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Mag-Lite Rocks

Posted by joeabbott on September 25, 2010

Maglite 007 I’m not sure why but a lot of guys I know, including me, like flashlights. Yup, a simple flashlight. Give me solid construction, a strong beam, a bit of heft and I’ll love it.

Enter my Mag-Lite.

Mag-Lite is a brand of flashlight that’s nearly ubiquitous and known for the long, smooth, machined aluminum body. The standard models holds D cell batteries and have a bit of weight to them. Of course, Mag-Lite has branched out and have mini-lights, monster lights, and everything in between … but their bread and butter, I’d say, is the standard 4-D cell model.

I have one and it recently broke. This is my story of getting it back into working order.

I was replacing a light bulb outside our house recently (after dark, of course) and using my Mag-Lite for illumination. Now, it was a bit of a chore as the flashlight doesn’t have a handle or strap, but tucked under one arm it was doing the trick. And then it started to fade and gave up.

Maglite 012 I ran in, got some new batteries, and popped them in. Nothing.

Maglite 015 After fixing the light, I brought the flashlight to my work bench, pulled it apart, and used a handy multi-meter to check out what was working and what wasn’t. Batteries registered, the bulb was good, and the rest of the flashlight seemed solid. There aren’t a lot of moving parts (that are easy to get to) on this model so I checked what I could. After a shrug and some noggin scratching, I jumped onto the Internet and Bing-ed my way to a potential problem: the switch.

From the Mag-Lite site I found instructions on replacing the switch and determined this was what must have been the problem.

I found a service contact link and, in a curt e-mail, contacted them about getting a replacement switch sent my way.

Happily, Caroline Holguin from their Warranty Department has fine manners, is backed by a good company, and quickly directed the conversation down the path of “let’s get that part out to you … now, what’s the model number on that flashlight?”. Delighted, I sent on the model number (not sure why I wouldn’t have thought ahead on that part) and she assured me a replacement switch was on the way.

And it, expeditiously, was.

I sent my initial mail to Mag-Lite on 9/13 (Monday), Caroline responded on 9/14, and I got her the model number on 9/17 (Friday). Looks like I don’t always check my Hotmail account! Anyhow, the next Monday (9/20) the switch was on it’s way and by 9/23 I had it in hand. Today, 9/25, I installed it.

Maglite 027 The instructions are simple but, as a compact and elegant design, there are a bunch of parts (note the picture above). The instructions that came along with the switch listed 14 steps for replacement!

While they’re all straightforward, I was stumped by one step … which was Step 8: Replacing the switch.

I inserted the replacement switch “tail end” first and spent the next 5 minutes trying to line up the button you depress to turn on the light with the hole. I pushed, I turned, and finally took apart another Mag-Lite I had handy before I realized my mistake!

Easily remedied, I popped the switch out, spun it around, and re-inserted it to great success.

Once the switch was seated I replaced the bulb and head, installed the batteries, screwed on the tail cap, and frowned when I hit the switch and nothing happened.

So, I removed the tail cap and batteries, pulled apart my second Mag-Lite, and popped the working model’s batteries and tail cap on. I hit the switch, and marveled at the dazzling light. So, I then swapped in the original light’s tail cap, hit the switch again, and enjoyed seeing the light.

And, then I really saw the light: I’d used old\depleted batteries!

From my “I Could Have Sworn” list, I can find the entry: I could have sworn I used new batteries! Obviously not.

So, I chucked the batteries I was trying to use, installed new ones (even had to break a seal on the package), and, voila, everything worked fine.

And, yes, I had to know … so I pulled it apart, installed the original switch, and, sure enough, the flashlight worked just fine when I reassembled it. So the switch was never really a problem after all.

I shame-facedly contacted my new friend Caroline from Mag-Lite and simply reported that my light was working. I didn’t include the details but left it at that with a generous thank you for her assistance. I’ll squirrel the switch away for the future … Mag-Lite flashlights are good enough I have no doubt it’ll be working for a very long time and now I have a replacement switch “just in case”.

In the spirit of a retrospective, I can only assume that the batteries had enough oomph to move a tiny needle in my multi-meter but not enough to power the flashlight. Or, perhaps, only one battery was bad. Or maybe I dreamed the whole “I tested those” part … but I think not.

Regardless, get yourself a Mag-Lite (or several, as I have) and know that your night viewing exploits will be supported by a fine company. And, if you have to contact Caroline in the Warranty Department, let her know I say “hi” and that my Mag-Lite is still going strong!

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