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Everything Weighs Something
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Yipes! on 05/08/2010 06:33:14 MDT Print View

An XGK with gray pump, huh?

I even have the older Model G and GK stoves with yellow pump.

Larry Penberthy was kind of a weird guy.


Charles Hill
(chuckster) - F

Locale: Georgia
Re: Re: Svea 123 on 05/08/2010 08:22:46 MDT Print View

Lighting a Svea, no doubt, takes some practice but when done correctly it works every time. There are very few things that can go wrong since the stove is as simple as a stone hammer. But if the valve hasn't been cleaned or it's not been primed properly you'll have problems. I use the angled mini-pump too, it takes about 8 pumps, open the valve, allow enough fuel to seep out to fill the bowl at the base of the burner shaft, close valve, light fuel, wait till the fuel is almost burned off, open the burner valve, perfect flame every time. If one part of that procedure is done incorrectly it won't light or it'll belch huge flames in your face. I see the stoves others carry and marvel at their convenience, instant igniters and super quick boil times but why be in such a hurry? You're at camp, you're not going anywhere, what's the rush?

Edited by chuckster on 05/08/2010 08:53:10 MDT.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: Yipes! on 05/08/2010 08:32:01 MDT Print View

I remember the first time I used my MSR Model G -- I kept thinking "This thing can't be safe", but it was a great stove. As was my SVEA 123...

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Everything Weighs Something on 05/08/2010 12:34:44 MDT Print View

Never had any problems with my 1973 era Svea, never used the pump. Kept it clean, replaced the wick every 10 years or so, along with the nipple. Poured a small amount of fuel into the little depression at the base of the burner, lit it, waited a bit, then when the fuel was almost gone I turned the stove on. Worked every time.

Also used an XGK purchased around 1980. Didn't know it but got a small nick in the o-ring that sealed the fuel tube (from the fuel tank) to the burner body. Pumped it up, looked for leaks, none. Turned it on and lit it. Noticed fuel leaking out rather quickly from where you insert the fuel tube. Luckily there was slight slope and the fuel ran downhill, away from the burner. Otherwise it would have been quite spectacular, and perhaps even deadly if the full fuel canister exploded.

After that I was meticulous about checking that o-ring and replacing it regularly! Haven't used the stove in ages, though...

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re white gas stoves on 05/08/2010 17:43:10 MDT Print View

And people wonder why I am scared of white gas stoves ...



Locale: New England
Sharing the gospel/Spreading the word on 05/09/2010 07:12:33 MDT Print View

Great Article. Like others I felt like I was reading my own overnite conversion story back in 2006, after years of old school boy scout overpreparedness mentality backpacking/camping. (No bashing intended!). Once you get the concept, the wheels start turning and the addiction begins.

Perhaps this is a good short starter article to offer to newcomers to "Spread the Word", "Share the Gospel" of UL Backpacking. It's short enough to "set the hook" and packed with enough details to illustrate the benefits to a newcomer. I also like that it illustrates the concept of individual choices and lightening your load need not mean immediately going to extremes. Nice Job!

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Svea 123 on 05/09/2010 08:14:35 MDT Print View

"...but why be in such a hurry? You're at camp, you're not going anywhere, what's the rush?"

I'm hungry!!! Even though I'm snacking properly, the last one was two hours ago. Time for dinner. After setting up camp of course.


PS. I cook on ESBIT, so no priming whatsoever for me.

Rick Horne
(Rick778) - M

Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Everything Weighs Something on 05/09/2010 10:38:49 MDT Print View

Very enjoyable!
Like others have mentioned, this was like reading my life story. I started backpacking in high school in 1972 and still have my SVEA stove. Don't use it backpacking, but still use it family car camping. Last summer my nephew and I hiked from Tuolumne Meadows to White Wolf via Benson Pass. Thought I had lightened my load sufficiently to a base of 35 lbs (including food), but I was wrong. A work in progress!

Edited by Rick778 on 05/13/2010 18:56:00 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Everything Weighs Something on 05/09/2010 11:56:24 MDT Print View

Charles, Great article! nicely written depiction of how the transformation takes place.


Charles Vandenbelt
(chuckwagon) - F

Locale: Nashville
Everything weighs something ... on 05/09/2010 16:47:41 MDT Print View

Thanks, Charles. Great article and very inspiring. I've got a walk on this weekend and I'm going to be going over my gear with a fine tooth comb today. I'm about halfway through the transition and, like you, still can't cut loose the "old faithful" stove mentality. Thanks for sharing your insights. Regards.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Yipes! on 05/11/2010 08:31:55 MDT Print View

An XGK with gray pump, huh? I even have the older Model G and GK stoves with yellow pump.
Nice! I've got a little collection of older MSR stoves, but no G or GK (and certainly no Model 9). My old Firefly and my original Whisperlite both have yellow pumps.
Larry Penberthy was kind of a weird guy.
Maybe. But his stuff worked. The old yellow pump is a much better pump than the four generations of pumps that followed it including today's "duraseal" pump. He also revolutionized stoves. Stoves then were generally made of brass and had an integral tank. The integral tank was small, so everyone carried extra fuel in a Sigg bottle. Penberthy, in a flash of genius, got rid of the integral tank and just used the Sigg bottle that everyone was already carrying.

Recall that, in it's day, the unpressurized Svea 123 was considered a lightweight stove, unsuitable for high altitude use. Mountaineers were carrying huge things like an Optimus 111 which was a brass stove that came in a steel case. Imagine lugging that up the side of an 8000m peak.

Penberthy, with his flash of genius, changed all that. In a way, he was a forerunner of today's UL movement.


Edited by hikin_jim on 05/11/2010 08:40:15 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Yipes! on 05/11/2010 13:20:18 MDT Print View

Yes, Larry Penberthy was the guy who thought up and founded MSR. Some of the early hardware products were really innovative, like the MSR stoves. The MSR newsletter was a periodic "applications note" to customers. He tried to solve the problem of altitude sickness, but his methods were considered wrong. I mean, Rainier climbers reaching Camp Muir were being asked to urinate on pH test paper! That's OK. He wrote it up in his next newsletter.

I still have pieces and parts from MSR stoves going back to about 1978. At one point in time, I believe I had purchased six of them in all, and I was cannibalizing them to keep three in operation for group trips.

In those early years, the complexity of an MSR stove was too much for the average backpacker, and any user who was thermodynamically challenged would throw it against a tree out of frustration. But after you had used one for a week in difficult conditions, you had it figured out.

Once in the early 1980s, I led a ski group to a snowy backcountry hut in the middle of winter. This hut had an indoor sink, but no water source. Once we started cooking, we discovered that the sink drain was clogged or frozen or something. No problem. I set my hottest MSR next to the cast-iron drain pipe at floor level and turned up the flame to "blowtorch" setting. Twenty minutes later, "gurgle, gurgle" and the frozen pipe was frozen no more.


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Everything Weighs Something on 05/11/2010 13:30:50 MDT Print View

I still have many of Penberthy's catalogs/application notes. He championed Lithium batteries before anyone else, and had many other good ideas. Not all of his ideas were good, however. The MSR single-use climbing helmet harness, and his ice climbing tools (Ice Hawks?) come to mind, although I expect some people will defend them.

He famously tested ice axes and came down very hard on unreliable wooden shafts and poorly designed picks (as far as self-arrest was concerned). I suspect many lives were saved due to his innovations.

I still have an Optimus 111B, and take it car camping. I used to haul it around winter camping. It worked great, was a veritable blowtorch, but boy did it weight a lot, maybe four pounds!

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Optimus 111B on 05/11/2010 23:30:17 MDT Print View

The 111B is a great stove. Careful though with one thing. If the rubber pip in the valve at the end of the pump shaft hardens up, fuel can leak into the pump shaft, possibly causing a fireball. If you ever see the pump handle start pushing out on its own, even slowly, shut 'er down immediately.

They're awfully good stoves though; extremely dependable and rugged. (but darn heavy)

I've still got an old MSR Ice Axe ("Thunderbird?") -- all orange. It's actually a good axe, but pretty heavy by today's standards.


michael hildebrand
Everything Weighs Something on 05/12/2010 06:12:27 MDT Print View

Hiker/BikerVery nice article.

I enjoyed reading it so much as I have been going through the same process for the last year. Selling old, heavy stuff on E-BAY or just giving it away or throwing it out. I have had such an excellant time researching the newer, lighter, more compact etc. gear now available for backpackpers (including the new mini-titanium tent stakes that come with Nemo Meta Tents and the Terra Nova Laser Photon Elite---WOW. Have you seen these ?).

Thanks again and now no more 65 pound packs for me. Mike

Edited by on 05/12/2010 06:18:27 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
i agree on 05/12/2010 07:26:56 MDT Print View

i agree with the previous poster about bodyweight, just as much a factor as pack weight, seems kinda silly to cut off grams from a pack when you could cut more significantly more off in other ares. For example, i used to be a powerlifter, weighed 205 at 5"8 shredded, was a tank. Had a low baseweight, but still found it difficult to keep good mileage. Now im 155 with a pack that weighs about 22-23lb with 4-5 days of food, and i fly.

Ioan Jones
(ioanj) - MLife

Locale: UK
stoviness on 05/13/2010 14:27:05 MDT Print View

re priming the 123 I too never use (indeed don't own) the pump; after all the only thing that's ever failed on my nova is the pump, it's the simplicity I love.
I carry fuel in the Trangia 0.5L bottle. a. it's light compared with metal (pressurised) bottles and b. with that handy little safety top it's ideal for fueling the svea. My prime: trickle just a little bit of fuel on the top of the burner, just enough to half fill the indentation on top of the tank, light, and wait. About 10 seconds later open the valve and you're cooking on gas!
It's quicker to get going than the XGK / nova (no pumping) though about 10 seconds slower than gas. I can live with that!

Anyway going back to backpackinglight esbit (actually hexy) is the lightweight option for me too, again for the simplicity (a 3"x3" square of baking tray, a Ti metal stand from Ti Goat, a Ti windscreen also from them and a SP900). It's rubbish for melting snow, rubbish in strong wind unless you really shield it in addition to using the windscreen, but it does save about 500g.

This article along with Ryan's have inspired me to sell kit. What am I thinking?

Edited by ioanj on 05/13/2010 14:31:01 MDT.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 05/25/2010 10:04:40 MDT Print View

Nice article Charles. It mirrors a lot of what I went through.

Isn't it ironic that so many people here (including me) are devoted proponents of trekking poles while Jardine has always railed against them? IMO that was (is?) one of Ray's big problems: if it worked for you but not him, you were wrong.

Andy Howell
Poles on 06/25/2010 06:34:04 MDT Print View

There is no proper answer to the question what is the right it?

For me poles have been a big help. I do find Jardine's extreme stuff a bit over the edge. After al, this is the man who thought the world would have ended by now!

Gregg Meyer
(oscar52) - F
Every thing weights something on 08/25/2010 21:17:21 MDT Print View

You folks are a total inspiration. I have begun again after being away since the 70's myself. It will take so doing but what fun.