Pressurized fuel mantle lanterns... who uses them? Please step inside.

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FlashPilot
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Pressurized fuel mantle lanterns... who uses them? Please step inside.

I think most of us have probably owned or witnessed the pleasant (and massive) outdoor flood lighting power that pressurized fuel mantle lanterns can provide. Ive long been a camper and have used both liquid fuel and propane lanterns to light up my camp sites.

 

My current lineup:

Coleman InstaStart Propane 200c.p.

 

 

Coleman 285 duel fuel (Coleman fuel or Unleaded gas) 220 c.p.

 

 

Coleman 295 Powerhouse duel fuel (Coleman fuel or Unleaded gas) 320 c.p.

 

 

Coleman 200A (Coleman fuel) 300 c.p.

 

 

Coleman 237 Empire (Kerosene) 500c.p. Born way back in 1948 and comparable to a 400 watt incandescent bulb!

I just picked up this highly acclaimed 237 today and am awaiting a few parts before I get to light-er-up. What a beauty, and its built like a tank. Thick heavy weight brass is abound on this model. Tongue out

The 237 was the result after purchasing 3 Coleman NorthStar 2000 Dual Fuel lanterns. I bought the NorthStar's brand new on 3 separate occasions, and each of them had flame surging problems that could not be resolved. They are also very cheaply built from thin stamped metal parts and require a proprietary and expensive tube mantle not found everywhere. These were promptly returned to the store each time. Stay away from the Coleman NorthStar 2000:

 

-JUNK ALERT!-

-JUNK ALERT!-

DO NOT BUY THE COLEMAN NORTHSTAR 2000!!!!!

Instead, buy an older 237 or similar lantern and it will outlast your great grand children.

Edited by: FlashPilot on 03/03/2015 - 15:58
FlashPilot
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Several years ago, most mantles contained trace amounts of the natural radioactive chemical, "Thorium". The amount of exposure to the lantern user was minimal and said to be only considered dangerous if you ate a few mantles for dessert after each meal. Due to the overwhelming mass media hysteria of such related elements in consumer goods a few years ago, Coleman and other manufacturers discontinued the use of this ingredient in the manufacture of their mantles. The current replacements burn 25-33% less bright for the same amount of fuel of their Thorium based counterparts and produce a dingy yellow light. The Thorium mantles burn bright and white.

Luckily, Peerless still manufacturers and distributes Thorium based mantles. They are actually less expensive than Coleman mantles and are far stronger and resistant to failure when bumped. I get many of my mantles and sundries from:

http://www.leacockcolemancenter.com/folder/%20%20224

or

http://www.oldcolemanparts.com/home.php

Just be sure to use common sense when replacing broken mantles (wash your hands after handling them, dont breath any of the dust/ash from mantles, dont breath the smoke while burning in new mantles, etc). The non-radioactive mantles are probably just as bad for you if absorbed into your system as the Thorium based ones.

For the minimal amount of extra effort and inconvenience to light a lantern, they provide an incredible amount of light for their size.

brted
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I love the idea of a lantern that will run on gasoline because you figure there will always be gasoline available somewhere. And I came close to buying a Coleman lantern before I ended up realizing that I very, very rarely need a lantern. Now that I have tons of flashlights and batteries, the need is that much more remote. But turning gasoline into light somehow has that same appeal of turning battery power into light.

FlashPilot
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I got my 285 off craigslist for $20 and burn unleaded through it all the time. If you have an interest, hunt for a good used one and sell it to someone else once youre done playing. I think anyone that enjoys lighting will love to play with these. youtube.com has hundreds of vids to show you how to use them.

Don
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I've used them as my sole source of illumination for a couple of years in the 1980's. The nearest electricity was in another country.

In the place my folks took me for holidays, there was no power, I learned to use one of those when I was 7. They got power there a few years ago but I still sometimes turn the power off and use them. I'd get some pictures, but they are 70 miles away just now. Some of them are getting on for 100 years old - all of them are over 40 years old.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

FlashPilot
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Hi Don,

I was actually thinking about you during your years in Africa as i wrote this. Id love to see your collection once you get around to photographing them some day. Do you recall what brands you used and which ones were your favorites?

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I opted for a powerful kerosene lantern (the 237) after my furnace broke down a few weeks ago. I had to resort to borrowing several plug-in electric heaters for a week to warm the house till I could get a replacement furnace. If the power had also gone out, Id have been off to buy or rent a kerosene heater. Coleman fuels (aka: naptha, white gas, white spirits) and unleaded gas are things you dont want to burn indoors because of the toxic fumes. These fuels also generally dont do well during long term storage and sour. It dawned on me that kerosene can last for ages in plastic fuel containers, its far safer (less flammable) than the other fuels I just mentioned and it actually has a higher btu. I can also burn kerosene indoors as long as I have a properly tuned, clean burning lantern. The 237 puts out around 10,000 btu heat when on full blast, so it'll double nicely as a mega camping light and backup heater in well ventilated areas.

Many non-kerosene burning lanterns can be converted to burn kerosene. Google finds many such success stories, and of which related parts work the best for converting various models.

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I used gasoline in my dual fuel and the burn wasn't as bright or as consistent as the coleman fuel .

Tas62
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which I've had since such things were new.

Looks just like this

LarryB
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I had an old red Coleman 200 for years that grew legs one day. I replaced it with the 290 Powerhouse (non dual fuel) I have had it for probably 20+ years and it gets used 4 or 5 times a year. Never failed me and bright as heck. I also have a coleman campstove my parents bought in 1955. Only part replaced has been the pump. I cast my own bullets for handloading and I use the stove to melt wheel weights down. The stove has probably a couple hundred hours of use on it. Works like the day it was made. Something to be said for the old stuff.

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This is a little more than half of mine...ugggh...at least with 50 flashlights you can store them in a shoebox!  The oldest I have is from about 1923, and works like new (after restoration!)  Love the 237, that's as good as it gets.  I also have a handful of Coleman stoves, including an extremely rare model 373 from about 1930.

 

 

The 237 unrestored...note the tank slides into the body instead of hanging off the side or front:

     

Dave

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FlashPilot wrote:

I was actually thinking about you during your years in Africa as i wrote this. Id love to see your collection once you get around to photographing them some day. Do you recall what brands you used and which ones were your favorites?

 

The one we used were fairly low quality copies of these ones but were very faithful copies, they happily took genuine Tilley spares. The kerosene in Zambia was much heavier stuff than what Tilley vaporisers were designed for and they sooted up in a few weeks. The solution to this was to run them on gasoline which could get exciting as it ate the seals and every so often you got gouts of gasoline vapour near an incandescent object.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

FlashPilot
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soytnly, what a fabulous collection! Thanks for sharing. Is that a 236/237 sitting on your top shelf, 4th one over?

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soytnly -

That is awesome.  I've got a couple of propane Colemans I've had for years.  They can hang in the garage for a decade and then just screw on a tank and it lights right up.  If you turn them down a bit, they run forever on a tank.

 

Foy

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Don wrote:

FlashPilot wrote:

I was actually thinking about you during your years in Africa as i wrote this. Id love to see your collection once you get around to photographing them some day. Do you recall what brands you used and which ones were your favorites?

 

The one we used were fairly low quality copies of these ones but were very faithful copies, they happily took genuine Tilley spares. The kerosene in Zambia was much heavier stuff than what Tilley vaporisers were designed for and they sooted up in a few weeks. The solution to this was to run them on gasoline which could get exciting as it ate the seals and every so often you got gouts of gasoline vapour near an incandescent object.

Tilliey's have quite a following and I think they are very classy looking lamps. Did you mix kerosene with gas or use just straight gasoline? Ive heard horror stories with Petromax lanterns when people try running them on pure gasoline. They are currently made in China, and of course, they are also built to a very low miserable standard. It would probably be safer to just dowse yourself in gasoline and light yourself on fire. lol Ive read that they do very well on kerosen, that is if you can find a good one that was built properly.

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That's a great collection.

I'm having 5 Petromax lanterns, the old ones are the best, the newer, made in China, aren't the same quality as the old ones.

Also having a Tilley for restauration and a Coleman 295 dual fuel for light.

For cooking i have 3 " Petroleumstellen". Don't know how you call them? They're working with wicks like the old oil lamps

Petroleumstel

No power outs here, but i just like to switch the power of and see what happens.

Also 2 Aladdin lamps with the nr 23 burner and a lot of oillamps

soytnly
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FlashPilot wrote:

soytnly, what a fabulous collection! Thanks for sharing. Is that a 236/237 sitting on your top shelf, 4th one over?

Thanks!  Nope, I don't have a 237, what you see is a 220B from the mid-30's..that's one of the few I haven't restored yet, but it works.

Tracer, not sure what those stoves are, cool looking though.  Love Alladins, definitely not budget!

If anyone is interested, this is an excellent forum for pressure lanterns...very similar attitude as BLF http://colemancollectorsforum.websitetoolbox.com/

Dave

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We've got a  2 brown 275 ??  I'm asking soytenly now since it's clear he's the expert here ..and a grey newer one But i don't thinkit's dual fuel  and  the oldest is a blue one ..maybe my favorite .i like doing the 3 pump instead of the 30 and it gives you just a quiet low slow burn .... coleman fuel only .

 kerosene goes bad when you store it too long ..it will burn ok but it stinks more than normal so  use the fresh stuff and kep storing the junk for when no one cares about smell Smile

 This year in canada i refused to fire up the lamps and ran led flashlights instead ..(one reason I rant about the lantern adaptors )(they suck) i tried running mostly AA lights and a few 18650's ..nicely difused they were wonderful .Clean quiet and absolutely perfect.  need heat ?  Start a fire in the stove .Heat is one nice by product of these lanterns . the brilliance and the noise do get wearisome.

  Thanks for the thread Flash  and pics  soytenly ... It doesn't take much to switch my mind to fond memories of a cabin in the woods.

 Hello tracer ..  we have  a bunch of kerosene lamps and some pretty aladdin lamps as well as this beauty ,

 Lomax

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Wow, I thought that BLF flashlight users were just updating their light emitters of old. I too have a collection of pressure lanterns and stoves and I will try to post some pictures in the future. Thanks for this thread.

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I have a CLX/290, identical to the one second from the bottom right in soytnly's collection. I bought it a couple of years ago from a guy I work with for $15. I put new mantles in it and immediately noticed the reduced brightness as compared to the thorium mantles that were available when I was a kid. You can't beat a lantern for nighttime fishing. It makes a good all-around light and runs for hours.

I also have an Alladdin lamp that I have never used. It has a good wick and a NIB mantle. I have a gallon of oil and will be ready to use it if we have a power outage this winter.


Keepin’ the “B” in BLF

Don wrote:
It sounds like the XM LEDs won’t really be suitable for flashlight use. Pity…

soytnly
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Boaz wrote:

We've got a  2 brown 275 ??  I'm asking soytenly now since it's clear he's the expert here ..and a grey newer one But i don't thinkit's dual fuel  and  the oldest is a blue one ..maybe my favorite .i like doing the 3 pump instead of the 30 and it gives you just a quiet low slow burn .... coleman fuel only .

 

That's a beautiful fixture Boaz.  Coleman (and others) actually made similar chandeliers that were pressure operated as well, not to mention about a zillion tablelamps for indoor use...also ran just like a standard lantern.  As far as your brown lanterns, if they're angular, like the brown one in my picture, that is a 275...they are known as The Turd, and not just because of the color...the early models had a new pressure valve...that didn't work...and they would ummm, vent (think huge fireball aka quasi-explosion).  The blue model...is it like a 275?  There was a Canadian model like that, but if it's a much older model, Coleman made some in blue way back when (model 243), very nice lanterns.  Also if anyone is interested, here is a link to the online bible of pressure lanterns, stoves etc from most manufacturers...lotsa nice pictures and some history:  http://tgmarsh.faculty.noctrl.edu/lantern/

Dave

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I got a coleman propane lantern I got about 12 yrs ago. I have only used it on camping trips.

You can't beat them for the about of area light that they produce.

Thanks for the tip about the mantles Flash.

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Boaz -

Those are awesome.

 

Foy

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Canadian Model 321 Deluxe Easi-Lite lantern with a blue painted fount and blue enameled ventilator ..... this is the one I like best....

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Great thread!  We do a bit of camping with the Scouts and the older lanterns and stoves just seem to perform better than the newer stuff.  Have a couple of propane Northstars that perform well, except on low when it's really cold...they scream in protest...so much for "perfect flow" technology.  Was thinking of buying some dual fuel Northstars, glad I read this first. Thanks again for the pics and links, good stuff.

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Some 237/kero talk. If youre not interested in powerful kerosene lanterns, you might want to skip this...

I just scored another Coleman 237 off fleabay (the brightest Coleman lantern ever produced). I already have one manufactured in Canada and my new addition was made in the US. Some people are burning these on a blend of 75% kerosene and 25% Coleman fuel (so called "Amish mix") to make them burn even brighter and help keep the generator clean. I poured a batch of Amish mix last night and was nearly dumbfounded by how much brighter this thing burns. The 237 is said to be equivalent to a 400 watt incandescent bulb. If thats true, Id put it somewhere around 600+ watts with the thorium coated mantle + Amish mix. Oh this is fun stuff to play with... and I havent even burned down my workshop or house yet! Surprised 237's werent designed for economy. They are the Ferrari's of Coleman lanterns and guzzle fuel to the tune of about 1 quart (32 oz.) every 8 hours. Its also a rather loud lantern while in operation. It doesnt hiss like most lanterns. This one roars - kind of a cool sound. Cost with the Amish mix runs me about $3.00 per tank, so about $0.38/hour to operate. Since they burn kerosene, they cost about the same to operate as lesser lanterns that burn Coleman fuel and only produce half the light output. In my area, Coleman fuel is about twice as expensive as kerosene. Its also worth mentioning that the only time that there is a trace of kerosene odor is during cool-down after I turn it off. There's an easy work-around... I just set it outside for 5 minutes after turning off. Otherwise, not even a hint of odor while its burning. I dont mind burning kero indoors but would never try that with Coleman fuel. The trade with kero is that it plugs the generator more quickly and requires more maintenance to keep it clean. I read about an easy way to clean heavily neglected generators. First, remove the gas tip from the generator and set it aside. Then pull the springs and rod "pricker" from the generator and heat those pieces with a blow torch until they turn a dull orange. Then quickly drop them in a glass of water. The fast quench causes the carbon deposits to fracture and fall off. Repeat as necessary. I only have a few gallons of fuel through my 237 so far and the generator has remained fairly clean up to this point. I'll update this post after Ive used it more. Coleman still makes most of the parts for this lantern and they are amazingly inexpensive. As I mentioned earlier, most older lanterns are nearly impossible to find parts for... another boon for the 237.


Some more great info about the 237 from FlameKeeper on CPF:

This has some old posts and misleading information .Some points I would like to correct here.

The Coleman 236 and 237 lanterns were designed and built in Canada but the Canadian Div of the company. The two remain the largest and brightest Gasoline and Kerosne lanterns Coleman ever produced. Later they were produced in the USA and Mexico in the form of kits from the Toronto factory. The Influence of the Canadian two post style of lantern can still be seen in the Only remaining large Kerosene lantern still produced the 639B ( product of USA ), Its a direct line it even shares the globe with the 1939 236 Major.....

As for dual fueling of presure lamps there is no issue unless the lantern has a Glyptal coated tank ( this coating was a band aid solution to prevent rust when the brass founts ended production ). Later Epoxy coated founts are safe from the solvent properties of modern gasoline and obviously the older brass and non coated steel are fine.

When using pump gasoline in a lantern there a small issue of clogging since the fuel is not as clean and refined as Naphtha gas. But cleaning a Gen is as easy as burning out the tars and Varnish with a niny torch and removing the carbon or desolving it with carb cleaner.

Some lanterns like the 237 and 247 ( Canadian Kersosene version of the 242 ) are marked " for Gasoline or Kerosene generator must be preheated ", In the case of the 247 the TK66 generator is a compromise that will run a little rich on Kero and a little lean on gasoline so it works. The Canadian 237 used a slightly larger gas tip ( I tip .0085 ) VS US made gens ( V tip .008 ).

The 237 Empire is probably the safest and most reliable multi fuel lantern out there and can be trusted to burn anything from Diesel to Gas.

AS far as the safety of the gas lanterns goes well they are only as safer as the user and I am not sure I would let young Boyscouts use them unsupervised.

For indoor use Coleman made table lamps like the 156 Kerosene ( I think the Kerosene units are not only better performers but safer ) and there is information posted on the net to convert other types using the R55, T66 or T44 generators to kerosene or true dual fuel


I just noticed that another nice looking 237 just showed up on ebay. Must resist...

Id like to score a nice 201, 247 or 249 some day. (smaller vintage kero burners)

Does anyone else have any other tips for operating 237's or other similar kero burners?

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Boaz, I love the antique decor theme in your home! VERY NICE!! The lamps really bring out your intent.

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soytnly, you wouldnt by chance own a descent 201, 247, 249 or similar you'd want to sell, would you? Im looking for one I can use so it doesnt have to be perfect. Id hate to convert my 200A.

Anyone else?

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FlashPilot wrote:

soytnly, you wouldnt by chance own a descent 201, 247, 249 or similar you'd want to sell, would you? Im looking for one I can use so it doesnt have to be perfect. Id hate to convert my 200A.

Anyone else?

Unfortunately I don't...I love kero but have resisted that slippery slope...so far. I have kero Optimus/Primus stoves but that's it.  Check on the Coleman collectors forum...someone there could help you out I'm sure...those guys are class A hoarders...and exceptionally nice people Laughing

Dave

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Ecosys wrote:

 Have a couple of propane Northstars that perform well, except on low when it's really cold...they scream in protest...so much for "perfect flow" technology.  Was thinking of buying some dual fuel Northstars, glad I read this first. Thanks again for the pics and links, good stuff.

As you found out, propane doesn't work well in real cold.  If money is an issue, check craigslist...you can usually find very nice 220's for $10+ most any day.  They made a zillion 220F's, if you were closer I'd give you a couple.  The build quality is much better than the modern stuff, for the most part.

Oh Flash, love the 237, awesome buy!

Dave

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soytnly wrote:

As you found out, propane doesn't work well in real cold.  If money is an issue, check craigslist...you can usually find very nice 220's for $10+ most any day.  They made a zillion 220F's, if you were closer I'd give you a couple.  The build quality is much better than the modern stuff, for the most part.

Thank you for the heads-up and generous offer on the 220F's.  Will keep an eye open for pressure-fuel lanterns on Craigslist. Presently everything we have is propane powered, but that's going to change. 

Spent a little time looking through the lantern forums, boy do I have a lot to learn!  Love the look of the older U.S and German brass and chrome lanterns, Mica globes, wow! They'd be a great addition to any picnic table or just the back porch even. It seems that I'll be spending more time and money that I don't have on these guys. Smile 

Thanks again, good thread.

Trig

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