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Archive for October 8th, 2010

Plastic Screw-top Flashlight Fix

As part of my clear-off-the-workbench effort, this flashlight emerged from the dark depths. It’s a few decades old and wasn’t a good design: the “switch” is a simple contact between the end of the cell casing and the reflector rim, activated by screwing the reflector tighter on the case.

Broken flashlight case

Broken flashlight case

The failure is simple: the case cracks through at the stress raiser formed where the “switch” contacts rest on a sharp inside corner. That stiff little spring maintains pressure on the cells, so the case is always under tension and eventually fractures.

Flashlight clamped in mill

Flashlight clamped in mill

I grabbed the broken pieces in the lathe, turned off the fractured plastic, and wound up with a pair of nicely mating surfaces (and a somewhat shorter flashlight, but it’s still long enough). Apply enough Plastruct solvent glue to soften the new faces, then clamp them together. The big manual mill knows how to apply a strong, steady vertical force to a project like this.

It’s once again hanging by the basement door, where it gets used roughly once every other blue moon (yeah, it’s color-coordinated). This isn’t the first time this flashlight has failed that way, but it’ll be the last: next time, it’s in the trash.

Honest, I swear it!

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