Outdoor Gear Repair during Social Distancing || Camp Stoves

Over the years I have been the recipient of old outdoor gear that people no longer want. Some of it is good and some of it not so good. Enter the world of camping stoves. I have a collection of propane gas camping stoves in all states of disrepair. Most of these stoves spent their time cooking meals in a Scout Troop.

It has been my experience that if someone gives you a camp stove that was used by a Scout Troop it is going to be nasty and it might be missing some parts. Scouts (teenage boys) learning to camp cook are going to make a mess of a stove and they are not going to take care of the stove.  If there should ever be a test review of camping stoves to know which one is the best or how well they hold up, give it to a Scout Patrol. The Scouts are going to boil water on to the stove, burn food on it that and the food becomes part of the stove, and at some point catch, the stove on fire and my favorite is the stove gets left out overnight in the rain. With all the grease on the stove, you would think it would be waterproof! But after returning home and the stove gets put in the Scout shed until the next campout and rust and mold starts to set in. The camping stoves I received look like a good candidate for the trash can, but with a little work, they can be saved!

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidance in place now is as good as time as any to tackle another stove project!

Brinkmann Model BA41-108 Stove
Disassembled Brinkman Stove Model BA41-108. I couldn't tell if it was burnt on grease/rust or both. 

New camp stoves run anywhere from the $35 range for a cheap 2- burner model to well over a $130 for a 3-burner high-output model. For the foodie types being able to have custom cooking controls and individual flame adjustments are a must for gourmet meals in camp. I might not be making gourmet meals in camp but I have made some good camp meals on crappy stoves.

I have always taken care of my gear and I would say that my military experience has taught me the importance of making sure my gear and equipment are maintained and serviceable so I can complete my mission. The gear that you use for your outdoor pursuits should be taken care of just the same. You should plan a couple of hours after your adventure to clean, repair, and replace your gear. In the military, we would call this process reset and refit.

Years ago one of the first outdoor books I purchased was The Essential Outdoor Gear Manual.

The Essential Outdoor Gear Manual by Annie Getchell
Every outdoors person should have a gear repair manual in their Outdoor Reference Library

This manual has been a good guide and provided an overview of how to make your own repairs on everything from boots, rain gear, tents, stoves, and skis. It also provides a list of tools and consumables that you will need to make repairs and also provide a list of businesses that did repairs.  Some of those shops are still repairing gear today. While the book is a little dated there is still a lot to gain from it.

Over the last couple of years, there has been a movement to recycle, reuse (upcycle), and renew your outdoor gear and some of this has come from some of the big names in the outdoor industry. Let's face it, outdoor gear is not cheap! Gear that has been repaired has a story to tell about the adventures you have been on. But if this is not you there are other options such as donate or trade-in your gear to get credit to something new.

I didn't originally have plans to do a blog post on camp stove repair, but after renewing a Coleman Classic Stove, it turned out better than I had plan on.  So this post is more of an afterthought.


Refurbished Coleman Classic Stove
Coleman Classic Stove after being repaired and refurbished 

So, why take all this effort on some piece a crap camping stove? I could have gone out and purchased the latest and greatest camp stove out there. First off, the stoves were free and I knew that most of this hot mess would wash off and I would just be dealing with rust and maybe replacing a minor part. I figured this would be a low-cost project and the Coleman Classic pictured above cost me around $16-$19 to fix. Second, camping and doing things outdoors is about being self-reliant. I wanted to see if I could do this. I wanted to see that a camp stove destined for the trash could be brought back to life. The worst that could have happened after spending a few hours over a couple days is I occupied my time during a stay-at-home order. Third, now is an as good time as any to work on my field kitchen for vehicle-based camping and overlanding.

I am sure that the guys that do restorations on vintage camping stoves would have a field day with the way I went about doing this project. That's okay because this is not a restoration project but a refurbish project. I am pleased with how this stove project turned out. If you plan to tackle a project like this I have listed what supplies I used below. You will be surprised at what items you already might have around the house and that will keep your cost down.  


Supplies:

To keep the project as low cost as I could, I first gathered the needed supplies, and most I already had lying around the house. 

1. Cleaning supplies such a dishwashing soap (needs to be good at cutting grease) and sponge.

2. Oven cleaner or grill cleaner.

3. Wire Brush.

4. Sanding Block 100 & 200 grit.

5. Silver High-Temperature Spray Paint (normally for painting grills).

6. Ace Hardware Premium Enamel #1037589, Hunter Green Spray Paint (is a close match to the Coleman stove color).

7. Replacement screws (various sizes, stainless steel). Screw size 10-24 X 1-1/2 used to replace burner assembly screw on the Coleman Classic.

8. Hand tools such as a screwdriver, wrenches, and a nice to have but not required, a hand sander.

9. Disposable gloves.

10. Paper bags or newspaper and blue painters tape.

11. Dremel.

12. Tap Set.

13. Replacement Parts

Coleman Replacement Wing Baffle Support Part # 413B4971
Sometimes finding the small parts is the hardest part of the project



Process

1. Dissemble the stove. This can be the most challenging part! What I have found is the bolts that hold the burner to the case and the screws to hold the drip pan to the case will be badly rusted. Depending on how bad the rust is it can take a lot of effort to get them out. Don't worry about saving the bolts and screws. You can source replacements from your local hardware store.

2. Wash the parts. My experience has been that if someone is going to give you a free stove that was used by a Scout Troop there is old grease and baked-on food that needed to be removed first. If soap and water didn't take care of it then you have to set-up your game and use an oven or grill cleaner (I do this step outside).  I will then wash the stove a second time using soap and water to clean off the oven or grill cleaner.

3. At this point, you should have removed most of the burnt-on food and grease and now it's time to remove the rust. The sanding blocks will take care of most of the rust. The Brinkman stove pictured at the top of the post, I had to use a hand sander to get it cleaned up. Most of what you see in the picture at the top of the post is rust.

4. Clean everything one last time and make sure the stove is very dry. Setting the stove out in the sun for a few hours should take care of this step.

5. Painting- I do all my painting outside. Start off by masking the safety labels and stove instructions with blue painters tape.  With high-temperature silver paint, I start painting the drip pan. While the drip pan is drying I start painting the stove case. I normally start with the case closed and paint the top and sides and let that dry overnight. The next day I will work on the inside and then move on to the bottom. Each one of those sections you have to let dry before moving to the next section.

6. Reassemble the stove. This step can also be a little tricky. Take your time and think about the process. 

7. The last step in the process is to test light the stove. I do this step outside for safety reasons. If the stove flames up or is not burning correctly turn the supply of gas off. Once the stove has cooled down inspect the stove to see what the issue might be.


Brinkman Stove Model BA41-108

The Brinkman stove in the picture at the beginning of the post was a mess and was on worst condition that the Coleman Classic. You might have seen this same style stove at some of the big box outfitter stores but with different band names on it.  This stove was going to be a challenge due to the rust, grease, and was missing some parts. Challenge accepted!

There was a lot more labor involved in this stove. There was so much grease baked onto this stove and that became a monstrous task within itself to complete. After what seemed to be a couple of cleaning secession's the next task was to clean up the drip pan for painting. The pan had a lot of rust and it took a hand sander to get it all off.

Missing on this stove was a wind baffle support. Amazing that such a small item becomes key to keeping the stove open. Unlike the support I purchased for the Coleman Classic, I could not purchase a replacement and I had to fabricate the part. I happened to use a section of a hose clamp to make the support. The original support was spot welded and I don't have the means to do that. My idea was to use JB Weld which seemed at first was going to work. But I had issues with this once pressure was put on the part it would pop off.       



Fabricated Wing Baffle Support for Brinkmann Stove
                                  J-B Weld and the fabricated wing baffle support



Fabricated Wing Baffle Support for Brinkmann Stove
                               After this failed twice I used a small bolt to attach the parts.

Refurbished Brinkmann Camp Stove
Brinkman Stove without grill to show how well the drip pan cleaned up


I hope this post encourages you to take this time to look over your gear and maybe make some simple repairs to keep your equipment going for another couple of seasons.

** Disclaimer and project notes**. By no means am I a stove repair expert. I just shared my process on how I refurbished the camp stoves that were given to me.  Keep safety in mind by using eye protection and gloves to protect yourself from harsh cleaning products. It is best to be outside when using oven cleaner and paint (read the instructions of the products that you are using). Do not light the stove inside and have a way to put out a fire if something goes wrong in the lighting process. I found that the oven cleaner worked better that gill cleaner. There are brass tubes and fittings. Be careful with these because they are easy to bend.










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