Coleman Stoves

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Coleman Stoves are obsolete technology, and some skill is required to make these things work. If you aren't confident, leave it alone, or ask for help. If you damage it, let us know, and be prepared to pay for a replacement.

The VOC has been replacing these stoves with new Propane Coleman Stoves.

Filling the stove

You must use only clean “white gas”, “naphtha”, or “Coleman fuel”. They are all the same. Never try to burn kerosene or mystery fuel. Fill the stove tank outside on the porch. This stuff is extremely flammable. Don't fill the tank until it overflows; about half full is ideal, so there's room for air. The best way to tell if the tank has fuel in it is to remove it from the stove and tilt it from side to side. You can feel the fuel sloshing back and forth. Be careful to not lose the filler cap in the snow; the stove won't work without it.


You must unscrew the pump handle about 3 turns, then pump with your thumb over the hole in the pump knob. Pump until some resistance is felt, due to the tank filling with air. If the pump feels flaccid, you can take it apart and lightly grease the plunger leather, and reform it with your fingers. Coleman pump cup oil is ideal, but vegetable oil, sunscreen or even saliva will work in a pinch. Once you have pumped, screw the pump handle back (clockwise) to prevent the air from escaping.


  1. You must turn the little wire lever so it points upward; this causes the stove to burn a mixture of air and fuel from the top of the tank. This prevent catastrophic flooding of the stove with fuel, but with the wire pointing upwards, the tank loses pressure quickly.
  2. Next, turn on the stove and listen for the hissing noise of escaping air/fuel mix. If this is ok, light it.
  3. The flame will burn yellow until the generator (the pipe running across the burner) gets hot enough to vaporize the fuel reliably.
  4. Once the flame becomes blue instead of yellow, turn the wire lever so it points downward. This causes the tank to feed 100% liquid fuel into the generator tube. If turning the wire lever down causes a yellow flame, it's because the generator tube is not hot enough to vaporize the fuel. Turn the wire lever back upward and wait some more. If the stove is burning yellow, it is giving off poisonous fumes. Don't cook on it that way. If the stove seems punky, it may need pumping again.

Lighting the auxiliary burner

Wait until the main burner is warmed up. Unscrew the bolt valve a few turns to turn on the auxiliary burner. Light it.

Turning the stove off

Shut off the auxiliary burner. Then turn the little wire lever so it points upward. Wait 30 seconds, then turn off the main valve knob. Be gentle. Stove will not go out immediately because there's still fuel in the generator. It may smell bad when you turn it off. This is normal.

In Emergency

(1) Turn off the fuel knob. (2) Remove the fuel tank assembly. (3) Don't try to throw the stove outside at this stage, or you will likely get burning naphtha on yourself and everywhere, and you will have a situation. Once the tank is removed, it should calm down pretty well. The usual emergency is caused by fuel pooling in the pipe between the burners, because you didn't heat the thing enough before you turned the wire lever to downwards.

The Unexpected

Sometimes happens. Even if you know what you are doing, sometimes the stove misbehaves, and you have to "deal with it." It doesn't necessarily mean the stove is broken, it's just the way things are. Sometimes you have to fiddle with it.