To all you fellas out there making your own homemade pistons, if you take your time with it covering each step in the process then you should have fewer or no mistakes and a better piston. Pistons have to be air-tight. No air leaks. I have had tiny leaks due to my own faulty sealing that while I had air compression it was not enough to light tinder. So I had to redo it. The good news is that loss of air compression only happen in two places, at the bottom of the tube if it has an end cap or plug and at the O-ring or gasket (pay close attention to the O-ring/gasket groove). Not hard to track the air leak down either with water or by the sound of escaping air. Once material is removed it cannot be put back so remove a little at time checking for tight fit constantly.
Most woods that are not dense enough have to be sealed with epoxy, super glue, or some air-tight glue. The porousness of most woods allows air to escape. Keep that in mind when using wood dowels for plungers and plugs.
If I can build these things with tube and rod blanks and with common tools and epoxy, so can anybody. You will run into problems at some point, just reason it out following the given instructions and keep at it. These common tube and rod materials are not expensive so starting over if need be is not a catastrophe. Good luck to you and show us your finished homemade piston photos.
I do want to talk about fire piston tinder. Here are a few links on it.http://www.primalconnection.com/3c3FTin ... iston.htmlhttp://minifirepistons.com/tinder.htm
Take a look at all of the links on this link page.http://wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/fi ... index.html
The reality of a lot of the natural unprocessed tinders for pistons is that they are so difficult to light that they can be impractical. I can fire a piston over and over and never get a lit coal. Char (a processed material) either cloth or spongy punk wood is what I use the most out of necessity. I live in an area where there is often high humidity that takes its toll on finding natural tinder that is dry "enough" to use. I continue to test natural tinders in the piston though and so should you to find what works best in your area.
From my own natural tinder experience, I have tried many. Unprocessed elderberry pith lit in the piston but burned up too fast to use for a smoldering coal. Elderberry is also toxic so I would avoid using it. I have used yucca pith, dryer lint, cotton, dog fennel pith, palmetto fiber, cattail fluff, bushy bluestem fluff, thistle fluff, willow fluff, and even dried rabbit dung (droppings) among many others. None worked. The plant fluff or down burned up and did not smolder just like the elderberry pith even when packed. I thought the idea of using dried rabbit dung (essentially tightly packed dried plant material) would have been a good one since dung smolders when lit but I wonder if I could get it dry "enough." Yes its disgusting but dung works as a good fire extender smoldering just like a tightly packed cattail head.
One other that is not listed that has possibilities is dead and dry leaf petioles, that is the stem of a leaf. It needs to be spongy like punkwood. Some of the natural tinders that are listed above as ones that are suppose to work can have moisture in them when collected (so they don't work right away) but may be usable after drying them out.
Clean and dry plunger tinder cups making sure no lube or water is in the cup before loading tinder. Make sure your fingers are dry when handling tinder. Do not get any lube or water on tinder. Damp or lubricated tinder will not light.
- Robert M.
"I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." - Paul, c. A.D. 60 (Philippians 4:13)