Kerosene is Here to Stay

Rippingille Albion Lamp Coy, advert ca. 1900.

Rippingille Albion Lamp Coy, advert ca. 1900.

About these ads
Posted in stove | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tiny House Movement

Here’s a recent conversation, as best I can recall, of disappointment and maybe using the wrong words.

A woman in a parking lot jogs up to the vardo while I’m making a sandwich shouting, “Oh my gosh!  That’s so cool!  Is that a Tiny House like on TV? Can I have a look inside?”

“Yes, of course.  You can look inside.”  So far, just like a hundred other conversations I’ve had.

“Is it like the little TV houses?”

“I don’t know the show but it’s actually a little camping caravan.”

“It’s not a Tiny House?  Oh, never mind then,” walking away without a backward glance.  Then to gentleman walking towards us she shouts, “It’s nothing.  It’s not like the Tiny House show” shaking her head in disappointment.

The Vancott.  From J. Harris Stone, 1914.

The Vancott, moveable cottage designed to solve housing problems for working families in England. From J. Harris Stone, 1914.

A Clarification - Something I find myself explaining on the road when pulling the little caravan is the difference between a Tiny House and a true caravan or vardo.   A Tiny House is just that; a very small house.  Because of codes and strong laws about housing in the Industrial Nations, Tiny Homes are usually placed on a trailer for legal and logistic reasons.  This doesn’t mean that most Tiny Houses should or could be dragged all over the country.  That’s not really the point.  They are generally too heavily built (rightly so) and use materials like factory-built house widows and normal pitched roofs.  While these make for a nicer living structure they are not designed for the sustained tornado-like conditions and severe jarring that come from over-the-road travel.


Late 19th Century-style Showman’s Van, Arguably the first true stand-alone caravan for full-time living. From J. Harris Stone, 1914.

When the world move a little slower, some of these issues were not as important, such as real glass windows and hurricane-proof roofs, but now, we certainly don’t want parts to fly off at 70 miles per hours on the highway, or to show up in camp with shattered glass on the bed.

Tiny House - Very small home often mounted on a trailer frame.  Designed to be towed  to a final location or towed for occasional moving.

Vardo or Caravan - Small dwelling designed to be regularly towed to new location.


Posted in caravan, vardo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Primus Stove Accessories

 “Do you ever Hunt? Fish? Paddle a Canoe? Explore? Prospect? Climb Hills or Sail on a Yacht?”  Such was the opening line on an 1899 advertisement for Primus stoves.  That covers just about anybody of worth that I know.  Of course you need a stove.  Buck up and buy one (that means you Jim).  The ad goes on to say “It cures all ills that campers are heir to.  It is the one thing needful to make camp life a dream of Elysium.”   You just can’t ask for more than that.

1277439611-PrimusPicnic_1908-01Improving the Primus Stove experience began early on.  Putting the stove in a tin case, disassembled, made for easier packing and kept the parts together.  And of course, a toaster rack that works while the tea kettle is heating on top would become indispensable.

1392681847-primus_usa_1899Unlike what was taught in the Boy Scouts, Primus highly encourage its use inside tents; going so far as to suggest drying clothing and bedding.  I’m not sure my old Scoutmasters would approve but really, it’s nearly the twentieth century, right?  Seriously though, some of the better information concerns the economy.  One quart (0.95 litres) will burn for 5 hours, or as one prospectors testimony claims “A quart of kerosene lasts a week and cooks three meals a day for us.” 

Now I just need to find the right tin box and the remarkable flatiron griddle shown in the upper right of the second ad.

Posted in stove | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Burn Coal! The Future is Here


Advertisement from 1903, New York.  Found at

Saves Gas Bills, Saves Trouble, Saves Patience, Saves Time!  And it burns any kind of oil.  I think we would market this as multi-fuel off-grid survival stove these days.

Posted in advertising, stove | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Liquid Fuel Stoves and the Caravan Camper

A look at the origins and evolution of our favorite stove…

This post was going to be a few words about the Primus stoves we all love and some images I’ve collected from around the web.  As usual, I found myself rambling all over the topic without a clear direction. 

Primus advertisement 1899. Image found on the Classic Camp Stove Forum.

Outdoor cooking has become something of a lost art for those of us raised in the industrial world, but not too long ago, what we think of as camp cooking was just plain cooking.   Several major advances made in the 19th and early 20th centuries resonate in our lives without a second thought from most of us.  Most of our great-grandparents cooked with solid fuel (mostly wood, peat, manure, or charcoal) and their grandparents may have been fortunate enough to cook indoors in bad weather.

In the 19th century, the Caravan Craze, global expansionism, and campaign warfare sent massive numbers of otherwise civilized people back to the outdoors; often with high expectations about the board-of-fare.  Although we, as a species, have cooked over campfires for many thousands of years, this is not always convenient or desirable; whether for speed, lack of fuel, or need for a low profile in the hedgerows.  An early response to this need was the brazier or hibachi-type grill reinvented on numerous occasions in various parts of the world.  These  stoves can use small wood or charcoal but are heavy, smoky, and need large volumes of solid fuel for sustained use.  Not a good option for the traveller.  When coal oil and kerosene became common, liquid fuel appeared to be the answer.


Supper at the Caravan

Although common now, liquid fuel stoves have not always been a good or safe choice for cooking on the road.  Early portable stoves used a wick and some variation of coal oil for fuel.  The flame created with a wick is relatively low-temperature, causing incomplete combustion.  Wick stoves exude fumes and soot, like a low-quality oil lamp.  These were not a bad option for the 1850s, but nothing as good as what would come in the next generation.


Soyer stove.

The advancements of Alexis Soyer - The contraption above is one of the many inventions given to us by Alexis Soyer, celebrity chef and cooking guru of mid-19th century Britain.  Many of his cookbooks are still referenced and can be found for free on the web.  He was, by the way, born a Frenchman but we can forgive him this mistake for his many contributions to the world.  Not only did Mssr. Soyer invent several useful contraptions for cooking, but he is credited with organizing the first  Soup Kitchen to help the starving Irish during the Famine.  And as a further claim to fame, the larger unit stove he developed for the British army during the Crimean War was such and excellent design it was still regular issue 120 years later, but I digress from our theme.Soyer_StoveSeen in use above, this little stove was revolutionary but left much to be desired, especially for cooking indoors.  I don’t believe you’d catch a sane cook using something of this sort on an actual tablecloth unless it was made from asbestos.  In the 19th century, both camp and home cookery were beginning to change drastically; up to this time the two were not very different.  Along with improvements in stoves, better cooking pots, and roasting pans, other kitchen gadgets were being developed to help make cooking better and easier.  A humble and often overlooked kitchen appliance was invented in this period…


Soyer’s Alarum.

The wind-up cooking timer - This little beauty is something that all modern cooks take for granted.  It seems obvious now, but Soyer realized that mothers, chefs, and camp cooks have many things to attend to at once.  Maybe a dinging timer could take some of the strain away and make for better prepared meals.

The coming of the pressurized stove - The Crimean war, the Raj in India, and other colonial ventures undertaken during Queen Victoria’s reign spurred on great advances in campaign living and long-term camping.  The East India Company and the regular military encouraged officers to bring the comforts of home as whole careers were spent thousands of miles from home creating and running an empire.  From this period, the Brits gave us great folding furniture, camp bedding, portable furnishings, and the Gypsy caravan.  But it took a Swede to take us to the next level, and camp technology has never looked back.


Image 1914.

From the Wikipedia Entry as of October 2014:

The Primus stove, the first pressurized-burner kerosene (paraffin) stove, was developed in 1892 by Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist, a factory mechanic in Stockholm, Sweden. The stove was based on the design of the hand-held blowtorch;

From this...

The origins of the camp stove!

Lindqvist’s patent covered the burner, which was turned upward on the stove instead of outward as on the blowtorch.


Improvements and variations came quickly after their introduction.

…The Primus No. 1 stove, made of brass, consists of a fuel tank at the base, above which is a “rising tube” and the burner assembly. A steel top ring on which to set a pot is held above the burner by three support legs. Other Primus-style stoves may be larger or smaller, but have the same basic design. The No. 1 stove weighs about 2½ pounds, and measures about 8½ inches high with an overall diameter of just under 7 inches. The tank, about 3½ inches high, holds a little over two pints of kerosene and will burn for about four hours on a full tank.


We think of this type stove as a camp stove but they were marketed far and wide for household use as well.

…Prior to the introduction of the Primus, kerosene stoves were constructed in the same manner as oil lamps, which use a wick to draw fuel from the tank to the burner and which produce a great deal of soot due to incomplete combustion.

The Primus stove’s design, which uses pressure and heat to vapourize the kerosene before ignition, results in a hotter, more efficient stove that does not soot.  Because it did not use a wick and did not produce soot, the Primus stove was advertised as the first “sootless” and “wickless” stove.

sverige270These stoves are still celebrated worldwide and are in use on every corner of the planet.

Although introduced in the early 2oth Century, the Second World War and subsequent decade saw widespread popularity of the gasoline stove for military use.  Unlike kerosene, gasoline (or purified “white gas”) is truly explosive, not just flammable.  Placed under high pressure, these are potentially bombs.  However, gasoline or derivatives can be found almost anywhere on earth with the spread of the internal combustion engine, making this a fuel of choice for international travelers.  As per usual with us humans, we chose practicality and convenience over safety.

The iconic early stove of this design is the Svea 123 as it it is a beautiful combination of design features including simplicity of construction, easy field repair, and heating power.

Here’s a link to lighting the Svea 123 (and a little info about why they are so cool):  “DEMYSTIFYING THE SVEA 123″


Classic Svea 123 and a close cousin.

Variations on the theme are endless, from the Svea 123 (gasoline) to the Ultra-Primus double burner home range (kerosene).  The various designs proved themselves in kitchens, on river trips, mountain tops, and in virtually every modern backpacker’s gear in one form or another.  For much of the world, this style stove is still the centerpiece of kitchen cooking.

A different spin on the basic Svea design.  The main feature of the 71 is it's convenient packaging.

A different spin on the basic Svea design. The main feature of the 71 is it’s convenient packaging for the traveller.


A pretty great endorsement.

As a side note to history, the design was so successful that many other companies copied the essential design.  Here are just a few ads for the Optimus line of stoves and lamps, another spin-off, from their own website showing a wide range of related products over the last century.

The modern era - In my lifetime, liquid fuel backpacking stoves have undergone some serious refinements but overall, the system for liquid fuel stoves is essentially the same.  Safety has been a big issue, of course, but size (decrease) and fuel capacity (increase) are probably the biggest changes.  Many stoves use canister fuel (butane or propane), alcohol, or solid fuel pellets; but won’t get into those here.


A new era; the MSR XGK multi-fuel stove.

The final round of changes came from Mountain Safety Research and it’s later competitors.  The big innovation was to separate the fuel tank from the burner assembly and add a pressurizing system to the tank.  Small but efficient details were added like the self lighting sparker, self cleaning tube, and the inclusion of a lightweight wind screen.

Links and Further Information - This post is inadequate in many ways but meant as a quick overview of the pressurized liquid fuel stove we all love so much.  Here are some links to some great information on the web.

The Base Camp is a specialist equipment internet retailer based in Littlehampton, Southern England since 1986.  They stock classic stoves and have an excellent selection of obsolete parts.

A H Packstoves Supplies and Parts – is an online seller through ebay.  He always has good stuff and some hard to find parts.


The Fettle Box is a good source for pieces and parts for your classic stove. I have had good luck with them.

Finally, the Classic Camp Stoves Forum.  Several images above were found here.  Information about virtually every kind of stove available.  History, art, repairs, tutorials, and reprints are all available on the Forum.

Click here for the mother load of information about Classic Stoves.

Click here for the mother load of information about Classic Stoves.

More to come…

Posted in caravan, stove, vardo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Låg arbeidsbenk på Sogn Folkemuseum

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Originally posted on Høvelbenk:
De Heibergske Samlinger – Sogn Folkemuseum har ei veldig rik samling av gjenstandar knytt til ulike handverk. Dei har ei flott utstilling av snikkarverktøy som er lagt til rette som ein verkstad med arbeidsbenkar og…

Gallery | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Roof Valleys

Originally posted on michaellangforddotorg:

Trigonometry, once you understand the basics, is fairly easy to use.  The sine curve/cosine curve model works great for electrical engineering, but isn’t very useful for building math.  Really, just the ++ quadrant of a unit circle is sufficient for every trigonometry problem you’re likely to encounter as a carpenter.


This is the intersection of an 8/12 roof and a 5/12 roof.  The cricket has an 8/12 slope on one side, and a 5/12 on the other.  Two of the valleys are regular, they are at an angle of 45º to plan.  The other two valleys are irregular, one side is 5/12, the other 8/12, and the valleys lie at an angle other than 45º to plan.  This requires a slightly more sophisticated approach than the conventional solutions.

Here’s a simple isometric of the basic idea, with the individual triangles lined out in colors.  The trick is to determine a common…

View original 138 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Boy and His Dog


Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Took Aim

"I Took Aim" From the short story ‘Robina Crusoe’, The Girl’s Own Annual, 1883.

“I Took Aim” From the short story ‘Robina Crusoe’, The Girl’s Own Annual, 1883.

Posted in archery | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Design Under Duress


Of course, another great project and observations by Christopher Schwarz. And if anyone wants to get me his “new” old book for Christmas, I am not opposed.

Originally posted on Lost Art Press:


Building a project in front of an audience is one thing. Designing it and building it on the fly is enough to drive me to drink.

Earlier this year I did a two-day seminar for the Alabama Woodworkers Guild where I designed and built a six-board chest. While I usually do a lot work beforehand for classes, I was in the final stages of editing “Campaign Furniture” and was a bit task-saturated. Here was my prep work for that class: I threw some boards and tools into my truck and drove south.

Luckily, I’ve built a lot of six-board chests, and the resulting piece turned out well. In fact, I like this particular chest so much that I’m using it in “Furniture of Necessity.” As a result, I had to create a SketchUp drawing and cutting list after building the project.

As I was drawing the chest yesterday, I was…

View original 271 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments