Most reliable and field serviceable gasoline stove?
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May 1, 2013 at 4:56 am #1302414
I'm going on a long international trip and I need a stove.
I bought the new Soto Muka but was not impressed. I was connecting the fuel line to the fuel canister whilst on the dirt ground and the head of the fuel line briefly touched the ground. I blew off the grit and dirt, but I think some grit had entered the fuel line and clogged it. There is no way to unclog the line in the field so I was screwed. Stove is dead. Plus it has a part called the Generator Unit that the manual says needs to be replaced every 20 liters of fuel. About 100ml is used to run the burner for 25 minutes for real cooking. If it takes 25 minutes to boil a stew or make pasta or something, and you do that twice a day, the stove will last all of 3 months before you have to replace the entire generator unit. There is no way to field clean the unit. The manual says it is precision engineered and just needs to get replaced since any attempt to clean it will not fully do so.
I want a stove that uses gasoline and an array of other easily available fuels that is reliable but also more importantly, serviceable in the field in case it gets clogged or something.
I think modern stoves are like a modern car engine – they work very well, all the custom parts fit perfectly, and are very high performance, but if you need to fix it yourself in the bush or jerry rig something you are screwed.May 1, 2013 at 5:50 am #1982182
MSR Dragonfly. I've only used gas in mine, simmers great and for a long time, very adjustable, add a Berniedawg cap, nice and quiet and still simmers great.
DuaneMay 1, 2013 at 5:52 am #1982184
Thank you. Totally field serviceable? Any need to buy replacement parts or can everything be cleaned, including hoses and jets?May 1, 2013 at 6:12 am #1982188
I highly recommend the SVEA123r. It needs routine maintenence about every 10 years and a rebuild every 30-40 years or so.
It is the MOST reliable and dependable stove I know of. The stove alone weighs about 17oz. It varies considerably, about 2 ounces though. The cup is often included in the weight, though. This is only slightly heavier than the origonal Jet Boil (15oz without fuel canisters.) Add in a 3-7/8oz grease pot & spoon and you have a complete cooking system for about 26 ounces. Add a 12oz bottle of WG and you have a complete setup for about two weeks for about 34ounces: stove, pot, lid, cup, and spoon. You can generally get gasoline anywhere, and it will burn car gas, though not recommended.
Field service is nearly nonexistant. Once in a while, the saftey valve can pop if the stove is overheated (In the sun at >100F and cooking on high.) Simply tap it to restore the function, again, if it does not close correctly. The self cleaning needle keeps the jet free of debris. There is only the generator to clog up, but the valve screw, jet cleaner, runs through it providing a self cleaning function. Never had a problem with it. A small amount of acetone or alcohol (10%) can be mixed with WG to clean things out after a couple weeks of running on auto fuel. This is the only maintenece I know of and only if you use auto fuel as happens when you travel abroad.May 1, 2013 at 6:13 am #1982189Erik BasilBPL Member
There's always the time-proven MSR XGK: multi-fuel, comes with alternate jets, easy to break down and clean. There are some replacement parts that come in the rebuild kit, but it's highly field-serviceable. It's heavier than that Dragonfly above and, if you don't like the F-14 sound, you'll want one of those silencer heads referenced, also, but it's generally bombproof.May 1, 2013 at 6:24 am #1982190M GBPL Member
Travelled all over the world with mine and have great memory of changing a cracked o-ring on a Presidential Traverse in -20 weather with very cold fingers. Fully field serviceable but hardly ultralight.May 1, 2013 at 7:05 am #1982202jamesBPL Member
@jamesbhikesLocale: London UK, Greenville USA
All I would say is I wouldn't burn regular gasoline unless it is really a last resort. Depending on where you are travelling to, the Gasoline can be extremely dirty and is the last thing (besides diesel) that I would ever want to use to cook with.
The Primus Omnilite Ti would get my vote over the dragonfly. Primus has a very good track record so I think this would be a very safe bet (I have not used it for prolonged periods of time though, but would put my trust in it). It is lighter and packs quite a bit smaller than the dragonfly and I find is just generally more pleasant to use. Also I believe it is more fuel efficient. One bonus is that it will burn gas canisters whereas the dragonfly will not. This means if possible for any side trips or for when you return home, that you can leave the fuel pump at home saving 3.5 ounces or more.
MSR Dragonfly: Used mine for months straight and is as reliable as anything. You can get a repair kit for it which has everything you are likely to need to replace. it;s heavy though
They both allow simmering, but sound like freaking jet engines most of the time so you might want to get a silent cap for them (http://www.ebay.com/itm/QUIETSTOVE-SILENT-BURNER-MUTER-DAMPER-CAP-4-MSR-DRAGONFLY-STOVE-/321117975303?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4ac41f7307) if you need to be stealthy for any reason. For an extended trip, fuel usage is quite often the key factor in saving weight so maybe also get a pan with a heat exchanger. Oh and don't forget that if you are going somewhere extremely cold, the plastic fuel pump components may fail on you so maybe take some extra spares.May 1, 2013 at 7:27 am #1982207Phillip AsbyBPL Member
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
I've certainly heard good things about the Svea 123 – but only have direct experience with the venerable Coleman 533 dual fuel sportster. A buddy has one and I've used it with him a few times – his is a decade or so old and runs like a top with no servicing. Like the Svea you see various permutations still selling in working condition on that auction site from the 60's.
Not the prettiest but less expensive than the 123 and certainly the multifuel MSR/Optimus models.May 1, 2013 at 7:58 am #1982216
I looked into the SVEA and I thought that using gasoline was a big no-no?May 1, 2013 at 8:01 am #1982219
The old Svea 123's are great, but only use white gas, auto gas will cause big issues. Optimus makes a few stoves, but I've seen folks have some issues with a stove here and there.
DuaneMay 1, 2013 at 8:01 am #1982220Phillip AsbyBPL Member
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
Forgot to add the Coleman specifically can use unleaded gas… one reason it's a popular stove with motorcycle tourers/campers.May 1, 2013 at 8:15 am #1982222
Thanks. So comparing the XGK and the Dragonfly, the XGK is basically a jet engine. It has no simmer option. Therefore it's not really good for actual cooking, as would be the case for long term international living that has a mix of backpacking and car camping, right? I am impresses by the service record though – apparently there are still XGRs floating around from the 1970s…. Whereas my Soto broke after 2 weeks.
The Dragonfly is just as bombproof and field serviceable without the need for replacement parts? Even the hose? The Dragonfly apparently can simmer. I'm envisioning a situation where I never have to buy replacement parts (sourcing is the problem if you're in the middle of Africa, for example) and I can just scrub out parts with water and my Leatherman and be good to go again.May 1, 2013 at 8:19 am #1982223
Oh, I see. But the new SVEA with the self cleaning magnetic needle thing can use gasoline just fine?May 1, 2013 at 8:50 am #1982231
I'm really liking the Omnilight Ti.
Uses more types of fuel than the MSRs, lighter, can use my existing canisters, can simmer, is a little less in the BTU department, but I'm just not sure about the reliability and the serviceability.
I hear of MSRs from the 1970s. I have no idea on the Primus stuff though, especially the Omnilite which is new. Again, if something clogs like a fuel line or a jet in the bush, I need to fix it with water, a multi tool, and sticks, essentially. Sorry to keep hammering this point in. I'm still not happy with my Soto breaking. I had to drive 1.5 hours back to Denver in the middle of the night to get to an REI so I can return this thing after spending 2 hours in the dark taking apart this thing and trying to fix it.May 1, 2013 at 9:14 am #1982236
"Oh, I see. But the new SVEA with the self cleaning magnetic needle thing can use gasoline just fine?"
Ha, hay…the cleaning needle is mechanical. Turn the key well beyond full and it will push it's way through the jet, cleaning it. No shaker jet technology… way too complicated.
You can use auto fuel with it, as with most WG stoves. WG is usually pentane & hexane with some other volotiles in it. No oxygenators, detergents, and other additives. It burns very cleanly with no soot. Auto gas is mostly hexane, septane with small amounts of octane and other volotiles. It has additives, detergents, oxygenators, octane-boosters in it. These do nothing for the stove, 'cept slow the burning down a bit, and, leave a sooty residue. The oxygenators(?) can lead to break down of plastic and rubber parts. The SVEA 123r doesn't have any, except at the fill cap. The valve gasket is graphite, which is not effected by auto-fuel. Avoid breathing the fumes, of course. Cooking/boiling water should always be done with a lid. The fill-cap should last about a year or so if you use auto fuel a lot. I simply used cut up cardboard for a few weeks till I could get a new one after about 20 years. But, I only occasionally use auto-fuel. Auto-fuel does NOT burn as hot as WG…about the same as WG on medium. Use the cheapest, lowest octane fuel for it…it usually has the fewest additives.
There are a number of other things that CAN be burned. In a pinch, and for short runs to boil 3-4 cups of water, benzene, acetone, and others can work. These also produce bad combustion byproducts…or, can be harmfull by themselves.
MSR stoves are generally not too good with auto fuels…too many rubber and plastic parts that will go bad.
The SVEA is a simple stove using simple physics to work. There is very little to break, hence the extremely high reliability and durability. I have dropped an armload of firewood on mine, it still works, though I had to straighten out some dents. Extreme overheating, running it totally out of fuel on high, can damage the internal wick. So, fill it before every use. It will run about an hour on high, but I have never needed to run it that long. Running out at lower flame settings does not seem to hurt it. It is capable of cooking for four, but, really, is a two person stove. The weight can be a bit much for a solo hiker.May 1, 2013 at 9:38 am #1982242jamesBPL Member
@jamesbhikesLocale: London UK, Greenville USA
The omnilite ti is new, but as far as I am aware the fuel pump and burner mechanism is identical to the primus omnifuel which has been around for a while. The only difference that I'm aware of is that some of the exterior components are smaller and made from titanium hence the reduced weight. Here is a comparison between the two http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=88930
From what I have read, the omnifuel is just as reliable as the dragonfly if not more so. One benefit to the omnifuel/omnilite is that it has a metal fuel pump shaft as opposed to the msr plastic one which is probably more prone to failure from dropping it etc. http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/forum/gear/msr-dragonfly-vs-primus-omnifuel/34103.html
As for spare parts etc. I guess it depends on how vitally important it is to have your stove functioning 100% of the time. If it is crucial for staying alive (boiling water etc), I'd say that extreme circumstances require extreme precautions so just take a backup stove, all the possible spares you might need and steripen and filter etc. for water.May 1, 2013 at 10:13 am #1982250
I agree with the old school of thought.
I took my Optimus 8R on a cycle tour of Iceland and ran it on all sorts of scrounged fuel. In my experience the 8R runs just fine on auto gas.
In fact, in preparation for that trip I experimented and cooked all my meals over the 8R for a week using auto gas as fuel, and had zero problems.
Note – In my experience the 8R burns considerably hotter on auto gas than it does on white gas!
It may just have been my stove –
Note – Use the lowest octane gas available!
I have experienced flame shooting out of the safety valve on my stove several times. Each time the stove was being used with a large several gallon pot and was left turned up as high as it could go and was left unattended. Used properly, there is little danger of this happening, and it is easily extinguished anyway ( Blow out the flame and let it cool! ).
I don't own a Svea yet, but I understand it is near perfection in a small gas stove. I look forward to owning one some day. It certainly is lighter than the steel cased 8R.
A stove very similar to the 8R that I have always wanted is the Optimus 99. Same working guts, just housed in an aluminum box. The lid serves as a nifty pot.May 1, 2013 at 10:29 am #1982256
Many stove users DO NOT recommend using auto gas, it will clog everything up. Use it in a pinch. A couple coleman stoves are made to use unleaded gas, not sure how much servicing they need. MSR is well known around the world, I have many old G,s, GK's, X-GK's etc. they still run great. Use white gas/Coleman fuel, they'll be fine. Most of my old stoves still had the old yellow pumps, easily rebuilt if needed, in plastic to boot. Don't be fooled by the plastic, although MSR had a run of a few years that had bad pumps, the blue/red ones were the worst. I've sent two of those back to Cascade Designs for exchanges. Even then, the pump can still be used as it did not affect the pumping, just the plunger would not stay in because the ears that hold the pump in place would crack. I have three of the Optimus pumps that work on the Nova, 11 Explorer etc. the tubing can come off of them and the NRV can come loose from the end, rendering the pump unusable.
DuaneMay 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm #1982298
Gah, I'm getting really undecided here:
Primus OmniLite Ti – includes mini fuel bottle, metal pump, 12 oz (341 g) with pump, can use canisters, auto gas (petrol), kerosene, diesel, butane/canister, jet fuel
Primus OmniFuel – higher heat output than OmniLite, does not include fuel bottle, 15.6 oz (441 g) with pump, can use canisters, auto gas (petrol), kerosene, diesel
MSR WhisperLite International – packed weight 15.6 oz (441 g), auto gas (petrol), kerosene, jet fuel, diesel
Optimus Nova + – 15 oz (431 g), kerosene, diesel fuel, jet (aviation) fuel, Optimus Arctic Fuel, and others
MSR DragonFly – stove + pump – 13.8 oz (395g), kerosene, diesel, naphtha, aviation (AV) gas, stoddard solvent, auto gas (petrol)
MSR WhisperLite Universal – minimum weight – stove, fuel pump, all adaptors and jets – 13.7 oz (388 g), canister fuel, white gas, kerosene, and unleaded auto fuel
I am so confused…May 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm #1982301
Yeah, I believe the jets can get fouled very easy, since the regular auto-gas can develop a varnish. Again, The 123r has a pin that pokes it out from the INSIDE. You may have to do that every lighting with some fuels. Unleaded, seems to be OK, just burns a bit slower, starts sooty, but it runs OK. The older regular gas would burn much slower due to the additives, I think. Something about raising the octane also slows the burning. After a week or so, add a little alcohol or acetone(nail polish remover) to clean it out. It will burn pure acetone, but may pop the safety after 10 minutes or so with a wider pot. Not a big deal if you are stuck for fuel. Anyway, auto-gas is nearly universal thrughout the world.May 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm #1982304
If ya will not consider the rock solid, mud simple Old School no-pump stove like the Svea then I'd personally recommend an MSR XGK EX.
Why? Simple brand loyalty I guess. Because I've used MSR stoves since about 1985, and I can operate or rebuild one in my sleep. For much for that time till now, an MSR has been my go-to stove, and I've only had one fail on me twice to the existent that I couldn't repair it in the field in all the decades I've used 'em.
I don't know where your going to or how long your trip is, but if it's really remote make sure the stove burns kerosene and diesel well, as they may be the most available fuels in really back-of-beyond locations.
Consider carrying the expedition service kit if your going places where stove failure would be truly dangerous instead of simply an inconvenience.
I took my 8R to Iceland because I don't have an XGK and didn't want to drop the coin on one for that trip, but I did have the 8R handy and my tests revealed that it would indeed run just fine on auto gas which is the most widely and easily available fuel up there, and the old stoves that use heat to pressurize are the simplest of beasties and I feel very confident indeed that I can always keep one running provided sufficient fuels.
Number two on my confidence list is the MSR stoves, so that would be how I'd run if I were you.May 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm #1982306
Oh, and of course you can simmer over an XGK, or any other stove that is temperamental about simmering.
If ya can't dial the stove down as much as you'd like, just increase the distance between the pot and the stove! Think of a pot hanging from a tripod, rocks as improvised pot supports, and the like.May 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm #1982307
The only thing that I don't like about the SVEA is the heat output – 4780 BTU compared to ~8500 for the OmniLite Ti. That's almost 50% less…. I know it's bulletproof and all, but damn….May 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm #1982309Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I used a MSR Whisperlite International for years. Kind of heavy and singed my eyebrows off a couple times but pretty good otherwise. Once it got clogged so I had to take it apart a little, clean out jet with pin, maybe you should figure out how to do that before you go, have the right pin,…
I think all MSR white gas stoves are probably pretty good. What they sell today looks a little different than mine, but I assume works just as good.May 1, 2013 at 1:25 pm #1982310
Have you ever had trouble with the plastic on the MSR?
Here's a blog I just read:
"We had to stop using it (the MSR) in the end as the control valve was made of plastic and the thread on it wore away, meaning it was impossible to control the flow of fuel. On the road it wasn’t possible to fix the problem or find a replacement, it would have to be sent away for repair."
Their vote went to the OmniFuel due to the metal construction.
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