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Mishaps and Surprises wih White Gas and Multifuel Stoves

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Mishaps and Surprises wih White Gas and Multifuel Stoves

Old 04-30-13, 04:37 PM
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eternalvoyage
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Mishaps and Surprises wih White Gas and Multifuel Stoves

What can go wrong?

How and why does it happen?

What does it look like?

Hopefully this thread can be a resource for those interested in learning more about these aspects of using these types of stoves.
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Old 04-30-13, 05:37 PM
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White gas -

Seals can leak.
Something to keep in mind is that the O ring that seals the fuel line on the MSR whisperlite and simmerlite HAS to be lubricated. If you insert the fuel line when you first get the stove with no lube it will damage the seal (you will note that there is orange debris stuck to the fuel line port when you remove it - bits of the seal). This can cause the fuel line to leak around the port.

Over-priming.
To light an MSR white gas stove you have to let fuel flow through the stove and drip in to the fuel bowl below the burner. It is very easy to let out too much fuel causing it to spill on the ground underneath the stove (or if you use the bottom shield that comes with it - on to that). To prevent this - monitor the fuel closely. You may note that the fuel fills the burner first (easier to see on a simmerlite). Once the fuel starts flowing in to the bowl be real careful to cut the valve off so as to not over-fill the bowl. Only a little bit of fuel is needed as this bowl will ignite and let the rest of the fuel in the burner catch when the flames lick up that high. Just as the flame is dieing down turn the valve back on slowly and you should get it to catch. If it is spitting orange flames at first that is OK, but before you go to turn the heat up let it turn to a blue flame.

Stopped up fuel line.
Occasionally you will have to clean out the fuel line in a white gas stove. You will note that the stove will start sputtering after some time of use (mine was a couple years of occasional use). If you find yourself needing to re-light the stove mid-cook you want to check the fuel flow through the line and through the burner. The MSR stoves have a cable that runs the length of the fuel line. That little nifty, frankly very odd looking, tool that comes with the stove - this is one good reason to use it. There is a hole in that tool that is designed to grip the cable in the fuel line to pull it out. This will rub the inside of the line and clean it. Check the cable for gunk, clean if necessary (fresh fuel will work, but don't use paper - napkin, paper towel, etc - or even loose cotton - you want something that won't leave fibers behind), then re-insert in the fuel line. This can be a challenge as the cable is small and floppy. Get creative with the tool and inch it back in to place. The last 1/3-1/4 of the run is the hardest.

Aside from spilled/leaking fuel, I am not real sure of what other mishaps could happen. Operator error is the biggest issue I'd say. Learn your stove(s) and build your confidence. Learn their quarks, learn their limitations, and you'll be a happy camper.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:47 PM
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A couple of years ago, before a trip, I tested out my MSR WhisperLite that I had not used recently. I set it up on my deck, primed it with a dab of fire paste, and let it run for a couple of minutes. Just at the precise moment I decided "that's enough, it runs fine", one of the O-rings in the pump failed.

What does it look like? Remenber when Saddam's troops torched those Kuwaiti oil wells? Like that.

The pump was destroyed and the jet of flame cut right through the aluminum windscreen. I was able to put it out with an extinguisher before the deck and house were ignited. Spilled fuel and dry leaves were burning under the deck, but I was able to get under there to put that out thanks to a sort of tunnel my dogs had
dug so they could play down there. The failed ring was one of the ones by the fuel metering/cutoff knob so there was no way to turn off the flow of fuel.

It was an exciting experience to say the least. If it had happened while I was turning the fuel knob, I would likely have been sprayed with the burning fuel. Since then I have been mostly using a Swedish Army surplus Trangia and my old Svea123. I have a thing for Swedish brass.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe
I have a thing for Swedish brass.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:52 AM
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I was wondering why you did not ask this question when you proposed to design and build a newer, lighter, better white gas stove. But it appears that you did not blow yourself up ... ... yet.
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Old 05-01-13, 08:51 AM
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Oh boy. Now, if I was not a gentleman, I might make a comment about polishing my Svea.

But I won't.
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Old 05-01-13, 11:54 AM
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Another thing that can easily happen is cross-threading the cap. I actually did it this morning when refilling a fuel bottle. Novices would be less likely to detect it.

Apparently, NOLS leaders are very aware of the problem. When they take a group out, some of them make sure they bring along an extra MSR pump, because they know that someone is likely to make this mistake, and the light the stove.

Fuel leaks out around the cap. When it ignites, it melts the pump. Then more gas spills out and ignites.

Usually the leaders make sure the environs can handle these fires without spreading further.
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Old 05-02-13, 03:46 PM
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My experience with coleman stoves and white gas has been similar to the Boston marathon bombing, minus the shrapnel. Great fun. I have found out from experience that you can burn all the paint off a coleman stove and it will still work!
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Old 05-02-13, 05:13 PM
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I've had issues with Coleman stoves (And lanterns car camping) every once in awhile. I've got the Coleman stove lighting fine tuned, so I haven't had any problems lately. I've never used my Peak 1 stove on a bicycle trip.

I've also had an incident here and there with priming an old Optimus stove.

With both stoves, I've always been able to wait until the flame had died down enough to put the flame out. If I had not placed the stove in a good location away from flammable materials, it could have been worse.
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