Repairing An Optimus 111B

Earlier this Fall season I posted a three-part video series on repairing the Optimus 111B at my YouTube stove channel. The videos cover all the steps you need to take to refurbish a vintage 111B stove back to full operation. There are tons of tricks and tips, and practical knowhow included in these videos which will help you working with the 111B, other members of the 111 family, and stove work in general. The videos are free to watch and require no admission or registration fees to watch them.
Check ’em out!

Here are the links to the 111B series:

Optimus 111B Stove Repair Part 1 – Disassembly
https://youtu.be/L-A9IAcaVhA

Optimus 111B Stove Repair Part 2 – Parts Reassembly
https://youtu.be/b-d_YVVuLaA

Optimus 111B Stove Repair Part 3 – Final Assembly and Testing
https://youtu.be/sGo62unFInk

OR… watch them imbedded right here, right now. You can see a lot more detail if you watch full screen.
These are copyrighted videos and are found exclusively here at my stove blog and at my YouTube stove channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-HRgttvZQQtg7_G0_T6Sqw/
If you see these videos at some other website, they have been stolen and the website moderators/owners are thieves and are in violation of copyright law. Please let me know if you see someone ripping off my hard work for their own benefit – those people who do that sort of stuff are the lowest form of self-serving scum. (Not to be too harsh, or anything.) 😉  Report scumbag thieves to: berniedawgstove@comcast.net
Thanks!   BD

SVEA 123R Candle Flame?

Hi BD
I bought a Swedish Svea 123R factory brand new about four years ago. It’s always had a small candle flame at the jet whenever I turn off the spindle. Do you have any tips you can share about how to fix this? Thanks!
Bert in MO

Hi Bert
Thanks for your question. One thing though…

If you bought your Svea 123R new about “four years ago” then it was not made in Sweden. Svea is a brand owned by Optimus since the early 1960’s after the Svea company in Sweden sold their company to Optimus. Optimus (now also just a brand and one cog of the big Swiss-based Katadyn corporate conglomerate) has not been making stoves in Sweden since the late 1980’s or early 1990s, if I recall correctly.
So, yeah, yours is an Asian-made version of the Svea. Even though it says “Sweden” on it. (It doesn’t say “Made in Sweden”.) Just my opinion, but, I’d suggest getting one of the Swedish-made models as the quality and performance of the originals is much higher in those better-made stoves.

I have a couple of videos at my YouTube channel that show the disassembly, repair, and reassembly of the Svea 123R. You can find them here:
https://youtu.be/LNJSDacuCHQ
https://youtu.be/-svgLuqyGG4

Here’s the lowdown on candle flames on the SVEA 123R.

  1. Make sure the cleaning needle timing is not the issue. Remove the needle and try the stove without it. If there is still a candle flame without the cleaning needle in the stove, go to #2. If the candle flame goes away… reset the cleaning needle a click deeper into the valve body.
  2. Remove the spindle nut and the spindle. Check the condition of the cone-shaped end of the spindle. It should be a smooth cone.

    Good condition spindle

    It should not have a ring worn into it and it should not have a step or steps worn into it. If it does, then someone has been closing the spindle valve too hard and has damaged the spindle tip. If there is enough material still there (if the damage isn’t too bad), you can chuck the spindle into some sort of spinning tool. A cordless or corded drill will do the trick. A drill press or a lathe is even better. Reshape the cone on the end of the spindle with a fine file and sandpaper while the spindle is spinning in your spinning tool of choice. If you can’t get it fixed because there is not enough material left or the damage is too great, you’ll need to replace the spindle.

  3. While the spindle is out… examine your spindle graphite. Brand new, spindle graphites should be about 6mm long. If the graphite is less than 3mm long or if it is not shiny and grey, but instead has grey-colored pulpy, woody, or hairy looking material (asbestos?), change it out for a new graphite. The pulpy ones fall apart faster than the solid grey graphites and the pulpy stuff gets in the spindle valve seat so they leak.
  4. While the spindle is out… clean out the threads of the spindle nut, and the threads in the valve body they mate with, of any graphite residue so it doesn’t end up causing leakage by getting in the your spindle valve. Dental tools work good for thread cleaning. Use some Qtips and clean the spindle valve seat with some solvent or Coleman fuel so the Qtips come out clean. Do a visual inspection of the spindle valve seat inside the valve body using a flashlight. You should see a circle of bright brass with a little hole in the middle. The bright brass is the metal surface your cone-shaped spindle tip seats against. Make sure there’s no debris or goo in there.
  5. Reassemble everything, with new parts if you are using them, and give it a try without the cleaning needle. No candle flame? Great! Now add in the cleaning needle set to between 3 and 5 clicks into the valve body and top off with the jet. Test again. Should be working fine now.

Happy camping! BD

DA in CA (Denatured Alcohol in California)

Denatured alcohol has a long and successful tradition (over 125 years) of being used to preheat kerosene-burning stoves and is the sole acceptable fuel used with alcohol-burning stoves. Alcohol-burning stoves are still used aboard boats as the alcohol is extinguishable with water.

I recently posted a YouTube video about denatured alcohol scarcity in the State of California at my YouTube channel BernieDawg Cinema. https://youtu.be/nOCT77ma9zg I posted the video so that stove users and fanciers in California could do the leg work to figure out what is going on with the disappearance of denatured alcohol sold in their State. I am a resident of Oregon and we have plenty of denatured alcohol still available through small shops and big box stores that sell paint and paint sundries.

Who I Am
Most of you know I do work on vintage stoves and sell after-market silent damper caps under the “BernieDawg” logo/trademark.
https://www.shapeways.com/shops/berniedawgshop
What you may not know (because it’s pretty invisible to interweb denizens), is that I get 2-3 emails a week from folks who need help, instruction, or advice on fixing or operating their stoves. Some of these emails are sent to me because individuals need a bit of extra help in repairing or restoring their stoves after watching one of my YouTube videos or because they don’t understand something they read at a forum. I give this help out for free – no charge – just like I take no monetization from my YouTube videos.

How I Got Involved
A gentleman in California, let’s call him Lester, contacted me recently about getting parts for his SVEA 123 stove and also about some tips on problems he was having with the stove. During several emails back and forth, Lester asked me specifically about my YouTube video recommendation where I say the best way to preheat stoves up to vaporization temperature was to use denatured alcohol (aka DA for the rest of this story). DA is great for preheating stoves because it burns clean and sootless, is plenty hot for this purpose, and can be purchased in “green” flavors that are not only better burning, but better for the environment. Lester wanted to know where he could get DA. I told him any of the “big box” stores like Home Depot or Lowes would have it in the paint aisle.
A couple days after this email, Lester wrote me back to say that he’d tried both Home Depot and Lowes near his home in California (aka CA for the rest of this story), and neither one had it. Now, the Home Depot website is pretty neat, because if you put in the store location of the store you are going to go to, and then search for a product, the product will come up with the inventory count and the location of the product inside the store. There will be an Aisle and Bay number for the product location right there on the web page. Cool!

Yes, it’s paint thinner. Read the story to find out why it’s not denatured alcohol.

Now, since I’d bought DA just last week at the Home Depot near me here in Oregon, I reckoned that Lester was just having trouble finding it at his store in CA. But, when I entered his CA store location in as “my store” and did the search for DA, nothing came up! I mean zip, nada. As if DA didn’t even exist at Home Depot!
I checked it using my own Home Depot here in Oregon for the store location and there was the DA in aisle and bay such-and-such. Then, I checked for DA at Lesters Lowes in CA and no mention of the product there, either.
Could this be something to do with California? Uh-oh, I thought. Could this have something to do with CA environmental regs? So, wondering if maybe it was something about those CA environmental standards, I typed “california denatured alcohol ban” into the Google search box and was presented with a listing of many links to various forum websites where a ban was already under discussion. (Go ahead and try it yourself if you don’t believe me.) The earliest link I saw was January of 2019 and the most recent just days ago (October 2, 2019).
These forums ranged from yacht owner forums to finishing technique forums to model railroad forums to metalworking forums. I quickly scanned over their writings because I’m not a big forum reader. I didn’t reckon these guys were idiots, so I made and posted my video: https://youtu.be/nOCT77ma9zg

I’d hoped that someone with a horse in the race, someone in CA who had alcohol stoves or liked preheating petroleum-fueled stoves with DA, would know what was going on and would respond in the YouTube video comments with the answer. Or, if they didn’t know, they’d go research it and respond with what was going on in the comments. (Remember… I’m in Oregon and we have DA a-plenty for the time being, knock-on-wood, so I didn’t see myself as being the point person beyond making the video to get the “investigation” started.)
Instead, it seems that commenters on the video I made are/were looking to me to either provide answers or prove that what I’d posted had some basis in actual fact. Okay. I get it. The way the news cycle is working these days, I should have seen that one coming. My bad.
Soooo… even though I’m in Oregon and don’t know diddly-squat about politicking in CA I got on the phone this morning and went looking for some answers. By about noon, here’s what I’d found.

What Is Going On In Stores In California?
One commenter on my video (Oarfish) had said:
“Are y’all sure? I’m in California, so I checked the local paint store. It’s for sale, just like always. It was at a Kelly Moore paint store in El Cerrito it’s about 1.5 hours from Sunnyvale. I’m sure there is a closer store.”
So, I started there by calling the shop Oarfish said had DA.
Kelly-Moore Paints
East Bay Paint Center
969 San Pablo Ave
El Cerrito, CA 94706
b/t Marin Ave & Buchanan St
(510) 525-3162
I spoke with a man who said that they had it in stock. Quite a lot of it, he said. I asked why the Home Depot didn’t have it. He said that Home Depot pulled it because the manufacturer has to “change the labeling because of the VOC (volatile organic compounds) laws”. They’re labeling it “glass cleaner” now going forward, he said.
Update – Lester, (remember Lester?), reported in just minutes ago that he was able to buy some Crown Denatured Alcohol at a Kelly-Moore store near him (Sunnyvale).

I called the Home Depot in Sunnyvale, CA.
Home Depot
680 Kifer Rd
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Phone: (408)245-3686
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm, Sun: 7:00am-8:00pm
I spoke with a guy in the paint department. He said “No, don’t have it. It was pulled off our website and off the shelves a week or two ago. OSHA made them do it.”

I called Lowes in Sunnyvale.
Lowes in Sunnyvale
811 East Arques Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Store #2211
(408) 470-1680
I spoke with a tired-sounding lady in the paint department there. She said, “No. Don’t have it. We haven’t had it for a couple of months now.” I asked why they weren’t carrying it. She said, “Why? They just stopped sending it. We don’t know why. They got rid of the Jasco products and the (unintelligible other brand name) products. That’s all we know.”

I called Sherwin-Williams in Oakland.
Sherwin-Williams Paint Store: Oakland-Broadway #8582
4220 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94611-5130
510-595-1438
I spoke with a man there who said, “Nope. Don’t have it. Got taken off the shelves a while ago.” I asked if he knew why it was gone and if he thought it would be back. He said, “California is in the process of changing everything over to more eco-friendly products. The paint strippers here were gone for a couple of months and they just got back in in a new “green” formula. It might be a few months before we’ll see the denatured alcohol again if it comes back, but I think it will.” I asked him if he thought the new paint strippers worked as good as the old ones. He laughed. “Maybe not quite as good, but they’ll get the job done”, he said.

I decided to check my own Home Depot so I could get a screen shot of the DA with the stock count, aisle, and bay info so I could show how that product-finding stuff works at the Home Depot website for posting with this article… but the DA wasn’t on the website anymore! It had been there just yesterday. I called. (THAT is why I had to use the paint stripper screenshot above instead.)
Home Depot
3500 Spicer Dr. SE
Albany, OR 97322
541-812-0808
The friendly lady in the paint department took a look down the aisle (it’s right near the paint-mixing area) to see how much they had. She came back to the phone and said, “We still have plenty in gallons and quarts.” I asked if they anticipated it going away or anything because it was maybe a problem in California. She said, “I don’t think so. We still have it coming in and everything.” Just to check that idea, I asked if they could special order DA in five gallon cans. She said she’d check on their website and then said, “Oh! That’s weird! It’s not even here on our website. Weird. So, I can’t tell you about special ordering but we do still have it in the store.”

What’s Going On With California State Government Agencies
My Googling turned up that CA has their own State EPA. and, under it are at least six different agencies that deal with chemicals and regulations in the State. Here’s the organization:
California EPA
Air Resources Board
CalRecycle
Department of Pesticide Regulation
Department of Toxic Substances Control
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
State Water Resources Control Board

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, aka OEHHA, is the agency that is charged with working out what are the bad chemicals in CA and it is the agency that has “the list” of “bad” chemicals at its website. It was created (maybe?) by Prop 65 back in 1986. You can read more about it and navigate to “the list” of “bad” chemicals at this link:
https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/about-proposition-65 or read the Wikipedia article all about Prop 65 here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_California_Proposition_65

I’d note that “methanol” is clearly on that list of “baddies” at the link above. Methanol is toxic and has much less heat content than ethanol. Methanol has only 2/3 the heat energy per kilogram as more energy-rich ethanol (19.7MJ/kg versus 30MJ/kg respectively).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density
Ethanol is what most alcohol stoves were purpose-designed to burn. It burns hotter and cleaner with a bluer flame than methanol.
But, methanol (aka wood alcohol) is what is used to poison ethanol. It is added to ethanol to “denature” the ethanol so that ethanol (aka grain alcohol – the stuff in booze and now a gasoline additive in regular unleaded gasoline) cannot be imbibed. Methanol is what will make you go blind and can kill you if ingested internally in even small quantities.

But, back to the info search.
I reckoned that since I wanted to know what was up with DA, the OEHHA would be the guys to start with since they are in the know about the chemicals on “the list”.

I called them up.
OEHHA, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
https://oehha.ca.gov
Sacramento Office
1001 I Street,
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 324-7572

I spoke with a friendly lady and explained I was a stove renovator, collector and hobbiest. I told her how I repaired stoves for people and had a YouTube channel where I discussed stoves and featured repair techniques. I explained that I was calling to find out about what seemed to be a ban on the sale of DA in the State of California. I added that this was important to me because there were thousands of stoves still in use that used DA as a fuel. Could she tell me about the ban or direct me to someone who could tell me more about it?
She said that she was just the receptionist and had no idea about denatured alcohol. But, she said, you can try this number and see if they can help you there. She gave me this number. 916-445-6900. I do not know where it goes to – I didn’t ask and she didn’t say. I also got the impression no one had ever called the reception desk at OEHHA asking about a certain chemical before.

So, I called 916-445-6900. The man who answered the phone heard me out on the same pitch I’d given the receptionist. When I was done, he said he didn’t know about DA. He explained that there, at the OEHHA, they do the testing and make the determination of products and chemicals that get added to “the list”. The OEHHA, he said, doesn’t take legal or regulatory action about chemicals on the list. He said I’d need to contact the proper agency for that. I asked which of the many agencies I’d need to contact in CA to find out about DA. He said he didn’t know who would be doing that. But, he said he’d go check on it and then he put me on hold. I got the impression he had never had this happen before. I was thinking to myself how surprised I was that he couldn’t just direct me to the right agency; the one that handles the legal, regulatory or enforcement actions on CA chemicals for which the OEHHA made long lists.
I waited on hold for 4-5… then the line went dead.
I’d been disconnected!

What Are Chemical Companies That Make DA Doing in CA?
I know of a few companies that make and/or distribute DA. JASCO, Sunnyside, Kleen-Strip and Crown. JASCO is the brand that the lady at Loews in CA told me had been removed from the Lowes store shelves. I first checked the JASCO product website listing for Denatured Alcohol.
http://www.jasco-help.com/product/denatured-alcohol1

Clearly (as indicated by the part of the screenshot circled in red) JASCO has decided not to sell their DA product in CA anymore.

I next checked the Sunnyside DA webpage.
https://www.sunnysidecorp.com/product.php?p=cf&b=s&n=834G5
I couldn’t tell much from the information at the Sunnyside site about CA, so I used the “Do You Have A Question?” contact box at the bottom of the page to ask if Sunnyside would not be sold in California anymore and why. In less than two hours I received a reply to my email inbox from a representative at Sunnyside. Here it is:

I had actually called the folks at Kleen-Strip yesterday and was sent to voicemail. The receptionist transferred my call to the appropriate rep, but that person was out and it went to voicemail. I left a message and contact info there, but no one has yet called me back.

Conclusions
I guess you can make your own judgements on DA in CA. To me it looks like at least some DA-producing companies are choosing to leave the State of CA. The supply chains are currently in flux and the product is unavailable for the time being. It might be because they can’t keep up with Californias demands on… VOCs? Does this mean the State of CA has banned DA? Or, have they strengthened the product requirements beyond what companies deem as sane or reasonable. I don’t know.
What is clear is that DA in CA is going to be harder to find in most areas of California for the time being.
Will DA reappear in the big box stores in CA? Unclear.
Was this a ban? Maybe, sorta, in a very passive-aggressive sort of way, (and I believe, yes).
Bottom line? At least for the foreseeable few months and maybe much longer (since some of the marine stove folks were complaining about the “ban” way back in January 2019), denatured alcohol will be difficult to find in many areas of CA. If manufacturers who chose to continue to sell DA in CA are allowed to rebadge their cans or reformulate their products to suit the scientists at California EPA (or whomever is doing the deciding in CA), perhaps DA will return in widespread distribution in the State of California.
But, I wouldn’t put my money on it.
BD

BernieDawg Silent Cap Index

I found this file on my computer recently. I guess I started this project and got distracted. Do you want to know which cap to get for which stove? Here’s a quick look index!

Primus
Omnifuel and Omnifuel 2 – OmniDawg OmniLite Ti – OmniPup
Multifuel p328896 – DragonTamer
Multifuel EX p328894 – DragonTamer
Himalaya Varifuel p3278 – Minicap w/Legs
Himalaya Multifuel p3288 – Minicap w/Legs
Primus 96 – Midicap or Minicap
Primus 70 & 71 – Minicap

Optimus
Nova – Dawg-A-Nova
Nova+ – Dawg-A-Nova
Hiker+ – Dawg-A-Nova
Polaris Optifuel – PolarDawg
#96 – Midicap or Minicap
#97 – Midicap or Minicap
#80 – Minicap w/Legs
#99 – Minicap w/Legs
#8 or #8R – Minicap w/Legs

MSR
Dragonfly – DragonTamer
XGK EX – XGK Dawg
XGK G – Midicap
XGK GK – Midicap
XGK II – Midicap
Firefly – DragonTamer
#9 – Midicap

Coleman
#530 – Midicap
Denali – OmniPup

Svea
Svea 123 and 123R – Minicap or Minicap w/Legs

Trangia
Trangia X2 75001 Multifuel Burner by Primus – PolarDawg
Trangia Multifuel Burner made by Optimus – Dawg-A-Nova

American Military Stoves
#520 – Midicap
#521 & #523 – Midicap
M-1941, M.1942, M-1950 – Midicap
#527 Coleman Medical Burner – PuppyDawg

Others
Phoebus 725 – “Wide Body”
Enders “Baby Benzin” #9063 & #263 – PuppyDawg
Radius #42 – Minicap
Radius #20 – Minicap
French Vesta 1 and 2 burner stoves – Minicap

Gotta stove that’s not on the list and want to know which cap to get? Just drop me an email at berniedawgstove@comcast.net You can order your custom BD caps at Shapeways (USA) or at i.materialise (EU).

SIGG FireJet Stove Adapter

I was asked to make an adapter for the SIGG FireJet stove so that the stove could connect to a Primus Omnifuel Ergopump hose. You can see the full story at my YouTube page right here: https://youtu.be/MH9CWeeqfOs

I’ve also posted the full SIGG FireJet manual as a PDF here at my site (16.4MB). Click the highlighted words below to see it. Click the “Download” button below here (not the image) to download it to your computer.

You’re welcome! BD

Svea Campus 5 – Nickel Plated Tank

Here’s a stove I imported from Europe. It came in its original packaging. I include some photos of the packaging for those who are interested in packaging history. I reckon this stove was made somewhere in the 1940-1955 range? Click on any image for a bigger view of that image. Please don’t steal images.

The Campus 5 came in two flavors a model with a pump and a self-pressurizing model. This would be one of the pump-equipped models, the 5. I believe the self-pressurizing models were termed the “5B” and usually had a tank-mounted SRV (safety release valve”, absent on this 5. The stove came equipped with an attractive spirit tin, a spindle control knob, a yellow rag/cloth and a pot stand.

The pot stand rests cleverly on the edge of the sheet metal case.

The stove shipped overseas complete with an unknown variety of fuels liquid which had leaked out over some of the stove.

A bit of cleanup and a flush of the tank interior, and things were much better.

The Campus 5 is a multi-fueled stove, meaning it can burn kerosene or white gas (aka naphtha or Coleman fuel). Below the stove is burning white gas on a first fire. There are lots of streaks to the flame caused by debris escaping from the tank and burner after a long period of inactivity.

 

 

Svea 175 Marine Stove

Here’s a Svea 175 that I restored. It’s a great old marine stove that came jetted for alcohol but which I converted to kerosene. The stove appears in an old 1958 Svea catalog. The marine trivets seem to be a special option. Gotta love those excellent Svea #1915 regulated burners.

These slide out cups deliver the correct amount of preheating alcohol to the spirit cups under the burners via a long metal tube. The curved end inside the slide out cups automatically siphons the alcohol when the slide out cups are filled. Pretty slick!

The galvanized steel trivets were pretty well oxidized. I chose to gently glass bead blast the oxidation, but not the plating, off of the trivets. The one on the left is finished, the one on the right yet to go.

The cork fuel gauge floats on both of the tanks was perished. I turned new floats on the lathe from old wine corks.

 

Optimus 111T “Bling” Restore

Here is an Optimus 111T that I “restored” for a client a few years ago. The client specifically requested the polished copper windshield and floor pan.

The embossed case was stripped, derusted, and repainted. The left hinge on the case was separated – the spot weld had failed. I silver brazed the hinge back in place before prepping and repainting.

Here are the beauty shots.

Sadly… the client was better at buying old stoves than actually operating them. Within three months of this restore the inept client had set the stove on fire, destroyed the paint, and melted part of the copper windshield surround. Sigh. :-(((

Swiss Army Stove Manual in English

These surplus Swiss Army two-burner gasoline stoves turn up on the popular auction sites from time to time.

You can watch a three-minute video of the one I have on it’s virgin burn one cold January night. The video was shot about four years ago and you can find it at my YouTube channel, BernieDawg Cinema, right here:

https://youtu.be/i0_v7z0kxdQ

Several years ago I translated the three-language (French – German – Italian) manual into English. I made a big effort to format it so that it closely resembled the original manual. You can download it at the link below as a PDF file

Swiss Army Stove Manual English copy 894KB PDF