Well, thanks to a couple of additional donations, I’m upgrading my “Preparedness” equipment too.
If you live in a place with various natural disasters that might cause the lights to go out, and cold nights without a heater to follow, you will likely find this an interesting posting. It looks at post-disaster lighting and heat. In my case, it’s an Earthquake that’s likely to be the issue. Your local disaster may need other preparations. For me, I’ve mostly moved to LED bulbs and inverters plugged into car batteries, or large “C” cell Maglights with LED bulbs in them. (Why a “C” size? With LEDs it runs over 100 hours anyway, and the “C” sizes are much faster to swing… In combat, being fast is very important. The “D” size ones just swing way too slow. A 4 cell “C” Maglight swings fast, hits fairly hard, has a lot of light, and is light enough to wear on a belt loop.) Fuel for lighting is basically not high on the list anymore. Yet it has a place. Longer duration, batteries will likely be very scarce. Most any vehicle will either have Gas or Jet / Turbine fuel in it. Especially military operations. Fuel based lights also make heat.
So having a lantern that is also a heater lets you conserve the batteries. Batteries are also not all that cheap. Frozen batteries tend to leak once warmed, and while battery storage life has gone up a lot, storing batteries is still a question of loss vs time. So IF that flashlight turns out to have corroded batteries in it, you want a “Plan B”. ( I’ve had way too many Maglights have batteries leak in them. Especially in the last couple of decades. There was a golden era when batteries didn’t leak, but we’ve gone back to leakers lately… along with many made in China…) Basically, it’s good to have belt and suspenders. Given that:
I just bought a Coleman Kerosene Lantern. Why Kerosene? Because in California they keep screwing around with “What is gasoline?” and now that’s gone national too. Some gasoline may be up to 15% Ethanol. I have a Coleman “Dual Fuel” lantern that is good with unleaded “gasoline”, but in wandering around looking at “what works with what” I found an assertion that some of the older ones may have the seals damaged by alcohols in some fuels. Mine’s an old one…
( Regular rubber absorbs alcohols and swells up, becoming soft and spongy. Then any minor friction shreds it. It takes a different “special” rubber to stand up to alcohols. This same effect showed up in Diesels when they went to low sulphur Diesel fuel, but in the other direction. Sulphur also soaks into rubbers, so the seals were made to expect some of that swelling to seal right. Taking the sulphur out caused a lot of seal shrinkage and leakage and sent many vehicles off to scarp yards or rebuilds when the rubber shrank and leaked. Politicians REALLY need to stop playing Engineer… they are not very good at it.)
I’ve decided to dig my old “Dual Fuel” lantern out of the “Disaster Kit” and go ahead and use it to see how it holds up to whatever gasoline is today. (The MBTE is gone, but some oxygenate is in; and alcohol levels are rising). But that leave an “issue” in that my preparedness kit may be missing an important component… It’s all well and good that I may find I need to order a new seal kit for the Dual Fuel and install it “someday”, but I don’t want The Kit lacking an important part while I’m doing that exercise.
Now, for actual lighting most of the time, using an LED light on the end of a drop cord from the car, with an inverter, is going to provide far more light for far less fuel and equipment than anything else. Heck, even running unleaded “whatever” in the Honda Generator and using the electricity to run the lights would be better than running the fuel into a lantern. I’ll get about 20 hours of light / gallon from the lantern at full power while the generator would be making about 8+ kW-hrs of that same fuel. With a 20 W CFL or LED light that would be 400 hours of light. Even if you lost 10% into a battery and back out it’s still 360 hours. So you give up about 340 hours of light by burning the fuel in a lantern rather than doing the generator / Light or generator / battery / inverter / light. So why get a lantern?
About 1/2 to 3/4 of the year, you want light AND HEAT.
Earthquakes do not always arrive in June, July, August, or September. Even then, here, it can be 50 F at night when it is 80 F in the mid day. So for much of the time, it is a major feature to be able to fire up a light that doubles as a room heater. Yes, you need to leave a window cracked and make sure that CO doesn’t build up etc etc… but since THE most likely real disaster use is “In the Family Tent in the yard…” after the quake; that’s not a big deal. Shivering in the dark is.
Why not just get a heater? Because a bright light tends to be shut off when you go to bed and you do not want to leave a combustion based heater running when you go to sleep. It urges you to shut it off instead of just going to bed.
Basically, I’m seeing this as a nice heater that has a BIG status indicator and a side effect of saving the electrical demand a bit. It is also the case that the electric generator may be under a pile of rubble, not start, or the gasoline may have run out, or… There’s a major feature in having multiple sources of light. That I can also carry it down the block checking on the neighbors is also a consideration. Can’t do that with the LED on a rope… The LED Maglights will likely work for a week or three, and I’d hope that’s enough. But at 100 hours of use or so, after the first week it could be dodgy. Then there’s that recent history of leaking batteries…
A 5 gallon can of Kerosene will give 20 “fills” of the lantern or about 100 hours of combined heat and light after the electrical kit gives out. (Or it can provide very nice area light for a week of post-quake “issues” in the evening, letting the Maglights be saved for “point use”.)
The present gasoline is a bit of ‘mystery meat’. And it keeps being screwed with by the political clowns who like to style themselves better fuel engineers than the Chem.E. and Mech.E. folks who know what they’re doing…
It doesn’t store as well as the old plain gas and is subject to phase separation if some moisture is absorbed from the air. That 10% Ethanol means the gasoline is hygroscopic and when it pulls a few percent of water out of the air, you get an alcohol / water phase at the bottom and a lower octane gas at the top. Yes, it ought to take a year or three… but we are talking about stored fuel here. Furthermore, alcohol is prone to corroding some metals. Just the kind of “light metal” used in things like the “generator” in a lantern where liquid fuel is vaporized to make a burnable gas. Not the kind of thing you want to discover day 5 of the post-quake when the flashlight is getting dim… Oh, and when pouring gas into a lantern in the dark you are not that likely to see the alcohol / water phase.
Add in that alcohol requires special rubbers to have your seals not give out and that having seals leak highly flammable fuel from a pressurized tank near a flaming mantle… well, let’s just say that’s not what you want to risk inside a wooden house nor inside a tent next to the wooden rubble of an ex-house.
Kerosene has none of those problems.
Kerosene stores well, is non-hygroscopic, is of constant chemical structure, does not corrode metals (in fact, protects them), and is generally an all around better fuel with more BTU / gallon.
Why not Coleman Fuel? Well, it presently sells for about $10 / gallon. Kerosene is about $5.50 / gallon at the local gas station. Some years back you could get “generic” white gas in cans much cheaper, but a quick survey found none of them in the area. (Outside California they likely still sell product, but I’ve not found it here). Heck, when I was about 9, the local 76 Station had a 55 gal drum of “Stoddard Solvent” and sold pails of “white gas’ from it dirt cheap. Now having a 55 gallon drum of naphtha would be seen as a horrid risk and lawsuit fodder. IFF I find a source of cheap ‘white gas’ somewhere, then I’ll buy it for the “Dual Fuel” lantern… but it’s just a whole lot easier to find K1 Kerosene fairly cheap. Certainly not paying $10 / gallon.
The “interoperability factor”: Kerosene is basically crude jet fuel. So in a real “emergency”, being able to run on JP-4 or Jet-A (or any of a few other turbine fuels) would be a feature. Heck, even JP-8 would likely work if you warm the ‘gas generator’ enough first. (JP-8 is basically #2 heating oil / Diesel fuel). Yes, a real “multi-fuel” lantern designed for Diesel would be better (the Britelyt claims to be such a lantern, but reviews of it range from “Great!” to “Exploded and burned up my tent!” and at least one of their products is made in China with a reputation of quality issues…). So for a “Gonna Work when TSHTF” solution, I’d rather be having something with reviews that say “Well, all it ever does is work. How boring.”.
For all these reasons, I’m swapping my “Post Quake Kit Lantern” over from gasoline to kerosene. That I can dump a 5 gallon Jerry Can of kerosene into my Diesel doesn’t hurt ;-)
Some Fun Stuff
While researching this, I ran into many interesting diversions. One is a guy who converted his Gas Coleman to run on Kerosene. (Actually, two of them, but one is a conversion for what are old yard sale models, not new ones, that involves buying a particular replacement generator and a warming cup that may not be available any more).
BTW, if you “hit the link” for that ‘how to convert a 220 model to Kerosene’, one of the guys has an interesting .signature block:
The Doctrine of the Three Percent.
We will not disarm.
You cannot convince us.
You cannot intimidate us.
You can try to kill us,
if you think you can.
But remember, we’ll shoot back.
And we are not going away
“If you think the Indians got their asses handed to them, wait ’til we play cowboys and globalists.”
“An empty mind is easier to clutter with the falsehoods of democracy than a mind that, at the very least, knows right from wrong.”
Interesting folks, these people who play with Kerosene lanterns and like their “guns and religion”… ;-)
There are several threads out there on running ‘variety fuels’ in various Coleman models with particular praise for particular Canadian models. It seems that the Kerosene ones from Canada work quite happily on white gas / naphtha… so I might try an experiment along those lines “someday” with my new Kerosene one (since IF I’m reading that thread right, it has the Canadian style generator in it…)
This guy is doing “Garage Engineering” on his Coleman. Added a ‘warming cup’ to the generator and runs it on kerosene… I may well try this with my “Dual Fuel” (perhaps after finding out if ethanol laden gasoline has me buying a seals kit…)
All of which looks like great fun, and useful to know (especially in an Aw Shit moment); but not something you want in your Disaster Preparedness Kit as the default…
The net-net of it all looks to be that the size of the orifice to inject gas is a slightly different size (but not that important with the use of the fuel valve letting you make up for it with Kerosene in a gas lamp – less so gas in a Kerosene lamp but still close enough) and more importantly, the generator tube is a bit larger in the Kerosene lamps (as the fuel is harder to vaporize) and there is a ‘warming cup’ where you put some alcohol to preheat the generator tube. A feature that would be useful even with gasoline, IMHO.
Well, I thought about sinking a few weeks into wandering yard sales looking for a 220 model or looking for an old 237 Kerosene model for cheap, and realized I’d likely spend $100 of gas doing it, not to mention the time. So all in all it seemed more effective to just buy a new one and “move on”. So I did.
Coleman Kerosene Lanterns Now
I found 3 different Coleman Kerosene lanterns that looked to be the current or near current models. A 2 mantle version #288 looks to be out of production, a large 1 mantle version, and a small 1 mantle version.
The small one mantle version had some reviews that said it regularly had puffs and blooms and flickers. A symptom of too cold a generator. While it might be that some folks were just not warming it up enough, I tend to think that maybe it’s a newer design that’s just not as robust as the old Canadian heritage. The 2 mantle version was sporadic in places were I saw it. Was it a new one, or an old one? Wasn’t exactly clear. I’ve also had both dual and single mantle lanterns and as near as I can tell, the major difference is that the dual mantles have twice the opportunities to screw up a mantle and twice the trouble in lighting them.
So, in the end, I settled on the Old Style Large One Mantle model. Model# 3000001138. (Somehow a 237 just seems more interesting… but I’m hoping this is more the same than different.) This old style lantern also looks like it is the only one still in production. Sometimes the old tried and true is already perfected….
The only downside of these lanterns, near as I can tell, is that they require a preheat burn on the generator tube. OK, so I need to have some rubbing alcohol around. I have that anyway. I also need to be comfortable putting the glass and top on while it’s making fire. Frankly, I find that a bit of a feature 8-0 Given how it can be a bit finicky to get the gas ones going in the cold anyway, having a warming cup on the generator looks like something that’s a generic feature. Heck, adding one to the Dual Fuel would seem like a nice addition for cold starts in the mountains in the winter…
It will also be a bit less likely that any parts needed will be in the local hardware store.
I can live with that.
This thing will be fired up a couple of times, then mostly sit in the “Aw Shit” box waiting for The Day. It will either work when needed, or I go to “lamp B” on the list. (With C, D, and E – candles, behind it) At the same time the “Dual Fuel” lantern comes out and goes into service on Unleaded as a BBQ / Yard light to give “ambiance” to the evenings and for the occasional trip out into the boonies… I’ve generally used a single mantle Primus Propane lantern for that as it is very small and works well with a quick easy light, but at $3 for a one quart propane can vs $4 for a gallon of unleaded, well…
Can you tell that Spring is kinda sorta here? Yes, a bit cold and having late rain and overcast with wind… but I’m looking at the great outdoors, and thinking BBQ, gas light, and more. Besides, it’s always fun to play with fire ;-)