Dissatisfied with what was commercially available at the time, the author has been working on the design of a lightweight winter canister stove since 2007. (OK, OK, a bit obsessive, but so what?) Several novel features were required of the design, in the interests of versatility, functionality and safety. These features are explained and the evolution is traced, ending up with the current design.
Along the way, a lot of research was conducted into just how canister stoves work. Special emphasis was placed on the air flow into the mixing column and the way fuel flows through the burner head. This array is but a fraction of what is in my Reject Bin. Seen in the light of what has been learnt, it is clear many older stoves on the market were designed without enough of this knowledge - and the way they emit carbon monoxide (covered in our lengthy series on Carbon Monoxide Emissions) is good evidence of that.
Many materials were explored along the way. Brass and steel, the mainstays of the older generation of stoves, have given away to aluminum and titanium. But other materials, such as various plastics, have also been co-opted into the design; often to reduce the weight. Naturally, fuel and heat compatibility have always been considerations. I have had the fun of experiencing a number of 'interesting' failures along the way, including some slightly melted plastic in some commercial stoves.
Finally, to get the precision of machining needed for a reliable design, the author ventured into the fascinating world of CNC machining. While that required a steep learning curve in itself, the use of CNC machining means that designs could be refined in a reliable manner over generations and then reproduced at will, at least to a limited extent.
Space prevents this series from a detailed examination of the virtues and faults of every model designed, made, and tested. This is probably just as well - otherwise it could be too close to the dreaded ordeal of amateur holiday snaps. In case you are wondering, every stove in this photo has significant differences from the rest. Some readers may even recognize the unit at the top right from an article published some time ago: it was an early venture in this direction, and the start of a long road. Evolving the design has been a lot of fun (?). But it may be worth admitting that not everything outlined in this article was understood in total clarity at the start: it has been a long learning exercise! I will add that while I have been learning, it is clear that one or two other designers at one or two Asian factories have been very active in Stove Development. With regret I have to say I have not seen this degree of learning from the traditional Western companies: they are falling badly behind.
In this first part we will explore what I wanted to achieve, the major components of the stove-to-be, and a couple of significant technical decisions. In the subsequent parts we will go into technical details for all the bits and pieces and see what I ended up with.
- Required Features
- Liquid Feed
- Gas Valving
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