What is the difference between a Canadian and a canoe?
OH! OH! O-RING!
You get to camp, drop your pack at your tentsite and
open it up to find one of your fuel bottles has emptied itself.
Explains the vapor following you on the trail your friends thought was
from the curried lentil stew last night. Your sleeping bag, clothes,
tent and food are damp from naptha fuel (aka white gas aka white
spirits aka Coleman campfuel) so you hang them up to dry (in the rain).
Shame on you, first, for not protecting your other gear
and food from the fuel (next time, put everything else in a plastic bag
separate from the camp fuel bottle which should be in another separate
plastic (ziplock) bag and, if possible, a separate pack). Shame on you,
second, for not checking the O-ring on the fuel bottle. Shame on you,
third, for cozying up to the camp fire or lighting a stove later on
while wearing clothes that naptha had dried on (the residue is
flammable after it has dried and you could go up in flames in all that
synthetic - hey, primed wool ignites nicely, too).
Every metal fuel bottle/container/reservoir has a
rubber O-ring under the cap which compresses between the plastic
cap/lid and the metal lip of the fuel bottle to keep fuel from leaking
out of the bottle. You will find the same type of O-ring on the fitting
between your campstove pump and the fuel bottle.
Rubber O-rings have a short lifetime, especially when
exposed to various fuels like naptha and compression-stressed by them
gorilla hands. If you examine the O-ring under compression you will
notice hair-line or larger splits in the rubber, which will permit fuel
to leak out of the bottle if it is not standing upright; or fuel can
leak out of a bottle when it is connected to your stove; your stove
operating instructions warn you to check for leaks before lighting the
stove or your cigar.
So you open your stove spare parts kit and, voila, you
find a spare O-ring. If you don't find one (more likely) then you
better use some electrical rubber tape or duct tape or some other
method to keep the fuel in the stove OR transfer the fuel into another
vessel that will not leak, such as a 1/2 litre or larger pop bottle
that is first rinsed out with the fuel. Remove the old O-ring by
rolling it off the bottle cap or stove pump and roll the new one on
making sure it does not have any cracks. PACK OUT THE OLD O-RING so it
doesn't find itself around some toad's neck.
Before your trip, buy the right O-ring for your fuel
bottles at your local/favorite outdoor store. They are different (I
think) for MSR and Coleman fuel bottles and stoves. Dealers who sell
the stoves SHOULD also stock replacement parts including individual
fuel bottle O-rings. I prefer MSR stoves (e.g. Whisperlite
International 600 Shakerjet) and have found that the automotive parts
section at Canadian Tire (they don't sell MSR stoves) stocks an array
of rubber O-rings including exactly the correct size O-ring for MSR
fuel bottles (part number 61-9821-6, 7/8 inch I.D. x 1 1/8 inch OD x
1/8 inch thick, 59 cents each; or try part number 93-7100-8). They
are also available from Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC); ask for a
MSR Fuel Bottle/Pump O-Ring SKU 8093 or Style 1506-260 for 50 cents
each. You may also find them in stock at Wilderness Supply or other local
I carry a couple O-rings in my repair kit and stock up
because the O-rings don't seem to degrade before you install them on a
bottle. I use a few each year (usually on other people's fuel bottles
who like to trip with me because I carry everything to prevent such
problems) and make a point of checking the O-rings each time I refuel a
bottle before each trip.
Haven't had a fuel bottle leak (friends have) nor have
any of my stoves blown up yet! Problem is, I have to stop carrying 20
pounds of O-rings with me!
BENT SHAKERJET NEEDLE?
If you own a MSR Whisperlite International 600
Shakerjet stove and can't get the same old heat out of it, check to
make sure the shakerjet needle isn't bent over (look in the orifice
opening, if you see the pin bent then disassemble and
straighten/replace the shakerjet needle).
When you put your stove away don't clip the hose hook into the orifice, clip it onto the stove's legs instead.
SIMMERING AN MSR STOVE
So you want to simmer your wild (edible) mushrooms (or omelette or tender whatever) on a Whisperlite or XGK, eh?
Here are several methods for simmering which can be used individually or in combination:
The last method requires babysitting the stove to make
sure the stove does not extinguish itself if the pressure drops too
much (you will hear it sputtering before this happens); if the stove
extinguishes but is still HOT I will relight the stove as long as the
fuel is hot enough to hiss (the operating instructions recommend you
let the stove cool down to relight it normally, but my wild mushrooms
don't usually have the patience).
- maintain the heat and use a flame spreader to spread the heat on
the bottom of the pan/pot (the flame spreader comes with the Outback
Oven, a wonderful frying pan with lid, heat reflector and
thermometer/lid knob, or is available separately at some outfitter
- remove the wind shield from around the stove to allow some of the heat to escape;
- do not pump the stove fuel bottle, allowing the fuel
pressure to drop over time through use, and turn the fuel control all
the way off, note the orientation of the OFF mark, then quickly reopen
the fuel control about 1 full turn (relative to the OFF orientation)
then adjust it back to 3/4 to 1 full turn until the stove runs quietly
HINT: Practice at home!
By the way, my 13 year old MSR XGK stove still works
great and is as loud and hot as a jet engine (burning petrol gasoline
or Grand Marnier, pun) but I hardly use it because my Whisperlites are
quieter (only on ultralight trips). I like the controls on the new MSR
Dragon Fly and the way it simmers, BUT it is as loud as my XGK and I
can make my Whisperlites simmer, so why buy such an expensive stove? If
I didn't have an XGK and wanted a light weight stove, the Dragon Fly
would be the one. BUT. Why doesn't MSR create a new Whisperlite with
the simmering features of the Dragon Fly?
STOVE WIND SCREENS el cheapo
If you own a stove and want some extra wind protection,
save the large heavy duty aluminum tray/pan from a Chinese take-out
meal or buy the same type of tray used for baking turkeys or roasts in,
and flatten it out, then cut it to the dimensions you want. Trays can
be pieced together by bending and folding. This is a much cheaper
alternative to buying the MSR heat shields, and more readily available.
Besides, you get to eat all that food to get the aluminium!
FUEL BOTTLE SOCKS
Keep your shiny new MSR fuel bottles from getting nicks
in them by carrying them in an old sock (okay you might get a nick or
two where the sock has holes). Nicks in the fuel bottle will reduce the
pressurization capability of the fuel bottle.
You can also use that sock to clean the soot off your MSR stove if you don't shut it off properly.
Keep your fuel bottle's tootsies cozy!
I hate getting that black soot from the bottom side of
a Whisperlite on my hands; it seems to get to my clothes, my nose and
other places I won't mention here.
Avoid the soot and having to clean the orifice (of your
MSR stove) by blowing the flame out (on the stove) before the fuel
pressure drops to a level that lets the flame burn orange instead of
If you happen to get an orange flame when shutting off
non-shaker jet stoves you can clean the orifice using the cleaning tool
which has a short, straight, stiff wire on it. OR you can clean the
orifice by opening the fuel control immediately after the flame has
extinguished while the fuel line is still hot then closing the fuel
control as soon as you hear vaporized fuel hissing at ya. Make sure no
other flame is present and do this away from and downwind from other
people so they don't smell/inhale the vaporized fuel. This will purge
sooty residue from the orifice so you won't have to use the cleaning
tool (as often). It might also purge other people from your general
vicinity so if you want to be alone, let that naptha rip!
OATMEAL a la NAPTHA
A few years ago on a cool spring morning I ate a bowl of oatmeal and suffered from naptha burps while paddling all morning.
If I had only used some water to rinse out that bit of
clear liquid in the bottom of the pot after taking the Coleman Peak
stove out of the pot I would have had oatmeal without the naptha
Did you hear the recent court case where a military
officer was supposedly poisoned by his unit buddies who were regularly
spiking his beverages with naptha?
Wonder what happens if you light a cig during a naptha
burp? I don't know 'cause I quite smoking 21 years ago; can anyone tell
Suggestion - make sure the stoves you carry inside your
pots don't have naptha in the fuel reservoir and make sure the fuel
line of the MSR stove is emptied of fuel before storing it in a pot.
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ANSWER: A CANOE TIPS