Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Coleman Stove Lid Latch Solution

Pictured below is the front of a two-burner Coleman propane camp stove.

To open the lid, you push on that red, rectangular button. Or, just carry the stove by its handle as you normally would, and the lid will randomly pop open on its own, spilling the grate and regulator, like this.

What a piece of engineering. Corporations may have personhood in the eyes of the law, but they have no shame.

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As luck would have it, I happen to have on hand just the thing to fix this for good -- these neat little clamp fasteners[1] from Spaenaur. (The previous owner of my house left thirty of them behind when he moved out. Needless to say, I have no idea what he might have had in mind for so many.)

I'll install two of them at the upper corners, three inches down from the ends of the handle, and that should be the end of lid-popping surprises.

The two strikes will go on the lid with 1/8" 'Pop' rivets. The curvature of the lid is a bit of a complication, but not too much. A bit of careful bending in the vise with a light hammer got the strikes to where they conform well to the curvature. And here's a shot of one of the two strikes in place.

I won't try to tell you that that was a breeze to do; it wasn't. At least it turned out well.

Next up, of course, is to install the catches. For that, I'll want to have access to the interior of the stove's chassis pan, because I'll have to use a screw and nut at the upper mounting hole; there isn't clearance for the nose of a riveting tool there.

To get inside one of these stoves, you start by unscrewing the two burner heads. That reveals two external snap-rings that have to come off.

Then remove eight M3x6mm truss head screws (No. 2 Phillips recess) from around the perimeter of the stove's deck, and the deck is free to be lifted off. The deck's fit around the burner stems where the snap-rings were is very close and precise -- the deck tends to snag the snap-rings' grooves. Wiggle things A/R.

But before I take the screws out to unfasten the deck, I'll want to establish the mounting hole locations for the catches; that's where things get a bit delicate.

The vertical position of the catches relative to the strikes is fairly critical -- too high and they won't close securely; too low and they'll close too tightly if they can close at all.

I've done a trial fitting and marked the position of the bottom of the catches' mounting plates, like so.

Now if I get the catches positioned just a tiny bit lower, I should end up with a snug, properly tensioned closed position for the catches.

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And here's the done deal -- both of them installed and working correctly.

The one on the right came out perfectly. The one on the left came out with a bit of a loose closed position. I cheated and reshaped its wire bail a little so it would close more snugly; not a pleasant, easy or recommended thing to do, but it did work. If I ever make use of these catches again, I'll see if I can come up with a more 'formulaic' method for locating the catches' mounting holes.

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Anyway, there ya' go, Coleman. It can be done. A stove lid can be made to latch securely. Amazing, eh?

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Addendum -- Back to the Future, or Forward to the Past; Whatever

I came across an elderly Coleman propane camp stove recently. It's in very fine condition. It was made in the days when Coleman was still manufacturing in Canada, which was probably quite some time ago. Here's how Coleman used to latch their stove lids back then.

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[1] Spaenaur's part number for a catch and strike together is 096-651. The manufacturer is Nielsen Hardware.

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  1. Regarding your addendum post photo of the "elderly" Coleman stove, that style of fastener was in use from about the mid 60's. Before then, the lid was secured by rotating the leg assemblies 180 degrees from the bottom of the stove to the top. Very secure, but kind of awkward to operate.
    Here is a blog on vintage Canadian Coleman stoves:

    1. Thanks for the link.

      Some of the items there look to me like they ought to be brought back; the single-burner units especially.

  2. Agreed. Unfortunately, most consumers have abandoned the white gas fuelled stove for the convenience of propane or butane. Pretty hard to compete against a reliable Asian-made single burner butane stove selling for $20, even though a white gas stove will be cheaper to operate in the long run.
    By the way, should you be doing any Coleman rebuilds, these 2 sites may be helpful to you:

    1. Thanks again.

      I'll pass those links on to my son; he's the likeliest one of us to have need of them.