Primus Stove Circa 1963 Troubleshooting

7:30 p.m. on September 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I am having trouble keeping my old Primus stove going. Any suggestions regarding the problem? When new, I used alcohol to fuel the stove. But now the stove will not operate with alcohol and barely starts with Coleman fuel (white gasoline). The stove has a brass fuel container with burner mounted on the top center of unit.

Could the problem be something as simple as a bad gasket on the fuel cap?

Thanks.

Bob

8:29 p.m. on September 9, 2009 (EDT)
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What model Primus is it?

Primus stoves of that era were either white gas or kerosene. None were designed for alcohol, though alcohol was frequently used for priming the kerosene stoves.

The problem is likely to be the wick. This is the fuzzy fabric that extends below the stem insode the tank. You will have to disassemble the stove to see and replace this. A&E has the parts.

11:21 p.m. on September 9, 2009 (EDT)
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A number of stoves ran on either alcohol or kerosene and these were generally not meant to run on white gas. Is this a 3-legged stove by any chance? Can you post a photo? White gas in a kero stove can be a big problem.

You may need to take the stove apart, soak all the parts in vinegar and reassemble. You may have gunk built up over the years and generally vinegar will eat off the gunk.

Best bet may be to post the question on www.spiritburner.com.

3:35 a.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Alan, doesn't this sound like a kerosene Primus? If so, I never heard of running them on alcohol. I saw a lot of these in New Zealand in the 80's. They used them in many of the mountain huts.

Bill meant A&H http://packstoves.net/cart/index.php?main_page=index

I thought I read somewhere they were closing, but it looks like they are still in business.

10:34 a.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks. I will try to get a photo of the stove. I used the stove on camping trips in Canada in the early sixties and burned only alcohol. A couple of years ago I had to resort to white gasoline, because the stove would not operate properly. I still suspect that the problem may be associated with the fuel cap.

Bob

11:45 a.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, A&H. A&E is an orienteering supply shop.

The gasket in the fuel cap does harden with time and cease to hold pressure. A&H has the gaskets, or you can get a water faucet gasket and carefully trim to fit. Well, maybe you can get a water faucet gasket- in building the new house, I found that new faucets are made with ceramic gaskets and the rubber ones are disappearing from availability, so you may have to go to a really old-fashioned plumbing supply store. But it is likely after all this time that the wick is no longer working. The wick also acted as a filter to keep dirty fuel from clogging the jet from the inside (still gets carbon from the flame).

Although some people used alcohol, the stoves were never designed for that, and Primus always advised against it, except as a priming fuel. Be aware that the current Primus is a very different company from the Primus of the mid-60s. They went through several mergers (at one point, Primus and Svea were part of Optimus, with Primus making only compressed gas stoves) and a spinoff (currently part of a welding supplies company).

Another potential problem at this age is that the hole in the jet may be enlarged and assymetrical. Using the cleaning needle puts wear on the hole and usually it is not perfectly centered. After a point, this results in a weak, often assymetric flame. The later versions which incorporated the internal cleaning needle are better about this (1970s and later), but there is still wear eventually.

2:21 p.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for the info. I will try your suggestion.

Bob

4:18 p.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Some stoves were made to burn both fuels, though you may need to change out the jet as the diameter of the opening was different sizes. The alcohol stoves were generally marketed to be used on boats. For example, the Optimus 45 (I'm nearly certain Primus would have an identical model) was meant to burn both fuels. The Optimus 45 was the classic, brass 3-legged style stove.

5:10 p.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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One of the other posters mentioned cleaning it. Certainly, after all this time, a thorough cleaning is a good start. A little carb. cleaner can help remove this gunk, but keep it off any gaskets, or non metallic pieces. I'm surprised that it would work at all well between alcohol and white gas, as the stoves that do both, require different jets in my experience.

2:55 a.m. on September 11, 2009 (EDT)
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I burned alcohol (what Kiwis call "methylated spirits" or "meths") in an XGK when that was all I could find. Looked like windshield wiper fluid and I got it a petrol station. Probably not a good idea, but it worked. The XGK came with two jets-one for white gas and one for kerosene. I burned the alcohol using the white gas jet, as I recall.

The difference could be that the XGK is a pressurized stove and the Primus isn't pressurized.

12:40 p.m. on September 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

The stove is a Primus No. 71 Made in Sweden.

Bob

1:37 p.m. on September 11, 2009 (EDT)
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A primus 71 was meant to burn white gas. This is essentially the same stove as an Optimus 80 or a Svea 123. There is little that can go wrong with these so the fix is bound to be relatively simple. A new fuel cap may be a good idea, Bill mentioned checking the wick, and Erich mentioned adding carbuerator cleaner to a tank of gas (about a cap full per tank). These will fix nearly every malady for this stove.

8:57 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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I would buy coal instead of fuel, that way you could put the coal in your butt and in a few days take out the dimond, sell it and go buy you a new stove. Who keeps a stove from 1963? Maybe when you go camping I will see you out there and you can use mine ;)

9:14 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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peytonandbryce, how do you know it only takes a few days?

Old gear can be very cool! Not always for performance, but because it represents a time when things were simpler, and stuff was generally made to last. To hold something that is old and well made is to hold history, and craftsmanship, in your hands.

The old Primus is most likely to just need a little TLC.

Welcome to the site, lighten up on us older guys okay?

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