Key Principles to Ebay Success: Quality, Simplicity, Reliability

Good products, a pleasant customer experience and reliable service are foundational to Ebay success.

Common Sense Goes A Long Way

I used to spend a lot of time on Facebook group pages dedicated to selling on Ebay. While I enjoy what I do immensely, this whole thing developed out of necessity and I didn’t have any choice but to adapt quickly and try to find any advantage I could to ensure success.

There were a good number of people in those groups dispensing sage advice or helpful information on Ebay policy updates. Some folks found themselves in predicaments hitherto unknown and were asking sincere questions of more experienced sellers, who were often there to point them in the right direction and make their day a little easier.

But I had to stop.

I learned a thing or two from those pages that may have helped me along the way but mostly, browsing those pages just made me frustrated over time. For every helpful post, there seemed to be two that were rants about a bad customer when in reality the poster was oblivious to their own failings as a seller.

Judging from the sellers in those groups, I began to believe that some were ill-suited to the task with which they’d burdened themselves. Or perhaps, they were just unaware of what’s expected in the buyer-seller relationship. Maybe they never worked in a retail setting or have little or no shopping experience to inform their selling sensibilities.

Fact is, the world we live in today is not the same world I grew up in. We all come from different backgrounds and circumstances but there are some key principles to Ebay success that we can all benefit from employing.

Quality

Your number one consideration as an Ebay Seller should be the quality and condition of the items you are selling and your description thereof. It’s okay to sell items that aren’t top of the line or the most expensive in their category, just so long as your description and photos give an accurate representation of the item you’re selling.

You should never sell a piece of junk and call it anything else. Don’t make claims in your listings that you haven’t researched thoroughly or to overstate the prospective value of the item being offered for sale.

Pay close attention to the photos you take and include in your listings. Always use photos of the actual item being sold. Crop your photos so that prospective buyers don’t waste their precious time clicking and zooming in on all your photos. Clear, properly focused, well-lit photos will give customers a clear expectation of the item being purchased. Include as many photos as possible(different lighting, angles, sides, disassembled) without duplicating yourself.

It helps to have personal knowledge of what you sell but varying degrees of research may be necessary to give an accurate description. I sell Zippo and other vintage cigarette lighters and there are plenty of times that I already possess all the information I need without researching a particular lighter. Other times, I’ve spent hours trying to scare up a single reference to a lighter I’m completely ignorant of.

Case in point, I have this lighter(in the video above) that I know will sell. It’s made of sterling silver, branded Tiffany & Co. and manufactured in Germany by KW Karl Wieden, features that each on their own would make the lighter desirable. All that information was gleaned from the stamps and hallmarks on the base of the lighter, save the manufacturer. It took me about six months to figure that out by sifting through Google search results of similar lighters.

But this brings me to another issue, the lighter doesn’t quite function properly. It seems to hold butane fine without leaking. When struck, it lights immediately. But you never know what the flame’s going to look like or how it’s going to act when you light it. The flame adjustment screw doesn’t work properly and I, thus far, haven’t been able to fix it.

Generally, I sell working lighters. Part of my desire to sell quality items includes the fact that the lighters work. But if I fail to get the flame adjustment fixed on this lighter, it doesn’t mean I can’t sell it. There’s still quality and value, I just need to very clearly describe the functional condition of the lighter when I list it.

Simplicity

I believe offering “free shipping” is the easiest thing a seller can do to simplify the transaction and make it more efficient for the buyer and for themselves. Who wants to go through listings, doing math in their head just to determine the cost to actually purchase and receive an item?

Examples of listing photos with bad lighting.

It’s easy enough, as a seller, just to build the shipping costs into the price of your listing or(as I do) build them into the baseline cost of doing business. The vast majority of the items I sell are small, under four ounces. First Class Package will get them there in 2-4 days for under three bucks.

So, to figure this into the cost of my business, I don’t sell anything for less than fifteen bucks. I also don’t list anything that I wouldn’t pay at least that much for. If you sell less expensive items, maybe you can employ “free shipping” on multiple item purchases to offset some of your incurred shipping cost. If you sell large, heavy or bulky items, this may be more difficult to do. “Free shipping” isn’t actually free, so make sure you account for actual shipping costs when setting your asking price or accepting offers.

And again, this is where your well-cropped photos come in to help you by helping your customers. Don’t make your customer expend any more effort than you must. Don’t make them work harder to buy your item. The more effort you make taking and editing photos will result in more sells, I promise.

Reliability

With more customers viewing from a mobile device, well-cropped photos bring you item closer to potential buyers.

“Same Day” shipping is attractive to many buyers who don’t want to wait longer than necessary to receive their purchased item. Ebay allows you to adjust your daily cutoff time, so you can set it relatively early in the day, allowing time in the afternoon to get your items shipped. “Same Day” shipping does not apply on weekends or federal holidays but I follow the same policy on Saturdays anyway as packages put in the mail on Saturday seem to get moving toward their destination(Sunday, not so much.)

Leave feedback for your buyers as they make payment. This will signal to them that their part of the transaction is complete, you are aware of their purchase and are busy completing your side of the sale and getting their purchase sent to them. I have written further about feedback here.

Answer customer questions in a timely manner. Catching up on these once a day will probably be fine but there are times when an immediate response might reel in the fish on the line. Think about your own behavior as an online customer. I know I’m much more likely to purchase an item when I put it in my cart. If I let it sit there long enough to give it much thought, I usually talk myself out of purchasing the item online.

Maybe the most important thing to remember: your customers are not your enemy. Just like everywhere else in the online world, Ebay has trolls, scammers and thieves but they are not the norm. Every seller gets bit by bad customers so why let that affect the good ones who just want to hand over their hard-earned money for that quality object you have for sale?

Join The Conversation

Ebay Sellers should set clear policies that fit the day-to-day function of your operation while maximizing ease and efficiency of the transaction for your customer. Every policy decision you make does not have to break in the customers favor but you should be able to at least strike a balance that is appealing enough to customers to make your store stand out without adding too much burden on yourself.

I would love to hear your input on what it takes to run a successful Ebay business. You can use the comments section below for that or to ask any questions about selling or buying on Ebay.

The Great Ebay Feedback Debate: Should Ebay Sellers Leave Feedback for Buyers?

Some sellers withhold feedback until they’ve received feedback from their buyer. This is horrible business policy.

This Is Not the Playground

Spend much time on FaceBook pages or message boards where Ebay sellers congregate these days and you’re bound to find a post where someone is complaining about a buyer they had a problem with after the item was shipped and they’ll always say something like this: I sure am glad I didn’t leave them feedback yet!

When I see that, I always think, “Why?”

The only reason I can think of that a seller would be glad to have not left feedback at that point is if the seller intends to use that feedback as a weapon or in a retaliatory fashion. The only reason I can think of for an Ebay seller to worry about the Ebay feedback they left for a buyer is that the seller doesn’t have confidence in the item they sold. This seems like some kind of tit-for-tat, playground tattle-tell sort of tactic.

When a customer complains about an item, it should be a red-flag to Ebay if the seller didn’t leave the buyer feedback upon payment. Can we assume the seller fulfilled everything required of them if they can’t even do something as simple as leaving a short comment thanking the buyer and letting them know their item is on its way?

Sound Business Policy = Pleasant Customer Experience

For an Ebay seller, feedback policy should be a no-brainer. Feedback is the seller’s opportunity to thank the customer. You’re not going to see your customer face to face like you would in a traditional brick and mortar store. They may not read everything you stuff into the package along with the item they bought, including any thank you notes. Your feedback to your buyer really is the best and most efficient way for you to thank them.

They will see what you say publicly in their feedback and what you say and when you say it(or don’t) could be the difference between a dissatisfied customer and a customer for life! I’ll go into more detail below about how feedback should be structured but every detail of your feedback should be relevant to that customer and that particular transaction. I’m not saying you have to mention the item purchased but there shouldn’t be anything in the feedback comment that doesn’t make sense for that item.

I leave the highest possible feedback as soon as the customer pays for the item. How much confidence do you think a seller illicits in a customer when they pay for an item and hear nothing from the seller? That would be like going into a traditional store, making a purchase and not even being thanked on your way out the door.

Man, That’ll Take Forever

Depending on what you’re selling, leaving feedback that is relevant to the buyer and transaction may limit your ability to leave feedback using certain time-saving, automated tools, I don’t know. I don’t use them. I do 99% of all my Ebay activities from my IPad and it works for me.

Hey, whatever works for you but make sure to include a compliment and a thank you. When I say it like that it sounds a little simpler. In fact, you probably could figure out an automated feedback that could be used for at least most of your listings.

If they pay really quick, I thank them for it but I’m going to thank them for paying even if it takes them two days to get around to doing it. I’m going to give them an A+ and maybe a couple exclamation marks because I want them to know I appreciate their business and silence DOES NOT tell them that I appreciate their business.

When my customer buys and pays for a lighter, they don’t have to wonder if I’m aware. They don’t have to worry whether it will be shipped today. They don’t have to fret the possibility the item arrives and is not as described. I look out for my customers from start to finish and that includes leaving feedback so they know their order is being attended to.

Grumpy Old Sellers

There are a group of sellers out there on Ebay that don’t really care about their customers. I shouldn’t say that, it’s not that they don’t really care, it’s that they don’t care at all. I’m not trying to talk bad about people but if you’ve spent time on Ebay, you’ve encountered them.

They have their little niche, selling what they sell and they don’t want to be disturbed by questions from or communications with customers. I can see where this kind of seller could be averse to leaving feedback but I believe they do so at the expense of their bottom line.

For some customers, maybe even most, the feedback you leave as the seller will have no influence on whether the customer returns to purchase from you again. But for some, it will be the deciding factor that leads a customer back to your Ebay store. Isn’t that worth your effort?

My Two Cents

My argument is this:

  • When a buyer pays for an item, the seller should leave feedback as quickly as possible(if you leave feedback as you ship the item and offer same day shipping, it only adds a couple clicks to your effort and you’re certain to catch up every day!)
  • Leaving feedback is the best and most efficient way for a seller to thank their customer and let them know their order is in good hands.
  • Make certain that feedback for buyers does not contain any info or comments that does not relate to the purchased item.
  • Feedback should include a compliment and a thank you. Make sure your customer knows that you appreciate them spending their time and money with you. Some sellers like to draw all kinds of attention with their feedback, drawing out complex designs with symbols and such. That’s fine, nothing wrong with drawing attention. Just remember, quality items and quality service(which includes leaving feedback for your buyers) will result in happy customers.

Please use the comments section below to let me know what you think of this article or how you feel Ebay sellers should use the feedback tool.

 

 

 

 

Champ Jet Stream Lighter Review: Contrast and Compare

The Champ Austria Petrol Jet Stream Lighter provides pipe smoking vintage lighter enthusiasts another alternative to butane lighters.

Beattie Similarities and the Versatility Afforded

The Champ Jet Stream Lighter is a petrol lighter that hit the scene around 1950 and is similar to the Beattie Jet Lighter with a few(mostly aesthetic) differences. Both lighters achieve shooting a two to three inch flame by simply tilting the brass jet tip toward the lit petrol wick.

I have talked in detail about the Beattie Jet Lighter here. You have a petrol/fluid lighter that’s handy to light your cigarette like a Zippo and also, with the tilt of your wrist, reach down and light your bowl like a butane flame.

Plenty of folks are walking around with 2 lighters in their pocket for that specific reason, their Zippo will not light their pipe. At least, not without a heroic effort from someone. The point is you can get by without a pipe lighter but your life would be a lot easier if you could light your pipes with the same lighter you use for cigarettes(while still avoiding plastics, more on that here.)

Birds of a Feather

In many respects, it seems the designers of the Champ Jet Stream felt the need to clone the Beattie Jet. Like they wanted it to resemble the Beattie even if it wasn’t necessary. Examples of this would include the horizontal slots on the wind guard, the lid spring and the stylish “JET” lettering on the bottom of the case.

The Champ differs with its less bulky, square case which makes it much easier to manage with one hand than the Beattie. The lid is taller and more bulky. In the hand, it feels more like a Zippo, easy to spark but a little clunky in the opening.

The two lighters function off the same principles: lit wick heats jet tube which is a vaporization chamber thanks to the fluid soaked wick stuffed into the terminal end of the tube. I was really surprised how quickly I was able to tune this Champ Jet Stream up and have it hissing and shooting flame like it’s supposed to.

There’s a couple Beattie Jets I’ve been fooling around with for months that haven’t spit a flame like this Champ does. And it does seem like these lighters can really burn through some fuel.

Practically speaking, that’s not really an issue because with petrol lighters there is always some degree of fuel loss or waste. So, if you plan on using it to meet people at parties, bring extra fluid. Otherwise, you should be fine.

Mechanically Speaking

As far as functional differences that set the Champ Jet apart, this lighter has a removable flint wheel. That could come in very handy should the sparking mechanism ever fail. Zippo and Beattie both have flint wheels that are riveted in place, complicating their ability to be repaired.

The jet tube is not anchored and appears to be designed to be supported completely by the hole through which it enters the deck of the lighter and the wadding in the tank. And that was fine, with the wadding positioned correctly, the tube stayed in place. This is all helped by a retention plate that holds everything in snugly under the pressure of the flint screw.

The jet tube is straight from the point that it goes under the deck of the lighter allowing easy access to the terminal end of the tube. Beatties have a curved tube that results in blindly stuffing the wick into the tube. Not a huge issue but at least you know you’ll be able to see what you’re working on if it becomes necessary.

Controlled Chaos

I’m not sure how much precision went into the manufacturing of the Champ Jet Stream. When I first held the lighter in my hand, it wasn’t very impressive. It was dirty and dinghy and things seemed to move in ways they shouldn’t and couldn’t but did.

That’s when I began to take note of subtle shifts that affected the overall alignment of the lighter. At times the snuffer would catch on the jet tube. That’s when I realized the jet tube was not anchored and the way the lighter tank had been packed, the jet tube had some movement. So, I unpacked, repositioned the tube and repacked the tank. That was good because now the jet tube didn’t move if it got bumped.

Then at other times, the snuffer began to catch on the flint wheel. That’s when I realized the snuffer was riveted to the lid and had a little play in it, so I’m just going to have to live with it and hope I can remember to keep pressure on that rivet with a finger as I close it.

There are also advantages to some of what seemed, at least at first, like a lack of precision. For example, if the jet tube is anchored and has enough pressure exerted against it, it could break. An unanchored tube would be more likely to give without breaking if movement is possible.

And while it might seem less sturdy, once it’s all packed up all nice and tidy in the case, what you got to worry about other than a pocket full of petroleum distillate and ferrocerium?

Subscribe to Our Email List and Tell Us About Your Favorite Lighter

I want to thank you for reading about the Champ Jet Stream Petrol Lighter and I’d like to draw your attention to two features of dependableflame.com that could help us better help you.

First, subscribe to our email list. You will never receive spammy emails from dependableflame.com. We can, however keep you updated with the latest vintage lighters we have to offer, info on Huntington’s Disease research and awareness, cannabis legalization, vaporizers and whatever else we may get into in these posts.

And last, use the comments section below this article to let us know what you think of the Champ Jet or tell us about your favorite lighter.

If you have questions, email and text are also available any time.

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

 

 

 

 

Beattie Jet Lighter Instructions: How to Choose and Operate

An elementary understanding of selection, function and maintenance of the Beattie Jet Lighter.

What Makes the Beattie Jet Different from Other Lighters?

Beattie Jet Leather Desk Lighter

If you use disposable lighters, first you should be ashamed of yourself(I explain why here.) Second, the butane/valve design of your typical disposable will generally push the flame sufficient to allow it to be sucked down the pipe. But if you use a petrol lighter to light your cigarettes then chances are you have a separate(probably butane) lighter handy to light your pipes.

Is a pipe lighter really necessary? No, but the lack of a pipe lighter is at best a pain in the ass(who wants to stand on their head just to light a pipe) and at worst could leave you out in the cold. Beattie Jet Lighter instructions are readily available on the worldwide web but can be a little difficult to understand if you don’t have the lighter in your hand to put those instructions to practice. I will try to illustrate thoroughly with appropriate photos.

The novelty of the Beattie Jet is that held upright it functions just
like every other petrol lighter you’ve ever used to light a cigarette. But tilted slightly with maybe the hint of a roll of the wrist and that same flame will reach out like E.T.’s finger, setting your bowl ablaze.

Basic Set-up and Maintenance

As you can see from the literature pictured to the right, the Beattie Jet Lighter is similar in design to other petrol lighters, just with one strange and unfamiliar looking part added on. The jet tube is the key to what sets this lighter apart.

In order to create the pressure that enables the Beattie to extend its blowtorch like flame, the lower end of the wick must be placed inside the lower end of the brass jet tube. This is key to remember when it comes time to replace the wick in your lighter. Before you stuff the wadding back into the lighter, make certain that the lower end of the wick is snugly fit into the lower end of the jet tube inside the body of the lighter.

Also, use caution when cleaning the brass jet tip. These lighters came new with a probe designed specifically to unclog the hole in the brass tip. Many of these lighters listed on EBay will not come with a jet probe.

From my own experience, I wouldn’t be too quick to try to clean that jet hole out by sticking a metal object into it. I currently own five of these and the two that work best, you can’t even see the hole with a naked eye. Bottom line, if you are certain it is clogged and you don’t have an original probe, you’ll have to make do with whatever you can get. A welder tip cleaning tool is probably your best option but I would be extremely careful and don’t stick it in there any more than you have to. Of my 5, the only one that has a ruined jet tip is the one I stuck a welding tip cleaner into. To be fair, the lighter never functioned correctly even before I tried to clean the tip. So, just my advice, gentle with the jet tips.

Where Do I Get One and Are They Expensive?

There are Beattie Jet Lighters commonly available on EBay and other online auction sites. It is not uncommon to find them at flea markets, pawn shops, thrift stores, garage sales, etc.

Currently, prices on EBay for a decent, complete Beattie Jet Lighter that looks like it has a prayer to function as intended start in the $30-40 range.

Complete with box, paperwork, bag and probe, I would expect to pay a minimum of $80 but considerably more the nicer the example.

Key Elements in Determining Value.

As you browse online auctions or search through bins at your local flea market, remember the following tips which are specific to buying a vintage Beattie Jet Lighter:

  • Snuffer/Lid retention spring: When browsing internet listings, it is easy to overlook this subtle part but it pays an integral part in the lighter functioning properly. If the lid just flops around, you could have a flame being extinguished when you need it lit. Worse, you could encounter difficulty extinguishing a flame you need put out if the lid does not snap closed as it was designed to do. Two small arms extend the spring toward the rear, underside of the lid. A broken lid spring is a relatively common problem with these old lighters.
  • Brass Jet Tip: If the hole in the jet tip is enlarged, the jet portion of
    Damaged Jet Tip

    the lighter will not function properly and it could get a little hairy trying to use the regular stand-up flame as the naphtha fumes waft listlessly from the heated, damaged jet tube.

  • Applied Patent Numbers: The earliest Beattie Jet Lighters produced were stamped with one patent number, with subsequent productions stamped with a combination(Beattie Patent Info) of numbers.
  • A good general rule with any online listing is to see photos taken from all angles. I would not purchase a Beattie Jet Lighter without seeing a photo of the back spine.

What Is Your Favorite Lighter Worth to You?

In the end, the monetary value assigned to anything is limited to the amount an actual buyer is willing to pay for that item. Embedded deep within both my business philosophy and general outlook on life is the belief that while this life may be fleeting, the way we choose to live it matters. The things we do and say and build and dream can endure.

The Beattie Jet Lighter is an underappreciated relic that is relatively scarce compared to its vintage lighter peers. Just for perspective, a raw EBay search for “Beattie Lighter” returned 29 results across all categories. The last Beattie Jet Lighter was produced in 1961, so I limited the “Zippo Lighter” search to the lighter category in pre-owned condition and that returned over 10,000 results. There’s a shit ton of Zippo lighters out there. There’s only a handful of Beattie Jet Lighters.

Please leave comments below, email, text or call any time.

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

Vintage Petrol Lighters for sale on Ebay: Dissection of a Deal

A “Storage Wars” style breakdown of my latest Ebay purchase.

Vintage Petrol Lighters for Sale

There are many variables to consider when purchasing vintage lighters that you intend to put back in working order. Fuel type should be at the very top of that list. I have written  elsewhere about the pros and cons of butane fueled lighters but the sole focus of this article is going to be petrol/wick type lighters.

I’m going to break this lot down into three groups:

  1. The lighters that caused me to purchase the lot.
  2. What I expect from the other lighters in the lot.
  3. The “bonus” items.

If you’re buying vintage lighters to use, you can get a much better deal buying lots rather than individual lighters. I know this because I do it every day. I’m not going to give away any of my secrets because there aren’t any. You either know what you’re looking at or you don’t.

I can’t make you memorize the Zippo date charts. I can’t give you the patience to sit through listing after listing until finally your quarry materializes before your eyes. I can’t pound precious metal prices into your skull, besides I don’t want to. There’s no one thing but there’s a lot of margin for error here.

Easy Money or BustOriginal 1932 Replica Zippo

Right off the bat, I noticed the  Champ Austria lighter. I have been looking to add more of these to my personal collection of combustion tools so I was willing to assign that lighter more value than if I was going to sell it. These old Champ lighters have a really cool wind cage design and they are pretty affordable. I’ll bet you, when it’s all said and done, I’ll still have the Champ and won’t have paid a penny for it.

I paid $40 for this entire lot of lighters but there is one lighter that could bring double that all by itself. Third from the top left in the main picture is an Original 1932 Replica Zippo. This was made much later than 1932 by Zippo to commemorate their original lighter but these are still pretty scarce and sought after.

Now, if everything is cool with both these lighters, then all the rest are cake. If the Zippo pans out but the Champ has a wrecked insert, I will be sorely disappointed but my sadness would be the only consequence. If the Zippo is fake or mangled on one side(the only clear photos were of the front and bottom of the case) but the Champ is a winner, I’ll be glad I have the Champ but I will really need some of the other 7 lighters to come through for me.

The Staples

This is generally where you find a lot of value. Many attractive lots will not have a big dollar lighter but you can find Zippos and other “Windproof” petrol wick lighters practically being given away. The other 7 lighters are as follows:

  • Plain 2012 Zippo
  • Red Zippo w/ busted hinge
  • 2005 Buffalo Nickel Zippo missing the top half of arrow applique
  • Imco Triplex of dubious condition
  • Ronson lighter marked Art Metal Works on bottom
  • Storm King floral pattern
  • Unknown floral pattern(Park?)

This is kind of a mixed bag. The Ronson could be a hidden gem, as could the Imco Triplex. Either of those two lighters, in good functioning order, could easily bring $25.

The floral pattern and Zippo lighters would be in the $10-15 range Imco Triplexif they work. The 2 damaged Zippos will probably be scavenged for parts, although Zippo will always repair your lighter with the only cost to you being the price of postage.

The package could arrive and it’s all a pile of junk. It happens. There is no way that every one of these lighters pans out. Not in my expectations anyway.

Most likely, at least half the lighters that look promising will either be junk or not reliable enough to resell. But there were still a few other items that might bail me out.

Eh, We’ll See

The lot also included a Zippo penny, Marlboro matches, a Park floral cigarette case and what looks like a stand-up napkin holder. The “cent never spent” to repair a Zippo lighter could be another $5-10.

The cigarette case, if it’s not damaged, would be at least another $10-15.

The napkin holder or whatever it is, I don’t have any idea. The only reference to it is where the listing title simply says “Copper.” It’s strange the seller would include it in this lot and actually list it in the auction title while giving no pertinent info about the Zippos(maybe because the whole thing is a pile of crap?)

The Marlboro matches will probably be used to light my pipe. They are not worth much, maybe $5. It’s possible that these 4 bonus items that I didn’t really consider when buying the lot, could recoup the $39.26 I spent. We will see.

I’m Here to Help

When I get the items from this lot listed, you will see them here. Make sure to come back and check it out so you can see how I ended up doing on this lot, good or bad.

I would also love to hear your comments or questions about anything smoke, fire or Huntington’s Disease related. Please take note of the social media share buttons beneath the article. If you find this site interesting and helpful, I would love for you to share it with your friends.

If there’s a lighter you would like me to keep my eyes open for, let me know. If I’m not writing for this site, I’m probably browsing one of the multitude of online auctions and I see a shit ton of lighters. Way more than I could ever afford to buy or have time to work on and resell. I’d love the opportunity though, to help you and be more efficient at the same time.

If you have questions about building your own website or affiliate marketing click here.

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

Vintage Lighter Repair and Service: Wick/Flint Basics

A basic understanding of flint/wick lighters.

This article was prompted by an EBay customer who wanted a refund on the 1930s era brass/glass lighter they purchased because they didn’t believe it was in “working order” when they unwrapped it and it would not light. They hadn’t considered you had to put fuel in it.)

Flip-Top Petrol “Zippo” Type Lighters

I’m writing this article from the standpoint of service on and repair of your basic flip-top Zippo/Ronsonol fuel(naphtha) type lighters. I don’t have any complaint with Zippo, I love them. I am however, currently infatuated with Champ Austria, mainly because of the flip-up wind cage design. The same elementary mechanics are employed in most vintage lighter repair and service projects. If you can manage to work a screwdriver and possibly a drill, then you can perform these basic tasks all by your lonesome.

They all work off the same basic ideas. There are countless iterations from unfathomable numbers of manufacturers. Occasionally, a particular company tweaks an idea, adds an element or otherwise improves and builds upon the designs that came before it.

Pressurized butane fueled lighters can provide challenges that make it hard for me to recommend doing much work on them, especially if you’ve yet to master the simpler naphtha lighters. While piezo electric ignitors are common, butane lighters are sometimes sparked by the same flint systems as naphtha lighters. In that case, you’re not really putting yourself in any danger changing a flint.

Wicks

Most naphtha lighters have an enclosed case or removable insert that holds the fluid. Any naphtha lighter that I have seen, this same apparatus is fit with a hole through which the wick is inserted. The method used to fuel the wick sometimes varies but you must have a wick in the hole or your fuel will run out.

Another common element in naphtha lighters(the Scripto Vu-Lighter would be one exception) is the rayon balls or cotton filling that absorb and hold the fuel. I don’t think it makes any difference which you use, I’ve used cut up t-shirt material several times and it works just fine.

The key is to work the wick around the fuel chamber in a zig-zag fashion through the stuffing so you have proper dispersion from side to side and on all levels. It is perfectly fine, as the wick shortens, to pull it through a little at a time rather than completely reposition everything in the fuel compartment. That can hold off unless or until your lighter refuses to light or stay lit properly.

Flint

To say that corroded flint tubes are a problem with vintage lighters would be an understatement. It’s difficult to imagine how many collectible or otherwise desirable lighters have been thrown away over the yrs simply because the flint was corroded and obstructing the tube.

In most cases, a drill of some sort will be required to clear the obstruction. Flint is relatively soft, so if you have plenty of time the job can be done with a hand tool but you are going to need a cutting bit. That would take a long time though.

To my right, where the whiskey used to be, there’s a 4.8 volt cordless electric drill and 1/4 inch hex shank drill bit set. If you don’t already have these, you can find them used for a few bucks on EBay or your local thrift store or new at Harbour Freight Tools, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, etc. for less than $25.

Just find the bit that fits comfortably in the tube without bouncing around in there and start drilling with light pressure being applied toward the corroded flint. You should feel the flint give as you drill through it and will be able to judge your progress by the shaft of the bit.

Many of the Ronson lighters have curved flint tubes that make this operation a little more tricky. But the good new is many of those same lighters are fueled by butane so you may have already disqualified yourself from working on them anyway.

Fuel

When fueling a naphtha lighter, use caution not to over fill it. As long as you don’t have any open flames around, over filling should not be that big a deal. Never attempt to ignite a lighter that you have over filled until you know for sure the outside surface has dried and vapors have dispersed.

You could potentially burn your house down by making one careless mistake, so be careful. I have enough pyromaniac in me to make me slightly dangerous. I purposely set fires all day every day. Granted, they tend to be confined to metal boxes no bigger than a couple square inches but a careless mistake could be catastrophic. Before I move on to the next phase of our discussion, I want to say a couple things related to pressurized butane fueled lighters, especially old ones.

Before attempting to strike a vintage butane lighter, test it to see if
it will hold fuel. If you attempt to fuel it and butane squirts all over the place, do not make any further attempt at sparking that lighter! Also before testing any butane lighter, take note of your surroundings. Go outside if you can or test it over the kitchen sink filled with water. Bottom Line: don’t put yourself in a position where you have a hand full of fire and no where to safely throw or extinguish it.

A Question to Ponder: Are You Useful?

There are a ton of old cigarette lighters out there just lying around in basements, attics, junk drawers, etc. that can still be very useful. Maybe not in their current state but with just a little attention from you, they could be given new life. When was the last time you were complimented on the plastic Bic someone bummed off of you? Pull out a Beattie Jet Lighter next time someone needs help lighting a pipe and I promise you, your lighter will be the topic of conversation. Or a Golden Wheel Mini lift-arm lighter, Scripto Vu…well, there are far too many to list here but I would love to discuss your favorite old lighters or hear any tales of nearly burning your house down in the comments below this post.

You can also email or text anytime,

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

Selling Vintage Lighters on Ebay: The Coolest I’ve Ever Seen

My first Beattie Jet Lighter will not be my last.

Back in the Day

Beattie Jet Lighter

I remember when I was a kid my dad telling me stories about the things he did during his time in the U.S. Army. These stories always had elements of difficulty: drinking ones own piss out of a boot, cross-country skiing , field stripping your service weapon blindfolded.

Now, he didn’t do all those things himself but if he didn’t do it he saw someone do it and while these things are all challenging, he told the stories with so much fondness and detail that I knew these experiences had enriched his life. This taught me the value of a learned skill like being so familiar with your weapon that you could break it down and clean it blindfolded. These are lessons I use every day selling vintage lighters on EBay.

I have repaired and worked on so many Zippo and other flip-top wick petrol type lighters that I could do it blindfolded. I’m glad I know how they work because it has come in very handy to me but it’s kind of boring to work on them all the time. There’s just no challenge to it. So, it’s always exciting to have my first experience with a new lighter. Especially when it’ll throw a 3-inch flame and hiss like a blow torch off simple naphtha fuel.

A Bird of a Different Feather

The Beattie Jet Lighter is a little strange looking and I have to admit I used it for Beattie Jet Lighterseveral days before I even figured out exactly what it was supposed to do, let alone how to do it. On the surface it appears very similar to many other petrol lighters, just with a brass snorkel offset to the side, behind the wick.

When the flint wheel is struck, sparks ignite the wick just like a Zippo. The flint
tube was plugged with a corroded flint when I got this particular lighter. I’m pretty good at removing them from other lighters but this one was really difficult to get cleared out for some reason.

Anyway, once the flint was installed I struck it, it lit and I used it for about a week like that and it worked fine but I still didn’t know the purpose of the brass rod and I couldn’t figure out why it had jet in its name. So I Googled it and found an article that said tilt it so I did and this is what happened.

WTF is the Snorkel For?

I shared a video similar to the photo above with my Facebook friends and one of
them said he thought I needed to get out more often. I think he’s just jealous because he’s a fireman and that’s more fire than he sees in the average yr.Beattie Jet Lighter

Whatever, I think it’s cool as hell. I had failed to consider that there could be a torch lighter that wasn’t fueled by pressurized butane. Butane lighters have their whole own set of quirks that can make them impossible to repair so just to be able to squirt some Ronsonol in the bottom and not have to pump butane in gives this “jet” lighter added value in my mind.

The brass snorkel feeds down to the bottom and curls back up inside the removable insert. I don’t know the science behind this but it appears that when the brass rod/snorkel reaches a certain temperature, it allows a tiny hole to open and emit the heated butane that fuels the jet torch feature. It’s like having two lighters in one.

Upright, it works like the other windproof type naphtha lighters you use to light a cigarette but if you tilt it slightly and let that rod fuel the already lit wick, then you can suck it right down into your pipe from about 3 inches away.

Decisions, Decisions

I’m in no big hurry to sell this one. I would like to get a couple more so I can experiment a little just to see how Beattie and other similar “jet” lighters operate. Beattie Jet LighterThere is a list of a few other manufacturers of similar designs from around the same time, including the Champ Jet Stream. I’ll do some more research on those to determine which lighters to be looking for.

This Beattie appears to have been manufactured toward the end of the company’s run which started in the mid 1940s and ended in 1961. This is indicated by the two patent numbers stamped on the bottom of the lighter case. I also read that there are 3 patent numbers attributed to 3 different men that are associated with the Beattie Jet Lighter and that it was possible that the men were credited incorrectly at times for the patent being used at a given time. Very confusing. It was a lot more fun playing around with this lighter than it was looking into its history.

Please Share Your Knowledge!Beattie Jet Lighter

I tried to take pictures that would demonstrate the “jet” effect of this lighter. I don’t know if it was the flash or what but it seemed that none of the pictures did the flame justice.

My experience with this Beattie Jet has only begun but I would love to hear comments from readers who know more about them or other “jet” lighters of the era.

I’d welcome any other comments as well. Maybe you are a mechanic or engineer who can explain to me exactly how these lighters function(or where I am misinformed) or you’re a smoker who would like to find one for yourself.

I’ll be sitting here, probably trying to capture a better image of that flame when it is stretching out there like a tongue who’s only desire is to lick the rim of my pipe.

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

BTW, my dad did not drink the piss out of his own boot. At least that’s what he told me.

New Torch Lighter Review: Ronson, Ultimate Survival Technologies, Premium Spark

ReviewActual 5 Lighters Being Reviewed

In the last year, I have purchased no less than five new butane torch lighters. This article will review the pros and cons of these five lighters along with the price I paid and the place I bought each lighter. The links provided will take you to that product’s page on Amazon.com. By you clicking these links and purchasing, we will earn a commission. Your price will be the same whether you click our link or navigate to Amazon some other way.

 

 

Product: Ronson Jetlite Butane Torch Lighter

Ronson Jetlite Butane Torch Lighter
Ronson Jetlite Butane Torch Lighter

Place of Purchase: Amazon

Fuel Type: Butane

Warranty: 1 Year

Cons: Doesn’t do anything special(except light your cigarette when you need it to)

Pros: Good flame, easy to refuel and adjust, solid construction

My Rating: 10 out of 10

The Ronson Jetlite Butane Torch Lighter is a no-frills, what you see is what you get performer. The controls are simple and straight forward. The case is rugged and all visible parts are metal. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns but the basic design of the lighter itself has a Gothic flare. The Ronson Jetlite came pre-fueled, so that made it really convenient. The solid body cast construction lends its heft, it feels like a tool in your hand. The hinge spring is tight and holds open and closed admirably. I believe this is the lighter to buy if you’re looking for the best value on the best quality in a New lighter

Product: Ultimate Survival Technologies Klipp Lighter

Ultimate Survival Technologies Klipp Lighter
Ultimate Survival Technologies Klipp Lighter

 

 

Place of Purchase: Target.com

Fuel Type: Butane

Warranty: 2 Year

Cons: Plastic construction, difficult to adjust

Pros: Reliable ignition, versatile

My Rating: 9 out of 10
The UST Klipp Lighter with Biner is an excellent choice for outdoorsmen of all kinds. The included biner allows attachment to a belt loop, MOLLE or just about anywhere else. The lighter itself is really reliable even if it is a little difficult to adjust up or down. The only thing that keeps this lighter from getting a perfect score is its plastic construction and the effort that is required to adjust the flame. I quit trying to adjust it because I was afraid I was going to break it while adjusting it. And while the biner clip is nice, it’s not all that sturdy. If you have this thing hanging off you somewhere and it were to get snagged, that plastic biner could break without you knowing it and leave you in desperate need of fire. Not that big a deal for most smokers, I personally don’t leave the house without two lighters. But what if I still carry two but also clip this one somewhere and just sort of forget about it? Now, you see, I got a backup to my backup.

Product: Luxury Butane Torch Lighter

Luxury Butane Torch Lighter
Luxury Butane Torch Lighter

 

Place of Purchase: Walmart

Fuel Type: Butane

Warranty: N/A

Cons: Quit working after second refueling, lock switch

Pros: Came fueled

My Rating: 5.5 out of 10
This lighter did alright for a couple fuelings, then just completely crapped out on me. The little electro spark mechanism still works and when you pull the trigger it sounds like gas is flowing out but no matter how I adjust it, it will not light. It’s too bad because it really seemed like a solid lighter at first. I will say this, this lighter has a feature that I’m not sure that I want a lighter to have. This Luxury Butane Torch Lighter has a lock feature that allows you to ignite the flame and then lock the valve open. I’ve had more than one fire in my hands and “locking” the fuel valve open on a lighter just seems like a bad idea to me.

Product: Ultimate Survival Technologies Wayfinder Lighter

UST Wayfinder Lighter
UST Wayfinder Lighter

 

Place of Purchase: Amazon

Fuel Type: Butane

Warranty: 2 Year

Cons: Plastic construction, very difficult to adjust

Pros: Dependable, sturdy, locks shut

My Rating: 9.5 out of 10
I like this lighter a lot. And really the only thing I count against this one is the near impossible ability to adjust the jet. Yes, it’s made of plastic on the outside and you all know how I feel about plastic but this lighter feels really sturdy. It has a metal clip that holds the lid securely closed. And when you unclip it, you still have to push a little spring-loaded button for the lid to pop open and expose the igniter button. It also has a compass and lanyard loop, giving it added versatility. If you’re a deer hunter, this is a great lighter for you! Perfect color, dependable light for your cigarette(if that’s what you call it) and there’s a compass in case you get lost. I know a lot of hunters and I have been a hunter all my life. One thing I think we all have in common is our life may have never been dependent on us having a compass on hand but there’s been a handful of times that a compass would’ve come in pretty handy.

Product: Spark 4-in-1 Multi-tool Lighter

Premium Spark 4-in-1 Lighter
Premium Spark 4-in-1 Lighter

 

Place of Purchase: Amazon

Fuel Type: Butane

Warranty: N/A

Cons: Cheap tools, wouldn’t refuel

Pros: Came fueled, worked great until it ran out of fuel

My Rating: 5 out of 10

The Premium Spark 4-in-1 is a nice idea and properly executed, could have worked. A sort of latter-day Swiss Army knife of lighters. And it feels solid in the hand but the first time you try to use one of those tools that’s attached, you’ll likely find it inferior in quality to plastic cutlery. It’s just cheaply made and while the lighter initially worked well, when it ran out of fuel I never could get it to refuel.

Summary

I can recommend the Ronson Jetlite Butane Torch Lighter without question or regard to taste. It is simply the best value on the highest quality available on the market today. You will never go wrong carrying a Ronson in your pocket.

Both UST Ultimate Survival Technologies lighters are well worth the money. They are quality-made, I’m just not a fan of plastic when it can be avoided.

The other two, the Luxury Torch and Premium Spark, I would not purchase again. They were cheaply made and while they would be better than nothing, they would not be any more reliable.

Please leave any comments or questions at the bottom of the page or email or text anytime,

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

What To Do With Old Cigarette Lighters: Can They Be Repaired?

With just a little attention, many of these old relics would be as useful as ever.

The Wheat from the Chaff

I recently purchased several large lots of old cigarette lighters. There are always certain attributes of a lot that pique my interest. If the lighters were purchased online then ordinarily I don’t really know much about them until I get them in my hands.

For instance, I may purchase a lot containing 40 lighters that I have to judge off

Champ Austria
Champ Austria Lighter

one photo. Still, there are things that catch your eye:

  • Leather wrapped
  • Nice, shiny looking Zippo in an old box
  • Sterling or gold markings
  • 3 barrel hinge

Champ Austria Leather Wrapped

So, I had seen this lighter in the photo and thought it looked pretty cool but it wasn’t until I received the package in the mail that I knew exactly what I was dealing with.

From that photo, same view as the one above, my guess would have been a flip top wick lighter but it could just as easily have been butane.

My heart sank though when I picked it up and the lid just fell freely open. Flip top lighters generally employ some form of tension to enable them to flip open and hold shut.

Some times that is achieved with a spring or cam and other times a method is used which is more resistance than tension. Anyway, there are numerous variations and combinations but this Champ lighter had the more crude resistance type tension.

I was glad to see that because it is the simplest of these systems to fix.

But I didn’t want to go and ruin the value of a lighter that a collector would pay a lot of money for. So, I did a quick EBay search and determined that there apparently isn’t much premium put on these old Champ lighters($5-$20) which makes it a perfect lighter for me to fool around with and put in my pocket for a while.

The Resistance “Spring”

With this type system, there is usually a straight, sometimes heat treated piece of metal attached in some fashion to the back of the insert. Now that I think of it, that straight piece of metal is a form of a spring.

Problem with this lighter was that piece of metal was broken off. I needed some kind of metal that was rigid enough to provide the tension but pliable enough that it could be cut, filed and shaped without anything other than snips and a hand file.

I settled on using a relatively thick blade from an old feeler gauge. Used a small pair of pliers to curl the sides of the blade and then the snips and file to round off the corners and the burrs caused by cutting. Then I just slowly, checking the spacing pretty often, worked it with some medium sandpaper until it fit just right.

I left the top squared off for now to make sure it was visible in the photo but when I cut it down I just have to make sure not to cut it too short. It’s a lot easier to snip a little bit more off than it is to shape a whole other blade.

 

Other Features of the Champ Austria Lighter

On the surface, it looks like so many of the other “Windproof” lighters made in the past century. But despite having to fix the tension problem, I think this may be a lighter I hold onto for a while.

It has a really cool leather wrapped grip that seems to be more sturdy than similar others I’ve seen.

The chimney cage design is particularly clever. It swivels on the same rivet that holds the flint wheel. Champ AustriaThat allows access to the wick that is impossible with most other systems. It also appears more than strong enough to use as a handle to gain leverage when removing the insert from the case.

It also has a cool little lightweight metal cover panel that is held in place by the flint screw. It is recessed and there’s a slot in the middle which makes refueling pretty easy if you’re careful.

And thanks to the spring that I fashioned, it holds closed better than any lighter that I have ever owned.

Are You a Collector? Smoker? Camper? Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse?

Whatever it is that causes you to need fire, doesn’t really matter. I need it to light my medicine at any time of the day or night. Occasionally, I need it to light a lantern. Every now and then, I use it to light a water heater or furnace.

I intend to fill these posts with as much helpful and useful information as I can Champ Austriaabout old cigarette lighters. I will also be posting about some of the ways we employ fire and perhaps some alternatives or rediscovered uses, gadgets, etc.

If you collect vintage cigarette lighters, I would love to hear your comments. My main purpose is putting quality old lighters back into service. I have discussed that in another post. But there is a part of me that understands the desire to collect things, I just like to collect things that not only work but I am able to put to use.

I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in performing similar repairs or having similar repairs done for you. Maybe you have an heirloom lighter that you don’t want to take the chance of losing in the mail. Comment below, email, text or call. I would love to help you. I spent 25 yrs working for the U.S. Postal Service.

Now, this is what I do. Buy, sell, sometimes fix, fool around with old cigarette lighters. I am up late every night(that’s when the magic happens) so hit me up. I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

And please remember that we are IN SEARCH OF old lighters of all kinds: new old stock, lots, need service, whatever. We accept consignments on arrangement.

Joseph

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678

 

Collectible Vintage Lighters: Allen-Haddock Co. Sterling Silver 3 Barrel

A Lighter Mechanic’s Conundrum

A Needle in a Haystack

One of the coolest things about buying and selling collectible vintage lighters is the sheer number of different lighters that pass through my hands. I love seeing them but what I really want is to use them.

I do after all sell vintage lighters that are in working order so I fuel up and spark a good many of them. And while I am an advocate for using old lighters I also need to

Allen-Haddock Co. Lighter
Allen-Haddock Co. Sterling Lighter

pay the bills.

That means the coolest, most attractive, collectible lighters do not usually get to make fire before they are sent on to their new home. If working on it could damage the value of a lighter that I intend to sell then I generally don’t.

But every now and then I encounter a lighter that seems to be an apparition, like the last time it sparked written history was wiped clean of its existence.

Yet, there it is sitting in the palm of my hand like it belongs there and my thumb itching to give it a strike.

ALLEN-HADDOCK CO., 2121 PLASTER BRIDGE RD., ATLANTA, GA STERLING

I purchased the lighter for $10 and that is all I knew about it. So I started doing a little research on ALLEN-HADDOCK lighters and I found a few listings but most of them were old and none of them were sterling. Long story short, I exhausted my usual sources of information.

I’m telling you, that lighter was begging me for a drink. I knew it just wanted to catch fire but I couldn’t stop it. And to be honest I felt a huge relief when I pulled out the insert and found it to be missing its Allen-Haddock Co.guts: no wick, flint, cotton filling, cover flap or flint screw.

Aha! I’m going to have to work on this lighter anyway so, whether its collectible or not is kind of irrelevant and this might be my one and only chance to own and carry a sterling silver lighter.

Looks Familiar

As a frame of reference, consider the Zippo Slim Windproof Lighter. This Allen-Haddock lighter is about a quarter inch shorter than the Slim and perhaps a shade thinner.

It has a 3 barrel hinge similar to what Zippo had in the late 1940s with the middle bar being wider than the outside bars. It feels very sturdy and closes and holds nicely.

I hear a lot of people talk about the Zippo “ping.” I don’t know if that is a true test of an authentic Zippo. It seems very likely to me that dirt, grime and all sorts gunk could probably affect the sound a lighter makes when opened.

My point though, is this particular ALLEN-HADDOCK lighter makes a sound that does not echo quite Allen-Haddock Co.like a Zippo. Nevertheless, it functions flawlessly.

I robbed the innards from a Slim and the flint screw from an old Japanese brass lighter and cut the spring down to an appropriate length. Filled it up with fuel, spun the wheel and what do you know? This is a pretty nifty little lighter.

It is engraved E.H.I. on the front and is clearly marked STERLING on the bottom.

Repairing Vintage Lighters to Use

That’s about all I know so far about Allen-Haddock lighters that were apparently manufactured in Atlanta, GA. I hope to run across more of these lighters soon. There are a ton of other old lighters out there that are still capable of making fire or perhaps would be with just minor repairs.

If you have a favorite lighter that doesn’t work anymore or would like to repair one as a gift for a loved one, leave a comment at the bottom of the page or send an email or text. I check them often.

If you would like to perform the repairs yourself, I will answer any questions, provide you with any resources that I have access to or maybe you’re just stuck and need to bounce some ideas off someone. I’m all ears, I’m here to help and I would love to see you or your loved one lighting up with a lighter that might have thought it had been forgotten.

If you’d like a lighter repaired but don’t want to do it yourself then I am your man. Just shoot me a message and we’ll see what you have, come to an agreement(assuming the lighter can be repaired) and go from there.

I would also like to know if you have lighters that you’d like to sell or would be interested in consigning to me to sell for you.

This Sterling Lighter Is Mine, for now…

I’d really appreciate readers sharing any info or thoughts you have about this Allen-Haddock lighter or any other vintage smoking aids.

I would guess that at some point I will sell this lighter. With the info I have right now, I would be taking a stab in the dark regarding a value(the silver alone is worth more than I paid for it) so Allen-Haddock Co.I’m not sure where I would price it to sell on EBay.

But if I do list it I will include a link on this page and it will include a Make Offer option.

So until then, please share any info you might have and I’ll make sure and keep this lighter working.

bossman@dependableflame.com

(405)693-5678