by Don Johnston | 2005-01-28 03:00:00-07
Editor's note: Don 'Photon' Johnston is a stove 'geek' and the inventor of the Photon Stove ™ alcohol stove. What follows is his advice based on over 10 years of MSR white gas stove use and observation.
The author using an MSR WhisperLite Internationale (the original Shaker Jet model) to melt snow in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. This older stove is still going strong after minimal maintenance.
MSR stoves are easy to maintain: it's one of their most valuable features. No matter what happens in the field with your MSR stove, you will never miss a hot meal if you have done a little homework.
The fuel bottle O-ring will rarely need replacement; carry no more than one spare since it is most likely to expire from old age rather than damage. The fuel tube to pump O-ring is the most likely to need replacement; carry more than one spare until you know how things work out for you. Some folks have a problem with damaging this O-ring and others rarely have a problem. Carry a spare pump cup even though you probably won't need it. The pump cup, the two O-rings I mentioned, and the tool from the repair kit are the minimum and probably all you will need in the field. You may want to carry additional items just in case your home checkout of the stove before packing isn't up to par.
Always follow the directions for inserting the fuel tube in the fuel bottle so you don't mess up that O-ring. If the pump doesn't seem to be pumping, you can remove the plunger and flex the pump cup out wide a few times to restore it to full function. Only if it is damaged do you need to replace it. The repair kit comes with pump cup oil you can apply at home. You won't need it in the field. The shaker jet works well but may not always be enough, so you need to be comfortable using the cleaning wire in the fuel tube and removing and cleaning the jet.
Clean fuel will mean you rarely have to clean the stove and may never need to disassemble it in the field. When filling the fuel bottle, pour the fuel through one of the Coleman fuel funnels that has a felt filter rather than a wire screen in the bottom. Very few times over the 10 or more years I've used an MSR have I had to disassemble or replace a part in the field. The shaker jet eliminated almost all stove problems in the field. Other field repairs only became necessary because I was lazy and didn't check things before trips. A fuel bottle O-ring that was expiring once needed replacement after many, many years of service. Maybe twice I have replaced the fuel tube O-ring. I swapped out the pump cup once with the spare one in the kit I was carrying. The pump felt like it was sliding too easily and I couldn't really pump up the pressure with it. The cup in the kit, not being restricted by the pump walls, had taken a set that was larger in diameter than the set of the cup in the pump. I figured the pump cup from the kit would seal a little better to the pump wall, and it did. After that, rather than replacing a pump cup in the field, I started just flexing the cup wide the first day out and, if needed, later on during the trip. I have never needed to replace a check ball, spring, or jet.
MSR white gas stoves are reliable (especially if you use clean fuel) and easy to maintain. With a minimal amount of knowledge, some practice at home, and preparation (purchasing and carrying a few spare parts and a tool, and checking out your stove pre-trip), you can count on a hot meal in the field with your MSR stove.
Don has been an avid backpacker since 1988 preferring week long or longer hikes. He has one section of the Appalachian Trail left to hike (planned for 2005); he has completed the John Muir Trail twice, the High Sierra Trail, the Tahoe Yosemite Trail, the Northville Placid Trail, and The Long Trail. Don is the inventor of the “Photon Stove ™” alcohol stove. He designed and owns the original Arc Alpinist sleeping quilt. Working with Kurt Russell, he prompted the construction of, and owns, the first Nomad Lite-N-Airy tent. Don is a Network Administrator at a Montgomery County, Maryland High School.
"Getting the Most out of an MSR White Gas Stove: Maintenance Tips," by Don Johnston. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_white_gas_stove_maintenance_advice.html, 2005-01-28 03:00:00-07.