Stuck NRVs??

Hi BernieDawg
I have this great old Primus 100 stove that I’m trying to fettle. I’ve got the NRV loosened up, but it seems to be stuck in the bottom of the pump tube and won’t drop out of the tube. It’s hung up somehow. It wiggles around and is loose down there at the bottom of the pump tube. I wonder if there’s some gunk in the tank that’s hanging it up?
What can I do to get it free?
Stuck and perplexed

Hi Stuck

Well… I think this might make a good blog topic actually, because I get this question and this issue fairly frequently. And, don’t feel bad – it’s common and it happens to me, too. Here’s how I handle it.
1. best thing is to buy a tool which can solve 75% of these sort of stuck NRV issues. What you want is an “ear forceps” aka an “alligator forceps”. They come out of Pakistan (for reasons I don’t understand) for pretty cheap. They are stainless steel. And they help you with other tank related stuff, say reaching into a tank to retrieve something, or at the end of the pump tube in case a rotted leather pump cup gets stuck down there. Check pricing on eBay, but here’s a screen shot of a pair I picked at random just so you can see what I’m talking about:
The larger one is about 6.5″ long and is a great size for pump tube and stove tank work. But, you can get them a lot longer, too. It was selling as a Buy-It-Now with free shipping for only $6.50.
2. next thing is to take your little flashlight and peer into the tank. Is it all black and gooey in there? If it is, then your idea about gooey stuff being on the end of the NRV barrel is probably right. Here’s how to fix that and clean your tank, too. Get a gallon of acetone at Home Depot, Lowes, or wherever. Fill the tank with it. Let it soak (plug the openings with some paper toweling to control evaporation). If you want to get really industrious, you can add some BB’s to the tank and shake it around. Pour out the acetone into a metal or glass container through a coffee filter for reuse – you can reuse it on many tanks. Shake out the BB’s, or use a magnetic pen tool to remove them. Rinse the tank with just a splash of acetone and you should be good to go. Acetone dissolves the black gooey crud (dried kerosene). It will dissolve the gooey crud on the end of the NRV barrel and then it should pop right out. This should take care of another 20% of the problems.
3. two other issues can cause the NRV to hang up in about 4% of cases.
a. there can be a little burr of brass where the vent hole in the side of the NRV barrel was punched in the barrel. You can use your alligator forceps gripping the NRV head with an unscrewing motion (like you are unthreading the NRV) to “unscrew” the burr past the opening in the pump tube end plate. Do it with the pump tube opening facing toward the floor to allow gravity to assist you. Use a little 400 grit wet dry sandpaper or a small file to remove the burr once you’ve got it out so it doesn’t give you problems again.
b. the other problem comes about from using lead NRV head washers. The lead will expand outward when the NRV head is tightened down, sometimes into the opening for the NRV head threads. This can hang up the NRV. Alligator forceps should help you to get it out, again with that unscrewing motion. Consider to switching to HDPE (#2 plastic) NRV head washers. You can punch them from the lids of food containers, so they are cheap to make and they almost never cause these hang-up problems. They last forever, too.
4. Lastly… for that final 1% of stubborn NRVs… if you have compressed air… set the air output to about 40 psi. Hold a rag in your hand over the pump tube opening to catch the NRV. Install the vent screw and apply a little compressed air into the burner mount opening with your thumb over the filler opening. Pop! Out shoots the NRV into the rag in your hand. These can shoot across the shop if you don’t use a rag to catch it and be difficult to fine otherwise.
Hope that helps!
Happy camping!