Computing By Kerosene Lamp

As part of my general sorting, cleaning & tossing, today I gathered together several of my lighting systems and stove systems. At present I’ve got about 2 “office boxes” of each.

In the process, I got to do a bit of long duration assessment; in that some things had sat a long time and so if they didn’t work or had “issues” now was a good time to find out.

Fire & Stoves

First off, I pitched 2 x disposable lighters. One, a no-name non-brand, had the flints frozen to the striker wheels. I did manage to get them loose, and then the gas lit. A small flame and perhaps low on gas. But it was still too much of a PITA to try making it light again. The other, a Scripto brand, was devoid of gas and would not strike anyway. Several metal surfaces having a slightly white oxidized look. Books of matches stored at the same time (about 15? or maybe 20… years ago) were fine, even loose in the box. I’ve now put them inside a short dumpy canning jar with a tight lid so they are waterproof too. Clearly disposable lighters work much better, for a while, but need replacing periodically. Matches, as long as they stay dry, look to be forever items.

A European military stove (from the Army Surplus store for about $3) that is like a can of Sterno with a metal ring to hold the pot above the flame had all the fuel evaporated. These come sealed with metal foil and if that is intact, store for a very very long time. This one I’d opened and tested many years back. It works a little better than Sterno in terms of heat, but a little dirtier flame. Despite a gasket in the lid, it was unable to prevent evaporation of the fuel over the years. So “very good” stove but don’t open the fuel until you use it.

Sterno makes a similar ‘ring stove’ thing that fits around the big can, and if you are careful, a re-installed metal “pry off” lid seals for years. Of the two, I’d choose the Sterno stove. Sterno (and Coghlan’s) both make a folding square stove that takes Sterno cans (and an odd diethylene glycol fuel called “Camp Heat”). Both work well. I’ve been using Sterno in the Coghlan’s stove and it’s fine too.

I like the Sterno stove just as much. They seem nearly identical in use, though the Sterno stove is a bit trickier to get folded back flat right but is lighter being mostly aluminum.

It is also quite possible to burn small sticks in a used up large size Sterno can, or just pour in liquid alcohols or antifreeze as fuel. As a “preparedness stove” it’s actually pretty good for nearly no money (about $10). When buying knockoff brands of “chaffing fuel” for it, be aware some use methanol so have a lower heating value, some use ethanol so better heating value, and some add water in the mix for poor performance. Sterno is best, though the others will work. It is slow to boil water, but will get there in still air at non-frozen temperatures. That is, I’d not use it in the wilderness in the winter. It’s fine for “lights are out, make coffee and heat canned ravioli on the counter”. For that matter, a larger chaffing dish using Sterno would work well too and could still be used as a dress-up fondue server.

For most uses in cold environments, I use a single burner propane stove. Works great, always. Fast. Cheap. Good. Reliable. Canisters store nearly forever. Too heavy for real backpacking, but otherwise my “go to” car camping, emergency and general lights out stove. I have 2 of these, I liked them so much. I think the first one I bought was so long ago it was about $12. Now they are double that at $24. The propane bottle that I stored with it is still full. I’ve lost track of how long ago this one was stored. At least a decade. Maybe two, I’ve been using the other one.

For the spouse, I’d bought something more familiar and easy to use. It lived in a kind of a “Class Bag” at her school when she was regularly teaching along with some other things. I was “on the road” a lot then, and I wanted her to be able to “fend for herself” if I was caught out on the other coast when The Big One hit. Eventually it came home with the rest of the “School Stuff” when she left the classroom. Biggest issues with it are that in the black case it is easy to forget where it is in the back of a closet; and a willingness to actually use it must exit. That is, it’s fine to have it in the box of stuff, but the person needs to care about it to remember it exists.

I have the “Gasone” model only because it was being old at the local Asian Grocery store for something like $15 a decade+ ago. Uses a butane fuel can that’s likely hard to find outside Asian Grocery Stores. A bit big for camping, but common on home tables in Asian cooking and acts a lot like stoves folks are familiar with. I’d tested this one on a cartridge about a decade back (maybe a bit more?) and then it went to the “go box”. Then about 6 months back I unpacked it and used it to make coffee a half dozen times. Maybe a dozen times… Tonight, I again used the same stove and fuel can to cook dinner. Sauteed onions and zucchini with Italian spices and garlic; boiled 4 quarts of water and then cooked pancetta tortellini in it. Still have about 1/3 of a can of fuel left. Loading and unloading the fuel can does NOT seem to result in any fuel leaks.

Comes in an nice plastic carry case. Handles a 10 inch cast iron skillet just fine. Very stable on counter or dinning table. Handles a lot like a regular stove. Turn knob all the way left it ignites via a self-sparker. Then back to adjust flame. Reasonably fast and good flame control. Only “odd bits” are that the fuel can goes under the funky door / corner on the right side, with a catch to secure it; then you use a lever on the front to push it onto the valve, or not. I’ve loaded / unloaded it a few times. I’ve left it engaged with the valve for months. Doesn’t seem to matter much and didn’t leak either way. Looks like $18 from Amazon now. It has little indents in the burner to prevent pans from slipping, but they still can slip. Don’t use it on an angle… I found it pleasant to cook on it but have a pot holder on the skillet handle when stirring things. Works well as an alternative kitchen stove without looking like camping in the kitchen / dinning room. Looks more like the omelette chef at the restaurant…

As I’ve decided to “lighten the load”, I’ll be cooking dinner on this stove until I’ve used up the 4 cans of fuel I bought oh so long ago. Nice thing is I can cook on it while watching the big TV ;-)


I had bought a “wind up LED flashlight” long long ago. After a decade or so, the battery has no charge. Winding the generator for a long 30 seconds gave me about 10 seconds of light from the battery. Either wind the thing up every so often to keep it charged, or expect that in an emergency you will be cranking it for a long time to condition and recharge the battery. I’d be happier with a candle or kerosene lamp.

A miniature “Lithium Flashlight” about the size of my little finger still worked fine. IIRC it has one 3 VDC disposable battery in it. Shelf life was supposed to be something like 10 years. It’s certainly that and then some.

I made some “jar candles” decades back. They are still working great, thanks. Found a couple in the old box. Still the same. Details here:

What can I say? They just work. One had been in a car bag for a while. When I took the lid off the wax had clearly softened and flowed at some point. The wick was not visible. Pushing on the top, a thin crust of wax cracked open to reveal the wick under it. Lit, worked fine. I’ve used up 4 small ones (4 oz) and have settled on the 8 oz large ones as my default. I’ve got about a half dozen of them (they burn for many many hours) and I’m not going to bother using them up, just pack and go. There’s a bit of a candle smell to them, but not bad. I’ve used them in many power outages over the decades and love them. Decent light, little flicker.

I have also used an REI Coop “Candle Lantern” and it’s great too, but needs special candles. We’ve got two candle holders with glass bowl /shades on them that work just as well (though too large for camping ;-) and take regular candles.

I have two of them, but bought them at REI Coop and it was about $10 then. This $21.44 price is just too high for a candle holder; though it does pack / camp well. I’d take a mini-Maglight with LED bulb instead…

Which brings us to the topic of the title of this article. Kerosene. I have a half dozen kerosene lamps and lanterns. In unpacking / repacking the box I noticed that the very small (12 oz?) bottle of Lamplighter Lamp Oil had a brittle fracture hole up near the cap. That oil was poured (after breaking the top off attempting to remove the cap) into one of my lanterns and is now lighting the room as I type. Another quart sized bottle with thicker plastic is not suffering breakage (yet…). One lamp had been stored with some oil in it. That evaporated / polymerized leaving a yellow film in the glass bowl, and odd odor of “varnish”, and a yellowed sticky wick. I’ve put fresh oil in that lamp and it, too, is lighting the room. The old wick lights more slowly, but looks like it is still wetted enough to work.

Light quality is good, and more than enough for casual use. Easy to operate. long life of flame. Relatively cheap.

Downsides? Don’t want one on the mantel when the earthquake comes. Broken pint of kerosene with flame while shaking not a good idea. Don’t set it under things that burn. Spouse complained about the smell (and lamp oil or kerosene does have a certain odor to it). You either hate it or find it nostalgic. After a few hours use, you need to use small scissors to trim the wick to a smooth end again. Square or rounded change the flame shape. Do NOT store / display lamps with oil in them. It will slowly evaporate (so you are being exposed to unburned hydrocarbons long term) and polymerize making your wick clogged with goo. Have fresh dry wicks in storage and have the lamp “displayed” or stored with no oil in it. Store the oil in a metal can or sealed glass jar. The plastic bottle will eventually brittle and break. Sunlight will increase oil polymerization into goo.

But having grown up with them, I find the aroma nostalgic and love to just watch the flame waver and do that slow dance it does. They will also add some warmth to a cold room, but remember to not have a SEALED room as they do burn up the oxygen. Some ventilation required.

For Completion

Just as a note of completion: Over the years I’ve tossed out a good half dozen expensive high quality Maglight flashlights as batteries leak. Doesn’t seem to matter what brand. Left long enough they all leak. This is made worse by the LED bulbs as then batteries last nearly forever, or until they leak. I make it a habit to check the batteries every year or so, but even then, eventually the leak hits you. For this reason I tend to have a couple stored without batteries in them, a battery pile that gets used / rotated in various things, and 3 or so that are “loaded and in use” at any one time. Every so often I’ll just toss old batteries even if they’ve not been used much. I’ve gotten tired of tossing flashlights and radios and stuff… For this reason I’d rather have a jar candle in my storage bag than a loaded Maglight. Light the candle, THEN put the batteries in the flashlight by candle power.

Similarly, pretty much everything with a battery in it has a shelf life. From wind up flashlights, to radios, to clocks and even computers. If a battery is involved, it’s a chemical timer and life limiter. I found my “car jumper pack” that was last charged about 6 months ago and was set aside fully charged. It’s now discharged. After a full day plugged into the wall, still showing full charge draw (has a red / green light system so not much granularity. Still solid red, not flashing red and certainly not green). I’ve had it about 5? years, so yeah, probably inert now.

For this reason I try to make certain I have a non-battery option for anything that has a battery. Candles and all fossil fuels work great. Some, like gasoline and kerosene, can polymerize and form “varnish” in long term storage or with UV exposure for a year; so even it needs “rotation”. Solid fuels seem to store forever. Charcoal for a portable grill. Wax candles. Firewood (though it slowly dries and loses oils), hexamine tablets.

This is part of why, having had various “Emergency” items for decades; I’ve regularly added other versions. Trying to find The One Perfect Solution. It doesn’t exist, but you can get close. In particular, the various LPG Liquefied Petroleum Gasses are great. Propane, Butane, iso-Butane, you name it. In metal cans, they seem to have unlimited shelf life. I’m sure eventually the rubber in the fill valves would degrade and the fuel leak out, but until then, they are fine (and after 20 years at least I’m still waiting for a failure). I’ve had propane bottles leak after using them a couple of times, but suspect that’s dirt getting in the valve from a dirty propane nozzle. Self pressurizing, they are trivial to use.

I have a fancy high end whiz-bang camp stove, single burner, backpacking, that can burn just about anything from gasoline to kerosene to even Diesel fuel. It’s a PITA to get started on Kerosene and Diesel, and on Diesel makes for sooty pots and stinky cooking. I’ve had to buy a repair kit for it since the gaskets in it fail in long duration storage (about 20 years in they failed). I’ve never used it for the intended purpose. It is only for a real aw-shit use on found fuel of ‘whatever’ kind. Why? Because propane is clean, easy, cheap, just works, and neither smells bad nor makes soot. Oh, and no worries about spilling it in the tent or on your clothes / sleeping bag.

True Story:

About mid 1970’s some serious camping friends along with some of us “car camper” types went on an outing to Big Basin park. After hiking a couple of miles in, in a pleasant evening, we set up camp. Friends start fussing with their fancy stoves, pumping and priming and all, and we eventually get dinner made. Some “humor” was had at my expense as I’d packed in a propane bottle and a small propane torch. You know the kind, used for heating pipes and soldering things. About the size of your index finger with a valve on the end. I had to spend a bit of time finding 3 good rocks to make a pan support, then lit it up and made my dinner.

Well, that night it rained and rained. I’ll skip the part about 5 people one at a time wedging into one pup tent…

Next morning we awoke (for the dozenth or two time…) at dawn (and before dawn and at midnight and…) and folks decided to make breakfast. I had my “3 stones” from the night before. Took my propane torch, turned the valve, applied the sparker (the kind used for lighting welding torches as it’s what I had) and set it in the rocks. Pot on, boiled water in a minute or two, add instant cocoa mix… Started next pot of water… Wandering over to those who had “ribbed” me the night before…

They were trying to get their little self presurizing gas stoves to light. Like this one:
Pouring a bit of fuel on them to try to warm them up. Pumping and trying again. I helpfully offered to make some cocoa for them while they worked ;-) Did I mention it was a cold cold morning?

Eventually we used my torch to warm the fuel tank of their “self pressurizing” stoves and they set about making breakfast. I was done with my breakfast by then, and had made some coffee for others…

Needless to say, since then I’ve been especially fond of LPG based stoves and lanterns. I still think of my propane torch head as a nice burner for a ‘3 stone stove’. If worried about weight, there are very nice miniature iso-butane stoves that work as well and weigh a lot less. Like this titanium one at $25:
At 0.8 ounces, a far cry from my couple of lbs of torch and tank. Yet the same principle.

I’ve also got a collection of ultra light solid stoves (various tablets and stuff). Nice for “store forever use only in a real emergency”, but otherwise not really a good idea. Most of the fuels are some kind of toxic or at least stinky stuff. Not much heat output. Generally inexpensive, so worth tossing one in a day pack as an Aw-Shit choice. BUT, if you really expect to cook on it, get a gas stove with fuel in a can.

I have a particular interest in liquid fuel stoves. I’ve got a couple of self pressurizing alcohol stoves, a couple of kerosene stoves, some gasoline stoves, etc. etc. I’m especially fond of the alcohol stoves. They work well, are clean, and you can buy fuel at the car parts store or hardware store. Small, light, cheap to operate. Fun to play with. BUT, at zero or below with some wind, or if wanting some coffee in a hurry, I’d rather pop out a pressurized gas stove and just be done. Not too interested in playing with the stove then.

I’ve had the joy of sipping hot cocoa while watching other folks play with their stoves in the cold. They were not amused. I’d rather be amused ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Computing By Kerosene Lamp

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    those liquid gas plumber torches are great. I use mine all the time if i need fire Presto! fire!
    Mine has a igniter with the fuel button plus a lock on if you wish. Very safe if working in a crawl space to solder pipes, trigger on, release off. After using up a dozen cans of gas over the last 10 years I think I may need to replace it as the wear and tear of hard use in the field is beginning to show. Cans and valves never seem to leak but I do try to keep an extra can of fuel on hand. I use the MAPP gas/yellow can, as it is hotter then the green can/butane ones…pg

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    Sounds a lot like my experience and choices.

    I have a couple boxes of the small votive candles. 24 to a box. You can make them last much longer by wrapping the bottom of the candle with a square of aluminum foil. It keeps the melted wax from running off the candle so it burns much longer.

    One of the best walk around candles I ever came up with was to buy a small glass mug similar to an A&W root beer mug. These are great, because their heavy bottom make the very stable candles for round the house emergency light and they are easy to carry with the built in handle and the clear body protects the flame when you are walking around with them like a small kerosene lamp.

    Put a 2-3 inch long piece of candle in there then fill the extra space around it with melted paraffin wax. If burned for a short time it will melt out a puddle about the size of a quarter to half dollar size. To keep it from burning down into a hole in the center of the candle, take something like a screw driver or butter knife and after it has been burning for a while push the softened wax collar in toward the flame. If allowed to burn for hours it will eventually melt a puddle almost the entire diameter of a small mug.

    This also allows you to adjust the brightness by changing the size of the flame. If you only let a tiny flame burn on a barely exposed candle wick it will burn for a very long time. (call this the night light setting. To lengthen the flame just tilt it a bit so some of the wax flows out onto the cooler collar of unmelted wax, and you end up with a longer exposed wick and larger brighter flame.

    Pro tip for lighting a butane camp stove in cold weather – sit the butane cartridge in a small sauce pan of water. Butane boils at 31 deg F so any liquid water will be warm enough to keep it generating a combustible mixture.

    On the kerosene lanterns, you can keep the kerosene from evaporating (at least for reasonable periods of time like a year or two) by simply covering the wick part with a shot glass sized container up ended over the wick. It drastically reduces loss of kerosene through evaporation. I have kept traditional kerosene lamps full of kerosene like that for well over a year with out evaporating away the oil. (as I recall on the order of 2-3 years)

    I have a couple of the single burner (screw directly on the propane canister) type Coleman camping stoves (not the ultra light back packers but the size intended to use with the 2 pound steel bottles. I have had cheap propane bottle have the valves stick so you could not get any fuel out of them, even though you could hear the fuel in the tank. Since then, I never buy the el-cheapo off brand propane bottles but always buy a brand name like Coleman. The bit of money saved is trivial compared to having a back up system that won’t work when you need it.

    I also have 2 of the 2 burner camping propane stoves and one of the gasoline fueled 2 burner camping stoves. I also picked up one of the refill adapters and one of the hose adapters that allows you to use a large propane tank intended for an RV or camper and fuel a propane stove intended to work off the small propane bottles.

    The workman’s propane torches are also excellent for fire starting and with the wide brush end fitting intended for stripping paint make a satisfactory small burner.

    Several boxes of strike anywhere matches and boxes of good old fashioned match books plus a couple of the larger 3 inch diameter table top candles.

    I have some Zippo style lighters (with some extra flints) but don’t keep them filled, since I have found it impossible to seal them up well enough so the fluid does not all evaporate.
    I have had only a couple of the disposable lighters leak away all their fuel. Probably a 95-97% long storage rate even after being used. New in the factory pack, I have never had one lose fuel.

    To keep the little thumb lever protected and prevent accidentally making them leak off their fuel in my pocket, I fold a piece of paper about 4 times into an inch wide by 4 inch long flat ribbon and then fold that over the top of the lighter as a protective cap and tape it in place. The paper serves as emergency kindling too, if you are in a situation that makes it hard to start a fire.

    (pro tip for emergency fire), if you have anything like a piece of paper or paper towel, pull your cars oil dip stick and wipe off the oil on your paper – you now have a nice like easily lit torch which will light off even damp wood. Vaseline from the first aid kit also will work the same way basically low melting point candle wax – even smells like paraffin when it burns.

    Like you, I like charcoal, and have a couple large bags stashed in the garage, it literally keeps for ever as long as you keep it dry (if allowed to get damp and dry it can self heat like coal does, so store it where it won’t get wet.)

    I also have one of the large kerosene room heaters and those can be used to cook foods like a large stew pot. Along with spare wicks.

    Dyna Glow kerosene heater

    I also have a 5 gallon can of K-1 kerosene. You can burn diesel in them in a pinch where heat is more important than the fuel odor, but do not try to use bio-diesel in them. [ been there done that – it is too thick and just gums up the wick and will not allow a high enough flame to be useful]

    I have some sterno cans but have not stored them long enough to have any personal experience with storage life.

    Two years ago I also broke down and bought one of the small outfitter stoves intended for hunting camps. Allows you to burn anything you can find.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    I acquired my propane torches before the piezo ignitor ones were common (read cheap ;-) so all mine are the old style “turn the knob and apply sparker” style. I’ve coveted the trigger / sparker ones, but never enough to spend money when I already had a working torch.

    Good for so many things. Loosening stuck fasteners. Brazing. etc. etc. I’ve used MAPP gas as well as propane, depending on need. For a while had a MAPP / Oxy rig where there was a cartridge that made O2 gas. Did about as well with “just MAPP” so stopped using it.


    The Votive candles I’ve played with don’t put out much light. FWIW, IKEA has candles made with stearic acid. Burn very clean and smell like crayons (now you know what crayons are made of ;-)

    I’ve come to really like them, and have a couple of boxes of them. More than I’ve used in 20 years, so time to use them up somehow. ( typically saw one into about thirds and use those parts as the wick / center of my candle jars. The 8 oz. wide mouth jar is bout 2 to 2.5 inches of wax depth, so not enough to have air currents make much flicker; yet it takes a LOOOOngg time to use up 8 ounces of wax. With the lid on, they are just about everything proof. Packed in a box with crumpled newspaper around them, they are even quake and drop proof. Filled almost all the way to the top, they are even “trunk in the summer” survivors when other candles melted into deformed unusable things.

    Yeah, I’ve gotten familiar with the “night light” vs bright puddle effects… I get some of that, but let them burn a little and they get back to a nice full sized flame.

    Oh, and if recycling old candles: Watch out for those big giant number birthday candles. While the top 1/4 is real candle, the decoration and bottom parts are not quite real wax. It melts nicely, but cokes up the wick and slowly extinguishes the life of the candle.. (Diluted enough you can get it to burn. But best to just avoid it.

    While my jar candles need no wax herding / trimming; the mug idea has caught my attention. It would be nice to have a couple of candles with handles…

    Interesting trick with the shot glasses. Have the same problem with Zippo’s, just dries out in a couple of days. My “big stoves” include a 2 burner unleaded Coleman where I also bought the propane adapter and tank adapter and… Along with a 2 burner unleaded Coleman that I love. Then a few other odds and ends like big Kerosene wick stoves and 2 burner propane and more in the garage.

    Sterno and even the cheap chaffing fuel stores for many years to decades if the lid is not removed. Once removed / reseated it is more of a crap shoot. Could be months to a year; could be decades. Depends on the precision of the opening and resealing. It’s cheap enough I don’t worry about it. I bought 2 flats ( 24 cans each) of different chaffing fuels at the local Big Lots or similar store many years ago. Despite all sorts of play / fire starting / cooking etc. etc. I’ve still not used up 1/2 of it. (Where I found out I need to read label per methanol / ethanol…) The really cheap methanol based one is just not able to boil water. Great for not burning i the chaffing dish, but to sedate for camping.

    Per butane lighter failure:

    Remember some of these were placed in the bags in the ’80s and ’90s, then road back and forth across the country in the trunk, in frozen and Phoenix in August… I’ve had BIC lighters work for years and years, and love the “stove lighter” / “BBQ Lighter” versions. What’s failed is the ‘almost free’ junk lighters and a Skripto that was likely from before I had kids… Long enough for the flints to pressure weld to the striker…

    I lost a bag of charcoal to the wet. (Outdoors patio. Rain.) So need to find a better storage method. Metal garbage cans seem to have disappeared so not sure what to get. I’ve got a 10? gallon “pet food bin” with gasket top that’s not in use (as we moved the dogs to wet food); it’s heavy duty plastic. Maybe it would do…

    Oh, and I’ve got a $50 “Kingsford” charcoal grill box still in the shipping carton. Bought it in Florida to replace my “Scotch Box” that was wearing out, then it didn’t wear out quickly enough so we ended up just leaving it packed. In any real emergency, I’m going to be starting on Propane / Butane stoves, then setting up for wood / charcoal in the box grill or in the Pile Of Bricks BBQ. Don’t need much else.

    I think I’ve got 3? self pressurizing alcohol stoves (the “cup” kind), Maybe 4… and a pump up then self pressurizing kerosene stove (Primus)… and likely a couple of more. I need to hit the patio and garage next. (I’m gathering all “like things” in one place so as to decide which are keepers and which “move on” and become “career change stoves” ;-) Such a hard decision when you like to play with fire – literally ;-)

    I’ll likely do some kind of head to head comparison before I let any of them go, though.

    In the end, I like the propane / butane best, the Coleman Unleaded stoves / lanterns for general low cost to operate and “Aw Shit” use any gasoline fuel ability. Then other things for camping / day trips with pack or bike. But it’s been years since me and the kids did a day trip on bikes, and I’m not likely to be able or interested in trying it with the grandkids, so why keep those stoves again?

    Ah well, that part of the search and consolidate is for tomorrow…

  4. David Walker says:

    “I have a particular interest in liquid fuel stoves.”
    When I used to do a lot of motorcycle touring with very basic facilities – a British Army arctic grade sleeping bag, a spare pair of thick socks, a heavy plastic sheet and a far greater quantity of tools, spare tube and spare chain for the bike than I carried for myself, I tried a number of stoves and this – the Optimus 8R – was far and away the best.

    It burns petrol which means it doesn’t need pumping and can be filled by pulling the fuel pipe off the fuel tap, requires no more than breathing on the fuel tank for fuel to ooze out of the burner, works under conditions of extreme cold – unlike gas stoves – and can be ignited by the spark from an HT lead, so no necessity for matches, lighters etc.
    And it is the exact size necessary to fit in the pocket of a Barbour waxed cotton motorcycle jacket.
    Another trick is to put a can of soup, beans or my favourite after a long cold run – Ambrosia creamed rice – on the crossover pipe in front of the cylinder head and ride about five miles.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @David Walker:

    A friend of mine had one of those in my college years. Marvelous little things. IIRC in very cold conditions you could put a little petrol on the burner itself and light it, that would then start the cycle of heating the generator tube (to generate gas from gasoline) and the self pressurization heating would begin. Also, IIRC, that little heat shield between flame and tank had some adjustments available. Not a lot, but some.

    It was that stove that first got me interested in variations on liquid fuel stoves. Prior to that I’d just known the old Coleman 2 burner car camping thing, and here it was in miniature.

    “Somewhere” on my shelf is a thin cookbook on how to make meals on the exhaust headers of your car from about 1960. It used a fair amount of multiple layers of aluminum foil and bailing wire as I recall… But had rough estimates of “miles to rare” vs “miles to well done”… Had suggestions for corrections based on light vs heavy driving too. So you are not the only one ;-)

  6. kneel63 says:

    Propane/butane mix (LPG) makes an excellent vehicle fuel too – burns very clean (difference between diesel and petrol engine oil after 5000 miles is abut the same as gasoline vs LPG @ 10k miles), no smell ( other than that deliberately included so mere humans can detect a leak ;-) ) and you can run it “dual fuel” (gas and LPG) with negligible loss of performance on either fuel if done right. Cheap too – here down under, it’s about half the price of gasoline. One good aspect is the “low fuel” scenario – when you start to run out, it doesn’t just suddenly stop, instead “failing” at high demand (when you push the loud pedal down!) until it eventually just won’t run any more.
    And, of course, you can the car off the BBQ and visa-versa.
    Very, very safe BTW – the worst case scenario is a BLEVE, but that only happens when there is a source of heat (usually a fire) already, and for automotive tanks that means you are already running away from the flames. Keep the tank under the floor, it’s safer than gasoline.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Wanted an LPG car since about ’70 when I first saw one (actually a farm truck). Never quite got it together. Always just out of my price range, and then they made it illegal to “tamper” with fuel systems for “smog” (despite it being cleaner) so the whole aftermarket conversion kits business kind of died.

    I still sometimes look for them on Craig’s List. Mostly 20 to 30 year old pickups now.

    IIRC, My Uncle had a pickup with a huge tank in the bed. He’d fill up in Texas and drive out here to visit… I believe he could make it back to Texas without a fill-up. El Paso to here is about 1000 miles I think. He had 100 or so gallons of propane (IIRC) and then something like 40? gallons of gasoline. (Chevy with saddle tanks). At 10 MPG that’s about 1400 miles… so maybe he had to fill up in Arizona before entering California? I though he said he did El Paso to El Paso… In any case he was “right proud” of not needing to buy gas in California at crazy prices.

    Now it’s gotten hard to find low cost propane filling stations as there are few cars using it any more. Here at least. Sad really.

  8. Pingback: $60 – $120 per Gallon Camp Stove Fuel | Musings from the Chiefio

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