Primus 981 madness

Discussion in 'Fettling Forum' started by Alex74, Jul 5, 2020.

  1. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hello to all my fellow lanterns enthusiasts,

    I’m writing to report a serious case of acute Primusitis Nevralgica. A few months ago I really got fixed on getting a Primus 981 to fettle after watching a YouTube video showing a very quiet lantern, lit by a roaring torch preheater. Fell in love with it. For 6 months I’ve been watching auctions on Tradera and put bids on 3 X 981 lanterns which I’ve lost, one by one. The second I saw (pristine and unused) went for approx. £600, another around £300. In the end I Had an offer accepted for one I saw on eBay that seemed in relative good nick save a damaged middle collar and a missing Control cock wheel. Primus 981 Antique Swedish Gas Lamp - UK Made | eBay :
    Skärmklipp.JPG


    Still pricey by my standards but I recently sold a few lanterns I fettled, and I don’t mind as long as the hobby (almost) pays for itself! After doing some more reading on here, I realised I could scavenge a replacement collar and a control wheel from an old 1081 and guess what I also found for sale (from Romania!)....Primus 1081 and Petromax 200 cp pressure lanterns | eBay :
    Skärmklipp2.JPG

    These purchases should satisfy my quest for a half decent Primus 981 in the collection, but I’ll let you know when these lamps arrive and I’ll post some photos.

    some questions...how easy is a Primus 981 to fettle? Anything in particular to watch out for?

    Thanks
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2020
  2. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Ps. Why are Primus lanterns so expensive? Are they become so rare in recent years?
     
  3. Alex Smith

    Alex Smith United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @Alex74 Excellent project, I look forwards to hearing and seeing how you get on. I'd also be interested in learning how you get on with the lanterns from Romania. Good stuff!
     
  4. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi Alex,

    those are wrecks without hoods....we may be able to repair the old Petromax if I find a hood for it....another project in itself!
     
  5. Nils Stephenson

    Nils Stephenson Founder Member

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    I can certainly understand you wanting a 981. They are one of my favourite Primus lanterns to use.

    They are fairly straight forward to fettle, even though there are some solutions which are fairly unique. A couple of areas to look at are the tension mechanism for the cleaning needle rack and pinion and the quick starter fitting.

    The 981 uses the same rack and pinion idea as a 1020 etc but the cleaning needle rod (rack) is held against the pinion by spring tension. If this spring is weak, the rod can jump a tooth and the needle then doesn't clear the jet. I have found that replacing the spring with one from the bottom valve from an Optimus 1550 works well (a Px spring will probably work just as well).

    The quick starter is fitted using a tapered thread. It can be extremely tight. If there is fuel coming through then it is a good idea to leave it alone.

    I am fairly sure that a 1081 collar will not fit a 981. From memory it is larger and it has a different part number in the catalogues.

    Finally, I am also perplexed by the prices of Primus lamps. There still seems to be the same numbers of them that there always have, but they have probably become more fashionable.
     
  6. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thanks For the heads up Nils,

    I’ve just learnt something new about the rack and pinion device. Looking forward to the fettle. If the old 1081 collar doesn’t fit, that’s going to be an issue. I looked on Fogas but couldn’t find replacement parts. Then read a thread about them being interchangeable between The two lantern models. Maybe not then!
     
  7. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Happy fettling!:thumbup:
     
  8. MYN

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    That's pricey. I don't know whether or not, old Primus(s) are rare in general, but I could hardly find one around my area.
    Meanwhile, the Petromax is not just missing the outer hood but the inner one with the mixer tube, preheat torch and burner as well. That's an old 827 I think, and parts are not as easily found as those on 350 or 500cp units.
     
  9. Nils Stephenson

    Nils Stephenson Founder Member

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    I have finally looked at the links you gave. The 981 looks to be reasonable, apart from the collar. The collar should be repairable though, with a bit of ingenuity. On the plus side, it has a Condrup glass which I believe was only ever sold in the UK which makes it rare from my perspective. It also has the manometer filler cap. They are not that common.
     
  10. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thanks guys for looking these up and taking the time to comment,

    I’m happy to go down ingenuity lane and learn as much as possible about these lamps in the process. This is also going to be the first venture out of Tilley/Vapalux ‘comfort fettling land‘, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve just emailed base camp to see if they sell any parts/spares for those lamps.
     
  11. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Myn,

    here’s another challenge then. Resurrect the old Petromax by finding all the missing parts! It has a manometer though. I wonder if it still works?...
     
  12. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    It’s arrived....everything feels a bit seized up. The torch handle only closes/shuts halfway. The pump seems to work but it’s very stiff. After 4-5 pumps the tank pressurises a little bit...where shall I start?

    B7363087-B808-437D-8656-A6E2C01F697A.jpeg E3158E8B-A9A9-4706-93BB-3FCA61891B23.jpeg 64106B35-D1D8-496E-B476-BE8DEFAD02D6.jpeg
     
  13. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    On the bottom it says AC6 in a little circle. How old is it?
     
  14. Wim

    Wim Subscriber

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  15. Nils Stephenson

    Nils Stephenson Founder Member

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    Well the first thing is to remove the top and then the globe cage. That should be pretty straight forward. Now that I have mentioned the top, be very careful when cleaning the nickel plated part. The nickel plating on these is very thin for some reason. Just staring at it too long wears it off.

    The pump should be pretty straight forward as well. The NRV needs the right tool to get it out. It's the same as most other Swedish lamps and stoves.

    Another thing to be careful with is the lever for the quick starter. It is fitted onto a tapered shaft, so can be stuck on. I use a flat bladed screwdriver between the lever and the gland nut as a sort of wedge to get them off.

    Most things are self explanatory but if in doubt, ask.
     
  16. Alex Smith

    Alex Smith United Kingdom Subscriber

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    @Alex74 that is a cracker. Good luck.
     
  17. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    Be very careful of that glass...

    That’s a great find.

    Tony
     
  18. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    On the issue of that glass:

    2D84E165-D4AE-4870-BF0E-BC02358D660A.jpeg

    Does anyone recognise the branding on the glass? Is the “CON” for “Condrup” who were British agents for Primus?


    Tony
     
  19. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thanks Nils. Excellent advice to start me off. I’ll have to get one of those tools as a priority then. And yes, I think the old glass is probably more collectible than the lamp itself. It may be worth buying a modern replica globe for lighting. I don’t think I’ll clean or polish it. I’ll just fettle it but will leave the 82 years old patina alone. I’ll post some more photos as soon as I make progress! I’m impressed with the quality and feel of this lantern, considering it was made in 1938.
     
  20. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Just found this old ad online...did they go bust in 1938?

    upload_2020-7-8_22-43-25.jpeg
     
  21. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    That's good because I bought one via eBay some years ago! :D/ :D
     
  22. MYN

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    Find a pricker wheel knob for it. That'll make testing easier later.
     
  23. Nils Stephenson

    Nils Stephenson Founder Member

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    If I remember correctly, the glass is the same size as most Px style lamps (i.e. 110 x 115 mm). It should be fairly easy to find a 'user' glass.
     
  24. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Brilliant thanks Nils. Meanwhile Fogas has replied to my query. Seems like I can only buy a service kit for it. And have to rely on broken lamps parts for the rest, as expected....

    Hi

    The mid collar and wheel is not available anymore.
    We have a servicekit for 981 SERVICESATS TILL 981
    Its possible that the handle is stiff becuse of old age.

    Mvh/Best regards Conny

    Fogas AB
    Varuvägen 2
    125 30 ÄLVSJÖ
    Sverige/Sweden
    08-7029029
    Måndag-Torsdag 07:30-16:30
    Fredag 07:30-14:30
    Lunch 11:30-12:30
     
  25. Nils Stephenson

    Nils Stephenson Founder Member

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    In my opinion, the only thing you might need from the service kit are the jet and needle. Pump leather, filler cap washer, etc are available in the Fettlebox, if needed. Find out the condition of what's there before ordering anything.
     
  26. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Will do Nils thanks. I’ll dismantle it tomorrow PM and we’ll see what’s there. I’ll post some photos as usual. Looks like the chrome might still be decent under all the crud...
     
  27. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Here we go. A few photos of the disassembly in progress. The pump leather is as stiff as old boots. Someone has soldered the top of the tank it seems. Would you melt it Away to see what’s underneath or not? Maybe at some point the tank was losing pressure through the top support? The rack and pinion needle still work but the rack teeth look a bit worn. And I’m struggling to get the torch off. Should I remove the lever first, by loosening the tiny bit at its base? Any help, greatly appreciated!
    [ 55870D65-A0A8-4D53-B308-B2E37B316E6E.jpeg 8CCA2441-7097-4052-B58C-B82968C98D06.jpeg E538E69A-499C-4453-914A-1FD15B42865E.jpeg 4B342A17-3A20-4C43-81F3-8D5D682E64E5.jpeg 8FE12D7F-D6C2-475B-9144-B3A9B783570D.jpeg 6B056AD5-99DB-4228-9A5C-7A64858F1A9E.jpeg 0959434F-5A8D-4FBD-B2E6-D4279CABFDA0.jpeg 392130BE-981B-49BF-A5EB-3239D7FE97DB.jpeg F7174A95-BB4E-46E0-B92C-231EDC24E39E.jpeg C725F69B-62BC-4FCA-923B-96BD29565259.jpeg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2020
  28. MYN

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    It was certainly meant to seal off a leak from around the central screw/stem. The area of concern might have broken off earlier as well.
    If the solder is doing its job well, I'd choose to leave it as is, no matter how unsightly it might appear to the eye. (It won't be seen anyway, since its hidden by the collar and frame rest).
    Unless of course, if you happen to be a perfectionist and is particularly skilfull in soldering work.:)
     
  29. Nils Stephenson

    Nils Stephenson Founder Member

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    Thanks for the photos. You have an interesting project. :) Lets look at your questions.

    The pump leather could surprise you and come back to life with a good soak in oil.

    I assume there was a leak (or suspected leak) at the tank fitting. It is hidden by the collar, so I would be inclined to leave it as it is.

    The cleaning needle rod is not original. Someone has been rather ingenious and made something that must have worked. It could be difficult to get a cleaning rod the correct length. The original part number is 6404 and I can see they are not mentioned on the Fogas website. With a bit of skill, it might be possible to shorten a 1020 cleaning rod.

    Yes, you have to remove the lever from the quick starter to be able to remove it. The end of the shaft it is on is tapered so it fits very tightly. Remove the screw at the end of the shaft then slip some thin flat metal between the top of the lever and the packing nut above it. Then while holding the lever, unscrew the packing nut. This should hopefully push off the lever without bending anything.

    Just to mention, the filler cap washer is 18mm OD and 8mm ID, 2mm thick.

    The collar could be made more serviceable by soldering a wire around the top and bottom rims. Inside would be best where it is not visible.

    So far, from what I see, the biggest challenge will be the cleaning needle rod.
     
  30. CaptainFantastic

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    Hi there. I'm not posting much on here, some of you will know me from CCF though...

    I just got one of these 981's as well and started to dig into it, so any and all further info here is going to greatly help me out too! It didn't come with such a grand globe though.

    I already know the pricker rod has the pricker missing, and the lighter jet seems blocked. The vent nut is not what it should be either. I'd like to take out the whole jet part and the fuel pickup from the fount, but it's real tight and from experience it could be hard to re-align it when done - is that the case? Should I leave them and just try to clean the inside of the fount first up? Otherwise it pumps and holds pressure, so things look good for the future :-)

    Ian
    primus 981.jpg
     

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