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(Above, original window sign from the 1930's, used in neighborhood stores.)
PERFECTION 500 HEATER WICK
These instructions also
apply to Perfection heater clones, such as the Barler, New Process, Nesco,
Tropical #015 Oil Heater, United States Stove Co. Model US-89A,
Valor 525, Savoil D-81,
Sears 103.76010 and 155.76016 and "Old
Site Index for all things Perfection
How To Get Best Results From Your Perfection Heater
History of the Perfection Stove Company
REPAIRING A LEAKING FUEL TANK
(For Perfection 300 & 400 heaters go
(For Perfection 441 Superfex go here.)
The Perfection heater company began production of oil lamp stoves in 1888, and in 1894 began
producing heaters - the
Perfection 500. Most Perfection
heaters available today were based on a June 12, 1913 patent.
Over 3 million Perfection heaters
were in use
before 1919. My Perfection 730 shown on the
right was manufactured in the 1970's, but is virtually
identical to models made 50 years earlier. [Click on all photos to enlarge.]
used a removable font which sat in the bottom of the hinged
tip-over body assembly. The modern font on the right is
galvanized steel, whereas pre-war fonts were made of brass.
Both parts should be polished with a quality auto polish to
prevent rusting or oxidation.
~~~REMOVE THE OLD WICK~~~
When that portion of the wick that projects
above the metal wick carrier has been burned away in use and the
wick refuses to turn up any further, remove it and insert a new
1. Remove Flame Spreader.
Clean any soot from the flame spreader, paying particular
attention to keeping the air holes clear of any debris.
Even the top of the flame spreader (far right) should be cleaned
& polished for best results.
2. Remove the Gallery
by turning counter
clockwise. That is often easier said than done, as the
threads on the bottom of the gallery can become corroded to
the font. The sides of the gallery are fragile, being
filigreed with air holes; if the gallery does not remove
easily, a strap wrench on the bottom offers a better chance
of removal without damage. After removal, apply silicone or high
temperature grease to threads after cleaning them off.
If the gallery is stuck: Go slowly!
Read below for some clues.
3. Turn wick up
as high as it will go with
adjusting wheel. (DO NOT force
the adjusting wheel. See below for stuck wicks.)
4. Pull out both the used wick and metal
carrier from the wick tube and throw them away.
on the photo on the right to enlarge it, and the cog wheels
which raise and lower the wick are quite visible.
TO REMOVE AN OLD WICK IF IT IS STUCK
Old Perfection heaters are being refurbished and put
back into service. Sometimes these heaters have not been used for
decades, and the wick raising mechanism does not readily move the wick.
DO NOT FORCE THE WICK TO MOVE USING THE WICK ADJUSTER! The usual
problem with a stuck wick is the wick being glued (old fuel residue) or
rusted to (ambient moisture) the center air pillar. You do NOT want to
try moving the wick with the wick adjuster, as that will just strip the
gears and star wheels.
Use a slender blade knife, like a fillet knife, and slip it between the
wick and the central air pillar. Work the blade all the way around the
central air pillar to loosen anything holding the wick to the tube. Then
grab the WICK CARRIER with your fingers or even pliers - on opposite
sides of the wick carrier - and pull the wick straight up and out.
TO INSERT A NEW
wick made in England
5. Remove new wick
from carton and straighten
out folded-in ends of wick.
6. Place wick, split end down,
over the wick
tube. See that split side of wick straddles the two cog-wheels
that operate wick carrier (see photo above). Force wick down until cog-wheels
engage with holes in metal wick carrier. (Should the wick catch
while forcing carrier down, it is due to the small points at top
of wick carrier catching over the wick tube. Apply pressure on
carrier so as to release these points.)
7. Turn wick down
as far as it will go by
means of adjusting wheel.
Perfection 500 wicks for US delivery addresses only.
Out-of-US delivery see below
Perfection 500 wick $11.95
for Canada and overseas delivery only.
Postage costs, especially for
packages, took a huge jump in price on Jan. 27, 2013.
Perfection 500 wicks weigh almost a half pound each. It now costs
$8.55 to mail one Perfection 500 wick to Canada, for example.
I will not raise postage costs for all other wicks just to cover
the cost of boxed wick postage for out-of-US delivery. $3.00 per wick required for delivery.
Perfection 500 wicks for out-of-US delivery MUST USE THIS
(Over 5 wicks,
contact me for shipping costs.)
You can keep an old Perfection,
Wards, Barler, Valor, Savoil D-81
(Ypsilanti, MI) or other Perfection clone working by
sewing a new wick into your old carrier! This wick works
perfectly with the steel sleeve in all Perfection heaters.
When measured flat, wick is approx 4 3/16"
wide and 9 3/8" long.
The rivets and old wick are removed and the wick is then
sewn into the carrier. Sew with 1 5/8" (40mm) exposed
When wick burns down, cut threads, raise wick to expose 1 5/8"
more wick, and reattach. Double the wick life!
Wick specially made for me by Hattersley
in England. Click photo to enlarge. $10.95@ +
8. Replace gallery
by turning clockwise as
far as possible. Be sure that the threads on bottom of the
gallery squarely engage threads on reservoir.
9. Turn the wick up
level with the top of the
wick tube. (If uneven, level it by pulling up the low side of
the wick.) Clip any loose threads or raveling projecting from
the top of wick with scissors.
10. Replace flame spreader.
with kerosene and allow the wick to soak for a half
To Fill Reservoir
Tilt upper drum back and remove reservoir.
Lift up filler cap and fill the reservoir with a good grade of
kerosene. If the reservoir is full the rod in the center of the
filler cap will be raised about two inches above the filler cap.
This rod, which is part of the built-in fuel gage will return to
its original position as the kerosene is used up. Replace
reservoir in heater.
To Light Burner
1. With wick turned down, first make sure
that flame spreader is secure in its position on top of wick
tube and that gallery is screwed down tight.
2. After giving wick time to become saturated
with kerosene, using hand wheel, turn wick up until flame
spreader stops it.
3. Apply lighted match to SIDE of wick in
several places. Adjust flame height after the flame
spreader attains maximum heat.
4. Close heater and make sure that catch is
securely fastened. The safety catch should be locked under the
lowest lug. If heater has a spring catch, make sure that it
snaps into the closed position.
To Extinguish Flame
Turn wick down as far as it will go. This
will permit flame spreader to drop on top of wick tubes and
When heater is not to be used for a month or
longer, empty reservoir and store heater in a dry place. If
there is danger of rust, steel drums should be protected with
oil, or better yet, by cleaning, then polishing with a good
grade of liquid auto polish.
How To Get Best Results From
Your Perfection Heater
(Taken directly from original Perfection
1. Keep the perforations in the
gallery open. Keep the perforations in the gallery free from
lint and dirt by wiping gallery every day or two. If any of the
perforations become clogged, the air supply is reduced, causing
the heater to smoke.
2. Keep the flame spreader clean.
With a stiff brush, clean all perforations and with a knife
scrape the carbon off the flange against which the wick strikes.
Hold the flame spreader to the light to see that all
perforations are clean and open.
3. Keep wick tubes clean. Keep the
char cleaned from the top of the wick tube by wiping with a
4. Clean wick daily. If the heater is in
daily use, clean the wick daily. Remove the flame spreader and
raise the wick until the top portion is even with the top of the
tube. Wipe loose carbon or char off the top of the wick with a
cloth. Pat the remaining wick down evenly with the fingers.
Do not allow reservoir to burn dry. Each
time this happens, one-quarter inch of the wick is consumed.
5. Burn heater at high flame. This heater
is built to burn at high flame and will not smoke if pure
kerosene is used and the wick, gallery and flame spreader are
clean. Simply turn wick up as far as it will go. Apply match to
SIDE of wick and close heater. (Never lift the flame spreader to
light top of wick.)
6. Supply plenty of fresh air. Perfection
heaters burn many hundreds of gallons of air to each gallon of
kerosene. When used in a bathroom or other small space, leave
the door ajar two inches so that fresh air can flow in. It will
be warmed as it passes up through the heater. Insufficient
supply of fresh air will cause the heater to smoke.
7. Use pure kerosene. Use only a good
grade of kerosene. Never mix gasoline, even a small amount, with
it. It is desirable to drain the reservoir occasionally and then
put in fresh kerosene. This will safeguard the reservoir and
wick carrier from possible corrosion and rust.
CAUTION: If used on a trailer, boat or other
moving conveyance - NEVER operate this heater while in motion. A
serious fire may result. Perfection heaters do
not have a safety tip-over switch, being designed in the days
when people used common sense, not their own personal lawyer.
SPECIAL DIRECTIONS BEFORE LIGHTING HEATER FOR
THE FIRST TIME
Parts of this heater have been oiled to
prevent rusting. Before lighting heater for the FIRST TIME,
wipe thoroughly with a cloth. Since the remaining oil will burn
off, causing a disagreeable odor for ten or fifteen minutes, the
heater should be placed where this odor will not be offensive.
IF THE GALLERY CANNOT BE EASILY
Go slowly! The gallery is very thin. It
cannot take much leverage. Penetrating oil, let is soak in, more
penetrating oil, then freezing. Then try it. The gallery can be
stuck from two reasons: old oil residue, and rust/corrosion.
Penetrating oil can infiltrate the old oil residue, given time,
and can break the rust/corrosion barrier, given time, but it
will still be difficult to turn in the threads. Remember that
metal expands and contracts with heat and cold, respectively. By
placing the font/gallery assembly in a freezer at 0F, the metal
will shrink and further weaken the bond binding the threads. If
that doesn't free it up, then the application of heat might well
do it. But brute force applied without giving any type of penetrating oil
time to work will almost always result in a bent gallery.
If the gallery and fount are not rusted,
merely glued together from old solidified fuel residue, then
boiling in detergent and hot water is the easiest way to get
parts "unglued" so they can be removed without damage. Use
same procedure as for center draft flame spreader lamps, as
the Perfection heater is essentially an oversize center draft
lamp. It takes a larger boiling pot, but this method does
Reader Mark H. in MA wrote: "I found if you
use "PB Buster" (an automotive parts rust buster penetrating
oil) sprayed around the gallery and the fill gauge it helped
break up and dissolve the old gummed kerosene. It works great."
George C, a reader, recommended Evapo-rust.
"I took the whole wick adjuster and soaked over
night. it works like a new one. If it had not been for
this stuff would not have been able to salvage the heater."
REPAIRING A LEAKING FUEL TANK
It is not uncommon to find pinholes in
the fuel tank on old Perfection heaters, particularly post-War steel
fonts. If the holes are not too large they can be repaired. I
sand the area of the leak smooth, pick at the holes with a stout sewing
needle to clean debris from the holes, removed any oil from the metal
with acetone, and apply a thin layer of J-B Weld epoxy over all areas
that even appeared to have indentations or pits. After
drying/curing, I sand the J-B Weld smooth, put the tank on a piece of
newspaper, and pour in some
fuel. It works! No leaks. J-B Weld epoxy can be
easily applied with an artist's paint trowel, so little sanding is
required. Of course all the sanding required to get to bare metal
(so the epoxy will stick) removes the galvanizing, so the tank
must be painted with an anti-rust type spray paint to prevent
future rusting. J-B Kwik Weld works as well as the slower curing J-B
Weld for this purpose.
The trick to success in sealing the leak is complete
cleanliness before applying the J-B Weld. The tank must be emptied, wick
assembly removed, sanded or whatever to clean the entire area where the
leak is, then repeatedly brushed with acetone to remove residual
kerosene. A thin layer of J-B Weld pressed into the seam or over the
leak with an artist's trowel, then smoothing, will seal the seam. Let
dry in that position for two (2) very long days (regular J-B Weld, 12
hours for Kwik Weld). Then put enough fuel
into the tank so that the fuel level is above any repairs, set it on a section of
newspaper, and watch for leaks. The newspaper will tell you if there are
any leaks and where they are located. Then and only then can you again
empty the tank, clean and sand, and paint with a zinc based paint like Rustoleum.
Leaks or stress cracks in
pre-War brass Perfection fuel tanks should be soldered.
So many Perfection heater clones
were sold that some manufacturers had their own brand name on
Perfection 500 heater wicks. Above left is an original NOS NESCO wick.
The cute little round box is marked "Number 348. 8 1/2"
circumference - for use in all Standard Size 3 and 4 quart founts
of Nesco De Luxe Oil Heaters, Numbers 30, 40. Also for Nesco
Tropical Oil Heaters, Numbers 012, 015. To trim, rub
with cloth or paper." Above right, a US Stove Co "500"
wick. Click photos to enlarge.
1934 Perfection HiPower
1939 Perfection advertisement
1946 Perfection Advertisement
1949 Perfection Advertisement
For photos of Perfection heaters, see the
If your font has leaks, it can often be
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