Problem with my Svea 123

7:53 p.m. on August 16, 2006 (EDT)
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About a year ago when I started getting into backpacking my father said that he would let me have this old stove he had around the house. I turned it down thinking I could buy something modern and be better off. Then I saw a review for the Svea on here a few days ago and I had to eat crow for what I said to my father. So I looked up some info on it and found out how great of a stove it is. I decided I had to try it out. After testing it out I am not sure if something is broken on it or if I just wasn't using it right. I got it preasurized fairly easily with a small amount of fuel around the base of the burner and it lit up in a matter of seconds. After I shut off the fuel valve the flame went out but fuel was still squirting from the jet from the tank still being preasurized. I was wondering if any of you know anything about this. Maybe I did something wrong or maybe something is wrong with it? Do any of you know anything about this?

11:53 a.m. on August 17, 2006 (EDT)
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Depends on which version of the 123 you have. The original one had a needle valve. If that's the one, you need to disassemble the valve (nut on the valve stem screwed out and the needle valve screwed out - use the wrench tool that should be attached by a small chain to the stove). Clean it carefully and check the packing that prevents fuel from leaking around the valve. If it is as old as you imply, this may need replacing. And maybe even the wicking material that is in the stem as well (screw the whole stem out from the tank to check its condition).

The newer 123R has a different valve, with a cleaning needle in it. You clean the jet by fully rotating the valve stem. In this case, check the position you leave the valve in when shutting off the stove. There is one position that is fully shut off, a range that controls flame height, and a position that seems shut off, but is actually with the cleaning needle extended and partially blocking the jet. In the older version, you cleaned the jet with a special cleaning needle from the outside. This would wear the hole in the jet eventually so the stove wouldn't burn properly (off-center flame is one symptom). You had to replace the jet in that case.

There is (or was, haven't contacted them in a few years) a place in Southern Calif that carries parts and does overhauls on Svea, Primus, and Optimus stoves. A&H Enterprises, 14932 Crosswood Road, La Mirada, CA 90636, (714)522-4310. The area codes have been revised in SoCal a number of times, so the phone may be wrong. I think they used to have a website, but, again, haven't checked in a couple years. Clayton Abbott was the contact.

1:26 a.m. on August 18, 2006 (EDT)
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Bill, the website is working, but they moved to Tustin-new ph. number too-it's on the site.
This question prompted me to get out my old 123 and take it apart. I'm wondering if it simply a matter of the valve not closing enough? I haven't fired mine up in years, but I don't remember it ever doing that. Mine had what looked like a tiny amount of graphite grease on the valve threads and that may help as well to get the valve to close all the way. By tiny, I mean tiny-I wouldn't put more than a hint of grease on it or the threads will most likely clog up.

11:59 a.m. on August 18, 2006 (EDT)
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Thanks, Tom.

New address and phone for A&H -
1562 Parkway Loop, Suite A, Tustin, California. 92780
Phone 714-258-2525
Fax 714-258-7077

9:24 p.m. on August 18, 2006 (EDT)
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Thanks to both of you for the info. Through my searching I had come across that site. But I am not sure it will be worth it to have it worked on or not. I am very intrigued by the design of the stove. It seemed to pressurized very well and burn a nice even flame. Before I use it again I want to fix something on it because every time I even put my hands on the fuel tank fuel started to leak. The last thing I want is for some stray white gas to catch on fire.

4:23 p.m. on August 19, 2006 (EDT)
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H-Where is it leaking? These stoves have only one moving part-the on-off valve. They don't really pressurize. Unlike stoves like the MSR stoves and others with a separate fuel bottle and pump, the SVEA relies just on vaporization. I have a pump for mine-it was an accessory that came out long after the original stove was designed, but it isn't needed most of the time.

Could it be leaking at the base of the burner where it meets the tank? Not sure what else to suggest. However, based on what they sell for, it may be worth fixing if the cost isn't too much. Otherwise, I'd recommend an MSR stove of some type (except the XGK mountaineering stove)to replace it. There are many other threads here about stoves.

Bill-I just saw a 123 and the Sigg Tourist cookkit (which I have) sell on eBay for $162.50. Unbelievable. My kit looks a bit worse than that one, but I had no idea it was worth anything.

7:26 p.m. on August 19, 2006 (EDT)
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Hoosier -

The fuel cap on the 123 is a pressure relief valve. A slight correction to Tom's statement - the 123 is not a pump pressurized stove, as he was saying. But, the heat conducted down the stem (which acts as the generator tube as well as feeding fuel to the jet) provides some heat to increase the vapor pressure of the fuel in the fuel tank. So the 123 (and Primus 71 and several older Primus white gas and kerosene stoves and a number of older Optimus stoves) are more correctly described as "heat pressurized". This is pretty dependable, once you get the stove lit. But a couple things can go wrong. When the stove gets old, the gasket on the fuel cap gets hard and will not provide a good seal. Usually, all that means is that the stove will not pressurize until you replace the fuel cap gasket (happened to me on a climbing trip in the Bugaboos in the 1960s - luckily my partner had another stove along). The cap itself, as I noted, is a pressure relief valve, in case the fuel tank gets overheated. When you get significant overheating, hence overpressurization, the valve in the cap (spring-loaded) releases the pressure. It is fairly common for the vapor to ignite, making a spectacular jet of flame. I have seen this several times, thankfully not with my stoves, and thankfully no injuries or property loss. But if the valve ever releases, generally it must be replaced, because it tends to not seat properly when the pressure is relieved. Replacing the cap with a new one is the answer here. As Tom asked, where is the leak? If it is coming from the hole in the fuel cap (which is the pressure relief hole), the valve must be replaced. A&H can do this or send you a new cap. (a few dollars plus shipping). If it is leaking around the cap itself, a new gasket is all that is needed, again pretty cheap from A&H, although I think you can find a gasket at your neighborhood OSH/Lowes/Home Depot/ maybe even Ace.

One other thing that can happen is that Optimus made a cap/pump set that was intended to pre-pressurize the stove and avoid the "hold it in your hands to heat the fuel" procedure (frostbite generator in winter!). If you use the tiny pump, it only takes 1 or 2 strokes, just enough to send a few drops of fuel up the stem to dribble into the priming cup (the depression around the stem in the top of the tank. Don't fill the cup more than half full! And don't overpump if you are using the Optimus pump. I did that once and as the heat built the pressure, fuel came streaming out through the pressure relief valve, making a rapidly spreading pool of flame - really scary! Luckily we had a fire extinguisher handy. You can tell if you have the Optimus cap that adapts to the little pump - the regular pressure relief cap is almost flat, while the Optimus pump-type has a little pipe that sticks up maybe 5 mm, making a small nipple onto which to attach the pump. The previous owner may have at one time overpumped and gotten the pressure relief valve to release and not reseat properly. If so, replace the cap and pressure relief valve.

One other possibility - how full are you filling the fuel tank? If you note, the fuel tank has a rim on the side about 2/3 of the way from the bottom. This is the maximum fill line. If you overfill the tank, priming or in use may overpressurize the fuel tank and start forcing fuel out through the pressure relief valve.

Tom already mentioned looking at the base of the stem to see if there is a leak where the stem and tank join. Someone may have removed the stem, then cross-threaded it when reassembling it.

I mentioned previously inspecting the valve to see if it is properly threaded in and the packing is still intact.

Tom - HOW MUCH?????!!!!! Wow!!! Well, the last time I saw a new 123 (10 years ago?), it was being sold at retail for about $75, for the stove itself. The last time I saw the Sigg cooker set to go with the 123 (and Primus 71L and a similar Optimus, this not long after Optimus, Primus, and Svea had merged, a few years before Primus got spun off again), the cookset was about $50. Well, so maybe the price isn't too bad. But still .....

2:39 a.m. on August 20, 2006 (EDT)
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Bill, Thanks for correcting me. I obviously oversimplified how these things work. I haven't used mine in years. Mine has the valve for the pump and I have the pump. I just checked it. I see how the overflow works. Something I never thought about, since I never had it go off. I can see the spring inside the valve. My pump just fits over the filler cap and you are supposed to pump it a couple of times, then take the pump off the valve. They still sell the pump, but a newer version of it. $25 just for the pump from Brunton.

Yeah, I couldn't believe the price on eBay either. There are a couple more of them for sale right now. I had no idea they were even still around. I did see new 123Rs for sale for about $75 on several websites. I was looking at a review site earlier and a lot of the reviews were from people who'd owned the stoves since the 60's or 70's. Goes to show what a great design it is when people are still using them 40 years later.

12:47 a.m. on November 4, 2006 (EST)
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My stove has the same problem & I just ordered a rebuild kit from the aformentioned outfit ( Hopefully this will resolve the leak. I came up with an ingenious, if somewhat bizzare, ritual to quell this problem in the mean time.

When my stove is done cooking, I turn it off and dunk it in a pot of water. This cools it off and stops the (tiny) flow of gas. I then drain it, put the cap back on and place the stove in a gallon ziplock for transport. Lots of work, but this stove NEVER fails to fire and has NEVER let me down.

I'll keep you posted on the rebuild.

11:25 p.m. on November 4, 2006 (EST)
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I love Svea and Collin Fletcher's write-ups on these stoves.

I used similar Optimus model for ten years, ditching it in early 1980s....(it used squarish upright tin box as windscreen/pot stand in place of Svea brass, and its general upright design was very like a Svea, with slightly larger fuel capcity and weight, It had been sold at one point under "Primus" brand name.)

The nozzel-nipple threads eventually stripped and I replaced this stove for several years with final Svea version. I vaguely remember customer service was pretty good.

But the current cannister stoves (with much-improved fuels) have long-surpassed the Svea in weight and bother for all conditions, I'm sorry to opine.

Despite Svea's wonderful nostalgia, maybe one ought not bother with these stoves.

If you want NOSTALGIA then try or promote TRANGIA ALCOHOL stoves-- which apparently is an even older design than Svea....and in many respects sadly, as outdated...Yet Trangia stoves as many people do know, have remarkable virtues, including amazing simplicity and lightness & non-explosvie fuel.

4:39 a.m. on November 5, 2006 (EST)
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Look bub, the LAST thing we need here is a voice of reason!
Ok,ok, I know that canister fuel stoves are lighter, more efficient, easier to use and have few moving parts to wear out, aren't nearly as, uh, FUN, as a gasoline stove. So there, Mr. Smarty Pants!

8:08 a.m. on November 6, 2006 (EST)
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Take the stove apart (really simple) - take the valve all the way apart - clean it really well. I'd bet that some old fuel dried with the valve open - left an uneven bit of "varnish" on the seat which is keeping the valve from closing correctly - clean it all with some acetone or other solvent - put it back together - put a small amount of fuel in it - prime it - and give it a shot -

They were tough old stoves (very similar to my primus) - their simplicity is probably why they're so danged reliable and durable.

April 21, 2018
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