Kerosene Lamps - Frequently Asked Questions












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Frequently Asked Questions - LAMPS

For Frequently Asked Questions on Heaters, click here 

(This page is a work in progress and the subjects are not in any specific order.)

1.  Preparing lamps for storage

Question: I have a lamp that I will not be using anymore and would like to know how to "decommission" it . I want to display but not use it. My main concern is kerosene drying out on the wick and reservoir.

Answer:  Empty all fuel from the tank. Set the wick to be about 1/16'' above the wick tubes and light it, then replace the chimney. The fuel in the wick will burn off, then the wick will burn down level with the wick tubes. Pour a little almost pure alcohol in the tank and swish it around to absorb any moisture caused by condensation, then pour it out. Wipe all male threads with a cloth and female threads with a Q-Tip saturated in alcohol to remove any fuel residue. With a Q-Tip, apply some liquid automotive polish to the threads, then wipe off the polish. The lamp will then be completely dry and preserved until it is needed again, and the fill cap and burner will not be glued tight with old fuel residue.

2.  Will a 12'' tall chimney on a center draft lamp burn better than a 10'' chimney?

Question:  I have a quick question concerning your 2 5/8 center draft chimneys. I plan on ordering one very soon. Does it make any difference if I get the 10 inch or 12 inch version? I am not at high altitude, but I seem to think that a taller chimney burns cleaner and creates better air flow. What is your recommendation?
thanks, -Steve

Answer:  The 10'' height chimney burns perfectly at lower altitude.  The two chimneys are not identically shaped except for the height.  The 10'' has a slightly larger diameter bulge and throat that equates to virtually the same airflow through the chimney at normal atmospheric pressure.

The 12'' is required for ball shades and very high altitude.  The atmospheric pressure at 6,000 feet elevation equals about 25'' and the 12'' chimney with a smaller bulge helps direct the less oxygen-rich airflow around the flame spreader for better combustion and therefore a clean burn with excellent light output.

3.  How do you get a P&A Royal to burn with a smooth flame?

Question: I tried the pre-burn eyedropper twice and burned it dry once. And trimmed and trimmed and trimmed. It still can't match the output of the Rayo I have. Fuel is Klean-Heat. Is it the thicker wick and they just don't burn as well as the thinner Rayo? - Greg

Answer:  A thick wick often has to be burned level 3 times. After the 2nd dry burn, remove the flame spreader and raise the wick 1/4''. Look at the outside edge of that wick and often you will find there is an unburned fringe all around the outside. Trim off that fringe and then burn dry again. After that it should burn perfectly.

The thick wick on a P&A Royal is not designed to have more output than a Rayo - a full curl flame is a full curl flame, the wicks are the same diameter and those two lamps use the same chimney. The design concept is for more capillary fibers (thicker wick) to produce the same flame height as other #2 lamps with less wick exposed. That means no fuel starvation at the top of the wick and thus the wicks last at least twice as long. The only problem is in the initial leveling of the thicker wick.

4. Lamp draft tube off-center, flame spreader dented

Question:  Hi, I recently got a "TIny Miller" finger lamp that has a dented flame spreader. It burns higher on the side with with dent (although I burns higher further around the wick than the dent goes), is i possible to bend the draft tube just a bit toward the high flame to compensate?

Answer: You can gently bend the draft tube to make sure it is centered within the outer tube. It is better to straighten the dent in the flame spreader. Tiny Miller flame spreaders don't have a Liverpool Button and are generally just straight thimbles. Insert a dowel into the flame spreader and roll it across a flat, hard surface to gently roll out the dent. If the top is dented down, push it up with a dowel, going gently at all times.

 Response. HI, the info about straighting the Tiny Miller flame spreader worked great.

5.  I have a question.  Although the Rochester lamp makes a great table lamp, it was made to hang in shops.  It gets so hot that it makes me nervous.

Answer:  Your Rochester store lamp was actually made into a heater, the cabinet designed to cut down the light output.  It does indeed produce over 10,000 BTU/hr of heat. 
    The wire hangers do get hot and the smoke bell gets very hot indeed.  I have them myself.
    When store lamps were marketed they were indeed marketed to small stores, the late 19th Century corner stores so common then.  By 1900 over 10 million store lamps had been sold.  Ceilings were higher than today and the smoke bells were wide and cast iron for absorbing and dissipating the heat.  The concept for the ''store lamp'' was both heat and light, the small shops not having a heat source, so the lamp was generally hung over the sales counter.  The heat is not sufficient to weaken the wire or cable supports, though.
        The market for store lamps was from Pennsylvania up through the New England states, cold in the winter and having the greatest concentration of population living in cities without modern transportation, the corner stores providing the essential needs of the people.   The advent of readily available electricity before WW I killed off sales of store lamps. 
    Stands for store lamps were available to enable them to be used as table lamps.  Those stands are quite rare today.  I made my own on a wood lathe.

6.     The wick in my Rochester #2 size lamp will not move easily.  Is the wick too thick?  I do not have the original ''band'' to attach the wick to the wick sleeve.  Can I use wire?  Why does the flame spreader fit over the draft tube instead of inside like a Miller?

Answer:  Miller made Rochester lamps until 1892 and used the same wick raiser system on early Miller-brand lamps.  Miller-made ''Baby Rochester'' lamps were very odd and rare, very few sold in 1890-91, so they did not bother with the corrugated attachment system and used a copper wire.  I have a photo taken of the original wick with wire fastener in one of my Baby Rochester lamps >

Rochester purchased the first thimble flame spreader patent (Hinkle, Jan. 1884) and therefore got in first with an over-the-tube flame spreader patent.  Everyone else, including Miller, had to use an inside-the-tube flame spreader.  Both styles work but the over-the-tube has the theoretical advantage of not leaking fuel down the center draft tube if the lamp is stored with fuel in the font and the wick raised above the height of the draft tube.

One problem you should be aware of is the wick sleeve on an early Miller and most Rochester lamps is that the sleeve was cut from copper tubing.  If you have used a tubing cutter you know that they cut from the outside and therefore slightly indent the cut into the inside of the tube.  And the edge is sharp.  That sharp edge can cut into the draft tube when raising the wick because the lift rod is attached only at the bottom on one side, hence the wick sleeve absolutely must have the inclination to ''cant'' in the opposite direction at the top and dig into the central draft tube.  My Miller Dresden was a perfect example of that effect and the wick was extremely difficult to move.  I have the fix shown here >



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Lamp Wicks:

Center Draft Wicks - Wicks available only from this Wick Shop. #0L, #1B, #1M, #1R, #2L, #2R, #2 P&A, #2B, #3L.

Flat lamp wicks and

Kosmos Lamp Wicks

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & parts

Lamp Chimneys:

Center Draft Lamp chimneys in borosilicate glass from Junior "Tiny" to Mammoth lamps.  #0M, Rayo Jr., 2 1/2", 2 5/8", 2 15/16", 3 1/8", 4", 4 1/2"

Standard glass lamp chimneys & Kosmos chimneys

Globe Vulcan (Central Vulcan) Chimneys - 18''', 24''' & 30'''

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

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

Angle Lamp chimneys

Sonnenbrenner Lamp Chimneys

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

Information on lamps:

Aladdin Lamp History

Aladdin Lamp Wicks & Chimneys,

Aladdin - Exploded burner views

Beginning Lamp Restoration

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

Center Draft Lamp manufacturers and brand names

Kosmos-Brenner lamps

Photos of restored center draft lamps 

Victorian Era Student Lamps


Early American Metal Font & Specialty Lamps

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

Links to web sites for parts, information and restoration. 

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



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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