Monday, November 02, 2009

The Sunshine of the Night

There are few things that are more aggravating than writing a detailed blog post about the Coleman lantern and having it get sucked into the black hole that is cyberspace. It was a pretty good post. Trust me, it was excruciatingly detailed and had a lot of history about the evolution of the Coleman lantern.

The good news is that now I have done my first edit, and it'll be a lot shorter and probably more interesting. Buh-bye, unnecessary details.

The facts of the matter are these:
  1. We own three Coleman lanterns that we know of: a 5155 (propane), a 288 (white gas), and a 220F (see #4) .
  2. There may be a fourth. We're not sure.
  3. Some of them are newer and without personality, which means they start quickly, don't flare up and make sooty black smoke, and are utterly boring. But good.
  4. One of them is a 1969 220F, a common enough lantern to be noncollectable unless they are in the original box with the original documentation. Then the Japanese buy them for $250.00. The Japanese are weird about vintage gear.

Which brings me to the meat of the former post...what to do about the 220F. It is temperamental, flaring up when you start it unless you futz with it, like a second violin who likes to be the last person playing the tuning A during warm-ups.*

Once the 220F is fired up and settles down, it works okay. A little bit dimmer than its newer cousin, our 288, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it. It just isn't quite right.

The 220F in question

A few blocks from the shop is an old-school Coleman camper dealer with all the parts necessary to rebuild the 220F. It might cost me ten bucks to buy a new generator and get her all overhauled and rebuilt. Which would be fun for me because I like futzing with old gear.

At the same time, it's probably a waste of ten bucks because it's still running fine, just a little rough. If it were a V8 it would be missing on one cylinder occasionally when down-shifting. You might get to it, you might not.

While contemplating this small dilemma, I got all profound and stuff. It happens to me at the weirdest times, like while polishing the glass of the 220F when a flare-up blackened the top of it with nasty greasy soot.

My realization is that I am a lot like this 220F. I am not temperamental and I don't flare up, but I am sure I am not running at 100%, physically or spiritually.

For years, maybe a century, the Coleman by-line has been The Sunshine of the Night. The average user won't see it since they put it on the bottom of the lanterns, and I bet 99.44% of the users never turn the lantern over other than to check the model number should you need a replacement part. But there it is, along with the old Coleman logo. To quote Bruce Hornsby, "That's just the way it is...some thing should never change."

So while I am not exactly running a peak efficiency, I still put out a decent amount of light. I might have a small hole in one of my mantles, but otherwise I am quite sound. I feel accepted by the Larger Light, doing my small part to bring some Sunshine to the night that is the world today. We need more lights, and if they sputter and smoke a little bit, that's just the way it is.

At the same time, for ten bucks I can fix this old lantern, 40 years old and still kicking. In some ways I am sorry it is not a 1962 model like me, but then the metaphor would be too much, even for a guy who never met a phor he didn't like.

So what would it take to make my light a little brighter? Should I invest the time and resources to gain that extra few candlepower that might illuminate a dark corner in someone's life, or do I content myself with pretty bright?

I have never been one for stasis. I like moving forward. I like growing and refining myself, not necessarily because Larger Light won't accept me as I am, but because it's what makes life interesting and enjoyable and challenging. It's the same reason my friend Steph jumps off cliffs wearing a wing suit. She is interested in pushing herself to accomplish new things, even though she could easily rest on her pile of Base Gear and have accomplished more than most of us will in a lifetime.

I am in the continual process of rebuilding myself. So it stands to reason might want to stop in at Jerry's Camping and grab a rebuild kit for the 220F. I think it would be good for both of us.

Some things should never change...that's just the way it is...but don't you believe it.

Respectfully submitted,


*It doesn't matter, second violin. We won't hear you anyway.


Silbs said...

Fix the light. Fix your own mantle at the same time (insurance will probably cover 80% of the cost and your family will enjoy you not being so sooty).

canoelover said...

I bought the parts. The generator was replaced first (outpatient surgery). Didn't help much. Next I am going to replace the fuel tube assembly (thoracic surgery). They're simple but this one's 40 years old and has some atherosclerosis.

Silbs said...

Does this thing have a DNR order??

Solomon Family said...

hey I just found your blog... we hardly have to time to chat, so it was fun to read some of what you are thinking out loud. I think we all need some tuning... or fine tuning, or complete overhauling... different times, different process?!

canoelover said...

Indeed we do, Solomons.

Dick, there is no DNR. I gave it angioplasty (reamed out the generator), but I think I need to look at a new heart (fuel assembly).

You can't kill a Coleman.