I’ve always wanted a Coleman 242 series “Junior” lantern. These were the small-sized, single-mantle lanterns produced by Coleman beginning in 1933 (Model 242) through 1970 or so (242E). Of these, I am most attracted to the early models, 242 through the 242C lanterns with the nickel plated founts (fuel tanks). After WWII, the 242C lanterns were also produced with painted tanks, which I do not care for at all.
I found this Model 242C lantern (manufactured March, 1948) at a garage sale last week and paid one dollar ($1.00) for it!!! What a find!
Being that the lantern is now 65 years old, I did not immediately try to light it. First, the insides needed a good cleaning as fuel that had been left in the tank had turned to varnish. To begin the process, I ran a few ounces of Berryman’s B-12 Chemtool through the system under pressure, followed by the same amount of lacquer thinner, swished around the tank and left for an overnight soak. Deep in the bowels of the tank, Coleman pressure lanterns (and stoves) are fitted with a “check valve”. This valve employs a small ball bearing that works to create a vacuum inside the pump housing on the up-stroke of the pump. This causes air to enter the pump housing to fill the vacuum. On the down-stroke, this air forces the ball bearing forward, allowing the air to enter and pressurize the tank. If the check valve fails while the tank is pressurized and the mantle is burning, air is released back up the pump housing instead of fuel – a great safety feature. Often, old fuel that has turned to varnish “gums up” the little ball bearing making the check valve inoperable. In my experience, a long soak in lacquer thinner has always worked to free a gummed up check valve. After the thinner was drained, the tank was filled with the same amount of new, clean white gas. This was swished around, drained, emptied and the tank refilled and the process repeated until water-clear fuel was observed coming from the tank.
Next, for safety’s sake, I installed a new valve packing and fuel cap gasket. The packing prevents fuel from leaking at the on/of valve and of course, the gasket seals the fuel cap. If these seals fail, you could have a serious fire on or in your hands! Remember the “O” ring failure on the Challenger Space Shuttle? After installing the seal and valve packing, the stove was filled with fresh Coleman fuel (white gas) to which one ounce of the Berryman’s B-12 had been added. Then I fired the thing up. The photos are from this first ignition. The $1.00 lantern works like a charm!
The little beauty did not require much external cleaning up. The nickel plating still looks decent and the porcelain vent (the dark green part) is not too nicked up. All in all, a great, functional lantern for a very, very low price. Now, I just need to build a small cabin to light with it!
Tags: Challenger Space Shuttle