Vesta 540 gasoline stove

Discussion in 'France' started by presscall, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    The ‘540’ fuel tank and burner on the right, alongside equivalent components of stable-mate Vesta that’s more commonly found.

    Some comparisons (Vesta on the left v. Vesta 540
    Steel tank v. brass tank.
    Roarer burner v. silent burner.
    Fuel control by knob and spindle, operating a sprung-loaded pricker bearing on a chamfer on the end of the control spindle v. control spindle operated by a lever, operating axially on the riser tube centreline, direct action jet pricker.
    Priming cup v. priming fork in a channel-section tray.
    Filler cap/SRV v. filler cap/SRV plus additional cap marked ‘Indicateur’ (purpose unknown).

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    A bigger stove and a bigger box to contain it. Stove and box weighs around 2 1/2 kilos (5 pounds), about twice the weight of the other Vesta.

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    Stowed, the pot rest frame is inverted to provide clearance for the swing-shut lid. Slide-in detachable heatshield for the fuel tank.

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    Stove tank is clamped on a mounting strut welded to the stove box.

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    It ensures the control spindle and operating lever are lifted clear of the stove box base.

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    Heatshield slotted in place.

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    Stripped for servicing/cleaning/making sense of how it works.

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    The fuel tank cap marked ‘Indicateur’ and the Safety Release Valve.

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    The thread diameter of the one on the left is less than that of the SRV.

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    Indicateur? I wondered whether it might be a blanking cap for a pressure gauge (indicator?) but the French for pressure gauge is manomètre so that theory doesn’t hold pressure. Puzzled. Someone might have an answer to make me slap my forehead and say “Doh!” Hope so.

    The wick is gasoline blowtorch sized - has some bulk to it obviously intended to transfer plenty of fuel. It seemed in good condition so I reinstalled it ... preceded in the burner feeder tube by a porous rock cylinder that evidently acts as a heat barrier to prevent the wick from scorching. Seems to have worked in protecting the wick, but with it removed and the wick inserted further up the bore I’d expect more output from the burner - though it turns out it’s not at all bad (more of that in the flame shots).

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    Burner component with the manufacturer’s mark.

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    The distinctive fuel control and pricker arrangement.

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    The combination of a mounting hole in the control disc that can be set on the square flats on the spindle in alternative radial positions relative to the axis of the spindle and those five tapped holes to take the control lever set screw offers plenty of adjustment of the angular range from ‘off’ to ‘on’ of the control lever.

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    Fuelled up with Aspen white gasoline, the ‘on’ and ‘off’ is very positive, the jet pricker operates (protrudes from the jet) and the effectiveness of the wick is evident from the immediate dribble of fuel from the jet. ‘Off’ is achieved by the chamfered tip of the spindle bearing against the interior ‘top’ of the jet.

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    Speaking of the jet, it looks identical (including the jet orifice bore) to the jet from the smaller Vesta stove (the one on the left).

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    The burner itself is a remarkable casting (or fabrication more probably) in brass, incorporating the equivalent shape of a burner inner cap.

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    There was no burner outer cap when I acquired the stove. Well, there had been a few home-made attempts by a previous owner.

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    I found another example of the Vesta 540 on the internet, with its original outer cap.

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    Encouraged by that, I took a regular silent burner outer cap and drilled a hole in the dome to take the protruding threaded spigot.

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    A refinement would be to find a flat nut to fit those threads. Meanwhile, it’ll do.

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    Priming with methylated spirits, the priming fork soaked in it. Clever arrangement with that tray and priming fork, ensuring the heat reaches the whole length of the burner feed tube.

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    Excellent, controllable flame. An effective full-size silent burner (equivalent to one fitted to a 2-pint kerosene stove such as a Primus No.5) but fed by self-pressurised and not pumped fuel is quite an achievement. A remarkable design.

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    Footnote

    Of course, I just had to try the most likely contender of those home-made burner caps. It sort of worked, for a while ...

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    ... then stopped vapourising the fuel and began to drift into a potential fireball. I shut it down.

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    John
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  2. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    @presscall

    That’s a very interesting stove. It looks like a bit of a workhorse.

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  3. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    @Tony Press
    Hi Tony. French designers seem to chuck out the conventional ‘rule book’ and come up with something functional nevertheless and with style too. Most impressive and yes, a robust workhorse of a stove - but not one for backpacking!

    John
     
  4. shagratork

    shagratork United Kingdom Moderator, R.I.P. Subscriber

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    John you never let us down with your explanations, strip-downs and great photos.
     
  5. janders

    janders Subscriber

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    :clap: Great presentation as always , @presscall

    Now I want one... no, I don't - I've just been told...
     
  6. teckguy_58

    teckguy_58 United States Subscriber

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    Hi John,

    That is one very interesting stove and it runs great thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Norman
     
  7. z1ulike

    z1ulike United States SotM Winner Subscriber

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    I didn't know this Vesta model existed. What a beautiful restoration or maybe just beautiful photography. Probably both. I've been looking for a two burner Vesta and now this comes along. Will my stove quest never end? Thanks for taking the time to put this superb presentation together John.

    Ben
     
  8. teckguy_58

    teckguy_58 United States Subscriber

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    @presscall

    Hi John,

    If you can't find a replacement burner nut then you could use some hex stock drill and tap and then part off your new burner nut. Of course this is just a suggestion.

    @z1ulike

    Hi Ben,

    Those two burner Vesta stove are kinda like pulling hens teeth so I wish you luck in finding one.
    Ben, the stove quest is a never ending quest because there is always something new and exciting that comes along.

    Cheers,
    Norman
     
  9. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    You’re welcome @z1ulike, thanks fellas!

    Concerning the ‘Indicateur’ cap, it occurred to me that with the cap removed it provides an access point for a fuel level dipstick (just a wooden stick would serve) during refuelling via the SRV cap hole. An ‘indicator’ of fuel level in other words. It removes any prospect of air-lock when refilling too.

    Trying to coax a bit more output from the burner, I decided to replace the wick after all.

    Wick armature, old wick removed.

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    New wick made of cotton yarn.

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    Installed in the burner. I removed the ceramic packing too - reasoning that I’ll take my chances that if scorching of the wick results I can always replace it and the ceramic packing.

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    Amount of control on the burner with the lever arrangement is amazing.

    From ‘off’ ...

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    ... to max

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    ... to any amount of adjustment in-between

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    John
     
  10. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    How does (did) that piece of ceramic work?

    Tony
     
  11. teckguy_58

    teckguy_58 United States Subscriber

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    Hi John,

    Looks pretty darn good thanks again for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Norman
     
  12. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    I could Norman, but I’ve not established the thread size/pitch. It’s not a match for any tap I have at the moment.
    A heat barrier spacer Tony, saves the tip of the wick from scorching I suppose. Porous manufactured ceramic or pumice-like natural rock.

    John
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  13. ROBBO55

    ROBBO55 Subscriber

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    Thanks John, I love the look of this stove and your presentation of it. :clap::clap:
     
  14. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    Thanks Martin @ROBBO55

    A small flame appeared at the control spindle packing nut and I replaced the packing with a ribbon of Terry’s (Trojandog’s) graphite sheet wrapped around the stem and compressed with the packing nut. As ever, worked a treat.

    The old valve packing. Not graphite, more like a woven asbestos tube.

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    I’ve been thinking where I’ve seen a regulated burner with the control spindle equipped with a pricker and in-line with the burner riser and operated by a lever instead of a control knob.

    I’ve remembered, on this Townson and Coxson twin-burner Army stove.

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  15. Marc

    Marc Subscriber

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    By golly that's a lot of bits and bobs and small finicky easily lost parts. Fettler's dream, have you a touch of masochism? Like trying to maintain an F1 car with a pair of fingernail clippers as a toolbox.

    Never the less, a well built if complicated stove, and as usual John your presentation is textbook.

    Thank you, truly, for sharing all these wonderful stoves with us. I find the "non collectible" gassies every bit as interesting as the kero burners.
     
  16. SomiZ

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    @presscall
    Wow John, that is simply beautiful and fascinating stove. A bit complex and flamboyant like all french design, just below the point of German over-engineering.
    I really enjoyed the presentation, the photos and all the explanations and references.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    However one thing popped to my mid. "I will not take this French beauty for a walk, for sure. She is tempting but heavy!"
    Will you take the risk, sometimes in the near future? :)

    Cheers
    Zoltan
     
  17. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    A challenge, Zoltan! Next opportunity I will.

    Cheers,

    John
     
  18. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    Best performance yet, on a par with what’s to be expected from a pump-pressurised kerosene stove silent burner. I inserted a strip of brass gauze in the wick to conduct heat from the burner directly to the fuel, much as the smaller Vesta stove does by having a copper wire core to the wick. It enhanced self-pressurisation from the initial priming phase onwards.

    Though initially assessing the SRV cap and ‘Indicateur’ cap seals as flexible, a closer look revealing cracks in the ‘Indicateur’ cap one, creating a potential for a pressure leakage. Seals for Coleman caps fitted perfectly and ensured there was no possible pressure loss.

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  19. skirky dave

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    John..............that is a stunning stove. Luck lucky you. Fantastic job, as usual. Top drawer mate.
     
  20. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    Update: dissatisfied with the so-so self pressurisation. I’ve installed a short-stroke pump where the ‘Indicateur’ riser used to be. Topic in Fettling Forum HERE.

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    Much better performance now.

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