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Lamp Burner Identification

The following information is designed to show some of the differences and similarities between lamp burners used for various fuels and should allow the reader to more accurately identify a particular burner.

Whale Oil Burner | Fluid Burner | Prong Burner
Coronet Burner | Argand Burner | Central Draft Burner

The Whale Oil Burner

The whale oil burner commonly consists of one or two tubes made of tin set in a base of brass, tin or pewter. They may be threaded (designed to screw into collars), or to drop-in (usually on a tin and/or cork disk). Whale Oil BurnerWhale oil burners characteristically have a large portion of the wick tube that extends downward into the oil fount. Because whale oil was quite thick, especially at cold temperatures, this design Whale Oil Burnerhelped to transfer heat from the flame to liquefy the oil. Thus, it was more easily drawn up the wick. Adjustments to the wick are generally made though round or slotted holes in the wick tube with a 'pickwick.' Early whale oil lamps frequently had coarsely threaded pewter burners and collars. As advances were made, more burners were made of brass and the threading got finer. Because pewter is so soft, care must be taken not to cross-thread these old burners or force them onto a collar with different sized threads.

The Burning Fluid Burner

The burner from a lamp utilizing burning fluid, or camphene, is distinguished by the presence of tapered wick tubes extending upward at an angle away from the lamp. Fluid Burner While sometimes found with only a single wick tube, they are most frequently found with two, and occasionally even with three or four (quite scarce) or six (rare). Burning fluid was very volatile and this design transferred heat away from the fuel (unlike the design of a whale oil burner). These burners most often had caps attached to small chains to extinguish the flame and to prevent evaporation of the fluid when not in use (as seen in the picture). Fluid burners were almost always made of brass and had a threaded base. The wicks were adjusted by picking from the wick tube opening. They do not have holes or slots like whale oil burner tubes.

The Prong Burner (kerosene)

There are two broad classifications for burners which relate to how the chimney is held on the burner. These are the 'prong' and 'coronet' styles. Another classificationProng Burner of kerosene burners relates to how air is fed to the flame. Each is described below.Prong Burner This is a familiar burner style whereby four distinct prongs extending upward are designed to hold the chimney in place. While there are countless variations of the prong burner, the style generally incorporates stylized or embossed brass prongs which "grip" the straight sides of the chimney. Basically, the chimney is held on by friction. The chimney style corresponding to this burner style is called a "slip" chimney. It has straight (flat and parallel) sides near the base and can be 'slipped' into or out of the burner.

The Coronet Burner (kerosene)

The coronet style burner takes on two distinct forms. One form is Coronet Burner characterized by a circular gallery designed to hold a slip chimney. The other also by a circular gallery, but in this case, the chimney is held not by friction, but by mechanical means. Coronet burners are referred to byLip Burner many terms including "lip", "screw", "flange(d)" and "lock(s)-on" burner. The chimney type for this style burner has a flared base which usually slips under one or two tabs on one side of the burner, then is secured on the opposite side by mechanical means. This style of chimney attachment Lip Burnertakes on many forms. The more common variations include a set screw (shown on the right), a wire spring clip, or a solid brass clip (Jones burner). A fourth variation is by a spring-loaded pin, similar in design to the set screw - the Vankirk burner on the left. Many of these burners feature a hinged gallery that allows the top of the burner (with the chimney still attached) to be flipped back to light or trim the wick. Others are designed to allow the gallery portion of the burner (also with chimney still attached) to be lifted off the base of the burner to accomplish the same tasks.

The Argand Burner (kerosene)

Argand BurnerArgand burners apply the principle of increased air supply by way of a central tube surrounded by a round wick. The tube allows combustion air to enter the burner, usually from the sides, and travel up through the opening in the round wick. This burner is designed to fit on any lamp fount - it does not require a central draft tube down through the fount like the next burner.

The Central Draft Burner (kerosene)

Central Draft Burner The Central Draft burner is characterized by a central air intake tube surrounded by a circular wick (similar in design to the Argand burner). Combustion air is provided by a series of holes or perforations in the burner sides and top as well as through the center tube (from the bottom of the lamp or fount). This additional air is usually deflected outward toward the flame by a perforated thimble or flame spreader.

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