Kerosene pressure lamps

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by hot diggity, Jun 6, 2017.

  1. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I'm sure there is some of the old "playing with fire" curiosity pushing this, but I'm using my lanterns so much as reading lights that the neighbors probably wonder if I have power. (I met a neighbor kid the other day that thought my house was vacant, so I must be doing something right.) I would love to be able to sit outside with a silent Aladdin mantle lamp on the table, but the slightest breeze is troublesome to them.

    After using Coleman gas lanterns outside for so long it's become as natural as flipping on a light switch, I got my first Coleman 237. At 500CP that big single mantle kerosene monster made reading outside by the fire an absolute pleasure. (See my post on Too Much Light) The hiss, initially annoying, now often lulls me to sleep.

    The preheat learning curve with kerosene lighting (and cooking appliances) is a little steep, especially working with old worn out lanterns, but they can be tamed. At $4.00 a gallon for kerosene compared to $11.00 for Coleman white gas I can afford to keep the lights on all the time now. I've even very successfully converted a cheaper Coleman 220H into a Coleman 231 clone.

    Any other Coleman, Petromax, Aida, Hipolito kerosene pressure lamp users out there?
  2. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Last time I used my new was probably around 2000. Guess I should try them out.
    Kerosene just never seemed like a good option for gas lamps. Gasoline was a lot cheaper and worked great even at lower temperatures.
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  3. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    That dark art (pressure lamp lighting) was never part of an officer's a compass...far too dangerous (to all in the vicinity).

    nor was lighting a 'choofer'

  4. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    With the rapid rise of white gas prices, poor quality of some other-than-Coleman fuels, storage stability and relative safety I found the kerosene irresistible.

    The preheat is just a bit longer in the winter, but I have never needed a second preheat on the Coleman style, and the European Aida/Petromax preheat with a blowtorch so they're easy. My most troublesome lantern, the 220 conversion, before I had the bugs worked out, seemed to need a lot of preheat when I was using a propane torch. With a preheat cup (3/4" copper pipe cap with a 1/4" tube soldered inside that I left intentionally deep for winter preheats) I have been surprised how fast it heats up on denatured alcohol. I think this is simply because the alcohol heats the tube on all sides and along its' entire length. Some Coleman engineer can be proud of the simplicity and efficiency of this design. :)

    The difference in light output between white gas and kerosene (with the correct mantles) isn't quite like night and day....closer to sunset and high noon!

    I just had a terrible vision of a once beautifully marbled steak that had been flopped on my messhall tray looking like a furry gray boot sole after it was cooked in a field kitchen. :cry:

    Best piece of safety gear for GI camp cooking was a wet towel. The old M1950 stove wasn't bad, but when Uncle switched to a single battlefield fuel we got the Coleman Exponent multifuel stove running badly on JP8. If it was set up or preheated wrong it'd burn your tent down. The wet towel trick was so much easier on the gear than kicking it around the camp until it ran out of fuel.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2017
  5. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Try to find old Ship, Mine or Train Crew lamps, these are weather proof and can put out a fair amount of light, are far safer to use, and actually more fuel efficient then the pressure type of lamps.
    Motomom34 and Dunerunner like this.
  6. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    It's interesting that these kind of practical hints are never printed on the safety / care / use instructions. That one's a keeper.
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  7. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @hot diggity I don't know anything about kerosene lamps so I found your thread interesting and intend to take some time to research them. I assume kerosene keeps longer than gas which is of great interest to me. I honestly don't even know where to purchase kerosene or lamps (I assume lamps are on Amazon like everything else). Currently, I use LED lanterns using 'D' batteries in case of a power failure and have plenty of Duracell batteries on hand (supposedly has 10-year shelf life) but a few Kerosene lamps would definitely be handy, especially the Ship, Mine or Train Crew that @Ura-Ki mentioned. Anyway, thanks! I will look into them some more as sure lots of info here on the site.
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  8. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    @Bandit99 Old railroad lanterns and small nightstand kerosene wick lamps were my introduction to an earlier time when my family lived without electricity. They also went to bed shortly after it got dark and used the lamps light just to keep from falling over stuff. They are great lamps and lanterns, and are extremely durable and fuel efficient. I keep them all over the house as part of the functional decor. They just don't have sufficient light output for what I need, which is an outdoor reading light.

    Kerosene mantle lamps, roughly divided into the Aladdin silent, non-pressurized lamps for indoor use, and pressurized lamps are entirely different and exponentially brighter lamps. For your search I'd divide the pressure lamps into European style blow-torch preheaters like Petromax and the Coleman lamps (Models 201, 214, 237 and 231 come to mind, although there are others. Coleman also made an export only blowtorch preheated lantern.) requiring alcohol preheat. I find the 237 to be the most available online, and there may be something newer, but I have not been interested in newer Coleman offerings due to manufacturing changes.

    Be warned, lanterns seem to be like bunnies. Before you know it, they have multiplied and you have them all over. :)
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
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  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Information NOTE, here: Fuel Grades.... Kerosene usually comes in two Grades... Pearl Kerosene, (LampOil) and Regular Kerosene... Pearl is a slightly finer Grade, of the two... Then next down the list Is JetA50 (Filtered to FAA Specs) which is just slightly less refined than Regular Kerosene.... Next down the list is #1 Diesel/Home Heating Fuel. It is slightly less refined than the afore mentioned grades, many Distributers will sell ALL the afore mentioned, All from the same tank, except the Pearl Kerosene... Then we come to #2 Diesel in which the Paraffin has NOT been refined out of the Fuel... This has More BTUs per volume, due to the dissolved Paraffin, and has a much higher Gelling Temp... Most Distributers carry only Three Grades... Pearl Kerosene in 55USG Drums, Regular #1 Diesel in Bulk Storage Tanks, and #2 Diesel in Bulk Storage Tanks.... Then when they sell, they add the Dye, the Additive Package, and run it thru the Filter, that goes with the Specific Grade that is being delivered to the Customer....
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  10. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    A bit off topic, but worth remembering. Wick lamps will readily burn any of the lamp oil, fuel oil, diesel oil and similar stuff. That said, gasoline and the lighter fuels can and will get you in a bad way with wick lamps. Pressure lamps are rather fond of the higher grade stuff, which is why I stick strictly with wick lamps and save the higher grade fuels for higher uses. Yep, wick lamps will stink, but I'd rather that than falling over a misplaced chair when the power goes away. (And operating them is nearly stupid proof, as I have demonstrated a couple times. No pumping, no kneeling down to the gods of lighting them, and no hissing to wake the fishes.)
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
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  11. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    Another fuel bugaboo that folks get themselves into is using the pretty colored lamp oil from the chain store. Most of this is liquid paraffin and will damage your mantle and wick.

    I've had no trouble finding $4 a gallon K1 (clear, no dye, no tax, no joke) kerosene in a pump at several of the older gas stations in town. My regular pump is even a little generous in the summer time, and I've learned to seasonally adjust when I stop the pump before I overflow my lazy man one gallon can.
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  12. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @hot diggity Thanks! I would assume that the pressurized lamps are more favored, yes?

    @BTPost "Kerosene usually comes in two Grades... Pearl Kerosene, (LampOil) and Regular Kerosene... Pearl is a slightly finer Grade, of the two..."
    I did not know this either as always thought there was only one. So, to be clear, one cannot/should not run 'regular Kerosene' in a lamp, it should be Pearl?
  13. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    For light, pressurized is the way to fly, and yes with the highest grade fuel you can find, that means pearl. Regarding kero, there are folks out there that continuously confuse kero with jet fuel and fuel oil. They are very similar, but not to be confused for some uses. Lamps are one such use.
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  14. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I think the pearl kerosene that has been mentioned is called "water clear" here in the South. I had never heard of pearl until yesterday. Learned something new. :)
    chelloveck likes this.
  15. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    You know, now that you mention it, I remember someone telling me that JP8 was kerosene. Good to know!
  16. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    Any of the JP series of fuels are essentially kerosene. The different numbers have other (and different) additives. JP8 was designed for use in gas turbines, both stationary and aviation, and in diesels. At one time, DoD was going to phase out all gasoline fueled engines, but I don't know if that happened.
  17. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Look at they sell lanterns and have delivery. Plus you can also order extra wicks.
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  18. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++


    It went deeper than just phasing out gasoline engines...and stoves. We phased out diesel as well.

    I hadn't had anything running on MOGAS (What's MOGAS? Rumor has it that it's regular 87 octane civilian gasoline to which Uncle has added something which lowers the octane, but makes "Mo' Gas.") since the last M880 was scrapped in the mid 1980's. My beloved M151's and pull-start (that's a joke only old mule drivers will get!) M249 Mules were long gone by them. I don't know if it stuck, but the Marine Corps went to a "single battlefield fuel" in the late 1990's. It was an absolute nightmare for me as a maintenance officer because JP8 loosened up all the fungus and crud that had accumulated in perfectly functional diesel fuel systems and plugged up the fuel filters with it. Four, five, six filter changes later all was well and we had everything running on JP8.

    Just in time to replace everything that I had gotten rolling with brand new equipment...within months after I retired.

    Back on topic. I picked up a Coleman 200a today that had mantles inside that were marked on the package "Two for 35 cents."
    It was built in April 1955. Needs work, but I like a challenge.

    I'm writing this by Coleman 237 light. ;)
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
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