64. Zippo Lighters
Once upon a time, I bought a gold(ish) Zippo lighter at a yard sale.
It was brand (old)new, with an unused wick and a perfect flint. However, I never bought the Zippo fluid, so I never used it.
Then, a week ago, my brother Sam found a Zippo on the ground. He doesn’t smoke, but it’s cool, so he kept it. He also bought Zippo fluid and helped me fill mine up.
Now I have a sick ass Zippo lighter! It makes me feel such a lady.
The Zippo lighter, manufactured in Bradford, PA, has been an essential part of American culture since 1932.
It has been made in lots of shapes and sizes:
But the classic, classy rectangle has really stood the test of time.
Initially popularized by the US military, Zippo’s are loved by many because they are “windproof.”
How are they made, and how do they work? Let’s ask Wikipedia!
“The cases of Zippo lighters are typically made of metal and are rectangular with a hinged top.
Inside the case are the works of the lighter: the spring-toggle lever that keeps the top closed, the wick, windscreen chimney, thumbwheel, and flint, all of which are mounted on an open-bottom metal box that is slightly smaller than the bottom of the outer case, and into which it slips snugly.
The hollow part of the interior box encloses a rayon batt which is in contact with the wick. The fuel, which is usually naphtha but can be any flammable and volatile liquid (e.g. denatured alcohol, mineral spirits), is poured into the batt, which traps it. It also contains a tube that holds a short, cylindrical flint. The tube has an interior spring and exterior cap-screw that keeps the flint in constant contact with the exterior thumb-wheel. Spinning this rough-surfaced wheel against flint results in a spark that ignites the fluid in the wick.
The batt once had a small hole in the bottom to facilitate easier refueling. It was often used as a place to store extra flints. Newer models do not always have the hole, and instead have a flap in the bottom of the batt (with the hinge on one of the short edges). The words “LIFT TO FILL” are stamped in black ink multiple times on the bottom, with the intention being that the user should lift the flap and squirt the fuel in to the batt material under the flap.
All parts of the lighter are replaceable. In all there are 22 parts, and the Zippo lighter requires 108 manufacturing operations.”
Wikipedia also tells me this, which I’m just gonna quote, because it’s really cool.
“From mid-1955 Zippo started year coding their lighters by the use of dots (.). From 1966 until 1973 the year code was denoted by combinations ofvertical lines (|). From 1974 until 1981 the coding comprised combinations of forward slashes (/), and from 1982 until June 1986 the coding was by backslash (\).
In July 1986, Zippo began including a lot code on all lighters showing the month and year of production. On the left of the underside was stamped a letter A–L, denoting the month (A = January, B = February, C = March, etc). On the right was a Roman numeral which denoted the year, beginning with II in 1986. Thus a Zippo stamped H IX was made in August, 1993. However in 2001, Zippo altered this system, changing the Roman numerals to more conventional Arabic numerals. Thus a Zippo made in August 2004 was stamped H 04. There was a myth that Zippo lighters were made by prisoners, and the number identified the prisoner, or their crime and sentence length. Another myth was that a Zippo stamped ‘H’ was inferior to one stamped ‘A’.”
Mine says A 04 – so I’m thinking that a criminal made it real nice during his (or her) fourth year of time served. Sweet, yo!