TeriAnn's Guide to Aladdin Mantle Lamps

Contents  >  Putting a lamp into operating order

 
 
 

 

Putting a Neglected Lamp into operating Order

 

Contents:

Choosing a lamp to burn | Interchangeability of parts | Making an old lamp ready to burn

Wicks, installing & charring | How to burn an Aladdin lamp

(This page is an incomplete draft. I intend to add more)

Choosing a lamp to burn

A used lamp often is dirty, may contain old kerosene, be damaged and be missing parts or have parts from multiple different lamps installed. At first glance it may not look like much. But with a little cleaning, some new parts that lamp can often be made to work like new again.

The very first thing you need to do is determine what you have and what condition it is in.  A lamp meant for display just needs to look pretty and appear to be complete from the outside.  A lamp meant to be burned needs to have a full compliment of compatible parts and all those parts need to be in good functional condition. Also there were burner versions that really should not be burned on a regular basis such as the Brazilian model C. And some burners have hit of miss quality issues such as the early Hong Kong model 23 burners. 

If you are looking to purchase a used lamp for the purpose of burning it, an evaluation of it's condition should be made before purchase.

  • Burner: The burner is a precision device designed not only to raise and lower the wick but to direct and meter the air flow to the wick and mantle.  The first thing you should do is see if the wick adjuster arm wobbles from side to side.  When a wick is installed there should be no wobble.  When a wick holder is not installed, the arm should wobble very little if at all.  Wobble happens when someone tries to force a stuck wick.  Forcing the gearing can bend and loosen parts. Avoid burners that have wobble in the wick adjustor knob.  Some wick adjuster problems can be repaired but repairs often require expertise at fixing them.

Also look for cracks in the burner and any damage.  In general avoid a damaged burner and wick adjuster knobs that wobble.

  • Inner and Outer Wick Tubes:  The wick is held in place between two concentric brass tubes. One or more of these tubes is often cut off if the lamp has been electrified.  A lamp will not burn with one or more either missing or damaged. For the wick to adjust easily, the inner and outer tubes need to be concentric and present a smooth surface to the wick. Deep scratches with ridges, dents in the tubing or inner and outer tubes offset to one side will all keep the wick from adjusting easily and will make the lamp difficult to burn.

    The draft tubes of models 1 through 6 are also the inner wick tubes.  Remove the burner and carefully examine the tube for ridges, dents or cracks. The outer wick tube is part of the burner base.  You need to remove the wick to examine the outer wick tube.

    Model 7 and newer burners have both the inner and outer wick tubes in the burner base and requires removing the wick to inspect either.

  • Gallery: The gallery must be compatible with the burner (see chart below) and in good condition.  Inspect the condition of the chimney and mantle mounting surfaces for damage.
     
  • Generator/ Flame Spreader: The generator must be compatible with the burner (see chart below), in good clean condition and properly seated. The generator meters the amount of air being fed to the inside of the wick and mantle.  It also creates an even flow of air directed by the placement of the holes.  During prolonged use, the metal between adjacent holes may burn out creating a larger uneven opening.  Do not use a damaged flame spreader.  I suggest that rare generators not be used for burning lamps when common easily replaceable compatible versions can be used instead.

All of these items should be carefully inspected on a lamp intended to be burned and any component not in very good condition should be replaced.  Remember, Aladdin burners are precision air metering devices.

Burners by model:

Models 1 & 2:  These use a cap mantle which has been unavailable for about 75 years.  Unless you are an expert at burning Aladdin lamps I suggest just displaying them.  Late model 2 lamps came with a model 3 gallery and use a Kone Kap mantle.  It could well be possible to reliably burn a model 2 lamp using model 3-6 galleries and 3-6 generators.  I have not tried this, nor is this mentioned in any of the Aladdin documents I have found.  But if you want to burn a #2 lamp, it is worth a try.   You would need to rework a wick to fit the #1-2 wick holder.

Model 3:  There is conflicting information on generator compatibility. Early Aladdin literature on the subject suggests that only the #3 generator is compatible with a #3 burner.  More recent literature suggests that the #6 generator will work fine.  The model 6 wick is readily available as new old stock through used parts channels. New Kone Kap mantles heelless chimneys are available.

Models 4, 5 & 6: These lamps are readily burnable with correct mantles and chimneys available new and a large number of old new stock model 6 wicks and generators readily available.

Models 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11:  These lamps are readily burnable with mantles, chimneys and wicks available new.  Model 11 generators are readily available used or as new old stock.

Models12, A, B, C (Nashville), Super Aladdin (#14), 21, 21C 23(UK): These lamps are readily burnable with flame spreaders, wicks, chimneys and mantles available new.

Model C made in Brazil: This burner was made of steel instead of brass and does not work properly.  I suggest not considering one for use as a daily burner. There are 2 types of knob labeling.  One says "Aladdin", the other says MOD C, Aladdin, IND. BRAS

Model 23 made in Hong Kong:  The early version was slightly oversize and suffered from quality problems during manufacturing.  An early burner will have a 23 on the knob and nothing else (as does the #23 UK burner). Some burners work like a champ, others do not. Parts for new model 23 burners will not fit properly. If looking at an early Hong Kong model 23 burner to burn, make sure the burner parts all belong to that burner and are in very good condition.

Later versions have an Aladdin's lamp on the knob under the 23 and a star stamped into the side of the burner.  The later burners were mostly good except for occasional out of spec individuals.  The quality of #23 burners seems to have improved since 2000 and new burners are usually very good.

Parts quality
The Aladdin burner is a precision air metering device and requires high quality parts to work properly.  The quality of parts is usually excellent for American made parts (1908 through 1963) and for English manufactured parts.  Burners manufactured in Hong Kong initially had poor quality and were still somewhat hit or miss through the 1990's. Since 2000 a strong effort has been made to produce high quality parts.

I have heard that there was a period during the 1970's when wicks were too thin, affecting fuel flow to the burner.  This has not been verified.  Also, wicks were made during the late 20th century that are cut flat at the top and not charred. "The outer edge of the top surface must be charred or cut back to the proper angle." " It is a fact that if a reinforced wick is cut or charred straight across the top, the top surface alone will not furnish enough fuel for a full sized flame"* .  When shopping for a new reinforced wick make sure the top is beveled and charred.

Chimneys made in China (since about 1990) are of abysmal quality, some not standing right and most with malformed locking tabs at the base.  Made in Taiwan chimneys seem to be weak near the base and break easily. Since 2000 high quality chimneys have again become available.

The newer Brazilian made mantles do not seem to last as long as the earlier mantles.  This seems to be an ongoing problem.  Mantle strength seems to negatively affected by storage in a high humidity environment so it is possible to purchase a new old stock mantle that quickly decorates with use.

I personally avoid wicks and chimneys using the 1970 and newer italic logo unless I am buying known new stock manufactured after 2000.

Lox-On chimneys manufactured during the '80s and into the late '90s are labeled only with the name "Aladdin" in a stencil like font.   The earlier ones that have the name in even bold print seem to be of good quality.  The later Chinese version with the name in thin, uneven print should be avoided.  The new Chimneys currently available from Aladdin seem high quality. In today's market, unless you are looking for a correct period chimney to match a certain lamp, I suggest purchasing a new chimney from Aladdin as the most reliable way to obtain a good quality chimney without having to pay collector prices.

* Quote taken from article titled "Aladdin Lox-On Wicks" that appeared the the Mystic Light of the Aladdin Knights, vol 26, No 4. Author name not provided.  This issue, dated 11/98, is available for purchase on the Aladdin Knights web site

List of Burner part Interchangeability
(This list is compiled from factory recommendations taken from Aladdin sales literature plus my own personal experience)

I do not mention models 1 and 2  in the interchangeability table below because the Cap mantle is very difficult to find in usable condition and wicks are no longer readily available that will fit these lamps.  These lamps are not good candidates for daily burning.  Late model 2 lamps came with a model 3 gallery and generator and use the Kone Kap mantle.

 I left the model 3 off the chart because early parts replacement listings in Aladdin sales literature state that newer generators are not suitable replacement for the number 3 generator.  However later literature says that the model 4 through 6 generators will work.  If you wish to try burning a model 3 lamp, parts Interchangeability is the same as model 4 below.

Model lamp

Burner

Gallery

generator

wick

Wick holder

Mantle

Chimney

4

3-6

3-6

4-6

3-6

3-6

Kone Kap

Heelless

5

3-6

3-6

4-6

3-6

3-6

Kone Kap

Heelless

6

3-6

3-6

4-6

3-6

3-6

Kone Kap

Heelless

7

7-12

7-11

7-11

7-12***

7-11

Kone Kap

Heelless

8

7-12

7-11

7-11

7-12***

7-11

Kone Kap

Heelless

9

7-12

7-11

7-11

7-12***

7-11

Kone Kap

Heelless

10

7-12

7-11

7-11

7-12***

7-11

Kone Kap

Heelless

11

7-12

7-11

7-11

7-12***

7-11

Kone Kap

Heelless

12

7-12

12, 14, A, B

12-23**

10-12***

12

Lox-On

Lox-On

A

A-23

12, 14, A, B

12-23**

A, B, C, 14

A, 14

Lox-On

Lox-On

Super Aladdin
#14

A-23

12, 14, A, B

12-23**

A, B, C, 14

A, 14

Lox-On

Lox-On

B

A-23

12, 14, A, B

12-23**

A, B, C, 14

B

Lox-On

Lox-On

C

A-23

C*

12-23**

A, B, C, 14

C

Lox-On

Lox-On

21

A-23

21-23

12-23**

21

21

Lox-On

Lox-On

21C

A-23

21-23

12-23**

21C

21C

Lox-On

Lox-On

23 UK

A-23

21-23

12-23**

23

23

Lox-On

Lox-On~

23 early HK

A-23

21-23

12-23**

23

23

Lox-On

Lox-On~

23 late HK

A-23

21-23

12-23**

23

23

Lox-On

Lox-On~

* Nashville Model C and Brazil model C galleries are not interchangeable.  The gallery on some Aladdin electric converters that appear to be model C galleries will not work on kerosene burners.

** This style of flame spreader is largely interchangeable and appears the same, but there are slight dimensional differences in some that may affect the lamp's burning characteristics. MORE TO COME

*** While these burners will function properly with all these wicks and wick holders there are differences that should be noted. The model 7 wick is an unreinforced type with a long wick holder.  Model 8 and the first year of model 9 production wicks use an unreinforced wick with a very short ring like wick holder. Second year model 9 production, model 10 and model 11 use a reinforced wick that does not have a wick holder. Model 7 does not have a separate wick raiser.  Models 8 though 11 share the same type of wick raiser.  What all this means is that a model 7 wick can be used in the other lamps after the wick riser is removed.  Model 8 & 9 unreinforced wicks can be used in all these lamps with the wick raiser.  The Currently available model 11 wick can be used in all these lamps when the model 8 through 11 wick raiser is present.

~ Some model 23 burners were shipped with slip galleries that use the heelless chimney.  There is also an adaptor available that converts Lox-On galleries to use a heelless chimney.

Making a used lamp ready to burn

Making a used lamp ready to burn is normally just a matter of cleaning the lamp up, inspecting the parts, replacing any that are not in top condition then refitting everything with a new wick and mantle.

Downloadable Aladdin instructions in pdf format:

The first step is to clean up the lamp

When lamps sit with kerosene in them the kerosene becomes contaminated. Solid components of the kerosene are left behind as lighter components evaporate from the top of the wick. This clogs the wick. Dried kerosene creates a reddish brown deposit along seams that tends to glue the burner to the font, the filler cap to the font and the flame spreader to the inner wick tube.

Before a lamp with old smelly kerosene can be brought back into operating order the burner needs to be cleaned and the wick replaced.

First remove the burner from the lamp. In some cases this is more easily said then done. The burner screws off counter clockwise but can be glued into place by dried kerosene. The easiest way to unstick a stuck burner is to invert the lamp then immerse the burner and threads in a container of solvent overnight. If the lamp bowl is painted clear glass immerse it in kerosene or a household solvent that does not attack paint such as Simple Green.

Once you can get the burner off the lamp you are ready to disassemble the burner. I suggest going to the web page for that model of burner and looking at the picture of the disassembled burner. This will let you know which parts come off and what each part looks like. It will also help you identify a missing or wrong part.

Remove the Gallery:

The first thing to come off if it is still attached is the gallery. A twist counter clockwise and pull should remove it.

Remove the generator or flame spreader:

The flame spreader sits mostly inside the inner wick tube and rests on a groove formed into the inner wick tube. The single exception being the model 1 generator that sits on a vertical pin inside the inner wick tube. Flame spreaders are easily removed if not gummed into place. Usually a light twist to break any dried kerosene and a gentle pull does the trick.  Do not apply a lot of force as the flame spreaders can be fragile.

The best way clean a stuck flame spreader is to invert the lamp and submerge the flame spreader into a solvent from anywhere from a few hours to overnight. Both paint thinner and carburetor cleaner works well. If the burner is also stuck, submerge the inverted lamp to the point where the threaded burner base is under the solvent.

Flame spreaders are very fragile and easily damaged to the point where they will not work properly. If it is undamaged care should be taken during its removal. Sometimes heating the inner wick tube below the flame spreader with a hot air blower helps break the gum. Do not use a torch as it may melt the flame spreader around the holes.

Remove the wick (Model 6 and earlier):

If the burner is model 6 or earlier, the wick will occasionally stick to the inner wick tube (draft tube).  When you remove the burner the wick and holder may be left behind on the tube.

It the wick stays with the burner, gently pull on the bottom of the wick while turning the wick adjuster knob in the down direction. The wick with mounted carrier will come down together.

If the wick is stuck on the draft tube, use a twisting motion to unstick it. Most stuck wick will come loose with a twisting motion.  If the wick does not respond to by hand twisting, soak the stuck wick in solvent for a few hours then twist the wick.  Soaking will almost always get stubborn wicks unstuck.

If you feel a NEED to put something between the inner and outer tube to pry the wick away from the tube, think twice. The tubes are thin wall brass and easily bent. A wet wick will almost always get hung up over a wick tube dent and the burner will be very difficult to adjust.

Remove the wick (Model 7 and newer):

The wick comes out the top and the wick adjuster comes out the bottom. How is not all that obvious when you try it the first time. Unlike the earlier burners, the model 7 and newer burners have a removable upper outer wick tube that must be removed prior to removing the wick.

The outer wick tube comes with the air distributor permanently attached. Before doing anything, look along the outer edge of the air distributor. You will see an upward pointing flange along the outer edge. You should also notice three breaks in the flange, two narrow and one wide. A close examination will reveal inward facing dimples on the burner just above the flange. There is a single dimple for each narrow flange and a pair of dimples for the single wide flange.

The air distributor is a friction fit to the burner wall. Rotate the outer air distributor by the top of the outer wick tube until the dimples on the burner line up with the breaks in the flange then lift.

On model 7 with original carrier: Lower the wick all the way.  Gently pull on the tails of the wick while lowering the wick with the knob to reduces strain on the gears. The rack gear is detachable from the carrier. Remove the rack gear and withdraw it from the bottom. Push then pull the wick and carrier body up and out through the top. The wick is very fragile and you will want to push and pull on the carrier if you wish to preserve the old wick.

On model 8 and early model 9 with original carrier: These lamps originally used an unreinforced wick with a short mini carrier attached to the wick raiser. Adjust the wick all the way up. Leverage the top arms of the raiser off the raised buttons or the wick carrier. Adjust the wick carrier down and withdraw it from below. Withdraw the wick from above by holding onto the mini carrier.

On above burners fitted with reinforced wick (no separate carrier) plus models 10, 11, 12 and B burners: These burners use or were retrofitted with reinforced wick with built in buttons for the wick adjuster to attach to. The basic procedure is to adjust the wick all the way up, prise the adjuster arms off the buttons on the side of the wick, withdraw the adjuster from the bottom and the wick from the top.

On Model A, C, 21C, 23 and 23A burners: Both the wick adjuster and the wick are removed from the top. Adjust the wick all the way upwards then pull the wick up holding on the the top of the adjuster.

Remove air distributor, model 6 and older:

Removal of the air distributor allows for better cleaning and provides access to the adjuster gears in case repairs are needed. The model 1 uses a stamped metal air distributor that is a friction fit. Usual a quick twist to loosen it and a gentle pull removed it. Models 2 through 6 use metal screen air distributors. They rely upon a spring pressure from the flange to hold the distributor in place. The screen needs to be prised up from the burner. I have a scribe tool I purchased from the hardware store that is a rod that tapers to a point and makes a sharp right and turn at the tip. It lets me insert the bent tip into a hole and lift.

 

Cleaning the lamp:

Metal lamps and burners: The dried kerosene and dirt can be cleaned by soaking in a solvent and brushing.  I keep my old tooth brushes for lamp cleaning. Finish off by washing with a non petroleum solvent like Simple Green or dish soap and water. Rinse and allow to dry completely before reassembly (Use a hair dryer or an oven with the door open if you are in a hurry). 

When dealing with real grungy stubborn deposits, such as generators, I tend to use a phosphoric acid solution (Found in auto parts stores to clean bare rust free metal just prior to painting). Most soft drinks have a high level of phosphoric acid and work well as metal cleaners.   Vigorous brush scrubbing in a bath of this solution usually gets metal parts clean and sparkling like new.  You do not want to soak a part in the solution for very long and you want to wash the part with running water and let it soak a while to be sure every bit of the acid is off.  Any acid left will start oxidation.  Wear rubber gloves and eye protection if you try this.

If you wish to polish parts be very careful of buffing wheels. Some are too aggressive for the thin brass.  White rouge works well as a buffing compound on a muslin buffing wheel.  "Never Dull" is my favourite polish for plated lamps.

Glass Lamps: Always use water close in temperature to that of the glass.  Thermal stress frequently breaks glass lamps.  This is especially true of the early model B glass lamps.  This also means do not pour near freezing kerosene from outside into a room temperature glass lamp.  Dish washing soap works well on glass lamps.  Alternatives are Simple Green or any non abrasive glass cleaners with degreasing action.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the contents please feel free to

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