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Working on it

I've restored something other than a Morris Minor

If you're going camping in a 44 year old vehicle, what better to take with you than...
Optimus 8R closed
A classic Optimus 8R Hunter petrol camping stove.

It had become rather rusty and dirty having been stored in a damp garage since the last time I went camping, mumble years ago. A good clean, polish, and a respray later:
Optimus 8R open
Incidentally the paint colour is called Royal Blue, but it's a fair bit lighter than the Royale Blue I painted Fenchurch in.

My dad bought the stove new when he first started climbing about 40 years ago, and he lugged it up and down mountains all over Britain and mainland Europe. Optimus is a Swedish company that started making camping stoves in 1899 and still makes them today; in fact they only discontinued this model a couple of years ago.

The main disadvantage a petrol stove has compared to a bottled gas stove is that it takes a few minutes to start it up because you have to get the vaporiser hot enough to boil the liquid fuel. You can pour meths or squirt a special "petroleum paste" into the trough under the burner, or do as I do and warm the tank with your hand with the valve open until petrol dribbles out of the jet and drips down into the trough. When you've got enough fuel in it, close the valve, light it with a match, a quick "woomph" of flame singes the fine hair off the backs of your fingers, then you wait about a minute for the burner to warm up...

Just before the preheater runs out of fuel, open the valve and it should fire up with a roaring blue flame. The flame is a bit weak at first, but give it a couple more minutes to get up to full running temperature, and it's at least as powerful as a gas stove of equivalent size and weight, if not more so. It certainly puts out quite a bit more heat than our cheap Calor Gas stove.

Boiling water
The brass burner glows red hot in operation. It took 7 minutes from cold to boil 0.5 litres of water (more than enough for a mug of tea) in an open pan. I reckon an additional 0.5 litres would probably take less than 5 minutes.


Given the age doesn't it require leaded fuel? G,d&r
Actually I looked up the instructions and it specifically says to use unleaded white gasoline (not car gasoline). It does work fine with ordinary unleaded from a petrol station. Presumably there's some additives in car petrol that will clog up the vaporiser quicker than the "correct" stuff.
I should say, at a guess, that 'White' gasoline of forty years ago would in fact be what we now call unleaded.
It's a splendid item. i would also take various inappropriate camping items, including an Army Surplus tent, a concertina-style wooden camping bed, a huge, unweildy and heavy tin box for utensils and food, and another even more unweildy one full of spares. And one of those little lights that attaches to the battery by means of a braided cable. Not only will this ensure electric light in the tent at night, but also that you need the starting-handle in the mornings.

Car overheats but doesn't boil; top hose hot bottom one only warm; doesn't lose water; and it's not the water pump. Any ideas?
I fancied a Tilley paraffin lamp but there wasn't enough time left to procure a suitable one from eBay and I couldn't find one at the giant car boot sale, so I've had to make do with a new gas lamp instead. We had those old canvas tents when I was in Scouts and they were a bit of a nightmare. ISTR that if it was raining and you touched the inside of the canvas, the rain came through, and any water running across the ground would come straight over the groundsheet. I sensibly took a camp bed rather than one of those foam rolls, so my sleeping bag remained nice and dry, until the lad sleeping next to me took exception to this and tipped me out of it...

I tried starting Fenchurch on the handle yesterday and was amazed by how easy it was compared to my first Minor. When the starter motor died on the old one I spent about a week using the handle, and I really had to use all my strength to whizz the engine around as fast as I could for several revolutions, the front of the car bouncing up and down on its suspension as I did so. If the engine was hot it was impossible to hand start until it had cooled down because the expanded piston rings made it harder to turn. Eventually the handle slipped off the dog and punched a hole in the bottom of the radiator, and I had to soft-solder a temporary patch over the hole because I was about to drive a hundred miles home from Middlesbrough.

WRT to the overheating, how hot is it getting? The first thing to try is taking the radiator off and back-flushing it with a hosepipe until it runs clear, and putting a hose in the thermostat outlet of the engine and back-flushing that with the water jacket drain cock open. Make sure you put the correct concentration of antifreeze in the coolant because it helps with cooling too. If that doesn't cure it, you could try putting some drain cleaner into the system (something that claims to dissolve limescale) and running it on a fast tickover for half an hour, then flush it out with clean water again.
I might get some of that flushing stuff- I've already back-flushed the block and the rad. It's not getting stupidly hot, i.e. not blowing the pressure cap and banging away to itself when it stops; but then that is really serious overheating.
I did wonder if it might be the pressure cap though.
Mine's always been easy to start with the handle- in fact, i did so every night throughout the winter, as for some reason I resented buying a new battery. good practice though, i can now hand-start a Model T.
Car overheats but doesn't boil; top hose hot bottom one only warm; doesn't lose water; and it's not the water pump. Any ideas?

Think simple - has the thermostat capsule died?
Well- it may have done, although last time that happened on me it boiled within 3 miles, and i mean BOILED- by the time I found somewhere safe to stop there was steam escaping from under the cylinder head, and taking the cap off caused it to rumble like a volcano and slurp all the water from the rad down into its bowels somewhere, and then spit it out. Exciting, but unhelpful. Thus, it's a pretty new thermostat. I may run ot without, just to see if it makes a difference..
I don't think the Optimus 8R is available new any more, but you can pick up good used ones on eBay pretty easily. They are not particularly rare.