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Thread: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers/Surging

  1. #1
    Flashaholic FlashPilot's Avatar
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    Default PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers/Surging

    My Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers. It goes from 100% brightness down to about 80% (perceived) and back to 100%. Its very distracting. This has happened with two brand new lanterns that I bought several years apart. I returned the first one because of it and thought Id try again in case i got a defective copy the first time. Ive tried different pressure settings, different levels in the fuel tank, new Coleman fuel bought at two different locations, unleaded fuel, different ambient temperatures. Ive taken them apart and they are clean and free of obstructions. Well of course they are... they are brand new. I searched several times and couldnt come up with any answers, but noted that several others have reported the same problem. I called Coleman and they advised me to run it with half fuel in the tank. I told them this didnt help the situation and they didnt have an answer. I wonder if this is simply a design flaw. Maybe most people dont notice the flickering or it doesnt bother them, so they dont report it. Ive read hundreds of positive reviews and some negative because of the flickering beam. I have several other duel mantle coleman fuel lanterns and none of them do this.

    I live at 3000 above sea level and wonder if the higher altitude causes it to run to rich. I could try running a different generator to make it run leaner but dont know if any others could be modded to fit or swap in directly. Am I one the right track here to curing flickering? I also thought about shielding a portion of the generator to see if that helps. Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. I really want to like this lantern because of the huge light output and convenience, but the unstable flame is so annoying and distracting.
    Last edited by FlashPilot; 10-18-2011 at 10:36 PM.
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    Flashaholic* Samy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    I have 2 of the older style coleman lanterns. One is a single and the other a newer style twin mantle. They don't give any dramas whatsoever. My friend has a Northstar and he had no end of trouble with the mantles. They wouldn't light or set properly and they are quite expensive. The smaller style dual fuel lanterns are the way to go.

    cheers

  3. #3
    Flashaholic FlashPilot's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    I agree completely. The older style lamps are bullet proof and work extremely well. I own about 25 of them. Id really like to know if someone has corrected the flickering flame problem with the northstar. Its worth resolving (if possible) since it is so incredibly bright. Its at least 1/3 brighter than my tuned 295 powerhouse on thorium silk lites! Yeah... that bright. If we can resolve the flickering issue of the northstar, many many other owners will be happy to own this model and experience true continuous full power 100% of the time.

    Can anyone help me with my northstar flicker?
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    BVH's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    I'd call what you're describing "surging" as opposed to "flickering". While that may be a technicality, to me it better describes the issue. Let me qualify first...flickering would be similar to a flickering candle. A cycle of surging might take place over a few seconds or more. You've done a lot of investigating that I would have done. How about the venting system? Is it large enough to allow the spent gases to exit unabated? If there isn't enough venting, pressure could rise in the combustion chamber, inhibiting gas flow to the mantels. (less pressure differential between chamber and fuel tank) As less fuel is consumed, the burn intensity is reduced, allowing the chamber to vent properly. Repeat, repeat, etc.

    I assume there is some type of pressure relief valve incorporated. Is there a chance that as the lamp body and fuel tank heats up, the pressure relief valve pops off (maybe not even audible) again reducing pressure in the tank.

    You mention it's "dual fuel" Does it burn propane also? If so, does the surge occur on this fuel? I see it's dual liquid fuel.

    Added:

    Does the surging happen only when on High or at all levels?

    It seems like the problem is gas pressure related. Have you tried pumping when it's surging? If so, does it change anything?

    I looked at the parts breakdown and don't see any type of governing/regulating device that would throttle back power under high heat or high pressure conditions.
    Last edited by BVH; 10-18-2011 at 09:46 PM.
    WWII 60" Anti Aircraft Carbon Arc (Sold), Short Arcs: 1.6KW NightSun, 1KW VSS-3A, .8KW TrakkaBeam, 600 Watt M-134 Gun Light, 500 Watt X-500-14s, 500 Watt Starburst, 300 Watt Locators, Megaray, 150 Watt Set Beam & Communicator, Maxabeam Gen3, LarryK14@52V

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    Flashaholic FlashPilot's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    Surging is definitely a more appropriate term for the lighting output deferential this lamp is experiencing. Unfortunately, the enclosure isnt suffering from a mild form of hypoxia in-between surges because it also does this with the glass and top removed. This model is strictly liquid fueled and there is no check valve mechanism. The fuel is pressurized in the holding tank and then semi atomized as it is sent up a tube that parallels the flame source. This tube (generator) is heated by the hot mantle and further vaporizes the fuel where it is expelled into the top of an air tube (tuned plenum) where cool air (o2) is mixed and then expelled onto the hot flaming mantle. My theory is that if the fuel mixture is running rich, the mixture passing through the brass generator can cool it to the point where it isnt atomizing the fuel consistently. The surge is induced by the cooling of the generator from the cool fuel blowing through it (creating less pressure, and light) and then flares back up again from the presence of the unspent fuel present from the previous cycle. When it flares up again, the ignition process is cavitated by either insufficient fuel or oxygen (Im not sure which one but I suspect O2) and the whole cycle start over again. Possibly a cooler fuel charge or less fuel in the mixture might resolve the problem but that is only my guess. If no one has resolves this surging problem, I might have to find some sort of an insulator and systematically start shielding off portions of the generator tube to shield it from the radiant heat of the mantles. My theory being that the generator tube is being overexposed to the heat source and creating a heating/cooling effect (with my rich fuel theory) in quick succession that might be causing the surge. Another observation is that this mantle burns less white in color to my other early model coleman lanterns. I havent seen other lanterns of this model to compare except the two that I have owned.
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    Flashaholic FlashPilot's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    Im just bumping this thread. Does anyone have experience with this lantern in resolving the flickering issues?
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    Feel your pain. Had this problem a couple of years ago with my NorthStar - although white gas only. Changed the generator. Worked fine after that. Maybe because your lantern is new, you could return it.

    Good luck.
    "If can...can. If no can...no can."




  8. #8
    Flashaholic FlashPilot's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    I went through the same troubleshooting steps with yet another NorthStar and the problems persist. Thats 3 lanterns now!.. never again Coleman. You can keep the flimsy worthless junk you now manufacture.

    Im now the proud new owner of a 1948 Coleman Empire 237 Kerosene Lantern.

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    BVH's Avatar
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    Default Re: PLEASE HELP! Coleman NorthStar Dual Fuel InstaStart Lantern Flickers

    That's one good way to fix the problem for good!
    WWII 60" Anti Aircraft Carbon Arc (Sold), Short Arcs: 1.6KW NightSun, 1KW VSS-3A, .8KW TrakkaBeam, 600 Watt M-134 Gun Light, 500 Watt X-500-14s, 500 Watt Starburst, 300 Watt Locators, Megaray, 150 Watt Set Beam & Communicator, Maxabeam Gen3, LarryK14@52V

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