1937 PRIMUS 54

Discussion in 'Primus No:54' started by kaw550red, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. kaw550red

    kaw550red RIP

    Aug 22, 2004
    Looking at this battered relic suggests that no one could possibly value it. However there is no way that I would part with it. It was the stove that I first used and the one that started my collection.

    It was bought by my eldest brother and then used by my older brother and then lay idle during the 1940s. Despite power cuts and gas cuts it was never used in WW2 presumably because you would not have been able to get paraffin. I think that it was in 1952 that I tried to light it for the first time. Trying to light a silent stove without a windshield in a strong wind when you have no prickers and do not know what you are doing is not conducive to success

    It lay idle for a little longer and then I mastered the priming of it and it came into use.


    At the time it was not used a lot because I cycle camped and had an Optimus 96 with a Terry's clip and all of my gear was carried in or on a saddlebag. Later in the decade I started boating and canoeing and the stove was put in the dock hut to provide hot drinks and heat the hut. It did regular service for about 7 years in that function.

    After that it got resurrected as a camping stove being carried in the bottom of a motorcycle pannier so that if it leaked it would not run onto clothes or food. You need to keep the weight low on a motorcycle so my heavy tinned food went on top of it with only thick polythene between it and the tins. There is not a lot of movement in that situation unless you hit a bump. I used to tour around north west Scotland before the roads were improved so I hit quite a lot of bumps

    At the last count there were thirty individual dints in it.

    After 1964 it got put to one side when we had a Caravette and then went family camping with a gas stove. In the 1970s it got resurrected again and was used for "lightweight" camping including hill camping. I like silent stoves for cooking. It was also used again for motorcycle camping


    Initially I did not have either a spanner or a reserve lid and if the spanner came with it one of my brothers had lost it. The reserve lid did not come with the stove. I used a leg through the burner tubes as a tommy bar to fix or remove the burner but eventually split a burner tube. My ''reserve lid" was a sharpened piece of wood dowel stuck in the tank top after it had been emptied. In 1963 I saw what looked like a reserve lid in a camping shop junk box and bought it. It fit so at long last I could carry a tank that was full of fuel.

    Over the years I developed ways of "improving" the use of the stove. My loose parts are always stored in fluorescent bags which cannot get hidden in grass. My spanner, prickers and tin opener are held together on string to make them more difficult to lose.

    I also learnt a trick for convenient parking of the reserve lid from a 51 stove that I bought. You tap the hole in the centre of the reserve lid and then solder a short screw to the tank which then becomes a parking boss. A 6 mm metric thread fits the hole perfectly

    1235226216-54_reserve_lid_in_use_opt.jpg 1235226243-54_reserve_lid_park_opt.jpg

    As you no longer need the chain you can remove the knob from the top of the reserve lid which, to me, looks a lot neater. It is so simple that it is a puzzle as to why Primus never did it in the first place. They provided reserve lid parking on most of their stoves so why did they stick the lid on a chain on the later 210s, 51s and 54s?

    It was only after getting access to this website that I discovered that the stove had been made in 1937 which was when I was born.

    My eldest brother could only have used the stove for about a year before he went to sea. My older brother must have used it for about 2 years until WW2 started properly.

    It is a puzzle as to why my eldest brother bought it as it was used for cycle camping and it is too bulky for that.

    I cannot ask my brothers about the stove because both were a lot older than me and died long before I found out when the stove was made. I had always assumed that it was older than I was

    The burner, inner and outer silent caps and the top plate are all replacements however all are authentic for the stove age.

    Anyhow it is one of the stoves that I am keeping once I finish selling the rest of my collection
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2015
  2. Littledre

    Feb 2, 2009
    Great story. I could read stories like this all day.
  3. mr optimus

    mr optimus Subscriber

    Oct 4, 2007
    bryan what a fantastic story that old sentimental great classic has realy been there.Thats a real family treaure in fact it is priceless thanks bryan for telling us about its interesting history :clap: