Thursday, August 6, 2015

A what now?

I'd said for a long time that I had no real interest in wick lanterns. Well at camp we've got an old hot blast lantern that came with the place and last fall I spent a bunch of time playing with it. While it doesn't throw much light it doesn't use a whole bunch of fuel and doesn't make any noise. We used it for a nightlight for which it worked out perfect.

A hot blast lantern uses the hot exhaust gases to feed back into the burner where any left over fuel in the hot gasses gets burned. This process costs a little brightness but reduces fuel use. The alternative is a cold blast lantern which uses the heat of the hot combustion gasses to draw cold air into the lantern. The cold air being drawn in has more oxygen in it and is more dense since its colder which allows for a brighter flame although it'll cost some more fuel. Both hot blast and cold blast lanterns fall into the "tubular lantern" category. This confused me at first because I'd seen things like Aladdin lamps which have round wicks in a tube shape. So don't be confused by tubular lanterns which carry the air into the burner in tubes and round wick lanterns which have a round (or tube shaped) wick.

Anyway since I'd had some experience playing with the hot blast at camp got me interested in cold blast lanterns. Before I'd started looking for them I was seeing wick lanterns all over the place, now of course I'm hardly seeing any and the ones I am seeing are really expensive. So I was really happy to see this at a yardsale:

Its a Dietz D-Lite No. 2 made from 1919 to 1947, its got a great big 7/8" wick rated for around 7 candle power (cp). The D-Lite is a short globe lantern which is easier to clean than the tall globe models but it costs some light. The tall globes would get closer to 12cp. For comparison a Coleman 200A is more like 300cp. It had no price tag, I offered $3 and he accepted.

As you can see my lantern is all rusty, it looks like it was sitting under a hole in the barn roof for years and years. Originally the lantern was galvanized and the underside is perfect looking but every inch of the rest of the lantern is covered in rust.

The rust is worst at the top, it gets better toward the bottom of the air tubes and bad again at the flared part on top of the fuel tank. Also the top is dented and the whole top end of the lantern is twisted and leaning slightly.

I put some kero into the tank, trimmed the wick a little and it lit right up. Thats the great thing about these lanterns, theres only a moving parts, wick lifter, the globe lifter and the ring on top so theres really not much that can fail.

So what to do, what to do? I could leave it rusty, after all it works. I could clean the rust off, oil the metal and keep it that way hoping I always keep enough oil on it to prevent rust, or I could clean the rust off and paint it. While this one wasn't originally painted they were sometimes and many other models were and since I paid $3 for the lantern I'm not particularly worried about originality.

In the end I decided to clean and repaint. How to clean off the rust? I'm going the easy way:

The bucket is full of citric acid, the plastic wrapped brick on top holds the lantern down, I plugged the fuel tank, it was perfectly clean so I didn't want to worry about having citric acid in it. It took 4 days of soaking to get all the rust off but it finally came clean. As of yesterday I got the lantern out of the acid bath, rinsed off, dried and primed. The burner cover and top end pieces I've already painted Coleman green (Krylon Hunter Green). I went a little overboard with the primer on the main lantern body so I'll have to go back and sand off some runs before I can paint. It takes a couple days for the thick primer to harden enough to really do that well.

So green is the color except for the wires that hold the globe in place, I'm going to paint those grey. I'm not going to paint the bail at all, any paint on that would just wear off anyway...

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