Fusing consumer fireworks for electric firing

Discussion in 'Fusing Guides, Video And Tutorials' started by K9Girl, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. K9Girl

    K9Girl Tinsel Town Sales Reduction Ambassador Supports UKFR

    Having had a very successful BFN this year in that I was lucky to get 100% ignition and pretty much instant too, I thought I'd do a picture by picture tutorial to share my method.

    NB - I am no pro, have no special training, only my own experiences. I don't have hundreds of cakes to fuse, so can put in the time so my once a year show can go well, that said it only takes me a couple of minutes per cake. I'm not saying this is the best way and not dissing anyone else's methods.

    Disclaimer - Always do this in the place you intend to fire them, never do it then transport by vehicle. Do it in a garage/shed or somewhere that (if) it all goes wrong, you won't burn your house down. Never have your head over the firework whilst doing this, have it at a level where you look straight at it so you can't accidentally lean over it. I wear safety glasses just in case too.

    Anyway, Here goes!

    • When I get my cakes I give them a visual inspection to check nothing obvious is wrong.
    • I then use brown packing tape to cover the bottom, this is just extra piece of mind incase some water sneaks in through the waterproofing (pic 1)
    • Locate the visco and feel your way through the paper to where it enters the first tube, then carefully using a craft knife, cut the outer paper/card away (pic 2 & 3)
    • Where the visco enters the first tube, using an AWL, ideally non sparking (pic 4) go in just above the fuse, making the hole bigger, go steady, you should hear/feel crunching, which means you are in the right place. Just do enough to make the hole big enough to accept a few black match strands. Leave the safety visco in place.
    • Cut a piece of QM, I use electricians scissors (pic 5 & 6)
    • Picture 7 shows a small Ikea pencil that I have sanded down to the size needed to leave the QM tube nice and round to accept the Ematch, it works honestly!
    • You can now see the expanded hole (pic 8)
    • Take the piece of QM and push the black match strands out, about 1.5 cm (pic 9)
    • Then cut one side of the empty tube away approx 1 cm (pic 10)
    • Push the black match back inside the tube, the bottom is now exposed (pic 11)
    • Shorten the visco a bit and cut it at 45 degrees to expose more of the black powder core (pics 12 & 13)
    • Slip the visco inside the QM sleeve, if you gently squeeze the QM tube it opens up, allowing the visco to go in easier. Make sure the black match strands are on the inside so when you reach the bottom they are on the correct side. Then simply insert the black match strands into the hole you made as far as you can, again go gently (pics 14-16)
    • Then lay the QM up against the tube (pic 17)
    • Use a piece of tape to secure it, try and be gentle with the tape as not to flatten the QM tube to much, this allows faster movement of the flame/gas's when lit (pic 18)
    • Using your 'pencil' or similar, open up the hole in the QM, when you remove the pencil, be gentle and it will stay open so you can put the ematch in place with its shroud still on, it is tight but be careful and it will fit (pics 19-21)
    • Use a small piece of tape to secure the ematch inside the QM (pic 22)
    • Then using the technique mentioned above, secure the QM/ematch/visco to the cake, trying not to squash the tube to much (pics 23-25)
    • I then tape a small loop of wire to the cake to provide strain relief, sorry but I forgot to take a picture of that...........................

      So, there you have it, my method, hope it helps :)

  2. K9Girl

    K9Girl Tinsel Town Sales Reduction Ambassador Supports UKFR

    Suppose I should mention that if the cake has a visco leader into QM, just remove the outer paper in the same way to find where the QM goes into the first tube, it'll probably be quite a long piece of QM. Just shorten it by carefully cutting it to 3-4 inches and do the same at the final bits above, all the same safety precautions still apply :)
  3. Very nice work :)

    Personally I feel that having poked a hole and felt the crunching with the awl, it's not adding significantly to the risk to simply push the e-match gently into the hole.

    PS - you say of the awl "ideally non sparking" - your pic appears to be of a steel awl. Do you feel that the received wisdom that the awl should be brass is an old wives' tale?
    chumpybro likes this.
  4. K9Girl

    K9Girl Tinsel Town Sales Reduction Ambassador Supports UKFR

    • Thanks.
    • Thats probably my next step.
    • You are correct, the AWL is steel, I can't for love nor money get a brass AWL over here, even went as far as trying to order a Pyro Poke from the US, then the poor bloke who sells them died suddenly (RIP Chap)
    • No, I dont believe its an old wives tale :)
  5. 182


    Thanks for showing us your tips :p
    Really great guide. Extremely helpful. I will definitely give this a try.
  6. Massively helpfull I'll be going down this route next year I reckon ! Thanks for the tutorial.
  7. PyroBoris

    PyroBoris Pro Firer/Crew

    Really good write up @K9Girl, that's pretty much what I did this year, only not as neatly or elegantly! When I put the ematch into the QM tube, I also stuck a bit of extra visco in there as a back up in case the ematch was a dud, or the firing unit failed for whatever reason.
    K9Girl likes this.
  8. Cullann

    Cullann Pro Firer/Crew

    That's an impressively comprehensive tutorial @K9Girl !
    I'm with @Alan though, if you've already poked a hole in the tube then why not put the igniter straight in?
    deans6571 likes this.
  9. K9Girl

    K9Girl Tinsel Town Sales Reduction Ambassador Supports UKFR

    I think it was a work in progress really. I didn't want to do the final e-matching until closer the day in the garage at the firing site, I did the initial bit, i.e. the bottom taping and sleeve a few weeks before at home, just went from there I suppose................... Would you insert just the e-match head with the shroud pulled back or try for the whole thing?
  10. Cullann

    Cullann Pro Firer/Crew

    Personally I would risk it, but then my middle name is 'Danger'. Very carefully, of course, and following all your safety precautions (my first name is 'Avoid'!).
  11. Very good and helpful.

    Thanks for spending the time to share it and take the pictures which really help.
    K9Girl likes this.
  12. If I may just give a bit of advice here & please don't take this the wrong way, if cutting QM I would recommend using ceramic scissors as metal scissors can cause friction when cutting QM, SAFETY 1st:)
    Fawke Handles and K9Girl like this.
  13. Cullann

    Cullann Pro Firer/Crew

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the reason for using non-ferrous tools - such as ceramic scissors and brass pokes - less about eliminating friction (unfortunately I don't think that is possible) but about eliminating any chance of a spark.
    Since the (theoretical) chance of friction ignition is always there it's good practise when cutting QM from a roll to uncurl an arms length more than you need. That way, should the worst happen and the whole roll goes up at once, it will at least be an arms length away.
    K9Girl likes this.
  14. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if any one remembers what happened in Italy this year when a Pro firer cut some QM with normal scissors, the shell attached to the QM went up killing the Firer.
    That's why we use ceramic scissors & knifes & yes as Cullann says uncoil the roll of QM & cut at arms length.
    QM requires the upmost respect.
  15. Good tip and, personally, I think the most important thing you can do is wear safety goggles/specs.

    John, I think Cullan was suggesting that friction can be generated from ceramic scissors as well as metal scissors. With that Italy example, surely the most important thing is to cut your QM BEFORE you attach any part of a length to any pyro?
  16. Yes SydB, I agree with what Cullan says that friction can be generated by ceramic scissors, but just wont cause a spark to ignite,
    And the number of people I have seen with shells on there Knees & the cutting the QM, FFS WHY???, if for some strange reason you have to shorten the QM on a shell & I don't know why you should, then place the shell in the Mortar Tube, so if it does go off, it will go up in the air & not blow you to bits.
    They were some pictures on here the other week with a display company fires doing what I have mentioned cutting QM with shells on there knees:(
    SydB likes this.
  17. I thought the preferred tool for cutting QM was anvil pattern shears (as used by florists -a single blade closes against a flat surface) rather than scissors?
  18. Some may do Alan, I'm just saying that our company users ceramic, at the end of the day I suppose its up to the individual are company policy.
  19. Fired a few Weco shot tubes and a small cake last night by feeding an unshrouded e-match into the first tube where the visco enters. With the shot tubes I was able to remove the visco once I'd enlarged the hole; with the cake the visco was fixed pretty firmly so rather than forcing it out I enlarged the hole and fed the e-match in right next to the visco. All went well and fired with instant ignition. Happy days.
    K9Girl likes this.
  20. This is an amazing post. I can't get hold of a grass awl. Do you think I would be okay to make the hole by using a brass wood screw? I am guessing as long as it's brass and has a sharp point, enough to make the hole I should be fine right?