Friday, November 17, 2017

Buncha rambling on about a camp stove.

I drank eleven beers last night. But on a positive note, I fixed my camp stove. I use it every day. It's an isobutane "canister" stove that uses the fuel cans that you can find at outfitters or a Walmart. I use the camp stove right next to the normal house stove. Sure, that's a little odd, but I prefer it and I do what I want. I'm living in a house with other people, and I like to have one bowl, one spoon, one pot, one mug, etc. I can't understand why people use fifty thousand dishes. How is that a good idea? How has that become normal? I have one bowl. I don't use plates, and I almost never use a fork. Pizza? Bowl. Also, I cut pizza in strips. You can eat salad and spaghetti with a spoon. Actually, if I ate much spaghetti, I might try to locate my fork.

Back to the stove. The history of the stove. I got it in Burlington Vermont, a wonderful place, at the Outdoor Gear Exchange. I was on tour with Mini Band. I miss touring in a band, but not enough to pursue it. Mini Band was my best friends. It's been ages, but I would start that right up again.

Back to the stove. I got it at the Outdoor Gear Exchange, where I also found my main sleeping bag (not the lightweight backpacking one, but the one I use often in my van.) I also got my big orange 1970's external frame pack. It was hanging up on the wall, and the price was $14. I really can't see hiking with any other pack.

So now that I'm recalling this, it seems that I got most of my current gear at a small shop in Burlington long ago. Actually, the pack I got a few years later, not on tour with Mini Band. I was killing time in Burlington after a bicycle tour. It's a shame it gets so cold up there. The summers are incredible though.

Back to the stove. I think it was also $14. Everything in the store was $14. Okay, it wasn't. I also got a lightweight warm weather sleeping bag at the Outdoor Gear Exchange. I forget what that cost, but it was not $14. I used it on my cross country tour in 2011, and I was awake and freezing for many nights. I used that sleeping bag to death. It is no longer with us, but the cheap used one will probably be with me for life.

So the camp stove. It's a "Northern Lights" isobutane stove. I use it every single day. The fuel canisters are $7 for a big one, and they last well over a month. I use the stove in the van, on the Appalachian Trail, in the park... having one portable burner is a beautiful thing.

So the point here is that eventually these stoves get internal carbon buildup which makes the flame impossible to control. I limped along with it for a month. I'd be cooking some eggs or heating water for instant coffee, and the flame would get very low. I'd shake the stove and canister, and the flame would perk back up. The issue was intermittent, but the frequency increased.

I took the whole stove apart - everything unscrews into a few simple solid parts. I tried cleaning it, but I couldn't figure out the issue at first. My time is essentially valueless these days, so instead of getting a new stove, I doubled down on my efforts to sort it out. I don't want a new stove. I have memories with this one. Some internet searching led me to conclude that the jet was clogged. What the hell is the jet? It wasn't hard to figure it out. It's the brass piece with an almost microscopic hole. No wonder it gets clogged. The jet can be unscrewed using a 7mm wrench. It is a solid machined part.

The hole is much smaller than my thinnest sewing needle. At first I was stumped. Then I got an idea. I pulled a bristle out of a wire brush, and poked it into the jet. A tiny ball of lint came out. How did that get in there? In any case, the stove is as good as new.

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