Cellar find: an old and neglected Tilley

Discussion in 'Fettling Forum' started by Westfield, Nov 7, 2020.

  1. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    In this recent thread on a Vapalux M320, I mentioned the Tilley we used when I was a child. I popped by my mum's house today and she says that this is that very same lantern. It's been sitting in her cellar for at least two decades, and hasn't been lit for probably another 10-20 years. "Take it" she said. So I did.

    20201107_134645-25%.jpg

    I haven't done anything with it yet, not even rubbed off surface muck and rust. At first glance it looks awful but then looking more closely, the tank seems fine. The pump seems to pump, and it unscrews. The globe is cracked but looks usable. There is corrosion of the tinwork of the hood and cage but they seem structurally sound with no holes. I haven't taken the hood off yet (can't immediately see how), so I don't know what it's like underneath. I took a few quick photos which I have uploaded below.

    While this is a very different proposition to the Vapalux (which was basically sound) I am thinking that I will have a go at refurbishing this, and I'm hoping I can call on the wise heads of this forum for assistance. I should make clear that this item has some emotional value for me; the aim isn't to end up with a lantern on the cheap.

    So perhaps I can start off with some basic questions...
    What model is it?
    Is it feasible to refurbish?
    How would I start?
    What materials would I need?

    Many thanks
    Dan

    20201107_133757-25%.jpg 20201107_133131-25%.jpg 20201107_133127-25%.jpg 20201107_133108-25%.jpg 20201107_133527-25%.jpg
     
  2. JonD

    JonD Subscriber

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    Poor thing! Now you are duty bound to save it O:)
     
  3. rayw

    rayw United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Plenty to do there, but should be a good feeling when you compare the before and after pictures.
     
  4. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    It's an X-246-B and it will have a date code on the bottom of the tank, to remove the hood, pull the two parts of the bottom of the handle horizontally and that will free the hood, that can be a bit tricky to do, so in my opinion, patience is required.

    The control cock on your lantern is in poor condition, my advice is to replace it with a brass GF., control cock and the tank could do with being stripped and repainted.

    The link below shows relevant paperwork, but the library is only open to subscribers.

    Dismantle the entire lantern, clean everything well, replace all of the seals and washers, wire brush the entire cage and paint it with heat resisting silver paint, use a wire to clear the fuel feed tube and give the tank a good flush out, do let us know how you get on.

    https://classicpressurelamps.com/threads/x246b-diagram.6859/
     
  5. Henry Plews

    Henry Plews Subscriber

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    @Westfield

    Your Tilley is model X246B and if you look underneath it, you will find three or four numbers followed by a couple of letters. Ignore the letters, it is not know for certain what they signify / refer to but the numbers definitely represent month and year of manufacture e.g. 571 = May, 1971, 1074 - October 1974.

    Parts are still available so yes, refurbishment is feasable.

    Start by lifting the handle until it is horizontal and spring it outwards to remove it. The hood complete with burner will then lift off the vapouriser.

    Unscrew the vapouriser and the control cock. To remove the frame, you'll need to undo the circular nut which may well be seized so apply some penetrating fluid.

    Clean the inside of the tank with a cleaner-degreaser or acetone to make sure all traces of varnish-like fuel residues are removed.

    New seals are available from The Fettlebox but not the special shaped ones for the pump NRV (non return valve) and control cock.

    Other things you may need include two or three different grades of wire wool starting with 0000, elbow grease and patience.

    The aluminium pump and control cock may clean up O.K. but if they don't, replacements are available either on eBay or www.base-camp.co.uk

    Crossed with Jeff 'cos I'm a slow typist.
     
  6. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    Good advice from Henry. :thumbup:

    If you want to replace the globe, I believe someone is advertising them in the Trading Post for a very reasonable £15 each (discounts for quantity are available)...
     
  7. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thank you Jeff and Henry. I have become a subscriber.
    I'm thinking that this washer kit looks like the one to order.
    David - so a 171 globe is what is required here?
    It looks to me like a November 1972 lamp, which would make sense, given that I remember it from 1975.
    I have sprayed a bit of PlusGas around the round nut and will leave it a few hours.
    Overall, after giving it a superficial brush up with an old toothbrush, it doesn't look as bad as it looks, if you see what I mean.
    Inside of the hood might be where the worst surprises lurk.
    A few more photos.

    20201107_173711-25%.jpg 20201107_173904-25%.jpg 20201107_175706-25%.jpg 20201107_174043-25%.jpg 20201107_174053-25%.jpg 20201107_174059-25%.jpg 20201107_174139-25%.jpg 20201107_174156-25%.jpg 20201107_180748-25%.jpg
     
  8. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Nice clear photos :thumbup:.. Was it used for sea fishing at all? .. The control cock is quite eaten away?

    Also looks to have had an earlier burner fitted at some point?
     
  9. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @podbros, I was going to say "Nah, the control cock isn't that bad", but having taken another couple of snaps, it is a bit grotty. Might still work? As far as I know, my dad didn't use it for sea fishing.
    What is it about it that makes you think a different burner was fitted?

    20201107_185544-25%.jpg 20201107_185555-25%.jpg 20201107_183657-25%.jpg
     
  10. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    That is an earlier burner, it has the threaded air pipes and nuts, in my opinion, before you do much to that lantern it would be a sensible idea to pressure test the tank and submerge it in water and look for air bubbles.
     
  11. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thank you Jeff. I have just searched the forum and I see lots of references to pressure testing, but I couldn't find a "how-to" guide for those attempting it for the first time.
     
  12. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    If the hood is brown it means that it is from an earlier 'Guardsman' Tilley lantern?

    Hard to tell from here!
     
  13. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    This is how I pressure test a Tilley, fit a working pump to the tank, fit a working control cock and a vapouriser to the tank, make sure that the pricker wire is up and then completely tighten the gland nut on the control cock, the control cock will need a good seal/washer between it and the tank.

    Thirty strokes of the pump should be enough, then submerge the lot in water and look for air bubbles, if the seals are all good and the tank is sound then there will not be any air bubbles.

    Most of the time that test is enough, but sometimes there are hairline cracks which do not leak air, which is why it's a sensible idea to put paraffin in the tank and pressurise the tank and leave it overnight in a shed, set the tank on a newspaper just in case it leaks, paraffin/kerosene when it's under pressure is more searching than air.
     
  14. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thank you for that Jeff, will have a ponder. Your instructions imply new seals and possibly a new control cock. I can't locate the "brass GF" you mention earlier on The Basecamp's site, which is quite a challenge to navigate.

    @podbros, my childhood memory is that is was brown, and the photo below seems to confirm that. Maybe this is a "bitsa special" with donor parts from more than one lamp?

    20201107_204132-25%.jpg

    Question: do I remove the control cock in the photo below by main force, just by turning to left, or do I need to loosen the knurled ring first?

    20201107_203742-25%.jpg

    So far I've had no luck with the ring, and as with many parts on these lanterns, I don't want to be putting too much pressure on softer brass or aluminium components with modern steel tools. I'm facing the same problem disassembling the pump. The end nut and the little spring and washer underneath it came off fine, but the main body doesn't want to turn, and I don't want to crush it with pliers...

    The pricker needle has relatively little carbon build-up.

    20201107_204422-25%.jpg 20201107_203705-25%.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2020
  15. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Water pump pliers to undo the control cock .. the centre ring only holds the cage on.. If you are getting seals from Base-camp they also sell the centre ring for very little money, or you can try wrapping a piece of leather from an old shoe tongue if you want to make life difficult ;)
     
  16. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Brass GF., control cocks are often listed on Ebay, if you get that control cock screwed off and it remains intact, then it will do for testing.
    That hood and burner were originally on a Tilley Guardsman lantern.
    Seals can be obtained from the Fettlebox on this website.

    Those aluminium pumps and control cocks are cheaply made and they do not do well in damp conditions.
    Sometimes I have had to saw through the cage nut with a hack saw.
     
  17. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    In theory, you shouldn't need to use many tools to dismantle a Tilley. If it's knurled that means it's hand or finger-tight: if it has flats then use a spanner.

    I'd try to unscrew the control cock by pushing/twisting it round with my fingers and thumb first, avoiding pushing on the knob because you'll likely bend the shaft. If it's not budging and you have to resort to tools, always protect the aluminium with leather as has been suggested. Another thing to try is holding the control cock immobile and turning the tank instead - you'll get more leverage that way.

    Yes, the globe is a 171...
     
  18. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    As for pre-cleaning, would it make sense to dump things like the burner in a dilute solution of water and vinegar for a period of time (20 minutes? 24 hours?) to take off the surface grime and oil, or would that damage them?
     
  19. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    I often soak burners etc., in vinegar and the length of the soak depends on how much muck is on them, when they have soaked long enough I rinse them in fresh water.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  20. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Do you just eyeball the result, going by how it looks?
     
  21. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Give 'em a brush off with an old tooth brush every now and then to see how they're doing, it's trial and error
    'til you get the feel of it?
     
  22. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    With regard to whether to dilute the vinegar and by how much, and whether salt is also advised, there was a detailed question in this thread about the best method of cleaning brass. Many people weighed in, but there was no obvious conclusion apart from that anything with ammonia in it should be avoided.

    I'm thinking vinegar diluted with warm water, maybe in proportions of 1:2 or something like that, checking every 30 minutes or so and, as @podbros suggests, giving it a scrub with an old toothbrush.

    I have noted advice elsewhere about not leaving brass in vinegar to prevent "coppering" it.
     
  23. rayw

    rayw United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Ive been using Car Plan Alloy wheel claeaner, its quite aggressive so dont leave anything in ther for long, but dunk stuff in it leave it 3 or 4 mins then work it over with a paint brush then wash it and give it a wire brush over, it certainly cleans burner assemblies.

    Results can be seen here : Bialaddin fettling
     
  24. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    It won't matter too much as it's a burner... getting it all nice and shiny only to darken it again with the first fire-up?

    It's really only to assess for any potential hiccups and to make cleaning/ blowing out cobwebs and assembly easier?

    You will always get a certain amount of coppering.. A burner is a good place to start as it's a functional, sturdy part of the lantern, built to take some stick ;)
     
  25. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    Stuff like burners, I put in neat vinegar (the cheaper the better, I find!) for no more than 30 minutes. Then I use my fingers and thumbs to rub off the dirt and a brush to get into small corners.

    Personally, I'm not squeamish about using Brasso* (the clue's in the name, surely) because I've yet to find any convincing proof it's harmful. Over the course of my life I've seen brass nameplates (outside solicitors for example) that have been polished so many times the lettering's slowly been worn away but with not a stress crack in sight. Once I've polished an item thoroughly, a coat of clear lacquer prevents further oxidation and saves more polishing. I've a brass sundial I treated that way over 40 years ago and it's still shiny and without stress-cracking. As PB says, polishing a burner you intend to use subsequently is without point. YMMV.

    *other metal polishes are available... :)
     
  26. rayw

    rayw United Kingdom Subscriber

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    I agree that burners soon black up again, but the cleaner also gets inside of the burner and can shift the build up of carbon in there, quite a bit came out of mine, and it was soon looking quite bright inside.
     
  27. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thanks for the ideas everybody.

    Another thing I'm picking up from various threads is the inadvisability of using anything other than vitreous enamel for the hood (e.g. VHT). If that is the case, is it even possible to repair/restore a hood to its original glory?

    I'm guessing the range of colours used for Tilley tinwork was quite limited. The closest number to my brown hood seems to be RAL 8017 but even that's a bit light.
     
  28. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    Vitreous enamel is, essentially, fused glass. It's not a paint of any sort. VHT (Very High Temperature) enamel is available in a restricted range of colours, isn't gloss and in any case, won't withstand the temperature of a lantern hood.

    You could get the old vitreous enamel sand-blasted off and then the hood re-vitreous enamelled. However, this will be difficult and expensive - many times the cost of a better replacement hood eBay or wherever. I suspect the hood wouldn't withstand the sand-blasting either.

    Given the value of this lantern is purely sentimental, I think I'd get it running as it is and accept it for that...
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  29. Westfield

    Westfield United Kingdom Subscriber

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  30. george United States

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    I agree, accept it for what it is: a very nice lantern. Clean it up and don't worry about the top!

    I think you may be able to eventually find a top for it. This is not a rare lantern so you probably won't have to look very hard.
    Enjoy!!
    :D/:thumbup:
     

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