simmer with a whisperlite???

10:23 p.m. on August 25, 2006 (EDT)
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i was wondering if it is possible to simmer with a whisperlite stove and if possible is it practical i have heard people say that the wisperlight has 2 settings off and volcano but i don't know if this as true or not having not ever owned one

11:09 p.m. on August 25, 2006 (EDT)
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Yes, you can simmer with a Whisperlite. There are a couple of techniques - use a "flamespreader plate" and "feather" the fuel valve with adjustment of the tank pressure.

The "flamespreader" is available commercially in places like REI. Basically, it is just a metal plate that evens the heat distribution over a larger area, but also provides some dissipation of the heat.

"feathering" the fuel valve is a bit tricky, but can be done with practice. First thing is to not pump to the full "20 strokes", so the pressure in the tank is lower than "normal". Second is to play with the fuel valve to get just the right amount of flame without it going out. Takes a bit of trial and error to learn, but some people jave learned to do it very well.

If you are just using the Whisperlite like 99% of backpackers to boil water for freezedry, coffee, soup, hot cocoa, etc, you won't bother with simmering.

It can be done with an XGK, too.

If you really want to do gourmet cooking, there are better stoves. One is the MSR Simmerlite, which a number of us are now using for everything from weekend backpacks and car camping to full expedition use. The Primus multifuel stoves also adjust well. And, of course, that is one of the advantages of compressed gas stoves - just like your gas stove at home.

10:37 a.m. on August 26, 2006 (EDT)
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what fuels does the simmerlight use I don’t need to be able to burn diesel fuel or jet A1 but id like to be able to burn kerosene just in case I’m trying to stay away from compressed gas because id like to get into winter camping/backpacking and fuel is a little harder to get because as far as i know it means a trip to Laramie or ft Collins but then again I’m usually down there every other week anyway i have heard of people having problems with just the primus stoves is this just user error? and just out of curiosity do the primus pumps fit msr fuel bottles? i can get a primus verifuel at sierra trading post but i cant get the fuel bottle there

11:45 p.m. on August 26, 2006 (EDT)
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they can use the same bottles. but i would choose a msr over the primus. in scandinavia the newer primus and optimus have a rep of giving trouble w pump/bayonet between pump and bottle (http://www.trailspace.com/gear/primus/verifuel/review/7667/)and/or bottom screw. msr whisperlite hasn't given me trouble of that kind. AND they have an lifetime garanty! see their homepage www.msrcorp.com. as far as i remember the simmerlite only burns white gas.
btw, with a little fiddling i get the whisperlite to simmer too. takes practice, but works

9:41 a.m. on August 27, 2006 (EDT)
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thanks for the info that is a actually one of the things i heard to bring up the question about the primus stoves so i know that when your trying to simmer with a whisperlite you lower the pressure in the fuel bottle so what happens if you have the stove on high to get the watter boiling but once it is boiling you want to simmer but the pressure in the fuel bottle is still high what do you do to get it to simmer??? i was looking at the dragon fly until i read a Post by the resident expert Bill S recommending against the dragon fly and the xkg I'm sure that he will chime in and elaborate on why he recommends against them

8:10 p.m. on August 27, 2006 (EDT)
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If you want a rapid boil, then simmer with the Whisperlite, just give the pump the recommended 20 strokes, no more. Then do not pump it anymore after the stove is lit. The pressure will drop enough to allow you to "feather" the fuel valve.

This is also a good time to lift the pot off the stove and set the flame spreader on the burner, then put the pot back on top of the flame spreader.

Dragonfly and XGK - saying I recommend "against" these is a bit of an overinterpretation. Certainly, I would place the XGK at the top of the list to consider. It is the Sherman Tank of stoves - dependable in almost all conditions, easily overhauled in the field, almost nothing to go wrong, except operator error. The only real complaints are that it is LOUD (two settings - F-14 on afterburners and Launch The Shuttle - that LOUD! well, maybe a bit of an exageration, but it is really loud), and some people do not like the rigid fuel line.

The Dragonfly is a good stove, IF ... you maintain it properly. It is quite finicky in terms of keeping the "simmer valve" (the needle valve that controls the flame) clean. A lot of people have had very poor experiences with the Dragonfly, while some have done well with it. Those who have had poor experiences are pretty much anyone who uses a backpacking stove a lot in the backcountry, say on the order of 50 to 100 or more days a year, or for a month or more straight on an expedition. People who like it are pretty much casual users who tend to use their Dragonfly for weekend backpacks, maybe once a month, and often just for boiling water for their freeze-dry dinners. On the dozen or so people I know personally that have used the dragonfly, only one has had good luck, and she now uses a Simmerlite. The rest, including me, have had clogging problems in heavy use. I finally gave up on it after getting tired of the need for frequent cleanings, even with using only fresh fuel. You probably saw Brian's post on his experiences with the Dragonfly.

And yes, the Simmerlite burns only white gas. If you anticipate the need to use kerosene, get the Whisperlite International (not the regular Whisperlite - it only burns white gas) or XGK among the MSR stoves.

Contrary to ulyng's experience, I have had excellent experiences with Primus multifuel stoves (MFS and Omni for liquid fuels and compressed gas, Liquifuel for liquid fuels).

8:52 p.m. on August 27, 2006 (EDT)
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thanks for the help i don't think i will be getting the dragonfly because i have used a stove for a month at a time and i don't enjoy having to take apart and clean my stove in the back country i know that i cant completely avoid it unless i use canisters but i would like to keep it to a minimum and i think i will look at the primus stoves i will just have to be careful with the brass fittings just a couple of questions about the primus stoves do they come with a repair kit or do you have to buy that extra and if they don't come with a kit do they at least come with a cleaning needle and do they prime like the msr stoves

12:43 a.m. on August 28, 2006 (EDT)
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Primus

The question is more like - do MSR stoves prime like a Primus? Primus was the original climbing stove company back at the turn of the 19-20 Century (almost said "turn of the Century, but we are now in the 21st Century). Climbing/backpacking/mariner's stoves are pretty much the same basic design as in the late 19th Century. There are some good stove history websites you can look at to see these.

Repair kits - Primus (and MSR, Brunton, Optimus, et al) come with a very basic maintenance kit. Most these days have some variation of the "shaker jet", although some models have a separate cleaning needle (most Primus are like this). The repair kits come in two levels, specific to the particular stove - a basic kit that takes care of anything you might expect on a trek up to a week (sometimes called a "maintenance kit"), and an "expedition" kit that will allow a pretty complete overhaul. This is the same for all the companies. The kits contain replacement O-rings, jets, burner plates (for "roarer"-type burners), fuel pick-up tube, fuel filter, and other parts which might break or get lost (Coleman has complete generator tube assemblies for some of their stoves in the kit). The kits are pretty expensive, though it is the kind of insurance you need on a long trip.

I'm glad to read that you are planning to learn your stove thoroughly enough to deal with the potential problems. Most people just use them until they break (usually in the field, far from the nearest store).

11:55 a.m. on August 28, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

thanks for all the help Bill i have just one more question is there any primus/optimus stove you would recommend over the others or any that you have had problems with???

4:38 p.m. on August 28, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

Dave -

At this point in time, Primus, Optimus, and Brunton are not connected with each other. Optimus still owns Svea, but sold Primus to Seviert many years ago (briefly, Primus took over Svea in the 70s; Optimus took over Primus in the 80s, using the Svea name only for the 123 and the Primus name only for compressed gas stoves; Optimus sold Primus to Seviert (a welding products company), and kept the Svea name for the 123; Seviert re-extended the Primus line to include liquid fuel stoves in the 90s; Optimus marketed through Brunton starting about 2000; Brunton started its own line of stoves, with Optimus going its own way this year, the Brunton label stoves to be marketed this fall)

Anyway, I have had good experiences with all my Primus stoves, starting with ones owned by fellow climbers and my first stove purchase of a Primus 71L in about 1960 (the 71L is very similar to the Svea 123). My only failure with the 71L was a failure to pressurize, due to the fuel cap gasket being worn out, and much later, the jet getting worn assymetrically from 35 years using an external cleaning needle. My one failure with a Svea 123 was due to overpressurizing with the auxiliary Optimus pump, resulting in fuel being expelled through the pressure relief valve. I also had the flexible fuel line in my Primus MFS develop a small leak, thanks to over-bending it when stuffing it, no, make that jamming it, into my pack one too many times. Then there was the time I dropped the white fuel pickup line off the pump for the MFS into the snow - it's hard to find a white object in white snow, though I did find it the next day.

Note that in all cases, the failures were due to abuse or carelessness. Except for the one post above, I have heard of no one having a problem with the bayonet hose attachment with a Primus. I have heard of minor problems over the past couple of years with some of the Optimus stoves (remember, Primus and Optimus are independent companies, and are located in different countries). But even these were all "operator error" in nature.

Basically, stoves are pretty simple devices. If you take care of your stove, it will behave properly and serve you well for a long time (45+ years for my Primus 71L, 40 years for Barb's Svea 123, 20+ years for my first XGK, which MSR swapped for an XGKII that has now served me for 20+ years, 18 years now on a Whisperlite that I acquired for $5 at an REI "scratched and dented" sale labelled as "not working" (15 minutes of disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly, and it has worked without a flaw ever since - in my son's possession and use for the past 10 years), and among compressed gas stoves MSR Superfly, and a tiny Markill titanium 2 ounce stove. On the other hand, I have several stoves that have been tried and then stuck in the back of the gear closet after a year or two of struggling with their many flaws - Coleman Peak 1 International (lousy performance in cold weather and worse in rain), Dragonfly (requires too much maintenance to keep performance up to spec), several "simple" compressed gas stoves (nothing to go wrong? Hah!).

You might wonder at how I can use so many stoves - simple, just go camping, climbing, bike touring, and back country skiing a lot. Used to be I spent over 100 nights each year camped out. Then I retired, and all the volunteer organizations I ever associated with decided I had lots of time on my hands. So for the past couple years, it's down to 30-40 nights a year, plus the occasional expedition. And there are 2 in the household (was 3 for a while) who spend a lot of time in the hills and woods, and believe in gourmet dinners rather than freezedry (multiple burners for multiple pots).

6:15 p.m. on August 28, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

talk about a confusing history any way do you have any experience with any of the current primus stoves that are on the market right now I also like real food in the backcountry this would be my first stove purchase right now I have a penny alcohol stove and a pot cozy (extra wool hat) that I use or if I'm lucky I use my friends canister stove

11:12 a.m. on August 29, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

To repeat, I have and use the Primus multifuel stove, and have used the Omnifuel. The current catalog number of the multifuel is 328894. With slight improvements, they are calling it the MultiFuel EX for 2007. The OmniFuel is catalog 328984. The "improvement" for 2007 for both is a "quieter" burner. Both are the same type of "roarer" burner that has been around for a century, just like the one on the MSR XGK and Dragonfly, so it isn't really all that quiet. But the MFS and Omni will burn compressed gas in addition to the white gas and kerosene that the XGK and Dragonfly will burn.

Sounds like your best choice would be the Primus Omnifuel.

I guess if by "do you have any experience with any of the current primus stoves that are on the market right now", you mean the new 2007 models, the answer is no. But they are so similar to the MFS and Omni of the past 5 years or so, the answer, as I have previously described, is yes, for all practical purposes.

11:40 a.m. on August 29, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

i thought of a couple more questions i was wondering if the manual cleaning needle contributes to more ware then the optimus magnetic one or the shaker jet and was wondering how the simmering compared between the optimus nova, primus omnifuel and the primus gravity thanks for all the help again

12:06 p.m. on August 29, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

It takes so long and so many cleanings with the manual or shaker needles that I wouldn't worry about it. It took almost 30 years before the jet in my Primus 71L became noticeable worn to the point of affecting the flame.

Simmering - if you really want to simmer, all 3 of those stoves take the compressed gas canisters. Use compressed gas for any cooking where you are going to simmer. Use the liquid fuels when you want to save weight on a greater than 3-person-day trip. All 3 of those stoves are trivial to switch back and forth between liquid fuel and compressed gas. They will all work just fine.

4:17 p.m. on August 29, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

how well do these stoves simmer on white gas and is there one that will simmer better on white gas than the others. I have read that canisters have problems at high altitude. what problems does altitude cause and at what altitude do the canisters start to be affected. I live at 6000 feet but I do most of my hiking and backpacking at or above 8000 feet.

7:14 p.m. on August 29, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

Here's a good article on canister stoves and how well they work in cold and at altitude.
http://tinyurl.com/dtojd

11:41 a.m. on August 30, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

Good website, Tom.

Dave, the short answer on altitude is that canister stoves work just fine at altitude. They are used on mountains like Everest, so you will have no problems, as far as altitude is concerned. Except - as the website Tom gives notes, the boiling point of water drops with altitude (since atmospheric pressure drops). So you may have to cook your food longer (your simmering temperature will be lower). This is true for liquid fuel stoves as well (and electric ranges), not just canister backpacking stoves. Look on a cake mix box in the supermarket - see the "High Altitude" note? This is because of the lower boiling point. Then again, since the basic rule in backcountry cooking is "the dish is cooked when the cook declares it ready", just give it the old taste test. Is the pasta "al dente"? It's done.

Cold is a different question. The URL Tom gives covers it pretty well. Canister stoves drop in performance at temperatures below 40F. But there are lots of ways around this. The simplest is to set the canister in a small amount of water. Other suggestions are given in the website.

5:45 p.m. on August 30, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Primus

thanks for all the help i think that that just about covers my questions

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