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Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 12:30 pm
by Ulfuranda
Question -- I try to run my lanterns for no less than about 30 minutes, on the theory that they'll get hot enough to prevent (unavoidable) carbon buildup in the generators. I do this with both kero and CF lanterns. But -- I'm not quite sure why I settled on 30 minutes. Just made it up, perhaps. So I wonder if any of you have ideas about this topic -- minimum 'optimal' time to run a lantern to keep from gunking up the genny before its time? Thanks! Ulf.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 12:54 pm
by Dashwood
Ulfuranda wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 12:30 pm Question -- I try to run my lanterns for no less than about 30 minutes, on the theory that they'll get hot enough to prevent (unavoidable) carbon buildup in the generators. I do this with both kero and CF lanterns. But -- I'm not quite sure why I settled on 30 minutes. Just made it up, perhaps. So I wonder if any of you have ideas about this topic -- minimum 'optimal' time to run a lantern to keep from gunking up the genny before its time? Thanks! Ulf.
Carbon build up is unavoidable due to incombustibles that's always present in any hydrocarbon fuels and if I recall hearing from Frank at Oldtown Coleman, carbon buildup accelerates at the start of every firing and shutting down due to the rapid swings of temperatures as it dips in and out of the fuel's "cracking" ranges leading to a build up of carbon and other deposits.

Your best bet it is to source even higher quality fuels such as alkylates. They're composed of light chains of alkenes that's more prone to breaking up and vaporizing during combustion. Aspen 4 comes to mind. It still won't stop carbon build up but will extend the life of your generators beyond what plain naptha can do.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 1:22 pm
by Old Cat
Ulf, I didn’t know that you could control the carbon build up by timing runs. My thoughts are that carbon is going to form in generator no matter what, and depends more on what fuel you burn. CF (Coleman/Crown fuel) will burn cleaner than PG (pump gas), and kerosene will carbon up faster than the others. If you mix CF/Crown with kerosene it will slow the build up down depending on what ratio you use aka the Amish mix. I’m currently using 25 CF to 75 kerosene in my kerosene lanterns, and so far, it’s seems to be working fine.

As for the 30 minutes burn time goes, I remember a member, maybe (Rusty Tank) mentioning that 30 minutes was the optimum time for burning in new mantles. His theory was it gives them time to harden and set.

I too, will run my lanterns for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, but never thought about carbon buildup. I guessed, since it is inevitable, why worry about it.

I don’t know if any of the above helps you or not. My feelings are run them, enjoy them, and clean them.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 1:30 pm
by Dashwood
Old Cat wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 1:22 pm Ulf, I didn’t know that you could control the carbon build up by timing runs. My thoughts are that carbon is going to form in generator no matter what, and depends more on what fuel you burn. CF (Coleman/Crown fuel) will burn cleaner than PG (pump gas), and kerosene will carbon up faster than the others. If you mix CF/Crown with kerosene it will slow the build up down depending on what ratio you use aka the Amish mix. I’m currently using 25 CF to 75 kerosene in my kerosene lanterns, and so far, it’s seems to be working fine.

As for the 30 minutes burn time goes, I remember a member, maybe (Rusty Tank) mentioning that 30 minutes was the optimum time for burning in new mantles. His theory was it gives them time to harden and set.

I too, will run my lanterns for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, but never thought about carbon buildup. I guessed, since it is inevitable, why worry about it.

I don’t know if any of the above helps you or not. My feelings are run them, enjoy them, and clean them.
Depending on the lantern, some genny maintenance can be a cakewalk. So easy that if you really wanted, you can clean the genny before every firing.

A 220 comes to mind, the generator is so easy to fish out and I just hit the cardboard packing with a gentle propane flame and she's good as new if it's a lightly used generator.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:03 pm
by Old Cat
Dashwood, I agree with your premise statement, “depending on the lantern”. IMO, I would rather clean a generator on a single mantle lantern than a double mantle. I can’t remember the number of mantles I have destroyed trying to remove/install generators on 220s. Arthritic fingers can be problematic.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:12 pm
by Ulfuranda
Great comments. I think I'll try to stop worrying about it and just enjoy! I will try the Aspen 4, more for fun than for a scientific trial.

Cleaning a generator before each use is an excellent idea, and yes, depending on the lantern. I find with the 242s I almost lose my mind trying to fiddle around in the little space, get the tiny hook into the tiny hole, while the pricker drops into the base about a dozen times. I mean, holding it horizontally helps overcome gravity, but that's hard on an installed mantle ... but I'd try it on a 220, for sure. And I love 220s.

Though I must say if I had to give them all up I'd keep a QL 427. Yeah, there's the match thing, but that little bit of ritual is more a ceremony than a chore for yours truly.

But one of the many things I like about the Quick-Lites ... when I think about cleaning a genny before use ... is that there's so much room to maneuver in there. It's like working on the engine of a '64 Chevy, in the days when you could stand between the block and the wheel-well and go to town. Maybe put a bottle of beer on the air filter can, for good measure.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:50 pm
by Dashwood
Ulfuranda wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:12 pm Great comments. I think I'll try to stop worrying about it and just enjoy! I will try the Aspen 4, more for fun than for a scientific trial.

Cleaning a generator before each use is an excellent idea, and yes, depending on the lantern. I find with the 242s I almost lose my mind trying to fiddle around in the little space, get the tiny hook into the tiny hole, while the pricker drops into the base about a dozen times. I mean, holding it horizontally helps overcome gravity, but that's hard on an installed mantle ... but I'd try it on a 220, for sure. And I love 220s.

Though I must say if I had to give them all up I'd keep a QL 427. Yeah, there's the match thing, but that little bit of ritual is more a ceremony than a chore for yours truly.

But one of the many things I like about the Quick-Lites ... when I think about cleaning a genny before use ... is that there's so much room to maneuver in there. It's like working on the engine of a '64 Chevy, in the days when you could stand between the block and the wheel-well and go to town. Maybe put a bottle of beer on the air filter can, for good measure.
Needle nose pliers are your friend. Great for threading the hook of the pricker into the eccentric without getting my monkey hands all shaky around my precious silk lites.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 10:39 pm
by Ulfuranda
Yes, the ol’ needle nose pliers woulda been a better idea … haha. Thanks Dashwood!

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:03 am
by Old Cat
Ulf, when I mentioned single mantle lanterns I was referring to the 242, 200, 236, and 237 style of lanterns. They are very easy to pull maintenance on.

Unscrew the frame nut and lift the frame off exposing the generator. With the frame and mantle out of the way, it’s easy to remove and install the generator. No fumbling and destroying the mantle. That’s why I love single mantle lanterns.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:11 am
by stoves1234
Last weekend I had to work on a pulsing generator. When I re-installed the gen and frame without breaking the mantle I felt as if I'd successfully done a delicate surgery.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:42 am
by 74HARLEY
Me, I really don't worry about cleaning generators on c/f lanterns until they act up. That can be years.....

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:51 am
by Old Cat
stoves1234 wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:11 am Last weekend I had to work on a pulsing generator. When I re-installed the gen and frame without breaking the mantle I felt as if I'd successfully done a delicate surgery.
Jim, it becomes easier with practice. I practiced twice yesterday and once today. Will probably practice again on Friday. I love the singles.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 2:55 am
by Ulfuranda
The singles are terrific, no doubt about it … though tonight I had my 220 going and it’s hard not to be in love with that lantern …

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:05 am
by Old Cat
I like the earlier 220s ie. Bs through the Fs, but they are harder to work on compared to the later models. I have a few that I run often and really love them.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:28 am
by Dashwood
Old Cat wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:05 am I like the earlier 220s ie. Bs through the Fs, but they are harder to work on compared to the later models. I have a few that I run often and really love them.
With a proper lantern vise, taking apart 220s is a breeze.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:38 am
by Old Cat
Yea, it would be I suppose, but don’t have one. I use a neighbor for holding a fount. He works for beer. He also goes to estate sales and brings me treasures, and yes, he picks for beer too. I think he enjoys seeing whatever he helped with or picked brought back to life and burning.

Re: Preventing carbon buildup

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2023 4:27 pm
by Ulfuranda
What a great neighbor! I need one like that.