The Aladdin M-1942 “wheel” stove . . . rare, weird, only made in 1943. In a previous post titled The M-1942 Mountain Stove, I provided a little background for the life of the single burner, M-1942 stove. It had two variants, the “wheel” stove and the MOD-ified. Last year (March 2017) I acquired a “wheel” stove model and while I was excited to finally get one I quickly discovered I was in for some work.
The wheel stove shares some similarities with its successor, the MOD, but it is limited to the tank, the windscreen/pot support and the pump. My stove arrived with failed graphite packings old gaskets and damage to the valve assembly’s vaporizer mating surface.
In this post, I’ll show the journey I took to make this stove usable again with some restoration added.
My stove arrived looking rather, well . . . rusty. “How could this be?”, I thought. Weren’t these things made of stainless steel? Apparently, the wheel stove was not. Unlike the modified version of the stove, which cleans up beautifully without too much effort, this stove is hot-dipped galvanized steel, so once the sacrificial zinc coating wears off it is subject to rust. Well, what could I do but move on and address it later.
I rotated the wheel around and while it seemed to open and close properly, it wobbled terribly. This definitely wasn’t right so I set about disassembling the stove, beginning with the burner bowl and vaporizer just like I would with the modified stove. The first thing I noticed was that there is no means by which to hold the wheel stationary while wrenching the vaporizer nut. I used a 5/8” wrench on the nut below the wheel and only proceeded to remove the wheel and everything above it. It left a small pile of graphite on the stove. The graphite packings were dust and mostly gone and that is why the wheel was so loose. Once the upper parts were carefully lifted from the valve, I gripped the wheel with some pliers using leather between the jaws to prevent damage to the wheel and was able to remove the burner bowl and vaporizer.
Here’s a few notes about the parts I just removed.
First, the burner bowl doesn’t have a hex nut shape to the brass fitting, which makes it difficult to remove.
Second, the vaporizer is not the same size as the modified version or the 520 stove. It is actually 1/8” shorter.
Third, since the vaporizer is shorter, so is the tip cleaning needle, and it uses a hex nut to hold it in place.
Fourth, I removed the screen from the vaporizer. It is very coarse. I looked inside the vaporizer and there was something else in there. It was another screen. This one was very fine. The wheel stove uses two brass screens; one fine mesh screen which goes near the tip and a coarse one installed last.
Fifth, the spirit cup was a different size than the modified.
I cleaned all of the removed parts and moved on to the graphite packing problem.
The pump assembly, which is the same type used on the modified model had some spare parts in there and much to my surprise it still had the original spare graphite packings, and they were still usable. Lucky me! It also had a spare air-check gasket, complete and unused vaporizer, a coarse screen and the pump cap gasket.
The graphite packings are unusual in that there are two used on this stove and they stack together on the valve stem. I’m not sure why this was done, and is the first time I’ve encountered stacked packings. Since I wanted to use these packings, I decided to take some measurements of them just in case I might want to make a new set to put back in the pump tube.
I installed the new packings, installed the cleaned vaporizer, changed the gaskets, added fuel and pressurized the stove. Using a rubber stopper pressed to the top of the vaporizer I opened the valve and . . . fuel leaked from around the vaporizer nut. So, I tightened it more. But it still leaked. I tightened it even more but it leaked again! Uggghh . . . I removed the vaporizer and inspected the mating surface on the wheel. Oh, no. Looking with a magnifying glass I could see that there were some gouges in what should be a smooth surface. This was disheartening.
What to do? The surface needs to be smooth to seal, but I can’t file it down or that will make it out-of-round and then I’m assured that it’ll never seal. What a bummer. Once I got past the, “Man, I got a bum deal” attitude, I set about to fixing it. Since I didn’t have a metal lathe at that time, I mounted the wheel in a moto-tool sanding drum holder and put it on my drill press. Then, using an X-Y table I mounted a piece of sand paper on a micarta block and put it in the table’s vice. I set the angle and carefully ground the surface until smooth.
This took quite a while, but eventually it was smooth and usable again. What a relief! I tested it again and this time it didn’t leak.
At this point I could assemble the stove, but I wanted to replace the label. There were only two recognizable letters left. I’ve seen my wife stamp cards and things like that so I wondered if I could make a stamp. It turned out that rubberstamps.net offers custom stamp service. I searched the web for photos of an intact label but eventually got a photo of it from author David Witte. I spent an afternoon getting the text entered, changing fonts, and sizing a jpeg. Then I ordered it and it wasn’t expensive at all. Getting that flat stamp to work on a round stove was another issue, however. It took some experimenting, but eventually I figured a decent way to make it work.
While I was waiting for that stamp to arrive I began thinking about the rust on the stove. Being a rather rare stove I didn’t want it to suffer the same fate as some of the M-1950 stove tanks I have, where they develop pinholes and become unusable. Time to make a decision. Leave it original or restore it? To restore the finish I’d need to remove the rust and the surrounding zinc finish. Well, how difficult is it to zinc-plate steel? It turns out that it’s pretty easy. So, it’s decided . . . remove the rust from the tank and from the pot support/windscreen and try my hand at zinc electro-plating. I gathered the necessary materials and plated the parts. The finish came out quite nice.
At this point I’m ready for assembly, except . . . I wanted to make a tool for making the two graphite packings and ensure they fit properly. I bought a metal lathe a few weeks ago and made the tooling for the graphite packings. I weighed the original packings and after a few nights of experimenting I had workable packings which fit onto the stove properly.
I laid out all of the parts and with everything in place it was time for assembly.
I installed the valve body and pot support/windscreen first, then worked my way up from there. I decided to use my new packings. I mean, why not?
A good way to hold the wheel while tightening the packing nut is to hold it in place using a 1/4” Allen wrench.
I completed assembly and leak checked the fittings. All good.
I fired it up and after a few minutes I saw some flames from below the burner and shut it down. After it cooled, I tightened the vaporizer nut and gave it another go. So far, it is working well.
When time allows I will post more details about this project.
Thanks for visiting my blog.