How do you fix a flashlight?

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How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by moab » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:12 pm

School me on fixing flashlights? Or share links? I've got a Fenix E21 that I want to use as a hand me down for my son. But it's not working. Bulb? I can't seem to get to it.The bottom and top of the battery cavity opens. But not the place where the bulb would be replaced.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by NT2C » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:26 pm

On these (and others of this style) the problem isn't the "bulb" (it's an LED), it's the tailcap. Specifically, it's the metal screw/ring that holds the tailcap module in the tailcap body. I just had to fix a Lumintop AA with this problem.

Image

See the silver ring with the slots? Yours should have something very similar. That threads into the tailcap to do two things, hold the switch module in place and provide an electrical connection between the module and the flashlight body. It can loosen over time, mostly from the friction of the edge of the flashlight tube rubbing it when the tailcap is taken off or put on when changing batteries. Tighten it by threading it down in until it's snug and the light should now work fine. I tighten mine with a small flat blade screwdriver in one of the slots and dragging it around.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by moab » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:10 am

NT2C wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:26 pm
On these (and others of this style) the problem isn't the "bulb" (it's an LED), it's the tailcap. Specifically, it's the metal screw/ring that holds the tailcap module in the tailcap body. I just had to fix a Lumintop AA with this problem.

Image

See the silver ring with the slots? Yours should have something very similar. That threads into the tailcap to do two things, hold the switch module in place and provide an electrical connection between the module and the flashlight body. It can loosen over time, mostly from the friction of the edge of the flashlight tube rubbing it when the tailcap is taken off or put on when changing batteries. Tighten it by threading it down in until it's snug and the light should now work fine. I tighten mine with a small flat blade screwdriver in one of the slots and dragging it around.
Mine goes counter clockwise. So I wasn't able to tell if it was loose. But I tightened it (after going the wrong way and loosening it) and it didn't fix it. Must be the bulb then right? How do I get to the bulb? Must be a manual for this flashlight. I'll google it.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by NT2C » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:58 am

Make sure you have a fresh battery inserted the correct way (take one from a working flashlight - I've gotten dead ones straight out of a new package) and short the base of the battery to the case of the flashlight. If the light does not go on it's likely the LED module, which is probably not repairable.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by moab » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:30 am

NT2C wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:58 am
Make sure you have a fresh battery inserted the correct way (take one from a working flashlight - I've gotten dead ones straight out of a new package) and short the base of the battery to the case of the flashlight. If the light does not go on it's likely the LED module, which is probably not repairable.
No kidding? I wonder if I sent it back to Fenix. If they could fix or replace it?

EDIT - Just contacted Fenix warranty. We'll see.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by emclean » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:45 am

it would be replaceable, but not practically repairable

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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:24 am

That's really the only issue I have with LED lights. In the old incandescent days, if a flashlight stopped working, it was; battery, bulb or contacts. Everything was eminently repairable, often with nothing more than a pencil eraser. Say, anyone remember pencils?

When LED lights fail (which they do way more often than I feel like they should), they fail spectacularly. Battery and tail cap spring are about the only things you can fix on your own. Warranty work is an option in normal times, but not so much for kind of scenarios most of us prep for.

Which isn't to say that I'll ever go back to incandescent bulb technology; the superior output and battery life of LED lights is way too compelling. It's smart to have back ups though. Two is one, one is none, yadda yadda yadda. :words:

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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by MacWa77ace » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:34 am

Do/did you use lithium batteries in that light? If not did you have a battery 'explode' in it?

I doubt its the bulb. But most use LED inserts. Some make it really difficult to get to the insert, but they had to put them in when they assembled it so it should be possible. While familiar with the name, I have no actual experience with Fenix.

Inserts look like this.

Image

After confirming battery function, I would try to switch out the tailcap and then the head assemblies, one by one from my back up lights, to see if i can make the light work.

for example: If you switch tailcaps, and the flashlight that didn't work then works and the one that did work now doesn't you know its the tailcap, replace.

If switching head assemblies fixes the issue then work on replacing the LED insert in the head assembly.

A lot of flashlight parts are interchangeable even by brand, as long as the diameters and threads are the same. Once I put a tailcap from one brand light that had a nice momentary on switch but crappy light on a light from another brand that had a great light but crappy 'smart' tail cap; and made the perfect Frankenlight.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by MacWa77ace » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:55 am

This is how some modern lights break down into their parts. [Sorry for the bad lighting on the impromptu pic of one my EDC's] Some lights don't though, I have a Bushnell and a Stanley that I can't get the heads off by hand, i haven't tried tools yet because they're not broke yet. LOL.

Tailcap
O rings
tube
head assembly containing
  • beizel
    LED insert
    Crystal or polymer LED cover
battery
Tactical ring [optional]

The tailcap, and LED insert are the only things I can think of that can break causing the light to not come on, they are sealed watertight/shock resistant and so not practically repairable but may be replaceable depending on your MFR. And bad contacts can do it but nothing is broke, just dirty usually.
Image


For this Solarforce light I actually have a couple LED inserts I can swap if I want to change the lumen output or for backup. I have this button momentary on tailcap shown in the pic, and a tape switch tailcap that i can change out if I want to mount it on my AR. And I can change the head from the flat one shown in the pic to a CQC version with spikes if I want. And there is a tailcap available with a shroud around the button, but since this is for use with my CCW, and i use a Mac modified Rogers technique, I prefer that button exposed like that. Parts for this brand light can be ordered as needed which I like, but IRRC the warranty is not lifetime or anything, not sure about customer service either because haven't had to call yet. But the parts are so inexpensive its an acceptable trade off.

ETA: the bad lighting is me using my Bushnell EDC flashlight because no flash available [at work] on tablet at this moment, LOL.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by moab » Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:49 am

Not 8 hours later I got a nice email from Dylan at Fenix. With a repair video, and an address and RMA number to send it in for repairs to Arkansas. The lifetime warranty covers everything but parts after a certain time. It's a pretty old flashlight. I bought it at a garage sale at REI like 10 yrs ago. And it was used then. It didn't work. Because it was a missing an o ring that was on the outside of the flashlight. Once I put the o ring back in the flashlight it's worked fine for 10 yrs.

IT comes apart at the tail cap and light housing on the other end. But the light housing does not appear to be able to open. So I'm going to leave it to the professionals at Fenix.

I have two of them but I can only find one. The other one I bought at an outdoor store. I like them because they are simple 2x AA flashlights. With a long run time on low. Great for bugging out. I already own two newer Fenix flashlights. That I've rotated into my gear. But I want to hand at least one of these down to my wife or son. For their bags.

I've never used lithium batteries in them. Just rechargeable nimh's.

This is the Fenix E21 that's broken.

Image

This is the PD35 (2014 edition) that I have replaced them with. I got the older edition NOS for a song and a dance. So I bought two of them. Really nice lights. But a step up in rechargeable batteries. It runs two CR123 batteries or a single Li-Ion 18650. I'm running the 18650's.

Image
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by NT2C » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:04 pm

moab wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:30 am
NT2C wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:58 am
Make sure you have a fresh battery inserted the correct way (take one from a working flashlight - I've gotten dead ones straight out of a new package) and short the base of the battery to the case of the flashlight. If the light does not go on it's likely the LED module, which is probably not repairable.
No kidding? I wonder if I sent it back to Fenix. If they could fix or replace it?

EDIT - Just contacted Fenix warranty. We'll see.
Yeah, when it gets down to replacing or repairing the LED assembly it becomes a question of finding parts to use for the repair. I'm the type that, once I've done everything I can as far as making sure batteries are fresh and charged, that parts that are supposed to be loose are loose and parts that are supposed to be tight are tight, and that contact is being made where it needs to be, I either replace the whole thing or send it for warranty repair/replacement (if applicable).

Sure, you can sometimes find the right LED unit to replace it with on eBay, or a replacement tailswitch, but your light has to be a popular light from a major manufacturer that sold many thousands of them to have a chance of finding the part. Granted, this model Fenix meets all those criteria but with the Fenix warranty just let them fix it.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by moab » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:52 pm

Is it ok to leave my 18650's in the charger? I'm thinking about just keeping them in there so they're always charged. Or will that kill the batteries? I used to do this with my NIMH's and didn't seem to bother them. But I'm not experienced with Lion.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by NT2C » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:03 pm

moab wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:52 pm
Is it ok to leave my 18650's in the charger? I'm thinking about just keeping them in there so they're always charged. Or will that kill the batteries? I used to do this with my NIMH's and didn't seem to bother them. But I'm not experienced with Lion.
Both the reputable battery manufacturers and the charger manufacturers say to remove them, though they also point out there are protection circuits built into both the chargers and the majority of the batteries. Given the results that can happen with an improperly or overcharged Li-Ion battery, my advice is not to leave them on the charger. They have a pretty low self-discharge rate anyway so they should store for over a year and retain 80% charge.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by moab » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:27 pm

NT2C wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:03 pm
moab wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:52 pm
Is it ok to leave my 18650's in the charger? I'm thinking about just keeping them in there so they're always charged. Or will that kill the batteries? I used to do this with my NIMH's and didn't seem to bother them. But I'm not experienced with Lion.
Both the reputable battery manufacturers and the charger manufacturers say to remove them, though they also point out there are protection circuits built into both the chargers and the majority of the batteries. Given the results that can happen with an improperly or overcharged Li-Ion battery, my advice is not to leave them on the charger. They have a pretty low self-discharge rate anyway so they should store for over a year and retain 80% charge.
Thanks bud.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by MacWa77ace » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:58 am

NT2C wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:04 pm
moab wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:30 am
NT2C wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:58 am
Make sure you have a fresh battery inserted the correct way (take one from a working flashlight - I've gotten dead ones straight out of a new package) and short the base of the battery to the case of the flashlight. If the light does not go on it's likely the LED module, which is probably not repairable.
No kidding? I wonder if I sent it back to Fenix. If they could fix or replace it?

EDIT - Just contacted Fenix warranty. We'll see.
Yeah, when it gets down to replacing or repairing the LED assembly it becomes a question of finding parts to use for the repair. I'm the type that, once I've done everything I can as far as making sure batteries are fresh and charged, that parts that are supposed to be loose are loose and parts that are supposed to be tight are tight, and that contact is being made where it needs to be, I either replace the whole thing or send it for warranty repair/replacement (if applicable).

Sure, you can sometimes find the right LED unit to replace it with on eBay, or a replacement tailswitch, but your light has to be a popular light from a major manufacturer that sold many thousands of them to have a chance of finding the part. Granted, this model Fenix meets all those criteria but with the Fenix warranty just let them fix it.
Before you buy a light go to the mfr website and see what accessories are available. [tailcaps, beizel, lamps, etc] Also try to find out if the LED lamp is changeable.

Cree makes LEDs inserts for many many models. By reverse investigation you can tell which lights can have their lamps changed by seeing what Cree has available for what light models.

For example: https://www.amazon.com/BESTSUN-1200Lume ... ay&sr=8-26
amazon page wrote: COMPATABILITY:
NOTE: To use with all Surefire, remove outer (large) spring from base of lamp
Confirmed fit for Surefire 6P, 6Z, 9P, 9Z, Z2, Z3
Confirmed fit for Surefire G2, G3 with occasional modification required(remove the larger outer spring)
Reported to fit: Surefire C2, M2 Series
Modification for use with Surefire M951 & 952
Confirmed fit: Solarforce L2, L2M, L2P, L2T
Confirmed fit: Lumaforce LF1, LF2 Series
Confirmed fit: Pelican M6 Series
Confirmed fit: Ultrafire and similar 501B, 502B, 503B, 504B
Reported to fit: G&P T6, T9, X6, M3, R12
Reported to fit: Uniquefire L2
Reported to fit: Ultrafire G60, G90, G120
Reported to fit: SpiderFire L2 Series, G&P T-6, T-9, R12, , Hugsby S3, M2, G2

Package Includes: 2 x New CREE XM-L2 LED 1-Mode LED Drop-in Module


To me Any light over $50 should have parts available and a great warranty, if its expensive you fix it, if its cheap its disposable.
moab wrote:I've never used lithium batteries in them. Just rechargeable nimh's.
Its better to use lithium in lights you store longterm with the batteries in them or expensive lights, cameras or anything. because of the 'leaking/exploding' factor. Nimh are better than Alkaline and are said to "hardly ever leak." But I don't want to risk expensive electronics on 'hardly ever'.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by MacWa77ace » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:09 am

NT2C wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:26 pm
On these (and others of this style) the problem isn't the "bulb" (it's an LED), it's the tailcap. Specifically, it's the metal screw/ring that holds the tailcap module in the tailcap body. I just had to fix a Lumintop AA with this problem.

Image

See the silver ring with the slots? Yours should have something very similar. That threads into the tailcap to do two things, hold the switch module in place and provide an electrical connection between the module and the flashlight body. It can loosen over time, mostly from the friction of the edge of the flashlight tube rubbing it when the tailcap is taken off or put on when changing batteries. Tighten it by threading it down in until it's snug and the light should now work fine. I tighten mine with a small flat blade screwdriver in one of the slots and dragging it around.
I use a fine needle nose pliers or foreceps, and insert the tips in both slots at the same time. Until i got a dedicated watch repair tool, that's how i'd take the back off a screw on watch back also. My Supertool 300's plier tips fit exactly in the slots in most of my watch backs. But now I have the tool from Harbor Frieght no less. LOL.
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Re: How do you fix a flashlight?

Post by NT2C » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:00 am

Oh, I do actually have tools to do it correctly but I'd have to dig them out.
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