Snow Peak LiteMax stove malfunction? or was it the canister’s fault? or maybe just my own stupidity?
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Oct 17, 2014 at 2:51 pm #1321880
I have had a Snow Peak LiteMax stove for several years and used it on numerous trips. Great little canister stove, weighs just 2 ounces, and has never given me any trouble until this last trip.
On this trip I noticed that every time I threaded the stove onto the canister a bit of gas escaped. I think that has happened before, but this time it was more noticeable. Other than that it seemed fine.
The last night of my trip as I threaded the stove onto the canister even more gas seemed to escape and yet, foolishly, I lit the stove. Big mistake. The gas was not only coming out in controlled amounts where it was supposed to, it was also escaping in large amounts around the base of the stove. The stove was in flames and would remain so until all the gas from the canister was consumed. I watched in horror. Tried to put it out by dousing it in water, but the water did nothing. I had placed the stove on a sandy surface with nothing flammable close by. But I was worried that the canister would explode, and spread the fire. Luckily it did not.
Help me figure out what happened here. Is the stove faulty and is somehow stripping the threads of the canister? Or was it a bad canister? If it was a bad canister and not the stove, can I still use the stove? If I buy a new one, should I be looking at a different brand or design? Is there something else to learn from this. Please share your thoughts!Oct 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm #2142462Mark FowlerBPL Member
I suspect the reason for your problem was the O ring that makes the seal between the stove and the canister. If it is damaged then gas will leak out the joint between the stove and the canister. The little bit of gas that escapes each time you screw the stove onto or off the canister is due to the valve being opened a little before the seal is made.
The o ring can be damaged by a rough edge on a canister or get stuck to the canister and be pulled out of the stove when separating them. Always check the O ring is in place before attaching the canister and check the O ring for any nicks or cracks.
If it was the O ring then the stove can most probably be fixed with a good clean and by replacing the O rings including those on the control valve.
The other possibility is that the thread on the stove has worn and is not allowing a decent seal to be made. If this is the case the stove needs replacing.Oct 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm #2142465
I assume that you still have the burned remains of the stove and canister. Examine them closely where the fuel flows. It is possible that hard metal on the stove managed to deform the soft metal threads of the canister. Or, it could be user error. If you screwed them together improperly, that might cause the center pin to engage without a good seal around the threads. Or, if somebody else previously used this stove improperly, they might have started this to happen. If the center pin got worn or bent through careless handling, that might account for it. Or, it could have been a faulty canister somehow.
It is possible that the stove was the culprit, in which case it goes into the scrap heap. It is also possible that the one single canister was at fault, but if the fire damaged the stove, then the stove still goes into the scrap heap.
With all of that in mind, get another canister that has only a small amount of butane remaining, like 5-10%. Clean up the stove, if possible, and put the two together outdoors in a nonflammable spot. Turn on the fuel flow and sniff for leakage without lighting it. That should tell you something. If no leakage, then light it normally and see if the stove burns normally. Then decide.
–B.G.–Oct 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm #2142468James holdenBPL Member
There was an incident on Wednesday at Gleann Dubh Lighe bothy, off the Mallaig road in Lochaber, arguably one of Scotland's finest bothies, in which the building was gutted by fire.
The following was posted on a bothies website a few days ago.
"I had an extreme dodgy gas canister event at 6am the other morning. As I screwed in a brand new HIGHLANDER canister the seal seemed to burst and gas billowed out and was ignited by a candle burning my face, eyebrows, beard and most of my fleece. I ran outside padding out the flames as the canister continued to spray massive flames directly onto my rucksack which was burning by the time I returned. I threw a fire blanket to no avail and poured what water we had on it. I went to get more water but when I came back I couldn't get inside for black smoke and the inferno. All I escaped with was my wallet and sleeping bag. I called the fire service and felt like a totally useless b*st*rd. My sincerest apologies to everyone."
It looks as though the o-ring seal on the stove has either failed or dropped out. It is known that the o-ring seal in a stove taking a universal thread type gas-canister can adhere to the sealing surface of the canister, so sustaining damage or being pulled out completely.
The couple staying at the bothy had a narrow escape. It could have been a tragedy resulting from a simple action many of us perform on a regular basis… when was the last time you checked to ensure the seal was intact and in place prior to fitting a new canister?
It may even be argued that it was fortunate the chap was closer to a lit candle than he should have been, as the rapid build-up of gas in a confined space could easily have led to fatal consequences had it ignited once the canister had emptied itself. We need to ask ourselves what might be the consequences of such a thing happened inside a tent, or even out in the open if our clothing becomes saturated with gas!
Finally, it was reported yesterday that the Fire Brigade had managed to get two tenders to the fire, on an estate road which includes a very sharp turn onto a steep downhill gradient, an unrated bridge and a half kilometre of steep upward gradient. A big thanks to some of Scotland's finest!Oct 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm #2142488Hikin’ JimBPL Member
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
It could be several things.
1. The threads on the stove may be damaged.
2. You could have threaded it improperly that day.
3. The canister could be defective.
4. The "O" ring inside the stove could be damaged/missing.
I suppose there are other things as well, but #4 sounds most likely. If the stove still looks functional, you might look inside where the canister screws on and inspect the "O" ring. This is not a LiteMax, but you can see the "O" ring in the connector in the below photo:
If the stove looks good and the "O" ring looks good, Bob's advice to take a mostly empty canister and try it out sounds reasonable.
For the future, if gas is escaping, DO NOT light the stove.Oct 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm #2142499
Your description makes me believe (>90% probabilty) that your stove was actually missing the crucial O-ring – or at the very least the O-ring was very badly damaged. But I suspect 'missing'. Do not, EVER, try to use the stove without that O-ring. It is a BS-011. I strongly recommend Viton.
The suggestion that the thread may have been stripped does not work. If the thread is stripped the stove will not lock down on the canister properly. That IS what the thread is for, after all. If the stove does not lock down the pin will not open the valve in the canister. Yes, I have had that happen to me before.
cheersOct 17, 2014 at 7:53 pm #2142503Matthew BlackSpectator
I would be wary of test firing the stove until you can verify the integrity of the O-ring in the base as well as the O-rings on the control shaft. Here is a picture of the stove bottom. Left of the threads you can see a roll pin which seems to be the only thing holding the control shaft in place. It may be best to send the stove to Snow Peak for inspection. Roger or Hiking Jim can probably tell you the temperature range for the O-rings but I suspect they may have been damaged if the stove body was engulfed in flame for several minutes. This photo is a little clearer and you can see nicks in the aluminum threads on my LiteMax.
Oct 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm #2142506
"It may be best to send the stove to Snow Peak for inspection."
You can pretty well guess what Snow Peak is going to say.
–B.G.–Oct 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm #2142509Matthew BlackSpectator
Perhaps, but I think it may still be worth talking to them. Even if she removes the control shaft and has calipers to measure the O-rings, they may have already shrunk or been severely malformed by the heat.Oct 17, 2014 at 9:48 pm #2142525
Thanks guys! Sounds like the consensus is the o-rings. Not going to try to repair it myself. Instead I will contact Snow Peak and see what they suggest. Any response I get I will then post here.Oct 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm #2142531
After the fire, other parts of the stove may have been damaged
Probably better to replace it
But if you can replace O-ring and if it doesn't leak, it's probably okay.
There could be slow leak so you could screw it on and let it sit over night.
I had a stove that had a slow leak only when it got really cold at night. This started happening after there was a flame up like yours, it overheated, and something got damaged.Oct 18, 2014 at 11:20 am #2142618steven franchukMember
If it is just the o-ring the size is 5/16" ID 7/16"OD 0.07" cross section. You can get 5 online a mcmaster.com for $5.62.
I would check the threads for damage. If the threads are OK I would then replace the o-ring and test the flame control valve without lighting it. If the valve is working and the o-ring is not leaking it is probably OK.
If you call Snow Peak they will just say to replace it. Replacing the o-ring and testing it is a lot cheaper. If the flame control valve is bad it is still repairable but much more difficult.Oct 18, 2014 at 11:42 am #2142625James holdenBPL Member
a new litemax stove costs 60 dollahs
sure if you know what you are doing, and are absolutely sure you can do it right you can fix it yourself
but otherwise is it worth it if you dont know?
there arent many things that can go BOOM in the backcountry … but this is one of em
the stove has already flared up, leaked and burnt itself out on you …
why take the risks of it going KA-BOOM !!!
the accident report i posted above shows the consequences
unless you are certain you know how to repair it yourself youre putting yourself and anyone else around at risk … not to mention the potential for starting a fire
gas leaks and open flames are pretty serious …
heres another recent incident …
Right, I know I'm opening myself up to a drubbing here, but I'm sure I'm not the only person to get complacent using gas, and I'm happy to out myself as an eejit if it just reminds one other person not to do the same.
I was out walking for a couple of days in the north west highlands over the weekend. It was wet and windy, and after one night camped high I decided to head for lower ground. I took a circuitous route to avoid the worst river crossings and possible stalking, and by the time I arrived in the glen I was cold, wet and knackered. I found a small wooden estate hut to shelter in, and as darkness fell and the rain fell the thought of setting up the tent in the bog nearby looked increasingly unappealing. While it is the stalking season the following day was a Sunday, so I decided just to doss in the hut ovenight.
I lit a candle and got settled in for the night. I always, always used to step outside a bothy/tent to connect a stove to a cartridge, but I guess after hundreds of repetitions without incident I'd become complacent.
As I screwed the stove onto the canister there was a sudden leak of gas. My instant reaction was to spin towards the door (which was thankfully open), and as I did so I gave the stove the final half twist which tightened the seal. As I did this there was a sudden, spectacular flaring off of gas to my right as the escaped gas hit the candle. Fireball may sound a bit dramatic, but that's certainly how it felt in the tiny enclosed space.
Had I not (for once in my life) reacted so quickly and the flame had fired back to the cartridge it could have been so, so serious. I was on my own, 12 miles from the nearest road. Had I burnt the hut down I would have sheepishly gone to the estate and offered to replace it – but that could have been the least of my worries.
I'm sure many of us saw the warnings following the fire at Gleann Dubh-Lighe and made a mental not to take more care. But exhaustion and complacency are a dangerous mix
you need to have as much confidence as possible that your stove will not leak gas … if that means sending it back to snow peak or buying a new one so be itOct 18, 2014 at 1:51 pm #2142646Stuart RBPL Member
The common thread to the above two incidents is the nearby candle.
You should not connect/disconnect a stove to a canister anywhere in the vicinity of an open flame. Then check the stove for leaks. If there is a leak, DON'T LIGHT IT!
I gues you'll remember that next time, but you had a very close escape. Bin the stove.Oct 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm #2142650
at least don't have open flame in enclosed spaceOct 18, 2014 at 2:04 pm #2142652
> Not going to try to repair it myself.
Replacing the O-ring is not 'repairing'. It is just common sense routine maintenance. But first check the O-ring – or the gap where it should be.
> I will contact Snow Peak and see what they suggest.
Product liability: they will say 'replace it'. IF they reply.
Was the stove itself damaged in the blaze? Unlikely imho. It's a funny thing, but often the stove right at the centre of such a fireball does not get all that hot. Reason is the flames are out at the surface of the fireball, while the stove at the core is being cooled (yes, cooled!) by the expanding gas.
It's a good stove. Pity to scrap it without reason.
CheersOct 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm #2142655
OK, not sure how to post photos here, but the above should be a link to it.
Does it have an o-ring? I can't really tell.Oct 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm #2142658
Your photo seems to show an o-ring. The photo is a little underexposed, but the o-ring seems to be in one piece. It looks lop-sided, but this might be caused by the camera angle and shadows.
–B.G.–Oct 18, 2014 at 5:23 pm #2142663John HigginsBPL Member
canister stoves are the only stoves allowed during a fire ban. makes you think. no stove is 100% safe not looking for a long debate. just glade to have this knowledge as it's been along time since i used a canister stove, but i'll check the o-ring the next time and every time i use mine.Oct 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm #2142667
"canister stoves are the only stoves allowed during a fire ban."
I'm not sure where you got this, but it isn't correct.
White gas stoves are used all of the time.
–B.G.–Oct 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm #2142669steven franchukMember
"Does it have an o-ring? I can't really tell."
It's the black rubber ring in your photo.Oct 18, 2014 at 6:17 pm #2142671Greg MihalikBPL Member
"… canister stoves are the only stoves allowed during a fire ban."
Dispelled in another thread where contact was made with a number of agencies regarding the use of alcohol stove – depending on the stove – they are allowed.
Every year is different. Every "fire ban" can be different.
But canister stoves don't have any exclusive rights.Oct 18, 2014 at 6:51 pm #2142675
"It's the black rubber ring in your photo."
If you take the underexposed photo and increase the brightness a bunch, you can see the dark synthetic ring in there. Except that I couldn't tell if it was in perfect condition or not. That's why it needs to be inspected closely.
It is so tight in there that if you try to use some sharp tool to extract the o-ring, you stand a great chance of damaging it.
–B.G.–Oct 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm #2142679
To insert an image, click "Insert Image at Cursor", click "browse", select the file, insert a description, click "upload image"
red line points to o ring
just for grins, the blue line points to the pin that pushes to open the valve on the canister and the brown line points to the hole the butane goes into the stove throughOct 19, 2014 at 1:43 am #2142709
Well, indeed, there seems to be an O-ring there. But in that case, why did the gas escape?
Possibility #1: the O-ring has been flattened somehow and no longer seals. In which case, extract it, see if it has a round cross-section (simple!), and replace it.
Possibility #2: the canister was really faulty. This could happen with some really suspect Chinese canisters – maybe.
Possibility #3: there was sone dirt in the valve. If for instance there was a bit of gravel in the hole, this could make the valve open before the O-ring seal had been completed. It is to avoid this sort of thing that I always strongly recommend storing the canister with the plastic cap on it.
Curious affiar. I would love to know what brand of canister, whether it was made in China, and what shape the O-ring has now.
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