Why retro?

August 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

SVEA 123 - classic petrol stove

I guess it's odd to some people why anyone would want to have an "old" car or an "old" motorbike.  Somehow you're assumed to be either rich or odd.  I suppose that the second one applies even if the first doesn't...

It gets even better when you use the old brass camp stoves or pressure lamps.  People can't understand why you don't use a new gas stove or a battery lantern.  So why do I bother?

Simply put, for the price of a new paraffin/multifuel stove you can get maybe four (or more!) classic stoves.  They LOOK great and you get the satisfaction of refurbishing an old (and tarnished) stove to nearly as-new condition.  Yes it does take time and effort but the rewards are well worth it!

There's also very little difference in performance between a modern paraffin stove and an old Primus!  The old stoves are so well designed that they have similar (or identical) heat output.

So if a classic stove is really this great, why don't more people use them?  Why do rivet counters in the classic car and land rover scene who are anal about being 100% accurate with their restorations use more modern stoves and not an older stove?  Having used many different stoves over the years, one answer is convenience!  In the time it takes to prime and light a paraffin stove, a gas stove is already lit.  The gas is in a nice convenient canister and it's just "plug and play".  Unfortunately, as those of us that have older gas stoves have found out, occasionally those nice convenient canisters of gas stop being available.  You then have to either buy a new stove (expensive) or find some way of re-filling an old canister (potentially dangerous).  The canisters for the new gas stoves also aren't cheap!

Have a look at the below, from left to right, a new campinggaz screw on burner, a 1980's campinggaz Bluet and a classic SVEA 123.  Which would you prefer?

Which would you rather?

So instead of a gas stove, we could get an Optimus Omnifuel or similar - a great modern stove that runs on paraffin or petrol or meths.  Yes it'll light quicker, but how long is it going to last?  Odds are it won't be usable after twenty years, let alone eighty.  Yes there really are brass pressure stoves that old that still work just as well as the day they were made!!  Unfortunately, modern stoves just aren't as well made as older kit and are going to need more care to ensure they don't break.

For me, a classic pressure stove is the perfect camp stove - cheap, durable, easy to fix, easy to light and reliable.  The fuel is easy to get hold of too and even at current over-inflated prices is still cheaper than buying gas canisters!


Cute!


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