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Rebuilding a Single Mantle Lantern

Lessson One: Disassembly

The lantern we'll be working on is a very common Coleman® Model 200A single mantle lantern from 1962. Nearly all vintage single mantle lanterns are identical and we will highlight items that may be different for other models.

So what happens if you get stuck? I recommend the bulletin board at oldcolemanparts.com. The wise and experienced collectors who frequent that site are always happy to assist someone in need, usually within an hour or so after posting.

Before you start you should decide how much of a rebuild you are going to do. If the lantern has not been used in many years and/or is obviously worn out (look for black varnish around the fuel cap or valve stem) then I recommend you tear it apart for a full rebuild. If in near-new or well maintained condition then you may be able to get away with a low-level rebuild.

The parts required for a low-level rebuild are available at most good sporting goods stores and on-line. If you need, or wish, to completely tear down the lantern you will need parts not so readily available. Again www.oldcolemanparts.com is a good source for parts and has everything you will need.

And one last thing--please review the safety page before starting. Good info like proper ventilation and fire extinguishers is there...

Recommended tools, supplies and parts list.

Tool List
Cleaning Materials List
Parts List
Fire extinguisher
Eye protection
7/16", 1/2" 5/8" end wrenches
Adjustable (Crescent) wrench
Small & medium flat-tip screwdrivers
#0 or #1 Cross-tip screwdriver
Razor blade
Propane torch
Wire brush & Tooth Brush
Rifle bore brush
Bench Vise
Soft cloth
Spray Cleaner (i.e. Simple Green, etc.)
Auto rubbing compound
Carburetor cleaner
Break-free compound
Stove Alcohol
00 or 000 Steel wool
Coca Cola
Lime-Away or CLR
Motor oil
Fuel Filler Replacement Cap
Fresh Camping Fuel
Leather Pump Cup
Check Valve & Air Stem (1)
Valve Stem Packing (1)
Filler Cap Insert Gasket (1, 2)

Note 1: Only required for a full rebuild.
Note 2: Replacement of the filler cap insert gasket for use is not recommended.
Please refer to the safety page for more info.

Make sure all of the fuel has been removed from the lantern. Put the old fuel in an approved container and dispose of it properly. You can find a hazardous waste recycling facility in your telephone book under public health.

Fig 1A

Fig 1B

The un-touched lantern is shown above in Figure 1A. First thing we need to do is to remove the lantern's bail, ventilator and globe. Pull the ends of the bail away from the ventilator and remove. Unscrew the ball nut (may require gentle convincing with pliers) at the very top of the lantern. Pull the ventilator up and off, then gently slide the globe up over the frame.

With the first four pieces removed, your lantern should look like Figure 1B. Next we'll remove the frame.

Fig 2A

Fig 2B

At the bottom-center of the frame is a nut. If you have an old lantern it will be a standard 7/16" nut. If your lantern is a little newer you'll have a hollow "Pal Nut," also 7/16". With your 7/16" end wrench remove this nut (Figure 2A). This is all that holds the frame down so gently pull it up and away from the lantern valve and fount. (Fig 2B).

Set the lantern aside as we're going to disassemble the frame next.

Fig 3A

Fig 3B

Note: The next two steps do not apply to any 242 or 243 model lanterns. They have a different frame and unless the screen in the burner cap is bad I recommend that you not disassemble it.

Turn the frame upside-down so you can see where the burner tube goes into the frame top. You'll note a nut there, on the burner tube. You may want to give the nut a shot of break-free and let it sit for a few minutes as it can be a real bear to get off.

The nut is 5/8" but due to heat it may have re-sized itself. If the 5/8" wrench doesn't fit use an adjustable one. Carefully (so not to round it) loosen the nut as shown in Figure 3A. That nut locks the burner tube in place, and the burner tube is also screwed into the "U" tube. Your wrench will loosen one of them...probably the nut. Continue to unscrew this "assembly" until the burner tube comes out of the frame. (Figure 3B) Set the burner tube aside.

Fig 4A

Fig 4B

Turn the frame over again so you can see the top of it. You can see the ventilator bracket being held on by the "U" tube (Figure 4A). Wiggle off the "U" tube and remove the bracket. Inside of the frame you'll see the venturi. This part pulls right out but it may be stuck due to soot so a gentle spin with pliers may be required. The frame is now completely disassembled as shown in Figure 4B. Set the disassembled frame aside and we'll get back to the rest of the lantern.

Fig 5A

Fig 5B

Now we can prepare the valve for removal. First take a 7/16" wrench and remove the generator jamb nut (Figure 5A). You'll notice in the picture that the tip cleaner stem is in the "up" position. This makes removal of the generator a bit easier as the eccentric block is up and it can release the tip cleaner shaft. Unscrew the generator jamb nut and slide it up and off the generator tube. Now slowly lift the generator tube until you see the tip cleaner shaft that is connected to the eccentric block. Disengage the shaft from the eccentric block and remove the entire generator.

Hopefully you will have two washers setting on the valve assembly. Something about men and washers... These keep the frame correctly positioned on the valve and relieve pressure from the frame rest. They are necessary but if someone has taken the frame off they are probably long gone. If they are missing take your valve down to the hardware store later and find washers that will fit. (Figure 5B).

Fig 6A

Fig 6B

Now we can remove the frame rest and the valve wheel. Gently lift and push the frame rest forward towards the valve wheel. Without scratching the fount, get the front edge past the valve nut and lift it up. (Figure 6A) It may require a gentle squeeze to get it to this point. Once it clears the valve stem, continue to lift but pull it back and off the tip cleaner stem. It may help if you turn the tip cleaner stem to a horizontal position. Set it aside. Now take a small flat-tip screwdriver and remove the valve wheel, screw and direction disc and set them aside. Your bare fount and valve should look like Fig 6B.

Fig 7A

Fig 7B

Time to remove the valve. Note: Remember the orientation of the valve for re-assembly! Most single mantle lanterns will have the valve stem centered between the pump on the right and the fuel filler on the left. Lanterns 242, 242A, 242B, 243, 243B, some 242C and many Canadian built will be the reverse of this.

You need to exercise caution with this step as it is very easy to bend the top of the fount. What we are attempting is to unscrew the fount from the valve, which may seem rather backwards. Take the fount over to a bench vice and place it in upside-down with the jaws on the valve as in Figure 7A.

You don't want to tighten the vice beyond snug or you will leave marks in the soft brass valve. Grab the fount firmly with your hands and turn it counter-clockwise. You must turn the fount on a perfect axis with the valve or you will tweak the top of the fount. You will have to apply some pressure to get the fount to turn--just make sure you don't tilt it. Once it loosens up, release the vice and unscrew the valve with your hands. When the threads are free you will be able to pull the valve assembly from the fount (Figure 7B).

Fig 8A

Fig 8B

Take the valve assembly and place it in your hand as shown in Figure 8A. With a 5/16" end wrench, loosen the Fuel & Air Tube . Gently unscrew the tube from the valve body. Once the threads are free slowly pull the tube away from the valve. Inside you will find a small rod and a spring as shown in Figure 8B. Make sure you move slowly or the spring may end up "somewhere" on the floor. Set the tube, rod and spring aside.

Fig 9A

Fig 9B

Next comes the valve stem. Temporarily install the valve wheel and turn the valve stem fully counter-clockwise, or all the way "open." Take your rifle bore brush and carburetor cleaner and clean the stem of all soot and varnish. When clean close the valve fully clockwise. Now we will take a 1/2" end wrench and loosen the valve nut as shown in Figure 9A. It may be very difficult to turn so is so you may need to hold the body again with the vise. Ensure the valve stem does not turn with this nut as you can damage the threads inside on the valve stem tip.

Back the valve nut off from the threads and then, with the valve wheel, turn the valve stem counter-clockwise to remove the entire assembly as shown in Figure 9B.

Fig 10

If you are rebuilding any 242 or 243 lantern please see notes below in green.

With the valve removed you can pull off the nut and it should come off pretty easily. Note on Figure 10 that there is a small brass keeper that should fall out of the nut when removed from the valve. If it sticks inside the valve nut just free it gently with a small screwdriver. Note that is has one flat side and one tapered side. You'll need to use that mental note during reassembly.

242/243 rebuilds: The 242 and 243 series lanterns do not have removable valve wheels so you will not be able to slide the valve nut off the back as shown above. If you don't need to replace the valve stem packing I don't recommend you disassemble the valve stem any further. But if you do need a new packing, look closely at Fig 10 and you'll see a small snap-ring still on the valve stem. To remove the valve nut you have to pry that ring open just enough to slide it off the tip. Be very careful not to bend it too much out-of-round as it needs to be round again for assembly. Once you have it off just slide the valve stem nut forward, off the conical end.

Fig 11A

Fig 11B

Last thing to do is remove the few remaining parts from the fount. First we'll take out the pump assembly which is very easy. Most lanterns will have a "C" clip holding the pump cap on the fount, as show in Figure 11A, but older ones will have two very small sheet metal screws. Pry open one side of the clip and guide the end around the cap taking caution so you don't scratch the pump cylinder. Or, just remove the two screws. Next give the pump handle a counter-clockwise twist then pull it out. A build up of grime around the pump assembly may make removal difficult. Gently pry the cap off with a screwdriver, lifting one side and then the other until it is free. Set the pump aside once removed from the fount.

With the pump removed you will see the air stem inside the pump cylinder. If you gave the pump a counter-clockwise twist before removal you should be able to unscrew the air stem with your fingers. If not take pliers and unscrew the air stem as shown in Figure 11B. Note the red paint on the air stem. This indicates an original check valve and air stem from 1962.

Fig 12A

Fig 12B

Unfortunately we've saved the hardest part for last. At the bottom of the pump cylinder lies the check valve and it will be a bear to remove. Look at Figure 12A and you will see the check valve down there. Don't be alarmed that the lantern just turned silver; that is a double mantle lantern fount and yours will look identical. Figure 12B shows the first method of removal and we'll get to that in a moment.

If you are rebuilding a lantern that does not have an air stem-equipped check valve (you can tell this if the pump handle does not have a hole in the end), like the 242 or early 242A models, you need to stop here. Unless you are willing to convert to an air stem system you do not want to risk destroying the original check valve in the lantern.

So now you have a decision to make. If the check valve is still functioning you can clean it up a bit, or you can remove it and replace with a new one. The check valve is a safety feature in the lantern so it is not a bad idea to replace it. If you decide to replace it I recommend you first try removal with a screwdriver but anticipate having to purchase the extractor tools to get it out.

First a basic test of the check valve. The mission here is to keep pressure from leaving the fount but allowing it to get in. The check valve has a ball bearing in it that performs this function. Clean the end of the pump cylinder and then blow into it. Air should flow easily into to fount. The other half of the test is to suck on the cylinder. You should not be able to draw in air from the fount while doing this.

If the check valve is allowing air to be drawn in from the fount you might be able to clean it without removing it. Shoot some carburetor cleaner down inside the pump cylinder and let it sit for an hour or so. Drain it and allow to dry out, then re-test. If you have to remove the check valve the carburetor cleaner will help there too.

If you next step is to remove the check valve you'll need to take your time and be very careful. The check valve has a slot on it to aid in removal, but it is also soft brass and will strip very easily. It was installed snuggly and with many years of fuel to varnish, will probably be very tight.

The following procedure will give you the best chance of success with a large flathead screwdriver. The "perfect" screwdriver for this job doesn't exist but a "good" one will have a blade width of about 1/2" and a blade thickness of 5/16". Finding a screwdriver that thick can be real tough so I recommend you find the thickest one you can. And, if possible, take a file or a grinding wheel to make it 1/2 wide. If the blade is too wide it will hit the sides of the fount and won't go into the check valve slot. Your intent here is to get a good bite in this slot and you may have to modify a screwdriver to achieve it.

Once you have a screwdriver that will work you'll need to have someone hold the fount for you (Figure 12B). You'll also need to attach either a wrench or vice grips to the screwdriver so you will have some torque. Do not apply force to the screwdriver until it is perfectly centered in the cylinder. With one hand hold the screwdriver handle...apply a real good bit of downward force while making darn sure the handle is centered in the cylinder. Then use the wrench or vice grip to unscrew the check valve. The result will come quickly...it will either "pop" loose or it will strip the slot out.

If it strips then you will need an extractor. Again, you can find my recommended parts list for one here.

Fig 13A

Fig 13B

Last step is to remove and disassemble the fuel filler cap. First we need to make sure it comes off as years of being on too tight may have locked it in place. Unscrew by hand or, if needed, gently with pliers and remove it from the fount.

Now re-install the cap and tighten it as much as you can with your fingers. Tightening will lock the insert and gasket down on the fount so you can get the screw out. With a flat-tip screwdriver try to remove the center screw (Figure 13A). If something seems to be "slipping" it means that the cap is too loose and you need to tighten it more. If you can't tighten it enough to stop the slipping gently use the pliers to tighten. When the screw decides to let go you will feel it "pop" free. Remove the screw and take the cap off again. This time, the insert will be left on the fount (Figure 13B). It should pull right off but you may have to lightly tap on it to remove. Set your 3-piece fuel cap aside.

Fig 14

So here it is as Figure 14, completely disassembled and ready for cleaning.

Continue to Lesson 2: Cleaning
Jump to Lesson 3: Re-Assembly
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