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  • Meg Cuthbert

How to Light a Coleman Lantern, and Other Coleman Tips from my Dad.

My Dad collects a lot of things. Clocks, knives, vintage blow torches, barometers, sometimes buckets of mercury (don’t tell anyone) and Coleman lanterns. To date he estimates that he has 35 Coleman lanterns at his house.

The Coleman phenomenon started the way every collection starts, with one. The first Coleman lantern came from my Grandma’s house. He cleaned it up got it running and then picked up another one, and then one for parts, and then one that was underpriced (they don’t even know what they’re selling), and then oh my gosh these things are collectables!!! It’s a slippery kerosene slope (but usually white gas), that I can relate to, as a person who doesn’t collect Coleman lanterns but somehow owns three.

Like every serious, chronic, collector, my Dad is more of a researcher, restorer and historian. He went from no lanterns to 35 and can tell you just about everything there is to know about Canadian Coleman lanterns and how to restore, rebuild and maintain them. They have a longer history than you think and they are built to last.

One of the many things my Dad has taught me is to maintain quality items. It’s true that things aren’t built like they used to be, and these lanterns are worth preserving.

How to Light A Coleman Lantern

  1. Make sure there is pressure in the tank. You can do this by opening in the fuel cap and listening for pressure to release.

  2. Turn the pump counter-clockwise to open it and pump it a few times (10-15) to create pressure. Close the pump.

  3. Turn the dial just a little bit (less than a quarter turn).

  4. Bring a flame (lighter or match) underneath the globe (there’s a hole that you can bring the flame up to).

  5. If the lantern doesn’t light right away, turn the prick cleaner 360 degrees a few times to clean the generator. The prick will need to be pointed down for the lantern to light.

  6. Once the flame is out and the mantel is lit, open the dial all the way.

  7. Give the lantern another 20 - 30 pumps and let it shine.

Coleman Lantern Maintenance Tips

  1. Never screw the top bolt down all the way. When the lantern heats up the lid expands and the bolt can crack the paint.

  2. Never touch the mantel! It can cause holes, and holes can direct flame at the glass globe, causing scotch marks.

  3. If you’re not getting pressure from the pump, take it out and soak the leather in oil, even olive oil works to loosen it up.

  4. Unless it’s going to be a ‘Shelf Queen’ don’t bother waxing it, the heat will just destroy the wax anyways.

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