Some months ago, I was looking around the web at GPA’s when I came across a photo of a Coleman Radiant heater. I had never seen one like this before, but it seemed relatively small. It was painted that Coleman-Canada light green similar to my 576 stove so I guessed that it must have been made somewhere between the mid-1970’s to mid-1980’s. I searched for one for sale, but couldn’t find one, and sold listings showed that they sold for more than what I would typically pay for a GPA. Coincidentally, one of my son’s was visiting during my search, picked up on my interest and to my surprise I received one for a Christmas present.
My Coleman Model 519 Easi-Lite Radiant Heater is date stamped January of 1983. From what little information I could find about these heaters I learned that I was likely going to need at least one replacement O-ring for the valve stem, however, just to be sure, I fueled the heater and added some pressure. Before I struck a match, I noticed my fingers getting wet with fuel when holding the control knob. This was a bit of a surprise, because typically the valve stem doesn’t leak until after the valve is turned on. Hmmm . . . this is interesting. What does the heater use for an On/Off valve? Some Coleman-Canadian GPA’s (Gas Pressure Appliance) use an O-ring on an eccentric block as a valve (see my 222, 222A and 226 lantern posts), while others use a Schrader valve core (see my 400 and 400A stove posts). Which one does this heater use? As it turns out . . . neither.
I removed the control knob and then the large nut/brass fitting holding the valve stem into the valve assembly. Thinking that the valve was inside there somewhere, I pulled out the valve stem. This was a bit of a mistake which I’ll explain shortly. The pin sticking up inside the valve body is the F/A tube control rod, however it sits in a pressed-in brass fitting which is also what retains the valve stem and also opens and closes the valve. I didn’t realize this. Oh, well. I’m sure I’ll be able to get it back together later . . . right? So, if you are simply planning to replace the valve stem O-ring, do yourself a favor and don’t remove the valve stem.
Meanwhile, I used a pick to remove the valve stem O-ring which was stuck in the brass nut. This is the worn out seal and cause for the leaking fuel. I measured the old O-ring several times. It was flattened on the sealing surfaces, so without knowledge of what the original dimensions might have been I decided on a replacement O-ring which made sense. The replacement O-ring would be 1.5mm width, with an I.D. of 5mm and an O.D. of 8mm and made of Viton. This is commonly referred to as a 1.5×5 O-ring.
The new valve stem O-ring arrived and I noted how the valve stem parts were configured. I tried to reassemble the valve, but could not get the valve stem over the pin in the valve body. This meant I needed to remove the aluminum valve body from the fount and remove the F/A tube. This is also why I mentioned earlier that if you only need to replace the valve stem seal, removing the valve stem is an unnecessary mistake. The valve is installed with some sort of gray, hardening sealer from the factory, so I removed some of the old crusty sealer with a pick and then removed the valve from the fount.
I removed the F/A (Fuel/Air) tube and cleaned it. It looks similar to most other Coleman F/A tubes. I cleaned up the rest of the parts too and prepared them for assembly. I did this by ensuring the threads were clear of any old sealer or other debris. It was at this point that I realized that there was no other On/Off valve. The only On/Off mechanism is the O-ring on the face of the valve stem. This also explains why adding pressure when the fount is fueled can result in a leak even though the valve is closed and working properly. The On/Off O-ring prevents fuel from getting to the generator, but it does not prevent fuel from filling the valve body. Interesting. I haven’t seen any other Coleman GPA’s with this type of On/Off valve function. I wonder if there are any others?
Next, I threaded the tip cleaner rod into the valve stem so I’d have an idea how far it threads in when I complete assembly, later. Once noted, I removed the tip cleaner and set it aside.
Since there was no O-ring between the brass nut and the aluminum valve body I assumed that it seals with a metal-to-metal contact. Here too, I ensured the surfaces were clean before assembly.
Since I couldn’t get the valve stem back into position earlier I knew that the valve stem should be installed before I reinstalled the F/A tube. I installed the washers, spring and O-ring onto the valve stem and installed it into the valve body and threaded the brass nut until snug.
Next, I added the F/A tube and tightened it up firmly. I tested the operation of the valve to ensure it turned smoothly and the F/A tube fuel rod moved properly, that is, the fuel rod can be seen through the end of the F/A tube when the valve is in the Off or Light position and is retracted when in the Hi and Low positions.
With everything looking correct, I removed the generator once again and installed the valve in the fount. Then I added back the generator to check that the alignment looked good and to perform more testing. First, I added fuel and then pumped pressure into the fount. Recall that pressurizing the fount will also apply fuel/air pressure to the O-ring I just replaced, and since I couldn’t be 100% certain that I selected the correct size I needed to check this. After adding pressure all was free from leaks so that O-ring looks like a good size.
Next, I open the valve and check that fuel sprayed out as it should. I did this and for about two seconds and it looked good, but then the fuel stopped. Now, you may have noticed in earlier photos that the tip cleaner wire is missing from the tip cleaner rod. This is unfortunate, but new Coleman G8 generators are not easy to find and I haven’t found one yet so, I need to make do with what I’ve got for now and possibly repair the tip-cleaner when I can find the right size wire. Meanwhile, testing it without the wire means that any debris in the fuel system can clog the generator tip, and the only way to clean it is by removing the tip. I struggled with the generator clogging and then removing the tip and cleaning it for more than 30 minutes until it seemed to spray fuel consistently.
I added the aluminum reflector back into position and used a Robertson R1 square screwdriver tip to reinstall the three screws which hold it to the bracket on the fount. Next, I added the burner assembly which simply slides over the generator. It is held in place by the grill assembly which has a bracket to hold the burner assembly to the reflector.
The heater is now tested and ready to fire. Overall, the unit is pretty simple.
There are lighting instructions on the fount and since I wasn’t testing this in cold temperatures, I followed them. The first three steps are pretty much the same as any Coleman lantern.
Steps 4 and 5 of the instructions mention the instruction booklet for cold weather lighting, but I don’t have a booklet and haven’t seen a legible one online, yet. I’m sure that if I ask around someone will have one and willing to make me a copy. I think steps 4, 5 and 6 are only there to show the user the Off, Lite, Hi and Lo valve positions.
Note: It appears that the HI and LOW direction arrows in Step #5 are backwards from how the valve operates. If you look at the labels on the knob you can see that beginning in the Off position you rotate counter clockwise to get to LITE. Then, a little more counterclockwise to get to HI. Finally, you continue turning counterclockwise to get to LOW and not clockwise as the arrow indicates.
I turned the valve to the “Lite” position, lit the burner and it started to go with some flames (where they belong, thankfully) and then it quieted down. At first I couldn’t tell if it was burning, but eventually I could see the metal screen begin to glow.
I let it run for a bit and added more pressure. It was running nice.
The main label on the fount shows that this is a 3000 BTU/H radiant heater. I don’t have much experience with heaters, however, my backpacking stoves are typically rated for 5000 – 8000 BTU/H. Since the heater needs to warm air and not boil water this is probably pretty acceptable and normal performance.
This was a nice present from my sons and I enjoyed tearing it down and then rebuilding a rather unique Coleman GPA.
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