Saturday, July 3, 2010

Propane stove conversion

Above are generic photos of the two primary items you would need to convert a Coleman stove to propane.  Total cost for these two items is expensive.  Expect to pay at least $40 for the pair and probably $50!

Adapters vary in their ability to control a simmer flame. There's no way to know how well any given adapter will simmer prior to purchase. It's strictly luck of the draw. I'd suggest that you buy the adapter from Wally World so that it can be returned if it doesn't simmer worth a dang. DOn't skimp on the hose--get a long one. It allows much more flexibility in locating the tank in proximity to the stove. Also, hoses love to coil and curve and they don't travel in a straight line. Make sure the hose as a thumb wheel on it so you don't need a wrench to screw it into the tank.

A note of caution: ALWAYS carry teflon tape! NEVER leave home without teflon tape! It's inevitable that the hose and adapter will not fit perfectly together. Truly inevitable. When that happens, your stove is useless as there will be a dangerous fire breaking out in teh worst possible place. Believe me, we've had it happen too often to count. Now that we carry teflon tape, it never happens. We always tape the joint between the hose and the adapter and it makes camping much safer for all concerned.

The other weak link in the adapter is the coil spring that provides tension into the actual stove innards You have to have a very tight fit between the adapter and the stove portal or else you will get yet another propane fire breaking out there.

The steel used in the spring that comes on the adapter is great stuff but heat makes it brittle and it will eventually break off. It's not a matter of "if" it will break, simply when. Meanwhile, the steel is basically impossible to bend with your fingers. That's why we carry two small pliers--one needle nose and one regular. We now never worry about when the spring will break. it doesn't matter. one nice thing about the 413D is that there is a real EDGE on the inside of the box. We can simply slide the spring coil over this edge and don't have to worry about bending a hook on the end of the spring.

There's one other weak link in the hose. Almost all hoses have a machined fitting that goes into the tank. There's a little circular machined recess in the tip of the hose. There's an O ring that fits into this recess. Propane gas has a chemical that makes O rings brittle. They crack and eventually break off. Believe me, this is NOT a good thing! Some of these O rings don't even last a season. They will rarely last two seasons and, three? Forget it! The O rings typically costs 25 cents each at a full service propane place. We buy 10 of them and keep them two film cans. That way when we lose one, we're not SOL. Keep an eye on that O ring at all times. Swapping it out BEFORE it breaks is highly recommended! If you've ever had a propane fire break out right at the tank, you know how terrifying this can be. It's all because of that skipping little 25 cent O ring!

This should go without saying but.... Be sure to wait until your stove cools completely before packing your hose inside the stove. Duh. Well, believe it or not, I got in a hurry once and totally destroyed a perfectly good hose by allowing it to contact the hot burner plate. Opps. If you can put your hand on the burner plate, it's cool enough to pack the hose inside. Otherwise, chill out and wait.

Another caveat is spare propane. You need two things. One is a mechanical propane tank gauge. They sell for less than $15 most places. Don't let you tank fool you. Monitor it before and after each trip. Keep it full. An empty propane tank is very embarrassing and problematic. Also bring along not one but TWO green propane bottles. It's cheap insurance and does wonders for peace of mind.

Here's a tip about the green bottles. They are cheap for a reason. They are intended for one time use only. By and large, if you ever have to use them, plan on using ALL the propane in them or throw them away immediately after usage even if they have propane left in them. Why? Well, the little funky valves in those green bottles are worthless. At least 50 percent of them will leak gas after their first use!!!! It might be a leak so small you can't smell it or hear it but they will be leaking and eventually you could have a disaster. Susun has good ears and she can hear a gnat fart at 50 yards. So, I have her listen to the green bottles bu holding the end into her ear. It looks weird but it works. She can detect a tiny leak. You would be amazed how many of them leak. They DO NOT leak when they are new and unused. It's after being used that they leak. That's why we just throw them away in a VENTILATED dumpster. Oftentimes, if the leak is big, we will simply put them downwind and let them run out of gas before throwing them away. Green bottles are very dangerous. Use then with great caution and suspicion! User beware!

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