"I can't force air into the lantern/stove."

Probable causes:

1. The check valve is frozen in the closed position.

2. The air inlet tube is blocked.

If the lantern or stove is left over time with fuel in it, varnish can build up and partially or completely block air from entering the fount or tank.

How it should work. The downward motion of the pump plunger forces air through a check valve and into the lantern fount or stove tank, as shown above. There is a cup at the bottom of the pump stem that seals itself against the walls of the cylinder.

With your thumb over the hole in the pump shaft, air is forced down into the cylinder where it passes through the open check valve and enters the fount or tank through a small air inlet tube.

Repair. We need to pull the pump assembly from the lantern or stove in order to get to the check valve. You'll need a small flat head screwdriver, pliers and a can of spray carburetor cleaner to perform these steps.

Start by turning the pump about 1 turn counter-clockwise. Take the screwdriver and gently pry one side of the clip out of the hole in the pump cap and then guide the clip's end away from the cap as shown above on the left. If your lantern has screws holding the pump on rather than a clip, simply remove the two screws. If it has a large black cap with no screws or clip (newest version), take pliers and twist the cap counter-clockwise to release it.

Grab the pump handle and with firm even pressure, attempt to pull it straight out of the fount or tank. There may be a build up of grime between the fount/tank and the pump cap, which can make removal difficult. If you can't free the cap from the fount or tank by pulling on the pump handle, rest a folded rag on top and use your flat tip screwdriver over it to pry the cap off the fount or tank. Lift on one side, then the other, until the cap is free. Remove the pump assembly and set it aside.

Turning the pump one turn to start should have loosened the air stem. As shown above on the right, take a plier and turn the air stem shaft counter-clockwise until you can free it with your fingers. When it comes free, set it aside.

Now we come to the first potential problem, the check valve. Shown above, it sits at the very bottom of the cylinder. And at the center of this valve is a small check ball. If it has a great deal of varnish around it, it can become frozen.

Fix #1. Our first attempt at cleaning will be with carburetor cleaner. Spray enough cleaner into the pump cylinder to completely cover the bottom and allow it to soak for a good 30 minutes. Pour it all out. Use a clean rag to wipe off the outside of the pump cylinder. Now place your lips over the pump cylinder and alternately blow and suck on the cylinder. If there was just a little varnish on the check ball/valve it may come free with this simple step. If it doesn't, I recommend trying once more.

Fix #2. Next we try to force the check ball free. Find a dental pick, or a long straight and rigid wire. Put the pick or wire down into the center hole in the check valve and poke around with it. Try to move or spin the ball to free it. Then repeat the above carburetor cleaner treatment. Again, clean the outside of the cylinder with a rag and blow/suck to see if the check ball is free. And I also recommend you try this two or more times. If you can't get ball free you will, unfortunately, be forced to remove the check valve.

The photo above shows you what the check valve down there looks like. Note that it is slotted on top, and is made of soft brass. There is a 95% or better chance that you will destroy the old check valve while removing it. If you don't have a replacement check valve, you should get one prior to removing the old one.

Another word of caution: if you have a double mantle lantern prior to the 220D or 228D, or a single mantle lantern without an air stem such as with the 242/243 or early 242A, the replacement check valve will not work. If this is the case, send an email to webmaster@oldtowncoleman.com for options.

The replacement check valve and air stem is part number 200-6381 and can be purchased from our parts department.

Check Valve Removal. Before we go out and buy any special extractors, it is possible to remove the check valve with what you may already have. It can be done with a flat-head screwdriver.

First spray enough carburetor cleaner inside the pump cylinder to cover the check valve, and then go searching for a well-fitting screwdriver.

There are different size check valves, but what you want is a blade that is not too wide and thick enough to be fit snug in the slot. Width is important because too wide of a blade can damage the tank or fount. Find one between 5/16" and 3/8", but not wider. The photo on the right shows one 5/16" wide; notice that the edges of the blade do not exceed the outside diameter of the valve. This screwdriver works well and has removed many check valves.

After you have the "right" screwdriver and have soaked the check valve with carburetor cleaner, pour it out and set the fount or tank on your workbench.

Have someone else hold the fount/tank for you now. Insert the screwdriver into the cylinder and into the check valve slot. Make sure it is actually in the slot, and that the screwdriver is centered in the cylinder. Take pliers or a wrench and gently tap down on the screwdriver handle a few times. This will aid in breaking the crust between the check valve and the fount or tank. DO NOT tap too hard.

With a pair of pliers, grab the screwdriver shaft as I have in in the above photo with a wrench. When you are ready, apply good downward force to the handle (to keep the screwdriver in the slot) and turn it counter-clockwise. Go slow and increase torque slowly.

It will either give you a "pop" to indicate it has come free, or the screwdriver will rise and turn freely, indicating that the check valve has stripped.

If it does strip, you can do either of two things. You can go to your local hardware store and buy the parts to make an <extractor tool> to get it out. Or you can go to our services page and send it in for removal.

Once you have the check valve out, it will be easy to figure out where your problem is. Place your lips over the pump cylinder and see if you can blow air into the fount or tank. If you can, you have a bad check valve. If not, your air inlet tube is blocked.