuel to get the fire going?
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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by Rhett » 19 Jul 2017 08:01

That is awesome Iaan, good thinking there! Let us know how it comes along and if possible, upload a video too :thumbup:
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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by Rudolph » 19 Jul 2017 08:43

Rhett wrote:That is awesome Iaan, good thinking there! Let us know how it comes along and if possible, upload a video too :thumbup:
Awesome! I would also like to see a video on how this fire piston works.
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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by ricster » 19 Jul 2017 09:34

I've seen something like this on a few survival programmes on dstv, like Bear Grylls etc. They shove a small piece of charcoal or any carbonized material in the tube and bang it hard and fast on a solid surface. the heat generated from the compression stroke pops that material out glowing red !!

This is a brilliant piece of engineering Iaan. Well done mate !!!
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Iaan du Toit
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Re: Tonteldoos and fire piston

Post by Iaan du Toit » 19 Jul 2017 21:33

Michael, for the tonteldoos as well as the fire piston you make your own charcoal. Take pure cotton material, put it in a closed tin can and apply heat, deprived of oxygen you end up with charcoal made out of cotton. People refer to this as char cloth. I find the thicker loosely woven material work better than thinner tightly woven material.

You can also use dried rotten wood applying the same method.

With flint and steel all that is needed is to throw a spark on the charcoal. Once it start glowing you gently blow on the ember, you can add more char cloth combined with dried grass, gently blowing and you can start your fire.

Regarding flint and steel. You have to use a piece of hardened high carbon steel. An old file ground smooth works well. For the flint, not every piece of stone will work. You need a piece of stone with a sharp edge, harder than the steel and test to see if it will throw sparks.

The fire piston work on the same principle as a diesel engine. At the end of the piston you drill a small hole, fill this with some char cloth. You then press the piston into the tube with speed. The same way you have combustion on a diesel engine, the char cloth at the end of the piston ignite and start to glow.

Another way to start your fire from the glowing ember is to use a slow match. Take a piece of 15mm plumbing copper tube. Stick some cotton material (you can use rope, paraffin lamp pit or strands of a mopp head) through from one side till it protrude on the other side. Burn this end with a flame. Now you have charred cotton with a handle . Once you get the ember burning with either method you hold the charred end of the slow match next to the ember, blowing gently.

Once you get the slow match burning you have all the time in the world to transfer the glowing ember to the fire you want to make. To snuff the glowing ember in the slow match put a end cap on the copper pipe.

For the guys wanting a video, I will see what I can do.

I would like to attend the upcoming river trip, my workload permitting. Then I can do a demonstration.

I am sure the kids will have a ball once they realize how easy it is to start a fire like the old timers did.
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