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Posted By: Bill Hock on: 08/04/2009 16:48:25 EDT
Subject: RE: Torch Wicks

Message Detail:
Hello fellow SC,
Since you were on the subject of wicks and foot torches I will share with you what our unit found was a good wick material. Roof-mops, the soft-thick wide-stranded mops that roofers use to spread hot tar. They are cheap and available at most big-box builders store.

We cut the each strand off the mop head then fold the strand(s) a few times for a width that will fit snugly in the torch then wrap them with a few twists of some bare solid-copper wire (around 14-18 gau). We can make one in a matter of minutes and they can be changed out even quicker. They burn fine and last long. Don't know how authentic they may be so we don't display new wicks separately outside the torches during living history exhibits but for us they work so well and are so easy and quick to make/change/alter we love em.

Also I would like to add about the wick-length and foot torches.
Often, we are placing the foot torch in areas of taller grass/brush. We take two tent stakes and put them through those two little "curly-cues" on the "feet" at the bottom of the foot torch. This allows the torch to stand nearly vertical (60-80 deg.). It allows better visibility, keeps us from starting a grass-fire and incinerating the audience. It also allows more burn-time before that lower third of the torch begins to get hot and we have to cool it with aqua or extinguish it for safety. Of course we always re-fill in the horizontal position!
We find that the torch burns fine in this (stationary)position with out any apparent significant dimming from fuel loss for 30+ minutes.This is usually long enough for most of our night-signal demonstrations.
We use the 6" or so wicks in both the foot and the flyer, seems no difference in performance or burn time. Perhaps the heating of the torch-tube during use is forcing fuel/vapors towards the wick during the burn, at least partially.Seems something is helping it to get fuel (we usually use Tiki-lamp oil for safety) in this position. We do make sure that the wicks (foot&flyers) are saturated before going vertical by briefly setting them horizontally until we feel fuel has reached top of wick.
Bill Hock, U.S.Signal Corps, Illinois

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