Thursday, 11 September 2014

Optimus No. 96 and the Hunt for Fuel

Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
When looking at possible stoves options I remembered that somewhere amongst my Dad’s stuff that I had put into storage in Tom’s folks’ attic was a small brass stove, with a name ending in ‘…mus’ if I remembered correctly. 

So we dug it out of the attic and I unpacked the contents of the small cardboard box emblazoned with the name ‘Optimus’ joined by Colin (Tom’s Stepdad) who told me that they’d had a stove like that when he was young.  My Dad had kept all the bits together and I pored over the instructions, spare parts and soon had the bits of the stove assembled.  It’s a beautiful little thing and when I told my Godfather, John, about the stove he said he remembered using it with my folks in India many years before I was even born and I loved the idea of taking this little piece of Swedish kit that my Dad had used away with us.

The instructions say that it requires methylated spirit for the spirit cup and ‘best quality paraffin (kerosene)’ for the actual burner.  It seems a bit faffy to have to carry 2 types of fuel, but I figured these would both be easy to come by and relatively cheap.
We’ve got ourselves some meths from the hardware shop down the road, but getting hold of kerosene or paraffin has proved nigh on impossible.  We’ve tried Go Outdoors, Towsure, B&Q, Wickes, local hardware shops and The Bike Tree which Optimus have listed as a dealer on their website and nothing, no joy.  But on the recommendation of one of the guys at Towsure we tried the garden centre and managed to find lamp fuel with ‘hydrotreated light kerosene EC265-149-8’ on the label having googled this and coming up with an MSDS we were pretty sure we’d found kerosene and this would work in the stove.   Then lo and behold I was in the massive B&Q near my work with Faye, my colleague, and her eagle-eyes spotted a lovely big canister of paraffin.  Bingo!

Since we’re off on our 2 week practice cycling holiday on the 14th September we wanted to have the stove working for this little trial so we had a go in the back garden with the paraffin and meths.  Not entirely sure how to evaluate this first attempt...  We got it to light, but you can see from the photos that this was rather uncontrolled and regulating the flame and keeping it alight were not really achieved.  I am sure this is user error and that with a little patience and practice we can get it working a treat.  Tom isn't so sure.  So we'll take it on our little trial run and report back in a few weeks.


  1. This brought back memories of childhood and family picnics. We had a similar stove and I remember assembling it, pumping it up, lighting the meth's, waiting for it to vaporise the paraffin and it roaring into like. I then put on the pan with tinned peas, potatoes and meat. Great memories...and fun!

    1. We have been having more issues with our stove. It seems to be leaking fuel and setting the whole thing on fire. It might be user error but we've tried different methods and techniques but no joy yet. We have bought a gas burner which is doing the trick at the moment but we want to get this to work. When we get back home to Sheffield after our trip we are going to have a proper look at it