Running unleaded in a Coleman fuel device

Got a “can I run unleaded in my 220H” question today off the Coleman page on my websiteThis one is converted to kerosene, but is otherwise stock..  The 220H was a popular Coleman fuel pressure lantern;  it is not designed for unleaded.   Voted “most likely to be found at a garage sale”.   I am not quoting the actual question as that might violate their privacy.

Pasting my answer in here for posterity.  Feel free to disagree with my answer.

It’s a matter of some debate in the pressure lantern community, and it depends on why one wants to run unleaded. If it’s an emergency, do what ya gotta do and deal with the consequences later. Unleaded is no more dangerous than Coleman in terms of fuel safety itself. If it’s cost or convenience then there are costs and effort to be paid later and it’s up to every man to decide how it balances out.

There are at least three problems, in order of decreasing seriousness:

1. Unleaded will foul generators faster than Coleman.
2. ethanol, if present, will not be good for seals
3. the air/fuel mix is somewhat different between the two, and the gas tip (outlet orifice) is not set up for unleaded. Should be close, though, definitely not as big a deal as converting to kero or something like that.

On one of the pages I did the back-of-envelope calculations: “Unleaded will foul generators faster than Coleman fuel. Depending on the cost of generators, coleman, and unleaded you’d have to burn about 3 gallons of unleaded in a small stove/lantern to break even and up to 7 gallons of unleaded in larger stoves with more expensive generators.”

Three gallons is about 12 complete tanks in a 220H-sized fount, maybe 100hrs of actual running time.

There are people who report running unleaded over the long term with good results. They generally do one or more of the following:
* bite the bullet and buy gens as needed. Luckily they are widely available and not $$$. Keep at least one spare on hand.
* pull the gens and clean/torch them regularly. IIRC the torch method is not available on this gen; I think it has a paper insert that would be damaged. Been a while since I’ve disassembled an H’s generator.
* run a tank of Coleman every 3 or 4 tanks of unleaded; theoretically this dissolves and burns off the deposits. Don’t know for sure but might be worth trying.

As for me, I run Coleman in Coleman-only gear (with the exception of the 220H I converted to run “amish blend” kerosene). Even in my dual fuel devices I run a tank of Coleman through every 3-4 tanks or so as described above. This year I picked up a full size modern dualfuel lantern for $20 and a hiking dual fuel lantern for $10. So it’s possible to find a cheap 2nd lantern that will run on unleaded by design.

I probably muddied the waters further. Sorry about that. 🙂

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