Diesel/Kerosene Sea Anchor Pressure Lantern – At Starr & Bullock Hardware
Throughout the years of Prepping 101 I have had the luxury of checking out luxury products. This is one of those times, and it is interesting that this particular product was where I ended off back in 2016 when I temporarily shelved Prepping 101, because you guys thought clot shot Trump was going to save us all. Well he didn’t, and everyone seems to be talking about empty supermarket shelves now.
So for those of you who survived so far, and those of you who saw what was going on, didn’t take the shot I’ve been dusting off some of the products that I never covered. So far they haven’t crashed the banks yet, so most of you can afford luxury products like this one. Just make sure food is your first priority. A shitload of it.
For those of you who camp, as you can see, this is not a standard Coleman propane lantern. For those of you who don’t, and had no idea what this was at all, before the days of LEDs, when electric lanterns only lasted part of a night on four D batteries, a lot of us used a lantern a lot like you see here. They burn “white gas,” otherwise known as Coleman fuel, which is just distilled gasoline. The mantles are much you see in this lantern, and they are also in the newer propane bottle lanterns as well.
The lanterns are fine indoors. They don’t smoke, and the white flame burns all of the carbon monoxide, so they aren’t dangerous, except that they are of course a rip roaring fire and generate at least 5,000 BTU of heat.
In most of the United States, though not where I live (and where you quite possibly are trying to move to), winter is particularly favorable to a really bright fuel burning lantern that produces a lot of heat. In the winter it both gets dark early, and it s cold. That is the beauty of this product, as well as other mantle lanterns. If you live where it is not cold in the winter, and where you will be also absent air conditioning if you are absent light, it may not be for you. Outside it will still be useful when you need a lot of light.
Five hundred candlepower is really bright. It is sufficient for a large room, or for a gathering of people outside to be able to see each others faces. The only brighter off grid lamp you will find are the two mantle Coleman lamps, most of which burn gasoline as well as white gas well. There is an Amish supplier of two mantle kerosene lamps, but they come and go in availability.
These lanterns burn kerosene, and for our purposes, diesel, which is a fraction of the price of kerosene in the most of the US. And this is one product meant for kerosene that I would say to be careful with as to the quality of the diesel that you burn in it. Before the final path to the ceramic atomizer, it has a pinhole atomizer at the end of pressure chain, and the hole is actually the width of less than a pin. So I would stick to highway grade diesel. Off-road diesel and home heating oil are probably not a good idea, but K-1 kerosene is of course also great.
Highway grade diesel is not the fuel it was every several years ago. It is no longer yellow, and no longer smells like sulfur. It is the same stuff as K1 kerosene. Some jackass already posted in the Youtube comments that diesel gets moldy after a few months, but the yellow can of diesel you see here in the video had been sitting, half full, for over five years. No mold.
Diesel is also way safer to store than gasoline, and does not require specialized containers. I personally use any HDPE container to store diesel, but you can do as you wish. For large quantities, I use an IBC tote, which you can usually find locally on Offerup or Craigslist. Again, that’s just me, not advice. Unless you heat diesel, it is super safe. It has no flammable fumes like gasoline, and you can throw a lit match into a pool of room temperature diesel and the match will go out.
This model lantern is the Sea Anchor 950, made in China. You are welcome to leave scathing comments on buying things from China, but until these things are made in the US, I would prefer that the idiot commentators just wait it out. The last version of a kerosene pressure lantern sold in the US, at Cabelas, Bass Pro, Dicks, etc., was the Wenzel, and it was not as good as this model because it didn’t have the preheat cannon, as you will see in the video. I have one of these and will compare the two in a future column. For some reason I lost the video I shot for this one.
A new in the box Wenzel recently sold on Ebay for over $300. The wooden box is cool, and as I said I have one, but the lantern is made by Sea Anchor, and the sticker on the box says Made in China.
When you open the 950, unscrew the side nuts, and lift the preheat assembly off. It is a little sticky because there is paper around the glass, and there are two plastic inserts that must be removed before lighting.
Fill the tank with two cups of fresh diesel. And take one of the rubber washers from the spare parts bag and put it in the fuel cap. I frustrated myself with that little detail a bit at first.
To install the mantle, watch my video here, because I show you how I puff it out after tying it. The ultimate shape of your mantle is a shrunken version of the starting shape, so if you don’t want folds that create dark spots, make sure it is fully puffed out. Be careful tying the mantle on. The strings are super frail and break easy. Double knot it or the mantle will fall off.
Gentle drop the mantle inside the preheater tube. Diesel/kerosene must be heater before it is lit (unless it is super atomized as you’ll see with the cannon), so that is why that pre-heater tube is there. Put the arrow on the adjustment knob in the straight up position, and make sure the preheater cannon door is closed.
Make sure the locking screw on the filler cap is also tight, and pump the lantern until it reaches the red line on the dial.
Now, if you just let some fuel in and try to light the mantle, as you would with a white gas Coleman, it will not light reliably, and it’ll smoke like a chimney until it does, blackening your globe and filling the top with soot.
In the bottom of the lantern you will see a pre-heater cup made of brass. It is for alcohol, should you want to preheat with that. The Wenzel relies on this method in fact.
The 950 doesn’t have to be lit this way. As you’ll see in the video, it has a preheater device that atomizes the pressurized fuel so that it can be lit for preheating. It is literally a flame cannon, which is why we of course use a mantle when we want to just get a nice light from a lantern. The cannon lights easily, and only needs to burn for a little bit before you can open up the main fuel line to bring fuel into the mantle. You do this by turning the red dial sideways.
At first you will see yellow flame around the mantle, but it really doesn’t smoke much. The mantle will gradually get more and more white, and when there is no more yellow flame, then you can adjust the lantern as you wish. You may need to re-pressurize a bit after using the cannon.
The mantle turns to ash, and will last a long time as long as you don’t give the lantern a good knock, or knock it over. As time goes on the mantle will get more and and more susceptible to breakage, and then it will just start to break and you will see flames coming out of the holes. It is then time for a new mantle. You get lots of hours out of one if the lantern is stationary.
The other wear part on the lantern is the ceramic atomizer on which you tie the mantle. But I don’t know how long it takes them to fail. Star & Bullock sell both the mantles and the ceramic. The lantern comes with an extra brass pinhole atomizer, a leather for the pump, and a gasket for the fuel cap, as well as a couple types of nipple pick. Full english directions (written by someone Chinese so just eh) also come with the lamp.
I arranged for Star & Bullock Hardware to bring these lanterns into the country, so if you like to stay away from grifters in the prepping space, you can go try to find one elsewhere. Good luck. There should be enough to get through the initial wave of orders from this article and video, and if more can be had it will take some time, and will most likely be more expensive due to production and shipping costs skyrocketing. So if you want one, it might be prudent to get it now at this price.
Diesel/Kerosene Sea Anchor Pressure Lantern – At Starr & Bullock Hardware