Troubleshooting a Gas Lantern

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by Whistler, Sep 3, 2005.

  1. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    Originally posted on December 4, 2002

    First off I need to get this out of the way!

    The disclaimer!

    I don't want to get anyone hurt. If you are not mechanically inclined or are in anyway uncomfortable with tinkering with a lantern you should not attempt what I show you! If you need your lantern worked on there are many that can do it for you.

    These procedures are my way of doing it. There are certainly other ways, many probably better. But over the years I have learned that these steps make logical sense, are easy as they can get, and work the vast majority of the time.

    I'll show you how to do this with common tools that you probably already own.

    If you've never torn down a lantern then I wrote this for you! If you've done it a time or two then I hope you might catch something that will make it a little easier for you. If you're an expert, I welcome your input. Actually I welcome all input. I am not the most creative of people so if you got a better way, I'd love to hear from you!

    So please be careful if you attempt to take apart your lantern! It is fundamentally dangerous to have 2 pints of gasoline within 8 inches of two very hot flames. Respect that and do everything safely.

    So if you agree not to hold me or The Brotherhood of Catfisherman responsible for any damage or injury that your attempts using this article may cause, then read on, otherwise enjoy the rest of the the board.


    This article is about working on a gas lantern. A gas lantern is inherently dangerous and should be treated as such. These lanterns are perfectly safe if you respect them and take care of them. They will last indefinately and can give hours and hours of enjoyment, or in our case, catfishing. I got into this a few years ago when I was at Fort Carson and had a lantern just quit on me. Since then, I have learned from experience and more recently from a repair website about easier ways to fix some things. I have never really done this for profit, I just like picking up an old lantern or campstove putting a couple of hours into it and making it work again. My friends really like this, because I keep them in good working lanterns and campstoves. I never charge more than what I put into it. That means if I buy one for 10 dollars, buy a globe for 6 dollars, clean the generator and it works good, then they pay me 16 dollars, no more. I have fixed and given lanterns to boy scout and royal ranger leaders I know too. Personally I like and use the gas lanterns mostly because they are much more fuel/cost efficient than a propane lantern. I can light a model 200 or 220/228 lantern and it will burn all night on a full tank of gas, the only propane lantern I ever had lasted about 2 1/2 hours. And also because I can completely disassemble one, clean everything, put it back together and most always be sure it will burn like new when reassembled. I am not going to cover the complete disassembly of the lantern, just the few common things that fail and how to fix them. Also I don't really do a complete renovation of these things, I just clean them up and make them work right, so it might still be scratched up a little or look well used when I am done with it. I have a couple that look absolutely terrible, but work like they just came out of the box. I will also give a brief description of what I look for when I find one at a yard sale or flea market. I won't go into things like globes and mantles, they are pretty self explanatory.
    I will try to make it as simple as possible and hopefully some of you will find it helpful and easy to follow. Well, here goes:

    First I will tell a little about looking for a "vintage" lantern at a yard sale or flea market. When I go to these places and find a lantern or camstove that catches my eye, the first thing I do is ask how much it costs. I will not pay more than 10 or 12 dollars for an old model Coleman lantern unless it is virtually new in the box. The lanterns I used in this article ranged from 4 dollars for the model 288, 7 dollars for the model 220 and 12 dollars for the model 200. They are out there and can be had for a decent price. Just don't get yourself ripped off because you don't know what to look for in a used one. If the price is right, the first thing I do is look for obvious signs of rust through on the tank. If there is any rust that is to the point that it could possibly be through the metal, I put it down and leave it alone. A little surface rust is OK. This can be cleaned up and touched up with Rust O Leum Hunter Green Enamel on the Model 220/228. I have never touched up a model 200 or 288 lantern, so I don't know what paint that would need. The next thing I check for is rust in the tank itself. I run a little mechanics pocket magnet through the gas tank, if I come out with any rust, then I leave it there. Any rust in the tank is something I don't want to deal with. There are ways to fix it if it is only lightly rusted, but I don't usually bother with it. There are too many out there that don’t have that problem. Next I check to make sure all the parts are there. I make sure it hasn't been modified in any way, other than maybe a flint lighter or reflector installed. In my case, I always try to get one with the paint porcelain coating on the ventilator still intact. As you will see in the repair part of the article, very seldom do I need to buy more than a globe and possibly a gas cap for one. It is really just that simple most of the time. New lanterns cost anywhere from 35 to 70 dollars in Wal-Mart these days, and the newer lanterns aren't half the lantern that the old 200 and 220/228s were. This is definitely a good way to get a quality lantern at an affordable price.

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    These are the lanterns I will use for this article. They are from left to right the model 200, model 288 and the model 220, which is exactly the same for our purposes as the model 228. Now let me give a few problems and probable causes that commonly happen with a gas lantern.

    Problem -- Culprit



    Can't build good pressure -- Pump plunger assembly

    Won't maintain good pressure -- Filler cap gasket

    Won't light at all -- Generator

    Lights, then goes right out -- Pressure, generator

    Burns weak or intermittently, pulses -- Generator

    Dim or yellow light -- Air system


    If you pump your lantern and get no pressure build up within the tank, it is probably the pump cup that is dry(leather) or cracked(neoprene). I usually take the whole pump out and soak cup end in motor oil over night in the case of leather. If you have a cracked neoprene pump cup, the you will need to buy a new one. Sometimes you can get a repair kit and replace the cup itself. Every couple of times you use your lantern, you should put a couple of drops of motor oil or 3 in 1 type oil in the hole provided. This should keep it working good. Do this especially if you have stored it for a long period of time. If you have stored your lantern for a long time and you try to pump it up and it seems to not take pressure very easily, or the pump seems to have a big spring behind it, simply spray some carburetor cleaner inside the pump hole and let it sit for about 10 minutes. It should free up the check ball located in the bottom of the pump hole. If this doesn't work, then the fix can become complicated and should be done by a professional.

    If you pump your lantern up and it loses pressure very fast it is probably the gas cap not sealing very good. The easy fix is to go to Wal-Mart and buy a new one, they are cheap and immediately fix this problem most of the time. Any other leaks should be located and fixed by a professional.

    If it won't light at all then the most likely cause is the generator plugged up. I will show how to fix this as the article progresses. It could also be foreign matter in the main valve, again this should be repaired by a pro.

    If you light it up and it goes out or slowly gets dimmer until it goes out, then it either has a bad or dirty generator, or the tank is leaking air. These fixes are listed above. All of the other possible causes should be repaired by a pro.

    If you light it up and it begins to pulse or make a spitting sound, this is almost always caused by the generator. Some lanterns will do this (pulse) until you open the valve all the way up. The lantern is designed to be run with the valve all the way in the open postion, so I consider this normal in most cases.

    If the lantern is lit and it looks like it just isn't very bright or has a very noticable yellow glow to it, then it probably has a plugged up air vent. Once you have the lantern apart, it is pretty easy to fix this problem on a model 200. It can be a little more difficult on the other models. I will discribe how to clean this out when we get into disassembly of the lanterns. As you can see, most of the time lantern problems are caused by the generator. So we’ll take one out and clean it. Replacement with a new one is exactly the same procedure.

    We'll start with the model 200.

    [​IMG]

    First you need to remove the bail, ball nut, ventilator and globe. Just spread the bail apart and take it out of it's holders on the burner. Then loosen the ball nut, remove the ventilator and set them aside. Next very carefully take out the globe and set it apart from your work area. It is very fragile and will easily break.

    [​IMG]

    Next you should take the burner nut off, then remove the burner assembly. If you still have the mantle installed, just be careful not to touch it and don't knock it around too much. It is only ash and is very fragile. Now I'll show where the air vent is on this model.

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    This is the bottom of the burner assembly, this is the air vent tube. If necessary I clean it out with a piece of stiff, but flexible wire. This tube is a favorite place for mud-dobbers and spiders to make nests. If this tube is blocked it can cause a multitude of problems. The lantern will burn with a yellowish glow or sound very weak and be very dim. If you take the burner off it’s always a good idea to check the air vent for obstructions.

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    At this point you want to turn the needle valve cleaner to the up position. This will make removing and installing the generator much easier. What this lever does is turn push a very small needle up through the small hole in the end of the generator for cleaning purposes. Some people use this to control the brightness of the lantern, I don’t do this as it’s not mentioned in the manual at all. The owner’s manual says to turn it at least one full turn just before you light the lantern to clean the tip of the generator.

    [​IMG]

    Click here for page 2
     
  2. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    Continued from previous post

    Next you should loosen the jam nut on the bottom of the generator itself.

    [​IMG]

    Next pull up just a little on the generator and pull the end of the needle out of the tip cleaner stem. The generator is now removed and can either be cleaned or a new one installed in it’s place. I’ll show how to clean the needle and make an old generator work like new. It works about 90% of the time.

    [​IMG]

    Very carefully take the needle out of the generator tube taking care not to bend the very small wire tip. If you bend this wire, discard the generator and install a new one. Inside the generator tube there should be a round paper tube and a spring. These do not need to be removed from the generator tube. Take a small piece of steel wool and pull it from the bottom to the top of the needle. Never pull it backwards or the tip wire will likely get bent. Just repeat this until the needle is nice and clean. Carbon deposits on the needle are normally what affect the way the lantern burns and that’s what we are cleaning off the needle. Once this is done, reinstall the needle back into the generator tube. Be very careful to put it straight in so as not to catch the tip wire on the spring. When this is finished, you can reinstall the generator, reassemble the lantern and try it out. If it still doesn’t work right, then go ahead and install a new generator. Reassembly is the exact reverse of these intructions. If you do this a few times, it can easily be done in about 15 minutes. I carry a new generator with me all the time, just in case. If I’m out in the boat and need to do this task, I’ll put the new generator in and wait til I’m home to clean the old one and then it will become the spare. The model 200 is the most complicated of the three lanterns I am going to show. I will briefly describe the procedure for the other models.

    The model 220/228:

    [​IMG]

    Take the ventilator and globe off the 220/228 the same as the 200 except you don’t have to remove the bail. Be very careful working around the mantles.

    [​IMG]

    Next make sure you turn the tip cleaner to the up position.

    [​IMG]

    Now remove the jam nut from the generator.

    [​IMG]


    Push the generator up into the air tube a little, then pull out and down to remove it. Clean it the same as the model 200 generator. Make sure you hook the end of the needle into the tip cleaner stem as you reassemble it. Make sure you tighten the jam nut good when you reinstall it. To clean the air vent tube on this lantern you need to remove the small phillips screw on the back of the mixing chamber(the part the two tubes the mantles go on screw in to). Then unscrew the whole mixing tube of the air vent tube, you may have to remove one or both of the tubes the mantles are on, depending on how old your lantern is. This is easily done with a pair of pliers with a paper towel in the jaws. This is the best way to gain access to the air vent on these models. Reinstall it and tighten the screw when you are through checking it. The other components such as the pump and gas cap are the same on these models. Reassemble the lantern in the opposite way it came apart.

    Click here for page 3
     

  3. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    Continued from previous post

    The model 288 or Powerhouse Lantern

    [​IMG]

    Take the ventilator/bail and globe off the lantern the same way as the others. What I’m pointing to is a small clip on the air tube that holds the burner plate in place. Remove this clip and set aside.

    [​IMG]


    Next remove the burner plate, it is basically Murphy proof as the slot is cut to go around the generator.

    [​IMG]


    Since this lantern doesn’t have a tip cleaner lever for the generator, you need to make sure the fuel cap is loose so there is no pressure in the tank and turn the gas valve about a quarter turn to the on postion and leave it. This will place the needle in the up postion for ease of removal and installation. Now take the jam nut off the generator and pull it up into the air vent tube and pull out and down to remove it. This lantern’s air vent tube is a little more complicated to get to than the other two lanterns and is best left to a professional to clean out. Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly. If everything went right you should now have a lantern that looks like one of these.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Fixing lanterns and old spinning reels is something I do as a hobby. I don’t really collect them as a true collector might, but I have a few set aside that I think are worthy of keeping like new. I have lanterns dating all the way back to 1952. The model 200 in the article is dated in 1961, and the 220 is dated 1964. On the bottom of every Coleman lantern there are two numbers, usually one on each side of the bottom. They will look like this: 9 57. This indicates that the lantern was made in September of 1957. I think that Coleman lanterns and Campstoves are one of the few things commercially manufactured that were definitely made to last with a minumum of maintenance. They are easily rebuilt and can literally last a lifetime. If you happen to own an old Sears or J.C. Higgins lantern as I do, then treat it like a model 220. At least mine is just like one. They were made by Coleman and there are still parts available through collectors and older dealers. I hope this article helps some of you that might not otherwise attempt to do this task. It's really not that difficult.