Cold weather stoves...

10:52 a.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Would the MSR SimmerLite be a solid option for my winter solo use? I have no experience with this stove but is seems like a decent little burner. 

I am honestly looking for info from anyone that has used this stove. 

I have a heavier model that is good for groups but its complete overkill for just myself.

12:08 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Hi, Rick,

Check your messages, but the Simmerlite is a very nice solo cold weather option.  It can be used for more than solo use, but because it's the lightest remote burner white gasoline stove out there, it's a good choice for solo use.

HJ
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12:29 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Yeah, what Jim said.

I do not own a lot of stoves, I have used a lot of stoves that belonged to buddies.

I do own the MSR Simmerlite and the Whisperlite and have used the XGK, and Dragonfly among other brands / types.

The Simmerlite would be my choice although I was slightly disappointed in it's simmering ability.

 I don't see how you can go wrong with a lightweight white gas stove in cold weather. I know there are plenty of work a rounds for other stove types to negate the effects of cold temps, but for me it's an unnecessary hassle IF I have a liquid fuel option.

Anyway, that's why I would choose the Simmerlite with a Whisperlite a close second.

2:17 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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trout -

maybe you were disappointed by it's simmering because it simmers things litely...

3:13 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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iClimb said:

trout -

maybe you were disappointed by it's simmering because it simmers things litely...

 Yes, that was it.

I have had to lift pots and pans away from the burner before as well as manually manipulate fuel pressure, I guess you burn more fuel this way when compared to an adjustable canister stove, but heck white gas is still way cheaper.

4:30 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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I use the Simmerlite winter and summer. I get similar boil times to the Whisperlite at full tilt and I can simmer quite well on mine without playing fiddly games with the fuel pressure. Then again, I can simmer on my XGKs and Whisperlites, which most people seem to have problems with.

7:08 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

I use the Simmerlite winter and summer. I get similar boil times to the Whisperlite at full tilt and I can simmer quite well on mine without playing fiddly games with the fuel pressure. Then again, I can simmer on my XGKs and Whisperlites, which most people seem to have problems with.

What is your tip to getting the so-called water bioler stoves to simmer.  I happen to use a MSR Firefly (early 1980s era stove) that simmers like a champ.  Some of my companions have the models you mention.  We were able to get a Whisperlite to simmer, by using very low tank pressure and a tank that was about 1/4 full.  It required a pump or two every five minutes, however, to maintain the flame setting.  The other stove owners are too impatient to learn, and are content to use their stoves solely to boil water. 

So Bill, how do you get yours to simmer?

Ed

8:47 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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my brother in law brought a simmerlite on a few winter trips.  worked great - not what i would choose to melt lots of snow, but fine for meals.

getting a lower flame on the xgk in my experience is mainly a matter of patience and a light touch.  don't pump it up too high, wait until the burner heats up, then dial the valve back in small increments.  

i also think that having a pot that heats evenly helps a lot.  hard anodized aluminum is great if you don't mind carrying it.  

11:08 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Bill,

If you've got a Simerlite that can simmer, hang on to that stove.  I've been able to get my old XGK, my old Whisperlite, etc. to simmer, but no can do on the Simmerlite.  It just dies on me.  I swear I know all the tricks, and I've got a variety of pumps (yellow, gray & black, red & gray non-duraseal, and red & gray duraseal), but I cannot get my Simmerlite to simmer.

I think most people have trouble with getting a Simmerlite to simmer.  In fact the joke name of the stove is the SimmerNOT.   Also, I notice that MSR makes no mention of simmering with a Simmerlite on their website.

HJ
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4:44 a.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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hikin_jim said:

 ..Also, I notice that MSR makes no mention of simmering with a Simmerlite on their website...

Jim:

I noticed the MSR WindPro burner unit looks strikingly similar to the SimerLite.  Are they the same, except for different orifices?  If so one wonders why they don’t create a liquid fuel version but with the fuel umbilicus and second control valve, as that used on the Dragonfly.

Ed

1:10 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Ed,

I have been wondering about the similarities for a long time. I haven't done a close comparison, but if I can remember, I will ask about any similarities at the OR Show, end of January. I do know that the required hole size in the jet is different for butane mixes, white gas (which is really naphtha), and kerosene.

Although I use my Simmerlite a lot for backpacking, I do not use it on expeditions, mainly because of a fundamental problem with "silent burner" burner designs. If you spill the soup or even water on them, they are really hard to clean to work properly in the field. The screen design "silent burner" is very difficult to field clean. At least the "waffle plate" design that the Whisperlite and many Coleman camp stoves and the Peak 1s have can be disassembled and cleaned out from a spill, as well as cleaning the soot deposits. You don't have those problems with the "roarer burner" like the XGK has. (not that the "silent burner" designs are all that much quieter than the "roarer" design).

As for the second control valve like the Dragonfly, you will note that no one else has done a Dragonfly-like arrangement. There are several good reasons for this. First is reliability and required maintenance. Although the Dragonfly works reasonably well when you do regular maintenance, including frequent disassembly and cleaning of the needle valve, the Dragonfly does not live up to its originally announced purpose of an XGK-like stove that added simmer capability. At full tilt, it is slower to boil. More important, it is not very dependable in expedition-like conditions, especially cold weather at altitude. When the Dragonfly first came out, a couple of friends did a cross-Greenland ski trek. About midway, the Dragonfly utterly failed. They couldn't figure out what was going on, but luckily had an XGK for a backup. Later on, people began to realize that the needle valve clogs very quickly unless you follow the instructions for shutdown that are now included in the owner's sheet - first shut the pump valve, then open the needle valve fully. Let the stove run until it starts sputtering and the yellow flame shows. At that point, blow out the yellow flame. What this does is to clear the fuel line, plus blowing out the yellow flame allows the remaining liquid fuel to vaporize and blow the jet clear. However, you still have to frequently disassemble the needle valve and clean it.

Now, with compressed gas (butane and butane mixes), you won't get the "laquer" build-up. But then, you can easily control the simmering with the basic valve with compressed gas.

I have had a Dragonfly for quite a few years, since about a year after it came out. However, I very rarely use it - just as a demo in the "show and tell" part of the 50-miler prep and winter camping courses I teach. Yeah, I know people who say they haven't had the needle valve clog. But when I ask about their usage, virtually all do not use the stove very much.

You asked about getting the XGK and Whisperlite to simmer. First part of the answer is to learn how to use the stove properly. The vast majority of people I see using them just pump it up, open the valve for priming, let a huge amount of fuel out, light the match, and watch the 5 foot high flame (which builds up lots of soot and clogs the jet) until it burns out, then light another match to get the stove lit. If you do it right, the priming flame will reach no more than 3 or 4 inches above the burner and you won't get soot buildup. Next part is to maintain the stove properly. The other requirement is to develop a sensitive touch on the valve. Most of all, it is practice, practice, practice, paying careful attention to what you do and what the results are.

And by the way, that little cup below the burner on the Simmerlite is NOT the "priming cup". Read the instructions and you will see it is the "overflow cup." That's a big hint that if you let fuel flow in for priming to the point it overflows into the overflow cup, you are using way too much fuel for priming. If you used a Svea 123, you may have noticed the small hole drilled in the side of the burner cup. Many people fill the indentation on the 123 around the stem on top of the tank. But that indentation is also the "overflow cup". All you really need to prime any of the liquid fuel stoves is a little "spritz" of fuel.

1:32 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

Jim:

I noticed the MSR WindPro burner unit looks strikingly similar to the SimerLite.  Are they the same, except for different orifices?  If so one wonders why they don’t create a liquid fuel version but with the fuel umbilicus and second control valve, as that used on the Dragonfly.

Ed

 Ed,

They're basically the same stove except for the connectors.  If you look at my Review of the MSR WindPro, I've got some side by side photos.  Other than the connectors, there are no differences visible to the naked eye.  I assume the jet aperture is larger on the Windpro.

Why don't they make a simmering version of the Simmerlite?  Probably expense.  MSR has/has had a couple of good simmering stoves:  The Firefly and the Dragonfly.  Both required a second valve (at the burner) in order to facilitate precise simmering.  That second valve is going to take more design and more fabrication.  It would be nice if MSR had a liquid fueled simmering stove in the Whisperlite/Simmerlite class.  The Dragonfly is a big, heavy beast.  Nice stove though.

The one down side to the valve-at-the-burner stoves is that you can't have a scouring cable all the way down the fuel line like you can with an XGK/Whisperlite/Simmerlite.  As a consequence, stoves with a valve at the burner typically require more maintenance.  YMMV.

HJ
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1:48 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Addenda to the above:

I just read Bill's post.  I've had the same experience as Bill.  I've had a Dragonfly fail on me twice in the field, both my fault.  I now know you have to be WAY more careful about getting any lint/crud in your fuel and WAY more careful to follow the shut down procedure.  Turning it off at the "at the burner" valve is a no-no.  I found that out the hard way a couple of years ago.

They're not bad stoves, and the simmering is wonderful, but you have to maintain them a lot more than something like an XGK or a Whisperlite.

If you ever do get a jam at the in-line fuel filter, you can pull out the in-line filter with the point of a safety pin or needle.  If you have a sharp knife, you can cut the filter in half.  Discard the half that was facing the incoming fuel, and re-insert the filter.  In a real pinch, you could discard the in-line filter entirely, although you could then wind up with a clog at the at-the-burner-valve or at the jet.  The new Duraseal Dragonfly pumps are an improvement over the older aquamarine colored non-Duraseal pumps if for no other reason than they have a filter on the fuel pick-up tube.  To me, it makes a lot more sense to stop any crud before it enters the pump rather than letting go through the pump and get into the in-line filter where it's harder to take care of.

HJ
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1:38 a.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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I have the Simmerlite. It has worked out ok for me though I'm in the camp of those who say the best way to make it simmer is to hold the pan above it away from the burner.

I haven't used it in any really cold weather, probably just down to the mid 30's or so. It has been fine at those temps.

4:23 a.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Ed,

..Although I use my Simmerlite a lot for backpacking, I do not use it on expeditions, mainly because of a fundamental problem with "silent burner" burner designs. If you spill the soup or even water on them, they are really hard to clean to work properly in the field. The screen design "silent burner" is very difficult to field clean....

..As for the second control valve like the Dragonfly, you will note that no one else has done a Dragonfly-like arrangement. There are several good reasons for this. First is reliability and required maintenance. Although the Dragonfly works reasonably well when you do regular maintenance, including frequent disassembly and cleaning of the needle valve, the Dragonfly does not live up to its originally announced purpose of an XGK-like stove that added simmer capability. At full tilt, it is slower to boil. More important, it is not very dependable in expedition-like conditions, especially cold weather at altitude...

 

Hmm, good point about trying to field clean the silent burner configurations.

I own a precursor to the Dragonfly, the MSR Firefly, a model that came out in the early 1980s, but was taken off the market after only a few years.  It could boil almost as fast as the XKG, and had excellent simmer control.  But the steel heat exchange ring surrounding the roarer burner and the steel wire tripod pot stand made it relatively heavy for a lightweight stove. I never had a field problem with the Firefly, but the simmer valve design was very different from the Dragonfly.  The Firefly had a maintenance kit - more like a complete overhaul kit - that contained replacement o-rings, pump diaphragm, fuel orifice, and other minor components one could use to completely overhaul the stove and pump, in the field if need be.  I never had a problem in the field; nevertheless I always carried an overhaul kit on all trips.  When MSR took the stove of the market I hoarded as many overhaul kits as I could find.  The clerks at REI must have thought I was a nut!

I always wondered why they took the Firefly off the market, given I considered it the most versatile and trustworthy stove I have ever used.  It eventually develop a fuel leak where the flex hose connected to the steel fuel line that was part of the stove body.  This was due to a flawed design, something they could easily improve.  I just replaced the fuel line and came up with a better way to connect it to the stove.  Nevertheless I suspect this problem caused a serious accident and an ensuing law suit probably forced removing the product from store shelves.  That is my theory anyway; perhaps you can also ask the MSR rep why the Firefly was taken off the market? 

Ed

11:58 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Ed,

Economics is what killed the Firefly.  The Firefly was introduced around 1980.  The Whisperlite around 1984.   The Whisperlite was cheap, and by the end of the decade was a runaway smash success.  The Firefly was expensive to buy and expensive to produce.  The demand wasn't there, and MSR took it quickly off the market.

There were some problems with the FF.  The biggest problem I'm familiar with is valve seizing.  The aluminum portions of the stove could warp with heat, and the valve could seize.  My opinion is that probably people were using the stove improperly.  The "pie tin" windscreen though effective was an awful, inconvenient idea that thankfully died with the Firefly.  A lot of people wouldn't bring the inconvenient windscreen, and I believe that's what damaged the stove.  The fuel line as noted had it's problems too as did the early Whisperlite fuel lines.  MSR replaced that cloth covered rubber fuel line in the mid to late 80's to the best of my ability to determine.

I know a lot of people that really like the FF, and they certainly get a good price on eBay.  Still, you can hardly blame MSR.  They had a troubled stove that was basically good but needed work.  It was expensive to produce, and they had to accept returns due to the valve issue.  They had another stove that was a runaway smash best seller.  Why on earth would they NOT cancel the Firefly? 

The FF is a good stove if you take care of her.  Those of us who have one rue the day that MSR discontinued the model.

HJ

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3:26 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Love mine and white gas is the choice for winter.ymmv

3:30 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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I ended up going with the Simmer"not" lol. 

I am not too worried about simmering. I boil water and melt snow. So simmering is no big deal for me.

All I'm worried about is getting my belly full. I can make gourmet dishes at home in the microwave. :)

4:28 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Simmerlite's a good one, Rick.  I think you'll like it.  Nice and light and compact.

Happy Trails,

HJ

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4:30 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Rick, has the medication for the knee lead you on a spending spree? The new Hille, new backpack, new stove........ if this is what injured is like I'm gonna go find a wet rock!

4:36 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Oh Jake, I am on a roll. I am still placing orders. 

The Flailing limb may have a bit to do with it. 

So much gear, so little time. I need a bigger basement. :p

4:46 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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What other orders you got on the burner!? (pun intended)

4:56 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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I've got all kinds of stuff lined up. New shell, pants(cold weather,) I'm giving the MSR Lightning Ascents a whirl(if I don't like them I can go back to my Atlas flippers and use the MSRs as back-up/loaners)

I could go on and on... Its never ending with me lol. 

Hey what can I say, I'm a gearhead. Plus alot of what I have been buying is replacing the gear that I got jacked for some time back. 

Upgrading is not a bad thing either. :)

7:00 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Dang, Rick,

You're as bad as I am.  :)

HJ

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7:27 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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hikin_jim said:

Dang, Rick,

You're as bad as I am.  :)

HJ

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 Oh, I am sure its only gonna get worse with time. ;)

9:03 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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I am an admitted gearhead as well. Just had a new store open with a huge selection of woolpower which I havn't been able to see in person yet, could be dangerous to the bank account. Also looking at the Exped downmat, those aren't cheap either.

9:07 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Jake W said:

Also looking at the Exped downmat, those aren't cheap either.

 Ooooh, thanks Jake. Ya just reminded me I need a new pad. 

9:18 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Wow, just what I want some Woolpower & an Exped mat!

I have to get Christmas behind me, then it's go time.

7:30 a.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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whoops sorry boys! Please apologize to the wives/girlfriends/significant others who will be upset about the money you'll be spending. Can't mention gear on here or everyone starts drooling, hahaha.

trout- did you ever end up getting any woolpower products? I know you had a thread about it a little while back. My fiancee got me a icebreaker top (she's terrible at keeping secrets!) for Christmas. She said I've got the green light to switch it for something else if I want. The woolpwer quality seems to be superior. That is from only one look in a store though!

2:00 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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Please stop!  The drool is shorting out my keyboard.  ;)

HJ

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5:43 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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BillS said " If you used a Svea 123, you may have noticed the small hole drilled in the side of the burner cup. Many people fill the indentation on the 123 around the stem on top of the tank. But that indentation is also the "overflow cup". All you really need to prime any of the liquid fuel stoves is a little "spritz" of fuel."

All stoves have their pros and cons as Bill described. I have used dozens of different stoves over the years, beginning with Bluets, and Phoebus 725's(great stoves, the latter), and each stove must be learned. My trusty SVEA 123R is a wonderful little stove, very reliable and heats fast. But, it needs to be stabilized well, large diameter pots can create too much pressure in the tank, and the tank must be insulated from the snow to maintain pressure. Optimus tried to solve this by offering a pump, ala the 8, in order the easily achieve and maintain pressure. But the pump was always a PITA and I never succumbed to using one. A trick I learned early on, was to hold a lighter under the tank to build pressure so that priming gas could come out to fill the priming cup. (Don't try this at home, kids.)

6:23 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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Jake W said:

whoops sorry boys! Please apologize to the wives/girlfriends/significant others who will be upset about the money you'll be spending. Can't mention gear on here or everyone starts drooling, hahaha.

trout- did you ever end up getting any woolpower products? I know you had a thread about it a little while back. My fiancee got me a icebreaker top (she's terrible at keeping secrets!) for Christmas. She said I've got the green light to switch it for something else if I want. The woolpwer quality seems to be superior. That is from only one look in a store though!

 I have not purchased any Woolpower yet, but I have the purchase lined up with a retailer who was kind enough to mail me a loaner to try for a few days. I think after trying the garment that Woolpower is exactly what I want, very well made & comfortable, very few seams.

Mike G

3:28 p.m. on December 10, 2011 (EST)
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hikin_jim said:

Also, I notice that MSR makes no mention of simmering with a Simmerlite on their website.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

 HJ,

They(Cascade Designs/MSR) do make reference to the simmering function on the packaging the stove comes in...

003.jpg

Hmmmm...


11:36 p.m. on December 10, 2011 (EST)
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Well, give it try.  Don't hold your breath though.

The tricks for simmering are pretty well known:  use a fuel bottle that is half empty and only pump it half a dozen times or so.  Fire up the stove.  Get it good and hot.  Don't pump it any more.  Once it's good and hot, turn it down slowly.  You'll probably have to fiddle with it.  You should be able to get a nice mid-range flame without too much trouble.  A true simmer where you hold it at or just below a very low boil?  Good luck.  I've talked to two people via the Internet (Bill being one of them) who have said that their Simmerlite can do a true simmer, but I've never seen one in person, and I can't do it on my Simmerlite. 

I have pretty much every MSR stove ever produced from the model "G" forward (I'd love to have a 9, 9A, etc, but I haven't got the deep pockets for that).  I even have an MSR stove that never made it past the prototype stage (the MSR Capillary Force Vaporizer Stove).  I've been using MSR stoves since 1986.  I've made a lot of MSR stoves simmer including the XGK, and a couple of different models of Whisperlite.  I can't get a decent simmer out of my Simmerlite.

I know I'm not alone.  The name SimmerNot wouldn't exist if their weren't something to it.  Nevertheless, I wish you every success.  Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

HJ

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11:39 p.m. on December 10, 2011 (EST)
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Who knows. I'm not doubting that it can be a lil "fidgety" as far as simmering goes I just found it odd that they didn't make reference to this capability on the site but they do on the box.

It is a cool lil stove though. I think the 33oz(liter HJ:) should hold me over for a week.

SimmerLite-001.jpg
I wonder if it will simmer if I run it on moonshine. :)

12:50 a.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

It is a cool lil stove though. I think the 33oz(liter HJ:) should hold me over for a week.

SimmerLite-001.jpg

 The liter bottle should do you for a week even if you're melting snow.  I think they're a cool little stove.  I love the super flexible fuel line -- packs up small.

I wonder if it will simmer if I run it on moonshine. :)

No, no, Rick. Put white gas in the stove. Put white lightning in you. ;)

HJ

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12:59 a.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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So white gas in me, white lightning in the stove...

Gotcha. :)

9:15 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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9:18 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Erich said:

A trick I learned early on, was to hold a lighter under the tank to build pressure so that priming gas could come out to fill the priming cup. (Don't try this at home, kids.)

 lol.  But can I try it out on the trail?

My trick with the Svea 123's is to use alcohol to prime.  For me anyway, it's a lot easier than trying to coax fuel out of the tank to use to prime.

HJ

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9:26 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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This may be a dumb question but what about ether? On 2nd thought it may be too volatile. 

9:58 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

This may be a dumb question but what about ether? On 2nd thought it may be too volatile. 

 Ether is good for blowing stiff tires back onto rims after you have run them flat and separated the seal.

We used to do this with tractors, heavy equipment, and big 4x4 tires.

You get an air hose & chuck ready to inflate the tire, light a wad of paper and let a buddy hold it while you spray ether between the tire and the rim, buddy sticks the lit paper to the tire and BLAM tire is back on the rim, now you inflate quickly with the air hose.

I've even done it in the woods, on a mountain, and intoxicated before, come to think of it, being intoxicated is probably what caused the "off road incident" to begin with. That was many years ago.

Anyway....yes ether is very volatile, I don't know where it stands on the volatility scale, but I use alcohol to prime my white gas stoves after seeing a buddy from the UK do it, works good and we both carry alcohol stoves for quick tea & coffee anyway.

10:09 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Hmmm, I may try the alchohol idea in the coming months. 

Kinda funny last night the temp hit 1 degree on the trail I usually stomp around. Its only going to get colder. I have been up there in -17. Should be a good test for the stove. 

I have done the ether thing as well Mike growin up. Tractor tires, etc. 

Definitely too volatile to prime a stove. 

10:18 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Oh, oh, I know!  Blasting caps!  You could prime your stove with blasting caps!  I mean, gasoline + blasting caps, what could go wrong?  It's practically foolproof.  ;)

Yeah, I guess I'd stay away from the really esoteric priming means.  The traditional means are:

1.  White gasoline from the tank

2.  Alcohol.

3.  Fire paste

Personally, I'd stick with one of the traditional means.  I'd rather read about your trip here on Trailspace than in the obit section of the newspaper if you get my drift.

HJ

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1:30 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Hikin' Jim said "My trick with the Svea 123's is to use alcohol to prime.  For me anyway, it's a lot easier than trying to coax fuel out of the tank to use to prime."

That works too and sometimes I just remove the wind screen and use a plastic eye dropper to pull some gas out of the tank. If you do use the lighter method, be especially careful to extinguish the lighter flame when you open the valve to let gas out.:-)

One issue with cold weather stove performance that I don't think anyone has mentioned, is the pots you use. Heat loss can be a very significant factor, not only in wind, but in cold, still conditions, even with an effective windscreen.

My first winter climb, where my partner and I planned on stopping at the base to camp before the assault, included a significant dinner. I don't recall the stove, it was early enough, it may have been one of my Bluets. My buddy brought frozen hamburger, a skillet, and Hamburger Helper. It took a long time to even get the hamburger to thaw, let alone cook at all.

As nearly all camp stoves have burners of fairly narrow diameter, using pots that are narrow and tall rather than low and wide and appropriately sized for the amount you are preparing, will help save on fuel. Simmering, while certainly a function of stove flame, is also a function of the pot size and material.

2:44 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Many years ago, before RCU and RBU became Trailspace, there were several long threads about improving efficiency of stoves. I won't go into detail on the findings, though if Jim S ever reappears, he can review the dozen or so methods that really work.

Blackening the pot works well - "header paint", soot (especially for alcohol stoves), the black anodized aluminum pots (vs the sort of dull aluminum oxide on non-anodized pots, and much better than shiny stainless pots)

Proper windshield - which can also serve to duct the hot air from the flame, in addition to shielding the flame from the wind and reduce convective cooling

Heat exchangers - the MSR heat exchanger was very good (is it still available???)

Lids

etc

etc

etc

The heat exchangers that are now part of several stove systems (MSR, Jetboil, Primus and others) actually came out of such experiments some 10-20 years back.

3:24 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Erich said:

If you do use the lighter method, be especially careful to extinguish the lighter flame when you open the valve to let gas out.:-)

That takes the fun out of it.

3:49 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S, it this the heat exchanger(MSR)that you are referring too?

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/msr/heat-exchanger/

3:59 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Heat exchangers - the MSR heat exchanger was very good (is it still available???)

Hi, Bill,

Yes the old MSR XPD heat exchanger is still alive and kicking.  Klunky big thing, but it does work.  Does it pay for itself in weight?  Probably not, but it definitely saves time and fuel.

The basics of efficiency are:

1.  Moderate flame.  Fast heat = higher fuel consumption per amount of water boiled, snow melted, or what have you.

2.  Use a lid.  Escaping steam = escaping heat = wasted fuel

3.  Use a windscreen.  A windscreen traps heat.  Escaping heat = wasted fuel.

Obviously a heat exchanger pot or XPD exchanger will add to efficiency but the above three can be done on almost every set up everywhere, probably with things already on hand.

I've seen some elaborate snow melting rigs that have a bakepacker hood over the whole affair to trap additional heat.  I've seen specially designed Arctic type pans (Nansen type cookers) too, but that's a bit beyond what most of us will ever need.

A bit more practical snow melting option is a Trangia set up with a multifuel type burner.  Not exactly light, but that sucker will melt some serious snow.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

4:03 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Erich said:

As nearly all camp stoves have burners of fairly narrow diameter, using pots that are narrow and tall rather than low and wide and appropriately sized for the amount you are preparing, will help save on fuel.

Hi, Erich,

I wonder if you could say more about that.  What are the dynamics involved here, and how will a narrow, tall pot help save fuel?

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

8:50 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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I've not had problems with butane even in cold weather. If I'm really worried, I put the butane canister in the sleeping bag with me at night.

The MSR Reactor is amazingly fuel efficient because it uses a radiant burner to convert much of the fuels hate value into radiation transport - rather than convection transport by hot gas. With a traditional stove, the hot gases move so fast they have little time to transfer heat to the pot before they fly away. When you mount the pot to the MSR Reactor and let it rip - you will notice that there is so little hot air escaping that you keep your fingers very close to the pot while it's running. I get a good liter and a half boiling in under 3 minutes.

So, not only is it very efficient in use of your fuel - but you can prepare ALOT of hot water FAST. Because it is also wind-resistant, you can also use it in windy conditions where a traditional stove would be wasteful of fuel.

You could always carry both an MSR Reactor _and_ a small whisperlite - and swap butane cans. First boil some water, then move the butane can and fry some food.  Most of the time though, in winter at least - you'll be making oatmeal or noodles for dinner.

Definitely go read up on radiant heater stoves - though I think only MSR has them for now.

12:31 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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Gorkushka,

Actually, the Reactor is generally not known for being efficient.  In fact, a Reactor typically uses a lot more fuel to do the same thing as another stove.  The Reactor's claim to fame is speed.  The Reactor is fast, very very fast, but in gearing the stove for speed, efficiency went by the way side.

Generally, there's a trade off:  fast stoves are inefficient; slow stoves are efficient.

Now, could you turn a Reactor down and make it more efficient?  Yes, you certainly could.  A lot depends on the individual user.  However, if you run it flat out, it will not be efficient.

As you say, though, the Reactor is very windproof, in fact it's the most windproof gas stove I know of although a Trangia 27 or 25 with a gas burner would give a Reactor a run for its money.

The only radiant heat type burner currently on the market is the Reactor.  Gerry did have one in the 70's, but it wasn't nearly as good as the Reactor.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

July 28, 2014
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