Feb 5, 2009 at 1:09 pm #1233821
@hikerdaddyLocale: Smokey Mountians
I have made lots of pepsi can stoves and never had a bit of trouble. But I threw together a penny stove and can get it to light. All of the alcohol burns out of the top pan and the jets never light. Any advise you have would be appriciated.
Thanks,Feb 5, 2009 at 2:04 pm #1475686
@sclittlefieldLocale: Northern Woods of Maine
Sounds like it's not priming properly (unless your jets are just way too small).
Try using a priming pan under the stove.Feb 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm #1475696
@hikerdaddyLocale: Smokey Mountians
I didnt follow any certain instructions. What size should the holes be?Feb 6, 2009 at 5:27 am #1475823
These stoves will often not light the jets or "bloom" if you just light alcohol in the top pan, especially in cooler weather. They are easy to get going though. There are several routes you can take. One method is to glue a few turns of fiberglass wick around the outside with a high temperature epoxy such as JB Weld. Squirt some alcohol on the wick, light it and you'll be in business in about 20 seconds. Another method is to use a small dish made from heavy aluminum foil under the stove. Yet another way is to always set your stove up on a non-flammable surface and just squirt some alcohol on it and light it. Judging by the number burns I've seen on table tops and shelter floors, I would say many hikers lack the discipline or cognitive skills to always find a spot that won't burn so I recommend one of the first two or go back to an open center column stove such as your Pepsi can stove.Feb 6, 2009 at 7:24 pm #1475982
I made a simple priming pan which gets it going!
As well, if you have a lighter, heat up the side of the stove and it gets it popping
Penny Stoves rockFeb 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm #1476305
What did you replace the hardware cloth pot stand with and where did you get it?Feb 18, 2009 at 7:56 am #1478656
@msensintaffarLocale: Talladega National Forest
Most of the time if the penny does not bloom is because the seal around the burner is somehow compromised. This can be for a variety of reasons but most of the time I find this happens when I push the burner in to the fuel cup unevenly. I would definitely follow Bill Waite's method of building the stove.
The only deviation I make from his instructions is using another Heineken can for the top cap/base, making it just slightly shorter than the burner.
Make sure and use top cap as a base as this is what insulates the stove from whatever it is sitting on. Bill recommends drilling a hole in it but I think this steers away from on of the better features of the stove. You actually want it to seal so that you heat that cushion of air underneath.
I have yet to have to use a priming pan for any of mine that I have built to this spec but I am in the south where temps rarely get very cold.
Hope this helps
MSep 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm #1529173
Hi…i'm having a very difficult time getting my penny stove to burn efficiently. I can't get it to burn more than 15mins fully loaded with a simmer ring, pot and wind shield! I'm using a regular pop can for the burner, Heineken can for the cup, also made the priming pan. Burner has 6 jets, no crimps but with 12 1/16inch holes. I sealed any potential gaps between the cup and burner with JB welding mix. I'm using the yellow Heet for fuel. I'm very frustrated… i've made at least 5 of these things and get no results. Apparently other people get 40-50 minutes worth of burn with a simmer ring and pot. I would appreciate any helpful advice… i really want to use a alcohol stove on my trips. Thanks a bunch…Sep 20, 2009 at 7:11 pm #1529185
I did a lot of experimentation with alcohol stoves before I switched to wood. The pressurized jet stoves look like a "real" conventional gas burner, but the bottom of a soda can stuffed with fiberglass insulation works about as well and is much easier to light. The fact that a certain cantankerous and boundless pontificator up in Maine has gone in roughly the same direction confirms my conclusion that a container with a wick will work best for most people.
Rather than try to make it simmer, I just made a second stove, also stuffed with fiberglass, and added a top that had a half inch hole in it. It burned at a perfect simmer rate. I don't remember the exact run times, but I think it was a lot longer than 15 minutes. More like half an hour I think.
You could probably make a drop on cover that would make the first stove simmer, but these stoves are so light it wasn't worth the bother. Simmer version shown here: you can use a penny throttle the flame back even further, or snuff it altogether.Sep 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm #1530027
Thanks for the tip Keith… I got it to simmer for almost 30 mins with a taller simmer ring. But simmer mode wont boil water. I want to make spegetti on the trip… suppose i could do it if i soaked the pasta in water before and after the fuel runs out. To much time and hassel though. I'm beginning to think these alcohol stove aren't really meant to cook with, simply boil water for freeze dried foods. Are you pretty happy with your wood stove? I'd apprciate the webpage for instruction for one. Thanks again for the response.Sep 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm #1530032
"I'm beginning to think these alcohol stove aren't really meant to cook with…"
Perhaps not, but there Are alcohol stove which do very well. PackaFeather and the Caldera Cones to name two.
I don't see your comment as a blanket indictment, but want to be sure that other "quick readers" don't get the wrong idea.Sep 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm #1530077
"I got it to simmer for almost 30 mins with a taller simmer ring. But simmer mode wont boil water. I want to make spegetti on the trip."
I'm not sure how many people you're cooking for, but unless it's a large group, you spaghetti shouldn't be out of the question. Bring the water to boil with your stove going full blast. Then use a simmer setting or separate simmer burner as I suggested. It will keep the water at or very close to boiling and will cook your meal while saving fuel.Sep 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm #1530105
@lilorphanbillyLocale: Montana, MT (Stealth Mode)
"I'm beginning to think these penny Stoves aren't really made to cook with…"
I have used a whisper-light and Coleman apex for most of my adult life. I began using the penny stoves a couple years back and love them. As for cooking spaghetti there are two options. You can use multiple stoves and switch out the empty or simply wait a couple minutes and refill. Turbo the wonderdog and I enjoy pasta and meat sauce our first night out on almost every trip. Hint: Use angel hair pasta instead of regular spaghetti. I can usually get the pasta cooked and reheat the sauce on 2 ozs of fuel. A lot of it just depends on your expectations and acceptable cooking times.
Hike hard, hike often.
billyJul 12, 2010 at 10:08 am #1628213
"But I threw together a penny stove and can get it to light. All of the alcohol burns out of the top pan and the jets never light. Any advise you have would be appriciated."
The original designer's instructions for building the stove work best:
The stove should be lit and primed with the pan sitting on the stand over it. The pan being there helps the stove to warm up faster.Jul 14, 2010 at 9:02 am #1628872
"I'm beginning to think these alcohol stove aren't really meant to cook with, simply boil water for freeze dried foods."
That is actually true for a lot of alcohol stoves, but not all of them.
There are a few alcohol stoves out there that have actual flame control, including the aforementioned FeatherFire stoves, and Zelph has been experimenting with a simmer sleeve for some of his stoves lately as well. It's a little finicky, but it works. I'd check his out — there's a section on his site about stove design as well, btw.Jul 14, 2010 at 11:52 am #1628913
The original Penny stove instructions include a simmer ring which apparently works well:Jul 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm #1628925
@erdferkelLocale: S. California
I've found with this design that you have to cover the central hole with penny AND the outer ring with the small holes with alcohol in order for it to prime reliably. Also, it tends to be somewhat sensitive to the alcohol temp, heat up your fuel bottle in your jacket if it's cold before measuring out into the stove.
The simmer ring is a bit tricky as its purpose is to reduce the amount of heat going down to the liquid alcohol to vaporize it. You may have to experiment a little to get the level of heat vs length of burn tradeoff for your conditions…Jul 21, 2010 at 11:49 am #1631029
You have to consider what the stove is expected to do. I have a collection of expensive backpacking stoves that don't work, and they generally quit way back in the wilderness. Years ago, I decided all I need a backpacking stove to do is heat or boil water.
If you want to cook something else, like frying fish, the best bet is to take two pop can stoves and switch off.Jul 22, 2010 at 3:22 am #1631252
the other alternative is to use a pot cosy- they're super easy to make from an old ccf sleep mat. bring the pasta to the boil, stick it in the cosy, wait 15-20 mins and the pasta is cooked. saves fuel too.Jul 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm #1631993
@lilorphanbillyLocale: Montana, MT (Stealth Mode)
I have found a more efficient design after making at least 15 or 20 different stoves. I believe this one is called an acorn stove. I use AL hairspray bottles. Unlike the penny stove you utilize the top and bottom so you only need one container. Cut the top and bottom of the container longer than the desired stove volume. Sandwich a piece of AL screen slightly shorter than the circumference of the container between the two pieces with the top piece inverted. The screen acts as a wick between the two layers of AL. Cut the stove to length. Fill the middle reservoir and light.
No priming required and it burns hot. Another plus is the ability to recapture your fuel.You will need a matching potstand and a snuffer.
This has been my primary stove for several months now and as I've already alluded to, I do more than boil water. I still carry my little Red-Bull penny stove for simmering.
Hike Hard. Hike often.
Mar 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm #1710841
Followed all jurey/waite instructions to the letter, having printed out the instructions with photos and assembling all the materials and tools per instruction. Used utility knife to score all my cuts which are exact per instructions (including the simmer ring because none of the three types of can opener I have would cut the top out of the Heinekin can without ruining the can). Made crimps to look identical to photos per instructions, 12 crimps, 6 jets at 1/16th, 4 center holes at 1/16th, even found an old pre 1982 penny (1962). I used a thumb tack to make holes but then insured they were correct diameter by pushinga 1/16th" drill bit thru the holes. Used Heinekin cans for fuel cups and simmer rings and a standard beer can for burner and base/top cap. Noticing that the burner does not fit well into the Heinekin can fuel cup and that there were inevitable deformations and irregularities, I suspected that perhaps this may be resolved by buying yet another 6 pack of Heinekin cans (actually not as terrible as I've been remembering since I became a beer snob 15 years ago)and making both the burner and fuel cup from these in hopes of perhaps getting a a better fit but found no significant improvement. Used 50ml of yellow heet (it took that much to fill the cup above the jets and penny)inside my garage with no wind and room temp tap water, put the stove on top of it's 12mm top cap/base which was then placed on top of a 2" x 6" to further insulate for the cool cement floor. Jets never lit up until 1 minute before fuel was gone and stove went out. I get a solid ring of flame all around the cup converging into a central flame. It seems to me that the flames arise from all the totally unavoidable spaces at the poor fit between the cup and the burner. I am going to try JB weld to seal this connection. That said I still boiled water and had no diffculty making 1/4lb dry angel hair pasta in under 5 minutes for lunch. But I could also do this with me old pepsi can stove from my PCT thru hike in 2003. My hope was that this stove would be much more efficient and use a lot less fuel to do the same thing. In any event this stove is only supposed to be a back up to the Jurey wood stove in the event wood is too scarce or too wet and I've yet to build or test one of those cause I have to find a can that when finished will fit inside my 0.8 MSR Titanium pot. A new pot is just not in the budget.Mar 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm #1710884
Is the fuel burning off without ever draining under the penny? If so, make sure your penny is dated 1982 or earlier–more copper content which is necessary for the penny to heat up and allow the fuel to drain inside. Edit: I just noticed that you used a pre-1982 penny already.
If not, then I agree that it sounds like a leak between the cup and burner. I've made ones which had this issue. Only way to avoid it is to check cans carefully for defects, and be careful not to introduce defects while crimping or pressing the two together. One thing which helps avoid issues while pressing together is to put the cup on top and press straight down and evenly with the heel of the hand.
I use a square of a few layers of heavy duty aluminum foil under mine as a heat reflector. Also, putting the pot on the stand before lighting helps it to prime faster by reflecting heat toward the stove.Sep 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm #1782831
@hhopeLocale: East Bay
Gregg Russo, have to correct this since your assumption that the gap and ensuing flame were 'totally unavoidable'. This is not correct, they are totally avoidable, and in fact, during my testing, I threw out any penny stove prototype that leaked on the edges with flames, as a failure. Ie, that gap is a sign that the stove basically failed to assemble, as are the ridged folds you'll see if the outside warped when squeezing them together. Those will probably also leak fuel and prevent proper pressure from building up.
There are several tricks required to get these pieces to fit together, one is to find just the right point to put the bends in the top part, the crimps, that is, too high, ie, not big enough, and it's almost impossible to get the pieces to join smoothly. Too low, ie, too long/deep, and you don't have enough can surface to create the seal.
One of the tricks is that after you crimp the top part, carefully run the circumference over a steel ruler, or any flat steel surface, to make sure any little crimp lines are removed from the flat surface, that works quite well, push with a finger from inside against the ruler as you roll the can piece, then double check to see that there are no ridged areas. If there are, flatten them again using the same method.
Trick two, after you do this, is to heat the bottom and cool the top. ie, expand the outside and shrink the inside. Personally I think the condensation from the cooling in freezer does as much good as the temps, but that's a useful trick. I have not managed to get these pieces together without doing that, doesn't take long to cool or heat, just stick the top on some ice cubes in the freeze, and stick the bottom on a pan with the burner running for a few seconds.
If you can't get the pieces to fit together, no matter what, try deeping the crimps slightly on the top part, note the illustration, then flatten it totally against the steel surface, ruler, whatever, again. This is a subtle point that the author sort of mentions but doesn't really tell you how to flatten that surface, but if you read every word he wrote carefully, you'll realize that it's a very delicate procedure, takes me over 45 minutes to get the pieces ready, then I have a failure rate that reasonably high, so once I get one that is clean and burns with no leaks, I am happy.
While the designer also says to use jb weld if you fail, I don't think it's a trustworthy solution, I'd rather have a naturally and fully sealed stove that doesn't require such non permanent hacks, trust me, it works. Just buy a 6 pack of vernons ginger ale, vile stuff, and use the cans, they are perfect. While failing is annoying, using a failed and patched stove I think long term will prove to be a lot more annoying as it fails again on the trail…
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