Buying an M-1942 Stove

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Here’s a 1945 Prentiss Wabers M-1942 MOD stove as I bought it (left) and after cleaning it up (right)

Last spring, I bought a 1945 Prentiss Wabers M-1942 MOD for $18 at an antique mall. I took it home, cleaned it up, and it works well. This year (2017), I watched a 1943, Aladdin M-1942 wheel stove sell on ebay for $530. Why the big difference?

Well, before we get started, let me say that the market (the buyer and seller) determines the price of an item, which is especially true in the used item market. So, my purpose behind writing this blog is to share observations   about this particular stove and what may be considered a complete stove, etc. educating buyers, sellers and the curious. And, finally, the information presented is the best I have at the time of this writing. I may learn new information and then edit this post.

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1943 M-1942 (left), 1945 M-1942 MOD (right), which one is likely to cost 10 times more than the other?

The M-1942 and M-1942 MOD stove was only made for a few years. These were:

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Rare or common? The 1943 Aladdin M-1942 stove and the 1944 Prentiss Wabers M-1942 MOD stove are the least common from what I’ve observed. The 1943 Aladdin stove is highly sought after by collectors and sells for significantly higher prices than any of the others. The most common version I see being sold is the 1945, Prentiss Wabers M-1942 MOD.

Most common to least common, in my opinion, based on my observation of watching ebay for a few years:

1945 Prentiss Wabers, M-1942 MOD (most common)

1945 Coleman M-1942 MOD

1944 Aladdin, M-1942 MOD

1945 Aladdin M-1942 MOD

1944 Prentiss Wabers, M-1942 MOD (possibly least common)

1943 Aladdin, M-1942 (least common)

The bulk of this post focuses on the M-1942 MOD stove, but some of the ideas apply to the M-1942 stove, too.

Here are five key identification features of these stoves which also contribute to a complete, original parts, stove: 1) stamping on windscreen which is always present, 2) fold-out feet, 3) valve wheel, 4) valve assembly and 5) pump cap.

There are only six model/manufacturer variations and all of the stoves are stamped in the windscreen/pot support. Some stampings are very light, like the 1944 Aladdin shown in the photo.

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M-1942 and M-1942 MOD, 1943 Aladdin, 1944 Aladdin and Prentiss Wabers, 1945 Aladdin, Prentiss Wabers and Coleman

In the game of chess there is a saying to help you remember where to put the pieces on the board which goes, “The queen’s dress matches her shoes”. The M-1942’s foldout feet have a different shape and metal finish for each manufacturer. This is a quick way to see if anybody has swapped out major parts between stoves. I bought a Coleman and a Prentiss Wabers pair and discovered that parts were swapped between them when I compared parts to other Prentiss Wabers stoves I have. Take a quick look at the stove you’re interested in buying and make sure the windscreen/pot-support matches the tank.

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Aladdin (left), Coleman (middle), Prentiss Wabers (right)

The valve assemblies look pretty much the same externally, except Coleman has their elongated “C” stamp on their valve body. At least, that’s what I think it is, as my 1944 Coleman 520 valve body has the exact same stamp on it and so does my 1961 Coleman 501. One other difference is that internally, the Prentiss Wabers stove has a visible fuel journal on the top face of the valve body, whereas the Aladdin does not. Aladdin’s is rather hidden, down next to the tip cleaner mount.

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Coleman (upper left), Aladdin (upper right), and bottom are Aladdin (left), Prentiss Wabers (right)

The pump caps are a bit different, too. The Prentiss Wabers and Coleman have smooth, flat surfaces, while the Aladdin has a raised area near the pump handle opening. Also, the Aladdin caps I have are nickel-plated and the Prentiss Wabers are not. I’m not sure about the Coleman. I have a nickel plated flat-top cap, but I don’t know from which model stove it originated.

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The flat-top, plain brass Prentiss Wabers (left), the nickel plated raised surface Aladdin (right)

There are two styles of valve wheels (knobs); Coleman uses a very plain style font and while very dark in color it’s not actually black, while Prentiss Wabers and Aladdin use a black one with a more stylized font. Also, the 5 points of the star shape are broader and more square on the Coleman.

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The plain font Coleman (left), the  stylized font of PW and Aladdin (right)

What makes an M-1942 MOD stove complete? Here’s list of items (with photos) that came with most of my M-1942 MOD stoves:

The original label has a border on most of the stoves I’ve seen. Many stoves don’t have a label, either because it burned off, or fuel leaked on it, or some other mishap. Replacements are available. I’ve seen them on ebay and at Old Coleman Parts. The three replacements labels I’ve seen are a beige label with no border (this actually looks more like what might be on a wheel stove), a yellow background with no border and a yellow background with a border. Take a look at the photo with an original label and two reproductions.

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Reproduction instruction labels (left and middle), original (right)

There is a spare parts holder which attaches to the windscreen/pot-support frame.  This is referenced on the tank instruction label. This holder contains a vaporizer/screen/tip-cleaner (combined), and tip-cleaner packing. The M-1942 wheel stove wouldn’t need the tip-cleaner packing and may not have had this extra spare parts holder or vaporizer either.

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Spare parts holder for frame with vaporizer and tip-cleaner packing

The pump assembly contained spare parts in the pump barrel. To access these, unscrew the pump grip. Inside there should be 1 or 2- air-check gaskets, 1 – valve stem graphite packing, 1- vaporizer/screen/tip-cleaner combo and 1 – cap gasket. I’m listing these parts only to show what was likely originally included because the gaskets are almost certainly dried-out, hard, and unusable and therefore thrown away. And, many times the replacement valve stem packing is damaged and unusable. I did see a 1943 wheel stove with similar spare parts.

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Remove the pump grip and these parts might be inside

The knob which screws onto the threaded tip-cleaner lever is made of wood. A fair number of stoves are missing these for one reason or another. Modern replacements can be purchased, though some people choose to use what they have around. Sometimes they damage the threads on the tip cleaner lever making it difficult to install an original-type wood knob.

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Home-brew tip-cleaner knob (left), the original (right)

What I’ve noticed on the dozen of M-1942 MOD stoves I’ve had or borrowed is that the original vaporizers had hex fittings on the vaporizer tips. This is different than the one’s I’ve seen on other late-war 520s and in their spare parts tubes. Many times they are interchangeable, though sometimes not, but if you want all original stuff, you might look for that.

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Common vaporizers for 520 (left), M-1942 MOD (right)

Each M-1942 MOD came with a wrench. I don’t know if the 1943 M-1942 had one, but I’ve never seen one and it didn’t have as many fittings so, if it did, I would think it would look different. While the wrenches have the same general configuration, those supplied by each manufacturer are slightly different. The Aladdin has what appears to be a cast or hammered screwdriver blade, the Prentiss Wabers has a flat ground bevel with a similar orientation to the Aladdin, and the Coleman has the flat ground bevel on the opposite side. The Prentiss Wabers wrench is also slightly thicker. They will, however, all function just fine on any of the stoves.

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Similar, yet different. Aladdin (left), Prentiss Wabers (middle), Coleman (right)

While it’s generally acknowledged that the M-1942 MOD stove shipped from factories with an aluminum two-piece bayonet “F” canister, I’ve recently been told that the 10th Mountain Division didn’t use them. I had a conversation with David Witte, author of WWII at Camp Hale and he said that veterans who had been interviewed said that they carried the stove in the Mountain Cookset and not the canister. After thinking about it, I’m wondering if that’s the reason why so many mountain stoves are missing the canister. It would make sense.

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The common 1945 canister (left), a 1944 Mountain Cookset (right)

Does it work? If you purchase an untested stove, and it doesn’t work, there may not be an easy way to fix it, if at all. A personal experience I had was a leak around the filler cap fitting. I tried soldering and brazing the tank, but it kept leaking. The fitting was originally installed from the underside of the tank before the bottom of the tank was soldered in place (I believe) and apparently I couldn’t get it clean enough to make a good seal. Eventually, I gave up and looked for another tank (which I did find, surprisingly). Another personal experience involved the stainless-steel vaporizer disk. Someone grabbed the stainless-steel disk with some sharp pliers in order to remove the stuck vaporizer. They damaged the disk-to-valve-body beveled mating surface so the stove always leaked fuel from that mating surface, eventually exiting right around the spirit cup nut. A very frustrating problem and there’s no way I’d ever light that stove with that kind of issue. I swapped that disk out with one from another stove and was able to make both stoves functional, however, I was restoring another one recently and the cuts were so deep, I could never make it seal. I think the damaged disk was installed in the valve body and proceeded to damage it, too.

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A badly damaged stainless-steel vaporizer to valve body disk

Obviously, if I only had one stove and could never make it work, I’d be very disappointed, so be sure to ask the seller questions. Other issues which are repairable are, leaks around the graphite packings, of which there are two on the M-1942 MOD stove. The fuel cap/pump-tube gasket and the check-valve gasket are available at places like Old Coleman Parts . My point is, that if a stove is shown to be functional there’s a good chance the tank is intact, and gaskets and seals aren’t leaking. If the seller can’t show the stove working, then you’re taking a risk as to whether or not the stove is, or will ever be, usable. If the stove doesn’t cost too much (yes, that’s relative . . . I know), or if it’s really rare, then we may be okay with the risk. If the seller claims ignorance about the stove, you must ask yourself how they can claim it’s worth a particular sum of money if they don’t know anything about it. As I demonstrated above, two similar stoves in model number and age had drastically different prices.

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A complete 1944 Aladdin M-1942 MOD with a 1944 Mountain Cookset

So, what should a 70+ year-old M-1942 or M-1942 MOD stove cost? Well, begin by considering the model-manufacturer-year combination; rare or common. Then, look to see if the parts seem to match pretty well (keeping in mind that some interchangeable parts may have been swapped out while still in use by the U.S. Army).  Is the stove complete, and if not, what’s missing and is it valuable to you? And, last, but possibly most important (depending on what you want to do with the stove), does it work or has it been tested?

I could give you my guidelines for what I’d pay, but that’s only valid today. So, my advice is, 1) be patient, 2) study what’s available for sale by comparing all of the things listed above to determine a “fair” price from your perspective, and 3)  be prepared to tinker with the stove, at least a little bit. Happy hunting!

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A complete 1945 Prentiss Wabers M-1942 MOD with two-piece canister

Feel free to check out my other blog posts about old camp stoves by scrolling to the top of the page and selecting the Stoves and Lanterns Topic, or specific posts about the M-1942 stove, like Vaporizers, Cold-weather Single Burner Stoves, Prentiss Wabers M-1942 Stove Rebuild and The M-1942 Mountain Stove.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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One comment on “Buying an M-1942 Stove

  1. […] For a description of the features of this stove, see my blog entry,  Buying an M-1942 Stove […]

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