Thursday, September 23, 2010

IMCO Lighters

As I write this I see items all around me, all over my desk. As usual, its knives, books on different historic disasters, Foreign Enemies by Matt Bracken, glasses, pens, two pocket sketchbooks, flashlights and more knives. I’m sure it happens to you too. I tend to “collect” a number of objects, though my wife has a somewhat different, less polite choice of words for it.
Why do I write about these things? Because gear is important, specially what you carry with you at all times, and a source of fire is part of he sacred EDC triad fire-light-tool.
I’ve mentioned IMCO lighters a couple times and they are one of the most versatile ones in my collection.
I like my Zippos a lot an have been carrying one in particular for years. Lately, its staying home and an IMCO Triplex Super is finding its way to my pocket.
Why? Because they are extremely rugged and fuel lasts twice as much than in Zippos. (35 days versus 18 days, lit for 3 seconds every day with Zippo fuel)
You can also remove the fuel tank and use it as a candle or to start a fire.
My favorite one is the Triplex, the metal wind shield moved up and down, and doing so produced a larger or smaller flame. 
IMCOs are cool in their own way. They dont look ordinary, most people know Zippos but havent seen much IMCOs. IMCOs are made in Austria and the Triplex Super model was first produced in 1936.
Left to Right: Imco triplex Super, Imco Junior (old model) Imco Junior, Imco Streamline, older Flintop, Made in England.
IMCO Super Triplex and the old Flintop, doing thier thing.

Some advice

Before writing this I decided to clean my lighters up a little. I dropped a couple drops of oil in the mechanism and found out it wouldn’t spark afterwards. After a while I realized oil had found its way to the wheel and flint. I had messed up a perfectly working lighter trying to keep them in good shape. It works ok after washing it with dish detergent and water but the lesson remains. My advice with IMCOs is just leave them as they are. They will last entire lifetimes as is.

A couple tips…

1)       You often have more space in the fuel tank to add some more cotton. Fill it up better. You’ll get to keep more fuel stored in it.
2)       Using cotton means that you can also start a fire even if the lighter is bone dry. Just place some cotton inside where the wick is and open and close a few times, the sparks will ignite the cotton. This means you can start a fire in an emergency, at least three or four times if you use the cotton with discretion.
3)       Keep an extra flint in the fuel compartment where the cotton is. You usually use it up and be needing it when you least expect it. 



Greg in CA said...

Bought an IMCO Triplex a week ago, after seeing it here, & it's the best engineered lighter I've ever seen.

Some good features are the fuel can detaches for use as candle, adjustable windshield & double sealed wick/cotton to stop leaks.

Also like the light & tough stamped steel construction, textured exterior for grip & spring-loaded wheel gives extra sparks.

No bugs left in this design after a few decades of use.

Greg in CA said...

Would like to leave an IMCO in my BOB/hiking kit, but wonder if the fuel leaks over a few months or years? Time will tell.

Need to replace the cheap plastic Bic lighters I had in there. After 4 years, the spark wheel on one Bic broke, & the other Bic just refused to light.

Cheap lighters seemed fine at the time. What could go wrong? Now I know.

Greg in CA said...


Graphite & teflon lubes are dry.

For lighter wheels & bike chains.

Bill in NC said...

If you don't want to worry about fuel leaking out, or water leaking in, get a 'peanut' lighter:


It has an O-ring to keep water out and to prevent fuel from leaking out.

Greg in CA said...

Have the peanut lighter, another nice piece of engineering.

Greg in CA said...

The old clerks in a tobacco shop told me that flints oxidize after a few years & don't work.

That could be what happened to the Bic's I left in my hiking kit.

Something to think about for preparedness.

Reinhard said...

Greetings from North Bohemia, Czech Republic. I've found an old (today cca 40years old) heavy worn IMCO lighter in a paper-box after my father. I used this IMCO Streamline 6800 two or three years and then I "lost" it. 3 weeks ago I've found it again in a table-drawer. I cleaned the soot away, replaced the old dirty wick with a new one from Zippo (Zippo wicks are much longer than IMCO original wicks) I pushed into the fuel chamber new clean inner filling and: the IMCO does its work still reliably. Great lighter!

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

There's a little slot for an extra flint under the sliding arm on the flint mechanism. Google up a picture, it's worth 1,000 words in this situation.