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  weaponeer

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 12:51am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

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  weaponeer

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 12:53am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

orions_hammer wrote:
Drat.  I warmed up my igniter's propane cylinder, and it worked fine in the garage, but it won't stay lit for even one minute out in the cold, and it takes me way more time than that to clamp down the rig for safe testing.

I'd need either a little blanket around the propane cylinder, some sort of gentle propane heater, an entirely different ignition mechanism, or just to wait until a warmer day (perhaps... April?).  I guess I should have tested the thing out during the summer.

Ah, the irony: a flamethrower that won't work because it's too cold!

simple fix would be to use a road flare...   It's kind of a super sized version of the original.

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  orions_hammer

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 1:11am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

What's inside an M9 flamethrower ignition cylinder?  I've considered propane (but not in the cold, apparently!), ferrocerium powder (the 'flint' in a lighter), phosphorous chunks (fear!), electrical spark, an electrically heated wire, and a little cartridge primer or 22 blank (might produce more pressure than heat).

Anybody have any other reliable, safe ideas for flamethrower ignition?
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  bikergunnut

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 2:07am | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

orions_hammer wrote:
Drat.  I warmed up my igniter's propane cylinder, and it worked fine in the garage, but it won't stay lit for even one minute out in the cold, and it takes me way more time than that to clamp down the rig for safe testing.

I'd need either a little blanket around the propane cylinder, some sort of gentle propane heater, an entirely different ignition mechanism, or just to wait until a warmer day (perhaps... April?).  I guess I should have tested the thing out during the summer.

Ah, the irony: a flamethrower that won't work because it's too cold!

Electric blanket?

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  orions_hammer

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 2:17am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

Cool, a roadflare does reliably ignite a small squirt of diesel in my fireplace.  They're sure tough to duct-tape to a flamethrower, though... especially when lit!

First attempt: failure.  Running over from the fireplace, fumbling with the lit flare and duct tape, I forgot to, well... open the main valve on the flamethrower.  By the time I realized what was wrong, the flare had burned itself off the flamethrower, and the camera was frozen.  They (and I) are melting off right now.  I'm tempted to try a separate propane igniter, since I think with a detached igniter I can make it in the one minute (or so) I've got before it gives out in the cold.

Roadflares seem to consist of a cardboard tube surrounded by what the MSDS claims is a mixture of mostly strontium nitrate (which burns red) and potassium perchlorate (which burns real good).

I'll have to keep that material in mind for igniters!  It's cheap, available everywhere, and once it's lit it burns slow but hot.  You can ignite the guts of a roadflare over some glowing coals in a fireplace.  It burns even while dropped into a pile of snow!
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  orions_hammer

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 2:51am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

Drat.  I think my main tank/nozzle line is frozen up, because I can't get anything to go through it either way.  I'm beginning to think I should have drained the line more carefully after my summertime tests with water, because all water is frozen right now.  I'm melting the whole setup now, but I might not have time to do another test tonight.

On the other hand, a toasty-warm propane cylinder wrapped in aluminum foil (like a baked potato!) can operate for 10+ minutes in the cold!
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  weaponeer

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Posted: October 27 2008 at 4:33am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

One flamethrower I saw on TV (either M7 or M9) had basically mini road flares about the width of a pencil.  the end of the "gun handle" held several of them and they were ignited when you pulled the trigger.  they burned for a few minutes, then you needed to start another one.  Once burning you only needed to use the rear trigger to open the valve for the fuel.

also see this thread for other ideas

http://www.armamentsales.com/exoticweaponryforum/showthread. php?t=24

or you can buy one here:

http://www.obscure-reference.com/cgi-bin/atr.cgi?noframes;re ad=3680

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  orions_hammer

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Posted: October 28 2008 at 4:26am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

Yup, there were a few drops of water frozen into my main tank/nozzle line.  I've melted and drained these out, and should be ready for an ignition test.  Sadly, not tonight...

I noticed the M9 nozzle is over 0.30" in diameter--mine's like 0.10", which might be why I'm not getting very much range.  On the other hand, my "mini-flamethrower" fuel consumption rate should be way lower. 

I wonder how well a smaller flamethrower might do against wild animals--I'm thinking about a tiny few-pound under barrel flamethrower on an AK.  Folks actually have successfully driven off bears with improvised mini-flamethrowers before, and if nothing else it'd be a fun way to light a bonfire!
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  Inabadhood

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Posted: October 28 2008 at 4:10pm | IP Logged Quote Inabadhood

Thanks for the update!

orions_hammer wrote:
I'm thinking about a tiny few-pound under barrel flamethrower on an AK.
THIS is actually a VERY COOL IDEA!

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  orions_hammer

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Posted: October 29 2008 at 4:30am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

OK, so far, I've basically watched a road flare not get diesel squirted on it, due to operator error, then an iced-shut diesel line:


But I can now keep my propane igniter going in the 0 deg F cold for 15+ minutes, by warming it up well beforehand, and wrapping the tank in aluminum foil:


I've now watched diesel get squirted past a burning propane flame, and entirely fail to ignite.  This is not heartening to watch:


(Trust me, there's an arc of diesel spraying past the blue propane flame there.)





But finally, near the end of the first tank, I finally got what every pyro dreams about--a 15+ foot column of flame!












The fireballs continued for several awe-inspiring seconds, until the tank ran down to just fumes and sputtered to a stop, basically a diesel-air torch now:


Fire is cool.

But I was surprised to find that my stream of diesel did *not* ignite until the very end of the tank, when it's got little blasts of air intermixed with the fuel stream--most of the tank just squirted right past the propane flame onto the snow, which I had to laboriously scrape up (to melt and separate later).  One big difference between my current setup and my previous ignition tests is that I was using a little handheld squirter before, so the stream was a lot thinner and messier--more spatter, which is presumably easier to ignite.  So in a flamethrower, you *don't* want a smooth laminar stream of fuel, because you need at least a few little droplets in order for ignition to happen.

Folks attempting experiments like this should definitely (in addition to staying out of the burn ward) think about some scheme to collect unburned fuel in case their igniter fails.  I was able to collect pretty much everything by scooping it off the powdery snow, but I'd have a big mess if this was still summer!  You'd want to have like a big sheet metal culvert you could drain, or an environmentally friendly fuel like vegetable oil, or just plan on making a big diesel slick on your swimming pool and then burning it off after testing!

I also did a second run, this time with about 30% gasoline mixed into the diesel (even that ratio feels too dangerous for up-close use, while using air as a propellant gas).  This had exactly the same result--no ignition until the very end of the tank, when it started picking up lots of air and atomizing the few remaining splashes of fuel, which then lit off pretty nicely!

I recall somebody talking about a little set screw sticking up into the nozzle to atomize a portion of the outgoing stream--I guess that part's important!

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  NRADon

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Posted: February 15 2009 at 11:49pm | IP Logged Quote NRADon

Cool photos.
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  garyd

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Posted: February 16 2009 at 12:10am | IP Logged Quote garyd

id like a mill surplus where are they sold
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Posted: February 16 2009 at 12:16am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

I wonder if he is out of the burn center yet?

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  orions_hammer

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Posted: February 19 2009 at 11:20pm | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

I wonder if he is out of the burn center yet?

Not quite, but the skin grafts are finally starting to "take", so think I'm about ready to start playing with fire again. 

Actually, I had started working along the lines of the underbarrel flamethrower, built from a 1lb propane tank with brazed-on 3/8" inch pipe fittings:


Here's a mockup of how it's intended to sit under an AK, as a kind of super-bayonet:


Here's the plan for how the thing will operate--the single tank contains about half pressurization gas (probably air, for now) and half fuel. To refill, you empty the tank, pour in fuel, then bubble in pressurization gas.  In operation, the fuel is squirted out the bottom tube when you open the valve.


The plumbing above seems to pressure-test nicely, but I kind of got discouraged trying to build a reliable igniter.  I actually built a little standalone AK fire control group intended to light off a cartridge stuffed full of slow-burning flare filling, but I'm having  a hard time clamping the cartridge onto this contraption securely enough to actually fire the primer to ignite the thing...

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  gundoctor

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Posted: February 19 2009 at 11:34pm | IP Logged Quote gundoctor

What about electronic igntion.  I am thinking of something like a cattle prod or better yet one of the cheap, small stun guns.  They will shoot a spark between two electodes continuously and it has to be hotter (appearance) than a grill ignitor.
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Posted: February 20 2009 at 2:45am | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

I'm definitely thinking about an electric igniter, because primers don't seem capable of starting fires worth beans.

Here's my little primer-firing setup.  I'm now holding a 223 shell casing (a worthless steel Wolf case) between two brazed-on metal lips.  This seems to hold the case down enough for the primer to reliably fire when I pull the AK trigger under the box.


I'm getting an amazing amount of fire out of Remington number 1 1/2 small pistol primers alone--no powder, and of course no bullet!  The only trouble with using just this for a flamethrower igniter is that the flash only lasts for a fraction of a second.


I've tried packing in several different substances into the shell casings, from sawdust (which the primer turns brown, but does not ignite) to iron filings (which seem to do nothing at all) to the filling from a road flare (which seems to instantly burn in air with a red flash).  Nothing gives the sort of slow, smoldering, spark-heavy plume of flame I was hoping for.

Curiously, Federal Small Pistol and Small Magnum Pistol Match primers both squirt out of the case when fired, almost like my chamber pressure is way too high (even with 0 grains of powder, and a 0 grain bullet!).  I'm not sure how much this is just Federal's soft primer cup, Federal's higher ignition pressure, or my huge 1/16" headspace gap on the igniter.

On the plus side, I'm learning a lot about post-apocalypse reloading with this project--I'm currently punching out the old primers with a 1/16" pin punch, seating the new primers with a hammer (wearing gloves, safety goggles, and ear protection), and pouring various substances into the shells to see how it burns!
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Posted: February 26 2009 at 6:26pm | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

gundoc, it turns out the scary-looking spark from a handheld "100,000V" electric stun gun will *not* actually ignite a stream of diesel fuel.  It won't even gently char a sheet of paper either.  I need to try igniting some propane or butane with it, because it indeed looks a lot hotter and faster than the pushbutton igniter on a gas grill.

You'd think starting a fire with a flamethrower would be easier!
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  weaponeer

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Posted: February 26 2009 at 6:30pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

orions_hammer wrote:


You'd think starting a fire with a flamethrower would be easier!

lol, true...

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Posted: February 27 2009 at 8:27pm | IP Logged Quote orions_hammer

The same sparking stun gun will reliably ignite a propane torch, so apparently propane is a lot easier to ignite than either sprayed diesel or paper.  I'm thinking of going back to a propane (or ideally butane) igniter, but just putting a little divot in the nozzle so the igniter has a fine spray of droplets to work with...
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  justicekrieger

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Posted: August 31 2009 at 1:05am | IP Logged Quote justicekrieger

Any updates on this?
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