Philmont Stove Problems

Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2001 23:43:47 -0800
From: John LeBlanc <> [address updated 2may07]
Subject: [Philmont] Stoves and their problems

Which stove you choose to use at Philmont is a personal decision. They all work well in the Philmont environment. Different stoves have different features. Choose the one that meets your needs.

Some simmer, some boil faster, some...well, this could go on and on forever.

Without a doubt, the most common stove problem can be traced to contaminated fuel, either with water or dry material or in some cases rust.

Usually, but not always this is a result of improper storage and handling of the fuel. It is very seldom that the fuel is contaminated in the can from where it is filled.

By the way, although called "white gas" it is a naphtha blend that is not nearly as volatile as automobile gasoline.

Also even though the Dual Fuel stoves advertise using auto gasoline, this is not a good idea. Fuel additives contribute to stopped up generators. It WILL stop up, it just takes a while.

That being said, my favorite fuel for over 50 years has been the naphtha sold as "Coleman Fuel" for many year. It used to be "white gas" or more accurately "Marine Whit Gasoline" sold for use in boats but discontinued in the 60's. White gas is still available in certain locations right off the well head where it is known as casing-head gasoline. I don't recommend using that because of the high vapor pressure.

I have tried out just about all the newer stoves but for my needs I always fall back on my 40 year old SVEA 123 which works for 1-2 and sometimes 3 people. When the 4 of us go, I carry my Coleman. I have used about every Coleman made.

My current choice is the Model 533. It is a dual fuel model which is of no consequence but it has a larger font which is the same as on a single mantle lantern with it's inherent larger fuel capacity. It is not thought of as a backpacking stove as it is a few ounces heavier than the smaller capacity and BTU Peak 1. I mainly use it on canoe trips. It also has a 10,000 BTU burner which is quite a bit hotter than the Peak 1 models or the "rat trap" stoves.

Speaking of Whisperlites. And I pile all the little "rat trap" stoves into one category. They are expensive. They are fragile due to being made of a lot of little parts and the flex hose connecting the fuel container, but they do have one strong point.

Their main drawing point is weight and the absence of a heavy fuel container. Back when they were developed everybody used the aluminum containers for extra fuel anyway, so it was just a natural to use that for the stove also. Today it is more common to use a poly bottle for fuel. They are bombproof.

I have traveled with many people using the "rat trap" stoves and it is always interesting to watch them put them together and take them apart.

If it is raining they get water in the fuel. If it is blowing dust, they get dust in the fuel. Those are the two things that cause most stove problems.

I don't have stove problems because of two things.

First, I maintain clean fuel supplies and keep it that way. With the bigger font I don't need to open the fuel container at every lighting. That eliminates a source of contamination.

Secondly, when (not if) I need a stove going in a hurry, mine can be burning in a heartbeat while the others are still building their stoves. This is a decided advantage, but if I were counting ounces, I'd go the "rat trap" stoves.

If your Scouts are fastidious, they should have no problems with any of the liquid fueled stoves.

If on the other hand you got a bunch of well, let me just say it "sloppy" Scouts or they are not too coordinated (you know, the type that kicks dirt into the pot) then maybe you should go the Max fuel container type of stove route.

Again fuel cleanliness is the biggest problem with stoves and when you get fuel from a source as in the back country at Philmont, you are at the mercy of the person handling it. If they take care to keep it uncontaminated, then your are OK, if not, you got problems.

From all the reports I have gotten, the staff at Philmont takes extra pains to assure you of clean fuel. The best insurance against dirty fuel is one of the old style filtering funnels that have a felt filter. The newer Coleman red plastic funnels have a better filter than the ones with screens which are useless at filtering water out and dust size particles.

I wrote a pretty extensive article on rebuilding Coleman stoves. It is aimed at the two burner suitcase stoves, but the principle is the same for all liquid fueled stoves. Refer to it to solve problems.

        John LeBlanc


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