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How to disassemble a maglite

2007 March 22
by Peter Crouch

Red Mag-Lite

“Dismantle your Maglite for, fun, curiosity or servicing”

Looking to take apart your Maglite? Cant figure out how to remove the switch? As I found out by destructively dismantling a Maglite, it’s very easy.

I’m been a avid fan of Maglites since I was given my first mini Maglite when I joined the scouts. To this day I’m impressed by the elegant simplicity of the engineering, the ruggedness and quite frankly the look. They’re practically bulletproof.

While they usually survive being dropped from a couple of meters, or run over, the biggest failing point is a common one amongst torches of flash lights world wide; poor immersion seals, leaking batteries and the associated corrosion. To completely remove the corrosion you need to strip down the Maglite for a thorough clean, but in order to clean all contacts you need to access the switch assembly, which as I found out when I wanted to take apart a Maglite, it’s easier said than done.

Please note; the following directions will only work on the newer models of Maglite. Newer model Maglites have a the letter “D” preceding their serial number.

New model Maglite Serial Number

Newer model Maglites have the letter D preceding their serial number

Older models with out the preceding D on their serial number have a threaded retaining ring that needs to be unscrewed from the top of the torch with a pair of needle nose pliers or specialised tools, there is also a milled grove for the switch assembly to be tightened down upon, this grove prevents the the swtich assembly from exiting from the rear of the torch so in complete contrast from newer models, must be pushed out the top from the bottom of the torch. The grub screw still needs to be loosened on the older models for the switch assembly to be removed.

The newer model Maglites have replaced this threaded retaining ring with a split ring that is impossible compress enough in order to remove while the switch assembly is still in place, and as you see below, means you must remove the switch assembly from the rear of the torch by pushing it down the barrel from the top.

Thanks to Jack, Rowan and Will for alerting me to this older model of Maglite and also answering my questions about the differences. Also, thanks to all the people who continue to send me their thanks for this article. I’m glad it has helped so many people.

The new models of maglites have split ring retainers

First off, remove the rubber switch cover. Insert the allen key down the hole and loosen the grub/set screw until you encounter resistance or the switch assembly can be moved up and down inside the torch freely.
Remove switch cover Insert allen key and un screw
Push the switch down (in other words turn the torch on) then push it down the barrel with a long screwdriver or similar. You should have something like this pop out the end.
Push switch down the barrel Switch assembly
This is the little grub screw you’re loosening.
Gromet screw

So there you have it, one disassembled maglite. Much better than the old brute method and a lot less trouble if you want to put it back together again.

Make sure you’re ready for the assembly to come out the bottom, I’ve been told it can come out in pieces, this hasn’t been my experience unless the nut the the grub screw, screw into, has separated from the earth strap, but be prepared for it none the less.

Post script

In my original article, I questioned why anyone would need to dismantle their maglite, and I got a surprising amount of email telling me their reasons why they had take apart their maglite which has promted

I’ve always admired them, but like most with the tinkering gene, I’d always wondered how to take one apart but never got past how to remove the switch assembly. Every once in a while, when changing the batteries, give the switch body a a light-hearted prod to see if it would wanted to come out.

How I eventually found out about the Maglites secret, when I was building a dive light and thought a Maglite was the perfect light head for a canister style torch. So this led me back to a question that had puzzled me since I received a 4D cell light as a Christmas present, how do you remove the switch? Not being able to find any information online, I resorted to what everyone else seemed to do, who had used maglites as dive torches had done before me, bashed the assembly out with a stick. dismatle a maglite.

My presonal reasonI wanted to strip down a 2 cell maglite for a dive light I was building and I couldn’t find any glamorous (i.e. easy) way of removing the switch assembly. I ended up doing what every one else did, just stuck a large piece of dowel and bashed the assembly out the tail end of the light. Upon examining what came out (almost in one piece), the answer was so simple, stick a 1/8th AF allen/hex key down that little hole in the switch, back off the grub screw located at the bottom of said hole until you encounter resistance, push switch assembly out the rear of the torch, and you have one maglite switch assembly. This little grub screw also acts as the lights grounding screw.

So that inspired this little article, showing you how to remove maglite switch assemblies. I must say, these things are superbly engineered.

53 Responses leave one →
  1. Rick permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Thanks for doing the hard work by sacrificing the MagLite to the light Gods. My four D cell battery MagLite is the best light around and not a shabby defensive weapon, either. I doubt I would have found the well hidden grounding set screw. Even with your help, the corrosion really made it difficult to remove the switch. Good old WD40 did the trick after letting it marinate the insides. Cleaning the contacts and giving it a tad more spring length made it work like new!

  2. Pete permalink
    June 27, 2011

    You are smarter than German Shepard! Thanks for info

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