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Stove wont simmer

6:52 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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As the subject line suggests, my stove does not simmer well in fair weather conditions (above freezing, not too windy). It is a one piece liquid fuel with a relatively large burner area (about twice as big as you would find on most compressed gas stoves, ie., whisperlite). I like it a lot, but it basically only has two settings - off and moon blast. For boiling water, and in poor weather, this is great and why I don't consider the stove to have a deficiency. If, however, I want to simmer something, I have to hold the pot a few inches above the flame. I don't like having to do this. I was thinking of using some sort of piping, maybe air duct, as an extension that I could put on top of the burner to hold the pot higher. I know air duct is made of aluminum. Its extremely light, and they make widths that are perfect, but I don't know if it will melt or morph in the heat. Any advice, other ideas?

7:25 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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What kind of stove do you have?

Do you have a manual pump fuel bottle, (ie whisperlite) and if so have you experimented with controlling the fuel pressure itself?

Have you tried using a diffuser plate placed on the burner?

You will get a lot of good advise here, but more info is needed please. Most important is type of stove and conditions you will be in.

8:22 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I use the Pocket Rocket stove with the MSR type canisters. Sometimes when its cold I have to place my hands around the fuel canister to get the fuel to condense. But I have never heard of a stove that would not simmer. Like Trouthunter says, what kind of stove do you have?

8:26 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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trouthunter,

I believe I misspoke before, I meant the burner plate is about twice as big as what you would find on a pocket rocket, not whisperlite. Yes it is a manual pump stove - Coleman model 533 dual fuel. It has about max 10,000 BTU. I haven't experimented with lowering the fuel pressure as a way to simmer yet, although, that sounds like it may be worth a try. I'm not quite sure what a diffuser plate is. The stove will hopefully eventually be used in all conditions, including sub freezing and high altitudes. Thanks.

12:33 p.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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The Coleman 533 in properly maintained condition will simmer quite well. It sounds like you need to give it a thorough cleaning. First thing is probably to replace the generator tube. All of the Peak One family (the 533 is one of that family of Coleman stoves) need to have the generator tubes replaced from time to time.The generator tube has a tiny cable running through it with a needle valve at the jet end. This needle serves as the cleaning needle for the jet, operated by the L-shaped lever next to the fuel flow valve. You should rotate this several times to clean the jet before each time you light the stove to clean the carbon out of the jet.

Another thing is to disassemble the burner plates (most of that family of Colemans have a phillips screw in the center of the burner assembly that gets removed for cleaning). The plates are alternating flat and "waffled" plates that accumulate carbon buildup. Clean the carbon off, then reassemble in the same order and replace with the screw.

Basically, the system is the same as the famous 2-burner and 3-burner Colemans. But one problem with the "Dual Fuel" members of that family is that people believe the ads that say you can use auto gas. Well, yes you can, but the lead in the older autogas and the phosphates and other additives in current unleaded automobile fuels cause problems with time with the generator tubes. So use only "white gas", and preferably Coleman stove fuel (3rd party versions are sold as "camp stove fuel" for a lot less than genuine Coleman fuel)

9:53 p.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

Thanks for the info regarding the stove upkeep. I was unaware of the problems caused by the generator and auto fuel, though I assumed white fuel would be the best. This stove, however, is pretty new. It has seen a few dozen uses on trips. On its lowest setting it will torch pasta sauce. I can forget about anything other than instant rice (which may be good for a longer trip, but I like my yellow rice otherwise) unless I want to hold the pot three inches above the flame for a half hour. On high, it will boil a pint of water in less than two minutes covered, which obviously I like. I did notice in my stove shopping that the model 533 has about 3,000 more BTU than the model 442, which is a very similar looking dual fuel stove made by Coleman. The 442, however, is larger, actually too large for me to purchase it as my backpacking stove. Perhaps the 533 was intended more for backpacking whereas boiling would be the primary function, hence the smaller size and greater output than the 442. What do you think? On the other hand, I have considered that something is wrong with the stove, especially since you indicate that it should simmer. The instructions also say it can simmer. It seems to work great though, except for that its so powerful. I can hardly fault a stove for being too strong if that was its design.

1:53 a.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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My experience with Coleman stoves -- I own several models -- is that they simmer pretty well. I have not used a 533 though, and it might be an exception. Seems odd to me, but there are odder things in the world.

It would be worthwhile, even though it is new, to do a disassemble and maintenance/cleaning job. Carburetor cleaner is your friend. Compressed air (a computer-type aerosol can is plenty) is also good. There is an exploded diagram in the manual to assist in tearing it down and putting it back together. It might be that some small thing was done wrong at the factory; these things have pretty fine tolerances and small errors could lead to consequences like yours. Make sure the valve and jet are both clear.

You might need to replace the generator; tearing it down will give you valuable experience if you have to.

Talk to the wonderful folks at www.spiritburner.com if you need more help. It is the friendliest, most knowledgeable group of stovies you could ever want to know.

Check out this recent thread, for instance:

http://www.spiritburner.com/fusion/showtopic.php?tid/14643/

I have a 508B, which is similar. Although a bit heavy, it is a great little stove. Part of why it's heavy is its large tank, so that may be a feature rather than a bug; you can go for a whole weekend and not need to take a spare fuel bottle. It goes from full blast to one of the best simmers of any stove I own. I hope you can get yours to do the same.

8:57 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I have a stove similar to the Coleman 533. It's a stove designed for a higher BTU output. The mass of the meal you are trying to simmer will impact whether you can simmer or not. A larger mass of food may simmer just fine because it will take more BTU's to simmer a larger pot of stuff, and you may not be able to simmer a smaller pot because of the high BTU output. It just throws too much heat.

I also have an MSR Dragonfly (my favorite), which solves the simmer control probelm by adding a second valve between the fuel bottle and the stove. You can regulate the fuel flow very precisely by adjusting both.

Cooking foods that easily scorch requires a little specialized technique as well. For things like rice, I cook on the flame for only half the required time, then turn off the burner and there's usually enough residual heat to finish the cooking over the last ten minutes or so.

For cooking very sensitive items (like eggs) I use a boil-in-bag method in which you put your sensitive food in a heavy-duty zipper top bag and then place the bag in a pot of boiling water (it won't melt - don't worry). This way there's never a possibility of scorching or cooking hotter than 212 F. This will work well for warming things like pasta sauce without scorching. In fact, with a big enough pot, you can cook your pasta while you warm your sauce in a separate bag in the same pot. This makes clean up easier too.

9:00 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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And yes, your 10K BTU stove will melt (make that vaporize) aluminum air duct.

9:10 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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HaHa, maybe we should start a thread on "Stuff your stove will melt"

Good idea with the cook in a bag eggs there BSA Jeff!

Have you tried adding things like mushrooms, cheese, etc using that method?

8:59 a.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Good idea with the cook in a bag eggs there BSA Jeff!

Have you tried adding things like mushrooms, cheese, etc using that method?

 

Absolutely, yes. I pre-cook mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions before the trip -- a quick saute -- so that they are not cooking as much as warming up. The cheese I just add when I put the eggs in.

I have read, but not yet tried, about using a turkey roasting bag as a double boiler. Put some, not much, water in the bottom of a pan, put the turkey roasting bag in the pan, fill with however much water you need, add your pasta, rice, or whatever. Turkey roasting bags are made for oven temps so it will not burn. The bit of water in the bottom prevents scorching as well. When you are done, clean-up is a breeze -- dispose (properly) of the bag and dry off the pan. That's the theory.

We have done something similar in my Scout troop with dutch ovens -- there are paper bags made just for dutch ovens -- cleaning up after cherry cobbler is a lot easier this way. So if it works for a dutch oven, I'm inclined to think it will work in the pan also. Gotta try it one of these days.

6:01 p.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Very good cooking tips guys, maybe I'll try some myself. As for the duct pipe melting, I'm glad I did not try that myself. I especially liked the info that was relevant to facilitating cleaning, because I find that to be an especially tedious activity in the woods. I never mind dishes at home, but outside is different. Must be the caveman mentality. Thanks again for the interesting stuff.

April 19, 2014
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