I’ve used a Coleman Model 400A Peak 1 stove for most of my backpacking since 1987, but when I had an opportunity to get a 400 stove, the 400A’s predecessor, I thought I’d get it and see what makes it different. I found the stove locally with a Coleman Peak 1 stuff sack. The padding was deteriorated and left a black powder all over the stove. So, I set to cleaning it up.
I disassembled the stove, removing the generator, then the burner followed by the burner mixing chamber which is held in place with three screws.
The burner rings were a bit rusty, so I cleaned them using a sift wire brush while lying flat on my bench. Just a light brushing cleaned them up nicely.
Next, I removed the pump and inspected the neoprene pump cup. It was not in good condition and had many cracks in the edge, so I replaced it. I could have replaced it with a leather pump cup which Coleman also sells, but decided to go with the original type for now.
I removed the valve assembly so I could get a look at the F/A tube and valve. Similar to the 400A and later 400 series stoves (e.g 400A, 400B, 440, 442) it uses a Schrader valve core as the On/Off valve. These are prone to failure over time and while this one wasn’t currently leaking, since I had it out I replaced it. The valve was pretty stubborn to remove and while heat would have been helpful I don’t like the idea of placing a flame near a fount which might not be dry and I didn’t have a large soldering iron to add a flame-free heat source. Eventually, I removed it and could see that unlike those newer models the 400 used a brass F/A tube.
Another observation worth noting is that the valve stem still used a graphite packing instead of the O-rings used on the 400B and later models. I’ve never seen the graphite packing leak on a 400 or 400A stove, even after 35 years, so unlike the O-ring design which is more serviceable but not as long-lasting, I can expect trouble-free operation for a long time on the 400.
I did use a little heat to remove the F/A tube from the valve body not that it was removed from the fount, however, I tried to use just enough to get it loose because the seal on the valve core will melt and make it difficult to get a replacement installed if I can’t get all of the old seal removed. Once removed and with a cleaned F/A tube, I replaced the valve core with a fuel-rated valve core and tightened it using a valve core torque tool. Don’t try to use a bicycle tire or automobile tire valve core here. They are not rated for fuel and will deteriorate quickly.
Before I installed the F/A tube with thread-locker I checked the operation by installing it into the valve body and cycling the valve stem to the three positions. The full open position should result in the control rod looking similar to the photo below. Once I confirmed that this was good I added the thread-locker and threaded it in place.
Next, I reassembled the stove, installing the valve using thread sealer (not thread locker), the burner mixing chamber, the burner rings and finally the generator. I added fuel, pumped some pressure, lit a match and turned on the valve to the LIGHT position. Nothing happened. Hmmm . . .
Note: If you are more familiar with the 400A/400B/440/442 stoves which only have an Off and On position, pay attention to this stove. If you simply go from Off to full On you WILL flood this stove and create quite a fireball. Move the lever to the full down position for lighting.
So, why didn’t the stove light???? I opened the cap and there was no pressure in the fount. But, why not? I changed the pump cup. The cap gasket seemed fine. It had a new valve core. The only thing I didn’t clean was the check valve. Arrrgh . . . I tested the check valve by pumping a few times and then removing my thumb. I could hear air coming back out. Hmmmm . . . well, no worries. I got out my check valve removal tool (if you work on lots of stoves and lanterns, these come in really handy) and removed the check valve. It was rather ugly.
I put it in the ultrasonic cleaner for 20 minutes (a solvent like carburetor cleaner or brake parts cleaner would also work) to get it nice and clean. There’s a little steel ball in the check valve and over time moisture, oil from the pump, fuel sloshing in the fount and dirt can get stuck on the surface of that little steel ball causing to not seal. Typically, a little cleaning is all it needs. I also cleaned the outside surface with a brass brush.
I put it back on the end of the check valve tool and reinstalled it. It’s pretty simple really, but sometimes it does help to have another set of hands to hold the fount while someone twists the wrench. Lisa helped me with this one.
I cycled the pump 25 times, and then opened the fuel cap. I could hear the characteristic hiss. Ahhh… fixed it.
With that solved I pumped up pressure again and it lit almost immediately. Love it!
I was fettling a 222 lantern along-side the 400, so here they are:
A note about the Coleman 400 Peak 1 stove
I think that the 400 may possibly be the most long-lasting and reliable of the 400 series single-burner stoves. Its advantages are that it has a graphite valve stem seal, so it doesn’t need replacing every 10+ years like the 400B and later models. The F/A tube is brass so it’s not prone to cracking or leaking like the plastic tube on the 400A and later stoves. The generator has the separate tip cleaning lever which also controls the flame very nicely (so does the 400A, but not the later models). This cleaning tip is more sturdy than the thin wire used in the 400B and later models (I’ve had several wires break in the newer generators leaving me without flame control). I’ve been testing this stove out and am liking it. Just some observations.
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