FLAME SPREADER LAMPS AND HEATERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 WICKS TO FIT  THE   HEATERS LISTED BELOW - AND MORE!

Unique Specialty wicks
for 19th Century lamps

 


     .    .

World's Largest Selection of Wicks!
      Wicks for virtually every heater, stove and lamp made since 1850

FLAME SPREADER LAMPS AND HEATERS
 A CENTURY OF EXCELLENCE

Robert E. Dietz submitted the first patent for a flat wick lantern burning the new "coal oil" in 1857.   Production of the lamps begin in 1859.  Dietz was not just an inventor - he was one of the first environmentalists.   Prior to his new flat wick lamps, lamps burned whale oil.  Whale oil lamps were smelly and smoked a lot, and the light output was poor.   Dietz could also see there was a infinite supply of coal, a rather finite supply of whale oil, and getting the whale oil was rather rough on the whales.  Within a few years, the whaling industry took a hit and more whales survived, while at the same time home lighting was vastly improved.

But flat wick lamps and lanterns have a problem: turn the wick up higher for more light, and they admit insufficient oxygen for proper combustion and begin smoking. The flame spreader was patented on Jan. 15, 1884 for use in circular, center-draft worsted woven wick lamps.  This development introduced oxygen to both the inside and outside of the wick, resulting in considerably greater efficiency when a properly designed flame spreader was inserted into the center draft tube.

Quite the opposite from a flat wick, the flame spreader type lamps mandated that the heat output be maintained at a high rate so the flame spreader itself was heated sufficiently to burn all the various liberated hydrocarbon products (coal oil), and turning them down caused in incomplete combustion process. All this was before the discovery of kerosene as a petroleum byproduct. The oil companies did their best to imitate coal oil with a product they called kerosene so they could have a market share in an already established market. 

Flame spreader design heater and lamp wicks are made of cotton.  Modern catalytic converter heaters operate at a higher temperature than flame spreader heaters and also utilize a wick with the top section being fiberglass fibers (to contend with the higher heat), and thus can burn lesser quality kerosene, some even red dye kerosene, with a clean, odor free burn.  Absolutely clear kerosene must be burned in flame spreader design lamps and heaters to have them produce a clean, odor free burn.

HOW LONG WILL COTTON WICKS LAST IN USE?

Fiberglass wicks can be burned dry.  The disadvantage of cotton wicks is that the cotton itself can burn.  With care, a cotton heater wick can last one heating season.  But if the heater is allowed to run out of fuel then the wick itself will burn down 1/4".  If the heater runs out of fuel 3 times the wick is shortened 3/4" and the wick life is consumed - a new wick is required.  So how long a wick lasts depends upon the user.

HISTORY OF FLAME SPREADER HEATERS AND LAMPS

Beginning in 1884, circular wick lamps with flame spreaders were produced in great quantities in the area around Meriden, CT, by Bradley & Hubbard, Plume & Atwood, Miller and many other companies, most of the early models sold under the Rochester name and made by Miller.  By 1886, Rochester lamps were in production of "store lamps" using a 2 9/16" wick, soon followed by almost all other lamp companies.  In 1888, the Perfection company began producing center draft, flame spreader lamps at their Cleveland Foundry. 

Beginning in the late 1880's, Miller, B&H, P&A and the Standard Lighting Co. of Cleveland began making lamp-based heaters with the principle concept being their store lamp font with modified gallery to eliminate a chimney being dropped into a metal cabinet.  This provided up to 10,000 BTU/hr of heat without a blinding light. 

In 1894, Perfection basically scaled up their lamps to use a 2 9/16" diameter wick, put the fount in a housing, and began selling portable space heaters using their new "500" wick, although the name "Perfection" was not used until 1901.  The difference between the heaters sold by Perfection and the large lamp companies was in the wick carrier:  they all used essentially the same 2 9/16" diameter wick, but the Perfection wick system was sold with the wick carrier while other heaters used the same wick carrier as in their lamps.  It was easier to change the wick in a Perfection heater than in a lamp-based heater, Perfection heaters were inexpensive, and that pretty much ended production of lamp-based heaters.

Work on flame spreader lamps and heaters was also taking place in Europe.  In France, a beautiful series of Kosmos lamps (Gaudard) were designed in the late 1880's; the equipment to make them using a modified water wheel was manufactured in Brooklyn, and is still in use today in the South of France.  In England, Valor and Beatrice were producing some very fine parlor heaters, most using a variation of the 1 1/2" center-draft wick used in B&H and P&A lamps, although Valor did produce a virtual clone of the Perfection 500 heater.  Photos of some of those Valor and Beatrice heaters from my collection are shown below.

With a few exceptions, production of flame spreader heaters ended in about 1981 with the introduction of catalytic converter heaters made in Japan.  The exceptions were the Moonlighter and Omni 15 heaters made by Toyotomi, the Corona SS-DK and SS-DX, the KOGY 200A (all being essentially shrunken Perfection heaters with an updated cabinet design), and POD heaters.  Production on all but the POD ended by the early 1990's.  POD may still be making heaters, but it is extremely difficult to determine as they try very hard to have no visible marketing plan.

Flame spreader designs must be fed very high quality fuel in order to burn clean, but catalytic converter heaters could consume even relatively low quality fuel and still burn very clean.  The fiberglass wicks used in catalytic converter heaters were also very reliable and long lasting compared to the cotton wicks used in flame spreader heaters, and thus the century-old flame spreader design was doomed to obsolescence.

To reiterate, flame spreader lamps and heaters must be burned at a very high heat setting so that the flame spreader is sufficiently heated to complete the combustion process;  turn them down to an "idle" setting, and they will produce a distinct aroma.

Flame spreaders for various #2 lamps, left to right:  Admiral, Rayo #22, B&H 1904, Naugatuck, Miller, Improved Bristol, B&H 6.2.96, B&H 7.1.90.

Flame spreaders for other size lamps: E&G #0, Standard, Miller #1, Radiant #4, Radiant #5.

Flame spreaders from the smallest to the largest, from left to right:  Kosmos #15; P&A Royal; B&H; Beatrice 4012; Valor 420 Parlor Stove; and a Perfection 730. Click photo to enlarge.

 

Parker lamp gallery circa 1881

Beatrice 4120 gallery circa 1920's

Valor 420 gallery circa 1982

Perfection gallery circa 1970's

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Note the similarity of the design of the flame spreader galleries shown above, covering a period of at least a century.  The original designs from the early 1880's worked, with only one significant change:  the Perfection flame spreader was designed to raise and lower; when the wick was lowered, the lip on the flame spreader put out the flame. Other flame spreader designs were removable, but stationary.

Photo at right shows the similarities between a Moonlighter and a Perfection flame spreader:  The Moonlighter is essentially a miniaturized Perfection.  The early part-brass Perfection flame spreader is unused and has the following patent numbers and dates:  In USA: 1045409, 1209789, 1047884, 1330845, 1061079, 1571301; DES. 44206, 45007, 45008.  In Canada: 1914, 1915, 1917, 1921, 1926.  In England, 1919 No. 150062; 1925 No. 260327.  This flame spreader was made after 1926 and is clearly marked Perfection Stove Company, Cleveland, Ohio USA.

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Note the similarity of design - the English Beatrice on the left uses a 1 1/2" wick, while the Perfection 730 on the right uses the standard 2 9/16" Perfection 500 wick.  Both are hinged and open the same way, although the Beatrice has a built-in fuel tank and the Perfection font is removable. The Beatrice is essentially a small Perfection!

 

The wick design concept was extremely similar, differing only in size.  The Perfection 500 wick shown on the left is 2 9/16" in diameter, whereas the wicks used in the Beatrice 4012 and Valor Valmin are 1 1/2" in diameter, the wicks fitting inside steel sleeves with slots to engage the ratchet teeth to move the wick up and down as needed.  The wick on the right in this photo is the Valor Valmin wick; the Beatrice 4012 wick holder is virtually identical, but not interchangeable.


The Beatrice 4012 is unique in being an exceptionally poorly designed heater.  Whoever designed it knew nothing about air flow and draft requirements for heaters - it was designed to fail, just like the GSW heater.  Turn the wick up enough to have heat output and the fuel would heat up, lowering the viscosity of the fuel, the flame would raise until it was almost uncontrollable and smoke and soot, and lowering the wick to eliminate the smoke and soot would extinguish the flame.  It was literally impossible to have a steady flame! The photos below illustrate the problem.  The wide Beatrice flame spreader and narrow opening in the gallery, combined with the flame spreader being only 0.50" above the burner plate, insured the flame from the wick would be turn down, back onto the fuel tank, and excessively heat the fuel!!!  Guaranteed lousy burning.  I modified an 1896 B&H Jauch flame spreader to fit into the Beatrice draft tube, as shown in the photo below right.  Now there is sufficient airflow past the fuel tank, the wick gets enough oxygen to burn clean - and the fuel is no longer being excessively heated!  I won.  The Beatrice 4012 finally burns clean and steady.

Beatrice flame spreader on left measures 2.508" diameter.  B&H Jauch flame spreader on right is 1.173" dia. The opening under the FS is 2.352", literally smaller than the flame spreader! Modified B&H Jauch FS to fit the Beatrice 4012.  The Jauch flame spreader in the Beatrice font.  Now there is room for an airflow around the flame!

Some of the older center draft wicks are becoming difficult to find.  Then one must be a little creative.  For example, for the past several years the Valor Valmin wick was in short supply. My previous models were a very rigid wick, with what looked like an inner core of thick cardboard, to which a metal "ladder" had been attached to engage the wick raising ratchet gear.  There was no way that wick could be home made or modified from anything else.  The last small batch of Valmin wicks I received, however, were made just like the originals over a hundred years ago - still a stiff wick, but inside a steel sleeve.  

Old style Valor Valmin wick shown on left, with wick raising attachment applied to the side of the wick.  Newer style Valmin wick with the wick within a steel sleeve, shown on the right.  The wick is held in the steel sleeve with two rivets, one on each side, shown near the bottom of the sleeve at the right side, on the photo at right.

Now I had something with which to work.  I ground off the rivet heads, removed the rivets, and then removed the stiff inner brand new wick.  Then I drilled a 1/8" hole in the steel sleeve close to the hole already present for the rivet.  The next step was to insert a 1 1/2" #2L wick in the sleeve, and sew it in place through the holes on each side of the steel sleeve, with the same amount of wick projecting as shown on the original wick in the photo above right.  It works perfectly!  Previously, many Valor heaters using the Valmin wick sat unused, or were discarded, because new wicks with the ladder arrangement (as shown above left) were simply not available.  But Beatrice 4012 center draft wicks will always be with us, they are precisely the same diameter as the Valmin wick, and the steel sleeve will last virtually forever.  My Valor 420 (shown) below has been in use 16 hours a day for weeks heating my office, burning perfectly, cleanly, with no aroma, with a #2L wick sewn into the steel Valmin wick sleeve.   This little trick could keep many fine heaters in operation for another hundred years!

Valor 420

Valor 420 with front panel removed

Beatrice 4012

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KEEP LARGE OLD HEATERS WORKING!  

There were many large heaters such as the Valor made with a 2 3/4" (7cm) steel carrier (below, right) holding a 2 9/16" wick, and the carrier with wick is no longer available.  You can keep that old Valor in operation by sewing a new wick into your old carrier!  When measured flat, wick is approx 4 3/16" wide and 8 1/2" long (see below, left).  Wick is pre-charred and ready to install.  Wick specially made for me by Hattersley in England.  Wick #3L is available on the Lamp Wick page.  The advantage of the #3L wick is that it is longer than a Perfection 500 wick:  when it burn down, it can be raised and resewn into the wick sleeve, doubling the wick life!   Click on photos to enlarge.

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At right are two Handlan #30 Caboose lamps.  They are unusual, being made from heavy gauge galvanized steel, as shown on the right hand lamp. I have restored the lamp on the left and it is burning for perhaps the first time in half a century.  The 6" diameter, circular fount has a cylindrical insert for the wick, and the space between is filled with a rope batting which prevents the fuel from sloshing when the train was moving.  P&A made the special gallery assemblies for Handlan, with the wick raising gearing in the gallery, whereas almost all other lamps have the wick raising system in the fount itself.  These lamps produce virtually as much heat as the Valor and Beatrice heaters shown above (all have 1 1/2" diameter wicks and flame spreaders), so they would provide heat in the caboose as well as light, and can burn for over 12 hours per tank full.

This page is a work in progress and will be completed as I find the time.  I can only photograph items which I own, and I'm trying not to overload this page with too many photos of different heaters and lamps while still illustrating the extreme similarity in the basic design concepts.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heater Information below

Lamp Wicks:

Center Draft Wicks - Wicks available only from this Wick Shop.

Flat lamp wicks

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & parts

Lamp Chimneys:

Center Draft Lamp chimneys
from "Tiny" Junior to Mammoth lamps.

Fabulous "Sans Rival" borosilicate chimney for 14''' Kosmos lamps

Student Lamp Sans Rival Chimney with 1 7/8" fitter!!!

Standard glass lamp chimneys

Sonnenbrenner Lamp Chimneys

Information on lamps:

Center Draft Kerosene Lamps
(Photos, information and history, etc)

Photos of restored center draft lamps 

Care, Feeding and Restoration of Center Draft Lamps (and wick installation for many)

Center Draft Lamp manufacturers and brand names

Lamp Chimneys - Dimension of nominal base diameter by make, model and "line".

Early American Metal Font & Specialty Lamps

Aladdin Lamp History

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & Chimneys,

Aladdin - Exploded burner views

Kosmos-Brenner lamps and wicks

Flame Spreaders and "Smoke Consumers" from Alex Marrack

  • Vulcan, Imperial, Veritas, Belgian, Hinks, Messenger's, Young's Court, etc.

    Articles by Alex Marrack:

Home Page

Site Index

Site Index for all things Perfection

Kindler Wicking For Oil Stoves & Ranges

Kerosene Heaters

Alphabetical list of most kerosene heaters and the proper wick, & cart checkout.

List by wick number and the heaters that fit them. (A helpful guide for buying on eBay)

Measurements needed if you have an unlisted heater.

Care and Maintenance of Kerosene Heater Wicks

Installing Kerosene Heater Wicks - generic for unpinned wicks

Owner's_Manuals & information for many kerosene heaters

Kerosene Heaters - General types, how they work, recommendations for some good ones - and those I would avoid.

Economic Benefits of Kerosene Heaters

Kerosene Heater Safety

Regular maintenance   

Troubleshooting kerosene heater common problems

Breaking In New Kerosene Appliances

Burning Kerosene Heaters at Night

WATER IN KEROSENE causing "dwindling" and poor performance.

Flame Spreader Heaters and Lamps -
A Century of Excellence

Kerosene Heater Carts -
why carry your heater around?

Kerosene Fuel Primer 

Sweet Smelling Kerosene

Kerosene tank cradles (photo) Building a Cradle

HALLER "ORIGINEEL" STOVES

KEROSENE HEATERS MADE IN THE NETHERLANDS

Beatrice Boiling Stoves & Mini kerosene heaters you can make

Sad Iron stoves; Wicks & Installation instructions

Wicking For Oil Burning "WICKLESS" Stoves & Ranges

Photo Album

Photos of Wicks

Mail Order Form

Kerosene Stoves, Lanterns and Ovens

Kerosene Stoves -

 Recommendations on different models 

Kerosene Stove Maintenance and Storage
  


Butterfly A-822, 22 wick
, all-aluminum premium stove.   

Butterfly #2487, 16 wick stove Butterfly #2412 Pressure Stove; instructions for virtually any pressure stove.

Butterfly #2418 Double Burner Stove; good with any gravity flow stove.

Butterfly #2421 Oven for Kerosene Stoves

Butterfly #2641, 10 Wick Stove -
the least expensive emergency stove.

Butterfly #2698 Cook Stove -

THE Best Heavy Duty Cook Stove.

 
Butterfly #828R Pressure Lantern;
same for most pressure lanterns.

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