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Coleman Lantern Multi-Fuel Conversion

I've been playing around for a while with making Coleman gas lanterns run on fuels they're not supposed to be able to run on -- kerosene, lamp oil, stove oil, diesel fuel, etc. There are several motivations for this:

Mind you, I'm not suggesting you do anything with your lantern that the manufacturer doesn't recommend, I'm simply telling you what I've done to mine. If you blow your fingers off and burn your house down, it's your fault, not mine.

There are a couple problems associated with burning fuels that don't vaporize on their own in lanterns designed for gas:

  1. The generator must be preheated to vaporize the fuel so the lantern will light. This is accomplished via a donut-shaped preheat cup that's slipped over the generator, then filled with alcohol and lit when one wants to light the lantern.
  2. Kerosene and similar fuels require more air than gas to burn correctly. Some (maybe most) lanterns' air tubes are too small to supply enough air. This may be correctable by changing out the gas tip for one with a smaller orifice, but I haven't got around to trying that yet.

Very dirty fuel requires that you operate the tip cleaner frequently, and plugs the generator very quickly. (By "dirty", I mean visibly clean, but containing stuff that doesn't vaporize and plugs the generator. I've had a problem with some stove oil, but other stove oil works fine.) Both problems can be lessened by adding a little mineral spirits (usually sold as paint thinner or cleaning solvent) to the fuel. 1/2 cup per gallon seems to work well, and is still useable indoors in my leaky old house, but I wouldn't do it in most houses. Also be sure to have a spare generator handy. The best idea is to avoid fuel that requires use of the tip cleaner, because it'll plug the generator very quickly. I've found that oven cleaner will clean a plugged generator and make it useable again.

Model 200A has been my best success. This is the red* single-mantle lantern made from about 1950-1980. The air tube is the same size as the 220/228 series 2-mantle lanterns and most of the old Coleman gas table lamps, but it has to supply only one mantle. So all you have to do is add the preheat cup, and voila, you have a multifuel lantern. You need the long wood strike-anywhere matches to light it because small matches won't reach the preheat cup unless you remove the ventilator and globe.
* If yours isn't medium red in color, you may have a very valuable collector's piece. Please contact me before doing anything to it.

Model 285 also works, but it's a little touchy. It has to be throttled back to burn right, but that's not too difficult because of its adjustability. You have to remove the ventilator and globe to light it because even a long match won't reach the preheat cup with the lantern assembled.

I have a few other lanterns I still want to try. I'll post the results here when I get to them. (But don't hold your breath, it may take a while.) If you try a different model and find it works well, let me know.

We don't sell the preheat cup and alcohol bottle; we suggest you call Leacock Coleman Center at 717-768-7174.

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