Author Topic: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)  (Read 4729 times)

SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« on: January 24, 2014, 09:12:32 pm »
This is a little brass stove of 1950s design, almost unchanged to this day.  It runs on "white gas" which (in the UK market) means Coleman fuel, Primus Powerfuel or Aspen 4 lawnmower fuel, which is what I've been using.

The 123 is the original design, the 123R - which is all you'll find new - has a self-cleaning needle for the jet.  The 123 comes with a pricker tool to do the same thing, although you'll rarely have to use it unless you insist on burning pump petrol in the stove.

Pros: looks totally steampunk, only one moving part to go wrong, which is the control valve.  This is operated with a separate key on a chain.  You find out why this is the case if you leave the key on the valve spindle with the stove running; it gets way too hot to touch.  Reasonably powerful once up to pressure; the flame is big enough to cover the bottom of a 2 litre kettle.  A pot is nice and stable if you fold the built-in pot supports outwards.

Cons: it needs a preheat with meths (preferred) or stove fuel (sooty) before you can light up.  This is because there is no pump, so the stove needs to be hot for fuel to flow out under pressure; the pre-heat also ensures that you get a blue flame right away because the generator assembly is warmed.  There is no real pressure control; if you run it for an extended period with a large pan on top, or tuck an additional windshield tightly around it, the pressure relief valve in the cap may open; spewing hot fuel vapour in the direction of the burner where it is almost certain to light in a big fireball.  Worse, the pressure relief valve may not open at all and then the stove will explode, although this is very rare.

The flame is quite controllable on the 123, apparently less so on the 123R because the cleaning needle messes up the vapour flow.  However, these stoves are designed to be run at full throttle for melting snow or boiling water, and a simmering flame can be rather yellow and sooty due to the primitive inverted-bell burner design.

The stove is notoriously loud, even compared to the hiss of a Coleman, although comparisons with a jet engine are a bit far-fetched.

It's important not to let the stove run dry because you can char the internal wick and then it will never work satisfactorily until you strip it down and fit a new wick.  The stove is designed to be run about 2/3 full; it needs some air space to create pressure.

Overall, it's a fun toy and has proven to be reliable for mountaineering and long trips to the wilderness.  On the downside, the need for a pre-heat means extra stuff to carry (and ia good preheat is tricky to achieve properly in the wind), it's not as powerful or controllable as many other stoves and you can't use it anywhere near a tent for fear of incinerating the lot.  The fuel tank is small and wouldn't last a weekend for me (I can get through a Coleman 533 fuel tank in as weekend, and that's a huge single burner stove).  Buy it to polish, show to friends and to make cups of tea when you want a bit of an experience.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 10:19:03 pm »
I remember that you used to be able to buy tubes of "priming paste" to get this, and other Optimus stoves up to heat.    I'd imagine alcohol gel would do the job well.

I'm sure I recall a "trangia" style windshield & set of pans that could be used with the 123

Googles , ah yes... Sigg Tourist

I've got an old Optimus 96 somewhere, we could have a vintage stove weekend  :D
Not fast & rarely furious

tweeting occasional in(s)anities as andrewxclark

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 05:01:38 pm »
The best priming "paste" is Carex hand gel.  It's brilliant and of course is useful in its own right when camping.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2014, 06:15:02 pm »
i have one of those stoves only used it a couple times i use unleaded petrol seem to work fine :thumbsup:

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2014, 01:39:48 am »
I bought a pump that came with a special fuel cap for my SVEA, it eliminated the need for a pre-heat. After a while, though, the one way valve in the fuel cap weakened and I would get fuel vapor shooting out of the fuel cap and igniting. I thought my SVEA offered great entertainment value, but the MSR that I bought a few years later did a much better job of actually cooking food.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2014, 06:45:46 pm »
An experiment outside showed that these stoves perform rather badly in cold temperatures.  It takes a couple of pre-heats to convince the thing to actually light up, then pressure builds extremely slowly because the tank doesn't get properly warm - even with a 2 litre kettle on top reflecting heat back at it.  Windless conditions, too.

Mountaineers must have been patient folk in the 1950s, unless they all bought the little pump attachment.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 09:53:57 pm »
I've had mine for nearly 30 years. I bought it on a whim in the 80s, but never started using it in anger until about 15 years ago. I used to run it on unleaded but now use Aspen 4T with BBQ lighting gel as the primer. I love the roar it makes when it finally bursts into life :)

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2015, 09:57:34 am »
I love my svea. I've used it this weekend for solo camping/hiking in betwys y coed.
I take a tangia fuel bottle that holds coleman fuel and use a syringe to take out some fuel and then squirt it through one of the gaps in the windshield and the light it too prime the stove.
The great thing about the svea is that it always reliable. I've had mine stored away for over a year and there was no problems starting save a few splutters in the beginning. Ps they do polish up lovely and I enjoy showing it off.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2015, 10:22:17 am »
Are the plastic Trangia bottles meant to hold Coleman fuel, or are they just meant to hold alcohol? Those are two very different chemicals with different properties, so you might want to find out.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2015, 10:45:34 am »
Ah ok. It's been ok for three yrs so far. What problems are we talking about?

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2015, 11:36:58 am »
Are the plastic Trangia bottles meant to hold Coleman fuel, or are they just meant to hold alcohol? Those are two very different chemicals with different properties, so you might want to find out.

For reference, this bottle is made of polythene and is rated for "fuel alcohols, kerosene and gasoline", but should not be pressurised.

Since Coleman fuel's somewhere on the kerosene-gasoline spectrum, I expect it's fine.
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2015, 08:18:04 pm »
I only got rid of mine to raise some cash, had it for 20 years and largely as an ornament (such a clasdic design) no good for stealth camping as really sounds like a jet taking off. I used bio ethanol gel as a primer instead of the paste

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2015, 09:53:51 pm »
Wow, that looks amazing. I've always liked paraffin pressure stoves (which I realise this isn't really), perhaps though mostly for sentimental reasons. But they do make it sound as though the food is cooking  ;D And a pressure stove is good in the cold, of course.

I still have the 1-pint Hippolyta that I bought in the late 70s while in the Venture Scouts (couldn't afford the real half-pint Optimus). I fired it up on summer camp with the Scouts this year, just for the fun of it. Over the years, it's had so many replacement Optimus parts that it's really a hybrid now.

I hadn't come across the SVEA. What's it worth, you didn't say?


Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2015, 09:19:57 pm »
A secondhand one in working order is about £40-50.  A new one is about £80-90.   For the money you can get a NOS Coleman Peak 1 550B, which Just Works.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: SVEA 123 stove (aka the Swedish Hand Grenade)
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2016, 10:37:01 am »
I usually buy new, but picked up one of these, allegedly new, from the evilBay for about £60.  I could not get the thing going so got some advice on another forum, and although the stove was new, or at least appeared so, there was an air leak in the tank.  Good job I wasn't testing it with petrol.  I sent it off to someone to solder the tank for me, by now it had cost more than a new one from a shop!  It came back and I decided to run it on panel wipe and all is now fine.  It can be difficult to get it preheated due to the windy nature of this place, but I can always turn it upside down, pour some fuel in the well of the base of the fuel tank, light it up to preheat it.  Do this at your own risk though!  All in all it's a brilliant little gadget, as is confirmed by its longevity, and led me to buying other Optimus stoves.