My last post described my troubles with a new Svea 123 gas stove.
|Notice the thin red ring? It bubbles when the stove is hot!|
Since that posting a few things have happened.
Right after I wrote the blog post I decided to contact the vendor, Backcountry.com, for a replacement stove. Since this stove was purchased through Amazon (Backcountry is an authorized Amazon vendor) I used Amazon's normally outstanding exchange/return system to notify Backcountry that I wanted an exchange. Well, four business days ticked by with no contact from Backcountry. Hmmm... I checked with Amazon and confirmed that Backcountry had received the request. It was starting to not look good from a customer service perspective.
About day four I got tired of waiting and decided to contact Primus (the manufacturer of the stove) directly through their website to see if they could do anything for me. The next day I got an email back from Primus asking me to send the stove in for evaluation. I did, and as I was walking out of the Post Office after having sent the stove off I got a call on my iPhone from Backcountry asking if there was anything they could do for me! I didn't take the call, but later that day they got an email from me letting them know I was clearly dissatisfied with their service. Is one sample point an indication of a trend? No. Backcountry may offer outstanding service and I'm the unlucky outlier who fell through the cracks. However, a quick Google search for reviews of Backcountry's customer service reputation reveals they've got some issues. I'll think hard about ordering from them again.
Well, Primus has had my stove for just over a week now and no word yet on how they intend to handle the issue. Here's hoping for a new stove!
In the meantime...
On one of my nocturnal laps around the internet I happened to stumble on a very used Swedish Optimus 8R stove for sale on eBay (or evil-Bay, as many call it). I put in a low bid and to my utter surprise I won. I started to wonder why nobody outbid me - did I miss something in the listing that should have warned me off? I didn't notice anything, so I waited fretfully for the stove's arrival.
Just a few days later the stove showed up. I unboxed it and gave it a quick visual check. It was well used, but not abused, and appeared to be more dirty than anything else. I tore the stove down to it's major components, scraped all the soot off and went after the major parts with Brasso. The steel case needed a good scrubbing in soapy water and came out looking fine, with just a little paint loss.
|Optimus 8R after a good clean-up|
But would it light up and run properly? That's always the big question with used stoves. These brass stoves are very simple devices and there's not much that can go wrong on them, but if they don't work properly replacement parts can be hard to find.
So I filled up the tank with Coleman gas (the only fuel you should use in these stoves, by the way) poured fuel in the priming cup and touched it off to heat up the vaporizer tube. After a few minutes the priming flame had burned down and it was time for the big test. I opened the fuel valve and held a match to the burner head and - flame! A few seconds of smoky yellow flame then the burner settled down to produce a beautiful blue ring of flame and the wonderful roar these old stoves are noted for. The thing runs like a champ.
|Putting out some steam! Since this is a knife blog I threw a|
Cold Steel Mackinac Hunter into the shot to keep things kosher.
There seems to be some minor pressurization issues that I hope will be solved with a new gasket for the fuel tank cap (ordered all they way from Merrie Olde England) and this gal should be good for another 20 years of service.
But this Optimus is a 50+ year old design. How well does it stack up to more modern pressurized liquid and gas canister stoves? We'll take a look at that another time.