De-gunking a thirteen year old Coleman stove

We finally decided enough was enough with the behaviour of our aged but much loved/abused Coleman 424 stove. It was kill or cure time! To explain, Coleman petrol stoves really are brilliant. However if you run them for too many years on neglect and unleaded they start to clog up. In the case of our Coleman it has reached the stage where it eats generators for breakfast. They last maybe three days camping before they are as clogged and gummed up as the one they replaced resulting in a anaemic flame with boil times of around twenty minutes, if ever.

However we want to give it a fighting chance so we’ve given it a new generator and given the tank the cleaning it should have had eight years ago.

After examining it we could hear what sounded like sand in the fuel tank. It has certainly never had sand put in it but it has been laid idle for long stretches of time with a full tank of unleaded. Apparently this lines the tank with varnish which then flakes off and clogs the generator.

The Coleman website suggests a long soak in meths for this problem so we duely filled the tank and left it for twenty four hours disturbed only by the odd shake. Then we siphoned the tank, poured the meths back into the bottle and were left with this.


Noting that the jar in the picture above is upside down should give you some idea of just how sticky the sludge in the tank was. Even shaking the jar has little effect. No wonder the generator kept blocking up! I was so pleased with my new sludge I immediately refilled the tank with meths and siphoned it out twice more. After doing this there was nothing to be heard in the bottom of the tank.

We’ve all recently discovered a fuel called Aspen 4T. Its designed for strimmers and other hand held petrol tools. It’s selling point is a much cleaner burn than regular road fuel. It certainly smells better when you run the cooker! Aspen is about twice the price of unleaded or to put it another way between half and a quarter of the price of Coleman fluid. We plan to make it our fuel of choice for our Coleman kit.

So did all this bustle, activity and alternative fuel actually work? We don’t really know yet. We’ll let you know when we get back from our next camping trip.