Oil lamps - what oil?

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by M7R, 19 May 2019.

  1. M7R

    M7R Member

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    I have just got a BR Midland oil lamp that’s fully working (so the ad said).... and fancy using it in the evenings as a table lamp outside, maybe... but what oil do they burn? As I’m guessing filling them with Castro’s GTX isn’t the best idea :lol:.

    Anyone else got any old oil lamps they still use? Any tips or advice?
     
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  3. Tio Terry

    Tio Terry Member

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    Paraffin!
     
  4. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    I would imagine they used paraffin. After all, it is referred to as 'lamp oil' elsewhere.
     
  5. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Something called lamp oil (refined from petroleum) which had additives to prevent soot build up.

    Paraffin was also used but this has a tendency to produce a lot of dark smoke and soot, camphor was sometimes added to paraffin to reduce the sootiness, but lamp oil was preferred.
     
  6. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    You should be able to get “lamp oil” from a decent hardware store or camping shop. I used to buy it a few years ago for a paraffin lamp used on a narrow boat. Much cleaner than paraffin. Just googled it and the Robert Dyas chain sells it, for example.
     
  7. M7R

    M7R Member

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    I did think paraffin, but also remembered that being a bit smokey when I have seen it burnt before.

    I will have a look and see if I can get proper lamp oil close to where I live, there’s a boat yard so that maybe a start.

    I also wasn’t sure if lamp oil was just a name or an actual grade of oil so to speak...
     
  8. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    Surely, to be authentic it should be whale oil?
     
  9. trainmania100

    trainmania100 Established Member

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    A litre of petrol from your local gas station probably the quickest and cheapest resolution
    Moderator note: the above 'advice' is completely incorrect
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 20 May 2019
  10. Millisle

    Millisle Member

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    I presume that this is not a serious suggestion. This kind of lamp absolutely should not be filled with petrol.
     
  11. trainmania100

    trainmania100 Established Member

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    Can't be that much difference between petrol and paraffin?
     
  12. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    NO! NO! NO! Petrol is too flammable for use in these lamps. It will rapidly release vapour from the wick and there is a significant risk that on trying to light the lamp the build-up of vapour would cause an explosion with serious damage to the person applying the light, to say nothing of destroying the lamp.
    Paraffin and other "lamp oils" have a much higher 'flash-point' and release vapour at a relatively slow rate, avoiding the build-up of an explosive mixture.

    I would also recommend that the container is checked by filling with water prior to filling with paraffin to ensure there are no leaks.
     
  13. trainmania100

    trainmania100 Established Member

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    Thanks for clearing that up
     
  14. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Significant difference, petrol is highly flammable, I believe even the vapour can ignite quite easily.

    You want something that burns gently not burns the house down!
     
  15. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    Enormous - the 'Flash-point' of petrol; a measure of the ease of igniting it, is -46degC; for paraffin it is between +27 and +74degC depending on the exact type of paraffin.
    (I used to be a scientist working at the Fire Research station - petrol fires were lit preferably by a remotely operated ignition source while paraffin fires usually had to have a small area heated by petrol before the paraffin would ignite.)
     
  16. scott118

    scott118 Member

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    Couldn't you burn citronella oil to keep the midges away..?
     
  17. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    To recall an anecdote from the late , G Fiennes (an excellent high powered railwayman) - in WW2 he was called out to a derailment on the Great Central , so he filled his handlamp in the garage with what he assumed was lamp oil. Walked to the station in the blackout and boarded a light engine to take him to the incident.

    Once on the move , he lit the handlamp and sat down - luckily away from the lamp - which suddenly exploded.

    GF's comments were that the Leicester driver merely said , without turning round "that's bloody good paraffin" - it apparently took a lot to shake them up !
     
  18. M7R

    M7R Member

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    Funnily enough after I realised that I had been a little silly and should have just googled Lamp Oil, rather than what oil for an oil lamp.... I have been looking around and on amazon there is citronella scented lamp oil, so that’s an option
     
  19. jmh59

    jmh59 Member

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    We have a drum of lamp oil stored at the railway - I'm not there for a couple of weeks but if I get a chance I'll see what all the labels say.
     
  20. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    I think 'Lamp Oil' is Kerosene, one of the cleanest forms of paraffin, but can't be certain on that. And I know we use paraffin at St Albans South for our lamps but uncertain what grade - and unable to check at the moment.
     
  21. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Most online sources reckon it’s the other way around, paraffin is cleaner than kerosene.
     
  22. scott118

    scott118 Member

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    Places like B&Q, Homebase, & various supermarket chains sell the stuff too.
     
  23. M7R

    M7R Member

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    Well every day is a school day! Rather looking forward to my lamp arriving,
     
  24. CarltonA

    CarltonA Member

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    There's some interesting info on the various types of lamp, wicks and fuel in this wiki article:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene_lamp#Pressure_lamp

    I gained some experience of oil/gas lamps in the armed forces a few years ago. The Tilley Lamps we had used kerosene but the smell was not too bad I recall.
     
  25. farleigh

    farleigh Member

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    So is petrol safe to use or not?
     
  26. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    Definitely not.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2019
  27. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    NO
    Its not safe
     
  28. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    NO - see my posts #11 and #14 above for the technical reasons why and Chief Planner's post #16 for what can happen when the wrong fuel is used......
     
  29. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    er?

    Isnt kerosene aviation fuel?
     
  30. Whistler40145

    Whistler40145 Established Member

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    Could you use Metholated Spirit?
     
  31. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    that would burn with a cold blue flame. not much good for lighting
     

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