Errors, troubleshooting and advices.

The collector as well as the professional lamp restorer must be aware of some errors that may occur when a lamp is put together with little or no technical background. Documents in English (books, catalogue reprints, scanned documents on CDs) aren't rare. Associations and clubs can give the opportunity to get in touch with more knowledgeable persons, as well as Internet with forums and searchable data-bases, especially on lighting-patents. Please refer to our links-page.

Let's have a look on the most common errors observed in collections or in antique-shops.

How to identify correctly a non-electric lamp:

The English language creates some confusion calling "oil" both vegetable oil and kerosene. So many colza-oil, spirit or gasoline lamps are mistaken as "kerosene-lamps". The error can lead to severe problems if not the proper fuel is filled in the container of a lamp and the wick soaked with the wrong stuff. Gasoline in a simple kerosene-lamp is just highly explosive! A lamp that doesn't yield the best of it is just a negative image of what non-electric lighting can be. We show here some typical lamps from continental Europe usually mistaken for something else.

CarcelModerateurSolaire Titus StarburnerMinis Pigeon
Colza-oil lamps. A lamp made in two versions: gasoline or spirit. Miniature lamps for kerosene. A gasoline-lamp.

How to identify correctly the burner of a kerosene-lamp and be sure that it wasn't "recomposed".

The burner of many lamps was damaged, cracked, lost... and it is easy for anybody to "complete" it with any part that "fits", i.e. same thread or same diameter. But it is very important to complete a burner with the original parts or an equivalent. The design of a burner is intended to guide the air flow toward the flame, metal and glass parts shape the flame correctly to obtain light that is as bright and as white as possible.  Our special page on kerosene-burners will give you visual information on the most common European burners.

Burners designed to have a flame-spreader turn commonly up without. It is important to replace it, and with the proper size at the proper level.

Caution:  Hybrid reproduction burners are offered today under the name Matador or Odin. They are just basic Kosmos burners with flame-spreaders and a different gallery, but the wick has nothing in common with the original one (different texture and width). The wick-carrier is also missing. It is thus impossible to invert parts of these burners to replace missing ones in original old burners.

Incandescent burners for kerosene are less well known than flame-burners and can be mistaken by beginners who try to make them function without a mantle and with a wrong chimney.

The size of a burner in "lines".

The old European lamp smiths' tradition wants that tubular wicks were always measured folded flat, and the unit was the "line", one twelfth part of an inch. The inch itself being different from one country to the other, and even from one county to the other, the "line"-measurements are NOT an exact science. But the idea is the same, and the dimensions close to each other.
When flat wicks were introduced, lamp smiths went on measuring them folded flat, in order to keep the idea of measuring the width of a double sheet of fabric.
Now, measuring the width of a wick gives us an idea of the amount of fuel that can travel up to the burner, but the amount of light obtained thus depends on the thickness of the wick, the cleverness of the burner construction, the quality of the fuel and many other factors I certainly omit. The main use of this measure is to enable us to compare different sizes of the same model made by the same manufacturer. Both the burner type and its size enable us to choose the suitable chimney. Line-measurements have therefore nothing to do directly with the dimensions of a burner or its chimney.

In the current language, the term "A 10-line Kosmos chimney" has to be understood as "A chimney that would fit onto a Kosmos-burner using a 10-line wick".

The choice of a good wick.

Most wicks sold today in hardware-shops or department stores are too stiff to carry fuel easily. The flame isn't fed sufficiently, gives soot and odor and extinguishes soon. Good quality wicks must have a light texture and feel smooth.

Wicks: good-bad-good

The choice of the proper chimney.

Once again, the most common error is the use of an improper chimney. In this typical example, the Kosmos-burner is used with a Matador-chimney. The flame can't rise high enough.

Even when purchasing a new lamp from a retail-dealer or from an on-line shop, you should check that the lamp is offered with the proper chimney. We frequently see Kosmos-burners shown on catalog-pictures with erroneous (Matador, bulged, etc.) chimneys!

Kosmos correct chimney Kosmos-burner, Matador-chimney. WRONG!

Most common European kerosene-burners, chimneys and wicks.

All shapes can be seen on the page on kerosene-burners.

Burner-type Size in "lines" Chimney-diameter (bottom) Chimney-height Chimney-shape Width of the wick in millimeters
Kosmos   6 34 225  Constricted 35
  8 36 235 43
10 39 245 49
12 44 260 56
14 53 265 64
16 59 280  83
18 63 280   
Matador 15 53 260 Strong bulge 75
20 64 266 87
30 77 320 105
Duplex 12 65 260 Flattened bulge 27 (2 wicks)
Central Vulkan W&W
14 53 250 Bulge and constriction special wick with sewn extensions.
16 59 260
18 68 282
Ditmar Sonnenbrenner 15 53   Shouldered Thick transport wick and a replaceable tubular burning-wick.
18 62  
Carl Holy's large disk: Volksbrenner (Wizard)
10 38 220 Soft bulge 53
12 40 240  60
15 47,5 250  69
16 52 270  90
20 63 270 90
25 70 280  
30 78 320  
Carl Holy's small disk:
16 52 255 Shouldered  
20 63 290  
25 70 320  
Sebastian 15 or 20 48 250  Straight 82
Incandescence   53 330 straight or slightly shouldered round-flat wick + mantle
Burner for iniature lamps 1''' 19   Constricted 5
Sparbrenner 2''' 25   Vienna-type bulge 6,5
Flat wick / flat flame 3'''     9
5'''     12
7'''     15
9'''     19
11'''     21,5
Sternbrenner or
  31 115 Constricted rope-wick5 mm

[Gas burners]
[Lamps for vegetable oil] 

[Lamp-manufacturers and logos]
[Miscellaneous: gasoline, spirit, etc.]
[Back to homepage]