Tilley X359 – Fettle

Discussion in 'Fettling Forum' started by AussiePete, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    Preamble
    Some time ago, whilst prowling the Bay of Evil, eBay, I found and bought this Tilley X359 lantern.

    The X359 lantern uses a Tillite preheater, number 8781, operating as a small blow torch, to preheat the generator and the related burner parts before lighting whilst using the fount’s kerosene fuel.

    The lantern appeared to be intact including the original Tillite 8781 preheater.

    You will note the distinctive X359 hood and the fount has a similar frame configuration to the X246A.

    IMG_1041.jpeg

    The lantern arrived in a reasonably tidy condition.

    The Fettle
    The lantern was dismantled into its various components and cleaned. Excepting the glass and fount, all parts were immersed into vinegar bath for about 1 hour, removed, rinsed and brass brushed clean.
    The parts were then rinsed in clean water and put into a sonic cleaner to remove any rubbish and dirt from inside of the generator and other valve and burner related parts.
    The glass was gently washed in warm soapy water and dried. The lantern’s metal frame was sand blasted cleaning away any old chipped paint and corrosion.

    The Fount (Tank)
    To preserve the original speculum plating, the fount was carefully cleaned with a hand detergent using a soft brush. After drying, the fount was hand polished using Mothers Mag & Aluminium Polish exposing the original plating in quite good condition with some blemishes caused by age and use.

    IMG_0720.jpeg

    Paint
    The X359’s frame after being sand blasted, was spray painted in an automotive paint in a colour similar to the original gold colour.

    Seals
    All the lantern’s seals along with the pips in the pump’s NRV, Non-return Valve, and the valve cock’s NRV were replaced.

    Generator
    The original generator was stripped and heat / quenched three times removing built up carbon deposits.

    Pump Leather
    The original pump’s leather was very dry, however, it looked to be in good condition. I re-oiled it by soaking the leather in Neatsfoot Oil.


    The various components were gathered together for final assembly using a nickel ani-seize on the high temperature parts.
    IMG_1124.jpeg

    IMG_1556.jpeg

    Note:
    The base of the fount is stamped with “859XA” and “MADE IN ENGLAND”.

    The “8” of the 859XA representing the 8th month, August, and the “59” representing the year 1959, indicating the fount’s manufacture date and most probably the actual lantern’s date of manufacture. The meaning of the letters “XA” has not been deciphered.

    Tillite Preheater
    The Tillite preheater, number 8781, was dismantled and checked. Luckily the preheater’s jet seal was found to be in excellent condition. After taking measurements for future reference, the original jet’s seal was reinstalled.

    IMG_1125.jpeg
    IMG_0604.jpeg

    The Tillite’s breakdown and configuration, as created and posted by H. Plews, has been reproduced to provide clarity on how the preheater operates.

    The preheater was installed back into the fount and successfully fire tested.

    IMG_1557.jpeg

    Assembly
    The X359’s parts were reassembled back into a recognisable lantern.

    IMG_1077.jpeg

    The Money Shot
    After about 20 or so pumps of air were applied to the fount, the Tillite preheater was rotated to “on” and lit.

    IMG_1562.jpeg

    After about 2 minutes of preheat the valve cock was opened and the mantle ignited. the Tillite preheater was rotated to “off”.

    Pumping a further 60 strokes on a near full tank of kerosene, the lit lantern settled down and ran flawlessly for over an hour.

    IMG_1574.jpeg

    The following photos shows the clearance between the X359’s glass and the Tillite preheater.

    IMG_1576.jpeg

    After the hour’s test run the lantern was turned off by slowly releasing the fount’s pressure by unscrewing the pump/fuel filler.


    Summary
    In this fettled Tilley X359, excepting the seals and NRVs’ pips, all the original parts were reused, including the generator.

    I found the Tillite preheater was rather temperamental and care had to be exercised to ensure that after the preheat, the pressurised kerosene vapour was turned off fully without leaking. There was also a propensity, during the preheat stage, to soot up the glass somewhat.

    The fettled X359 lit and ran flawlessly with a gentle hiss for its 1-hour test.

    I had a lot of satisfaction resurrecting and seeing this lantern lit by its preheater. However I do understand why the Tillite preheater was not further developed or carried through to other Tilley lantern models.

    Thank you for looking.

    Cheers
    Pete
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2020
  2. Mr cod

    Mr cod Subscriber

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    Excellent detailed post, its come out looking very good, well fettled.
    Regards Ian.
     
  3. Anthony

    Anthony Australia Subscriber

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    Superb post Pete.

    What is the preheater seal made of ??
     
  4. Greenboy23

    Greenboy23 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Excellent detailed post and fettle Pete,
    Lee
     
  5. bigsnake7004

    bigsnake7004 Subscriber

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    Really nice job and details. Thanks for your sharing.
    Regards Gavin
     
  6. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    Good question! Whatever it was, it led a hard life in a tricky environment and soon went hard. In that state it couldn't do the job and, apparently, Tilley had lots returned under warranty. They eventually solved the problem by removing the Tillite in its entirety and replacing it with a blanking bolt. Probably there's a suitable sheet material available nowadays but the seal would be tricky to cut out.

    I've never seen one lit and working but I was under the impression they should produce a blue, aerated bunsen flame - a bit like the Petromax-type equivalent. Dunno... :-k
     
  7. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @Anthony
    The preheater’s seal I used was the original one and it feels like some sort of a gasket material with a slightly rubbery give. This give allows it to slightly deform and make a seal however it’s stiff enough to keep it’s shape. I have looked high and low for something similar. I think @Darryl Durdin was using/trying some 3mm Viton sheet to cut a seal from.
    I have some gasket material, as used in boilers, that I’m going to experiment with, but my concern is the stuff I have hasn’t enough give to form a seal, we’ll see.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  8. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @David Shouksmith
    Yes you’re right about the flame.
    I obtained a better preheater burn when I increased the pressure in the fount from the recommended 20 pumps to about 40 pumps. The preheater flame was noticeably bluer and more intense.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
  9. BigStevie

    BigStevie United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Another great fettle Pete with all the usual detail. Another lamp on my to find list....
     
  10. ColinG

    ColinG United Kingdom Subscriber

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    A great fettle, well documented.

    Thinking about the pre-heater material, it has to have two different qualities in one. It needs to be stuff so it doesn't bend out of the way but soft enough to seal the jet. I suggest a laminate consisting of a plate of stainless to provide rigidity bonded to a thin Viton rubber sheet. If the viton was bonded with epoxy and the stainless surface roughed up to provide a key, it should work.
     
  11. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    The originals were about 1mm from memory - 3mm is going to be far too thick (and difficult to cut such a small, intricate shape, I'd have thought). Having said that, my 1mm nitrile is too flexible and I think the same will apply to Viton.

    I just used a meths torch to light my X359 - far less clart-on! :D
     
  12. JEFF JOHNSON

    JEFF JOHNSON United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Well saved!:thumbup::D/:D/:clap::clap::thumbup:
     
  13. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    @AussiePete

    I’ve got some gasket material that is similar to fuel stove gasket, but a bit more flexible.

    It’s used for high temperature gasket applications.

    If you send me a “Conversation” with your address I’ll send you some to test for this task.

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  14. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Great fettle and also good to see it working as it should:thumbup:

    I have to say that it didn't 'alf scrub up well? :) ...If you don't mind me asking, what did you use on the hood, btw?:-k
     
  15. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @podbros
    Thanks for your comments.
    The hood was cleaned first with hot soapy water and dried. Then I use “Brasso” applied in the usual way and polished off. The Brasso doesn’t dull or scratch the enamel and heat has no discernible effect to the enamel’s finish.

    Warning

    Don’t use any other cutting or waxing polish on the enamel. These polishes will dull the shine on the enamel and, in most cases, the original shine can’t be resurrected.

    Cheers
    Pete
     
  16. Gary Waller

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    @AussiePete i have just acquired one of these, not in quite as good condition as yours but complete. I’m just about to start the Fettle...
     
  17. podbros

    podbros United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Thanks Pete! :)

    Hmmm..Brasso eh? i'll give it a go:thumbup:
     
  18. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @Gary Waller
    Yes, I seen your related post. These are a unique Tilley lantern and yours looks to be relatively intact with a working Tillite preheater. That’s a real bonus.
    Enjoy your fettle and don’t forget to post your money shot.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  19. Darryl Durdin

    Darryl Durdin Australia Subscriber

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    @Anthony
    @AussiePete
    Great review Pete.
    I coppied the burner gasket/seal original was like some sort of plastic.
    I made one from a 1mm thick piece of a blue gasket sheet my local pipe hose and fitting shop gave me. It worked well, only the slight rise in the jet wore away the gasket and it kept leaking.
    I did copy it again in 3mm viton rubber, this did seal it but it could not handle the mecanical movement and would not cam across as it was ment to, i think the cam lug holes weren't stiff enough. I stiil have my lantern, i have shelved it for now, im looking for some other gasket type materials.
    Open to any ideas. Thanks fellas
     
  20. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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  21. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    Many years ago when I was trying to sort out my own X359, someone (I think it was Ross) put me onto this:-

    https://www.heritagesteamsupplies.co.uk/gasket-sheet-jointing/gasket-jointing/chieftain.html

    It seemed to have at least some the required properties (heat resistance, degree of stiffness, flexibility etc.) but my local gasket material company didn't stock it. Even if they did, somehow I don't think I'd have been buying a sheet - especially just to try it out! In any case, it's meant to be fixed in place semi-permanently and not mobile as in the X359.

    The problem, as I see it anyway, is that you need something stiff enough to be moved by the pivoting pin arrangement but flexible enough to form a seal yet hard-wearing and heat resistant at the same time. Presumably there wasn't anything that Tilley could find 60 years ago and they ended up abandoning the Tillite altogether - the X359 was a very short-lived model and warranty claims were dealt with by replacing the Tillite with a blanking plug.

    I suspect Colin's idea of a composite seal - stiff on one side, flexible on the other - may be the way to success. What about 0.5mm Viton bonded to 0.5mm aluminium sheet? Even then, will the Viton be sufficiently wear-resistant? Hmm :-k

    Or just use a meths torch... :D/
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  22. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

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    Or one of these, David:

    DB4C8FFB-5F00-443E-B337-549614834DA8.jpeg

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  23. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

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    Yep, there's one of those fitted to my X359. I tried it and found out it was a POS... :-& :cry:

    Henry Plews and I had it apart at a Newark Meet and, as well as a hardened seal, found the pivot pin was loose and rattling around inside. I was going to get a jeweller friend to silver solder it back in place and then I just thought, ' Ah, f...'

    :-s :? If they wanted to keep on with the idea, why didn't Tilley just come up with their own version of the Petromax blow-lamp pre-heaters..? :-k
     
  24. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @David Shouksmith
    It’s almost like it was the cheapest solution that Tilley could find to answer a perceived market need. At best the Tillite preheater is poorly designed and it’s no wonder it was a failure.
    As we can see, poor design for a cheap solution equals a big failure.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  25. ROBBO55

    ROBBO55 Subscriber

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    @AussiePete

    Excellent fettle and post Pete. :thumbup:

    I have two X359's and both soot up the glass and mantle if I use the Tillite so I preheat with metho.

    I'm not sure what the original seal was made from.

    I made a new seal for both of them from the 1.5mm gasket material I use for the burner washer on kero stoves. Bought it on ebay High Temperature Gasket Material A4 300mm x 214mm x 1.5mm A4 SIZE 1/16 THICK | eBay
    The seals have been in two lanterns for about two years and still work. But they don't get a lot of action.

    1.5mm gasket material, the slots for the pivot pins are 2mm dia. and I think 2.5mm for the jet hole? They are fiddley to make and dimensions / curves are critical to a successful operation.

    1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5.JPG

    And a warning Don't reassemble it without the seal and try twisting it! The device is spring loaded and without the seal the two surfaces come together. Twisting will shear off one of the pins. I know! ] ](*,)

    @Tony Press

    Both of my X359s are dated 1159
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  26. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @ROBBO55
    I have 2 more Tilley 359s, one is a bit of a basket case, the fount is not too good. Both the associated Tillites need gaskets and one has its pin seared off, well actually, pulled out of its hole, I most likely did it by fiddling around. I reckon that I will be able to make a new pin and fit it .... fingers crossed.
    Thanks for the heads up on the gasket material.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  27. ROBBO55

    ROBBO55 Subscriber

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    @AussiePete

    Fiddling is how I sheered the pin off in mine.
    I assume the missing pin is the one in the pressed metal cap. If I remember correctly it is 2mm dia x 2mm long before reducing to 1mm (with a shoulder) to mount in the cap. So overall length is 2mm + thickness of cap. I'm sure you will work it out. :thumbup:
     
  28. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

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    @ROBBO55
    Thanks mate, yes it’s the pin in the pressed metal cap.
    In reality, I believe that the Tillite design is quite poor and looks to be done to a budget and not for a robust purpose. It’s no surprise to me that it was a failure.
    Cheers
    Pete
     

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