Saving a Tilley Lamp.

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Established Member
22 May 2020
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I got this tidy and complete Tilly Lamp for £5, as the last owner could not get it to work.

If you are after a Tilly, get one which is complete. As some spares are getting eye watering.

The dust turned out to be some kind of plaster dust.


Take the pump out, this tank had the wrong fuel in it. Take the time to wash it out with a Solvent type clutch and brake cleaner.

The pump washer here was in good condition, a soak in warm Veg oil had it perfect.
I took the time to strip and clean the None return valve as well.

Reassemble and place thumb over the holes and pump, you should feel pressure. The correct operation of the NRV is hard to test at this stage. But if done right it will not give a issue.


Reassemble the pump, place the unit into a bucket of water, up to the control valve. Give 30 good pumps. This will show if the tank is good. If not you will be soldering it up. Not an easy job.


Fill the dry tank, about halve full.
Take it out side and give 30 pumps on the pump.
Open the control valve, you will get a good straight jet of fuel.

If not, release the pressure, remove the vaporizer.
Give 10 pumps and open the control valve a bit, if fuel appears the vaporizer is shot, a new one is needed. This one just needed a clean.

Release the pressure.


This one had a complete and clean mantle. I know I could use it. If in doubt, fit a new one.
Try and get original ones or approved ones. The cheep ones on line a bloody terrible.

A good one is easy to fit.


Soak the Pre heater in Meths, fit and light. Give 40 pumps on the pump and wait.

When the pre-heater is almost out, open the control valve and the light should burst into life with a good pop.
If not pre heat again and try.


Just lit, some a bit cold, it was now we got a leak from the control valve, it nipped up and the leak stopped. I will fit new washers etc.

Nice an warm and going well.

Memory Lane!
Have had several over the years. The first was inherited from grandparents. They had gas lighting and no electricity. A Tilley was their back-up and also portable; the table model - nicer looking, cream enamel paint over the body and a spherical glass.
I leant it to a mate with a narrow boat. Forgot all about it until he gave it me back, more than 50 years later!
Could have done with it when we moved to Wales, though the house had two already as the main light source. Table models again but with a long stem and large elegant lamp shades made from a man made vellum material which name escapes me (parchment?). I think I bought their last shade from a hardware shop in the middle of Welshpool about 1975, then we had electricity after that.
They were nice to live with - a bright low level light in the middle of a table, hissing away and warming the room.
Had a couple of "storm" lanterns as per OP's above - vastly superior and more expensive than wick lanterns but unreliable in a storm - one sharp knock and the filament could disintegrate.
Reliable in regular use as long as you kept them clean and dry, but if left for long the vapourisers could get seized up.
The cheaper wick lamps a.k.a."Hurricane Lanterns" were standard camping/black-out issue and every home had one or two - much more reliable in an emergency.
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