200A and 202 reproduction
frames back
in stock.

I am in the process of refurbishing three Colman propane stoves (what Coleman currently sells at their "Classic Propane Stove") for our Scout troop (discussion started last year on this thread: https://www.colemancollectorsforum.com/post/refurbing-a-coleman-propane-stove-10368844?pid=1310429343; project ground to a halt for several months). 

The stoves have been ill-used by 10-18-year-old boys for up to 20 years (manufacture dates are 04-99 (x2) and 08-03) and are beat-up, greasy and grimy with rubbed-off (and, in some cases, peeling off) paint with rust patches poking through.  I am cleaning and repainting these fellas with high heat engine paint, and while they won't look like new, they'll hopefully be mechanically-reliable and cosmetically-presentable for years to come.

I have disassembled the stoves and am stripping the paint and rust.  I used a wire wheel on the first stove, and that took forever to get the paint and rust off.  On the second, I decided to try electrolysis to see if that would be any easier, and I have been pleased withe the results.  Not only did the rust come off, but it loosened or removed most of the paint, and most of the rest came off with a nylon scrubber.

I say most, but not all, and that leads to my question.  Even after 24 hours in the tank, there is still some paint that doesn't want to come off.  Will leaving this paint in place cause issues down the road, or do I need to get in there with something more aggressive and remove it all before applying the primer coat?


You will get a lot of answers here. I recently stripped the paint of a 3 burner 426 stove with electrolysis and only about 85% of the paint came off. The corners on the inside the paint still stuck. Burned paint also stuck. You can try these things:

Degrease it first
Use a bigger anode and wire brush it every couple hours
Rotate the stove
Move the contact point
If your container is big enough suspend the electrode above the inside of the stove
use a stronger power source - possibly more voltage like from a 19v laptop power supply

If you just want it serviceable you don't have to get it all off but you would need to lightly sand the remaining paint. An automotive primer coat would also help before the paint.

I ended up using paint stripper to get the last bits of paint off.
- Dave Ashley
I would have no problem leaving that well-stuck paint right where it is.
This may come off sounding a bit snarky, but please accept that is not at all my intention. If electrolysis didn't take most of the paint off either your set up was not optimal or you just didn't leave it in the tank long enough. Remember that electrolysis is more or less a line of sight operation. That means the inside of suitcase stoves are hard to do. You want to use multiple anodes placed around the workpiece. Something like a 426 is a bugger because it's so big. You will need either a very large rectangular tank, or something like a 30 gallon plastic garbage can. In the garbage can I have used a piece of field fence as an anode. It works great. Cut a piece of fence long enough to wrap completely around the inside of the can and suspend the stove in the middle. Fence is pretty much a one use anode and it will disintegrate with use, but it works well.  If you have a smaller tank you can stand the stove on end and do half at a time but the end that is against the bottom of the tank won't get done.  If you have a tank big enough to set the stove flat on the bottom, suspend an anode so that it hangs inside the stove. A piece of rebar or lawn mower blade would work well. The more anodes you can place around the workpiece the better your results will be.
For my 5 gallon bucket I use 4 or 6 old lawn mower blades evenly spaced around the rim. In my rectangular Rubbermaid bin that is just a little bigger than a 413 case I use 8-10 blades. For practical purposes you can't leave a piece in the tank too long. You just aren't going to damage a stove if it's in there a week. I don't use electrolysis because it's fast, I use it because I can put a piece in the tank and go do something else while the tank does its magic. I've often forgotten I put something in one of the tanks and left it for 3-4 days. The only thing that happens is there is even less rust and paint on it when it comes out. If you take something out of the tank and it's not done to your satisfaction, put it back in and leave it a couple more days. Timm (gunhippie) uses lye added to his electrolyte if the piece is greasy. I haven't had the need to try that but it is a good idea. Also wire brush or sand off as much loose rust and dirt as you can before putting the piece in the tank. A good pre-wash with dish soap or even oven cleaner would also help. Oven cleaner is mostly lye, so you're just doing what Timm is doing but before rather than during the electrolysis.
I hope this is useful information.
North West Florida

Reese’s Law of Thermodynamics:  At temperatures below incandescence hot metal looks exactly like cold metal.

Good points. I have two electrode paddles that I made out of expanded steel. They work great in a a 28L storage container but were probably to small when I used it on the 426 stove. I should find something bigger or maybe some pieces of angle iron cut up. Could definitely leave it in longer.
- Dave Ashley
Thanks for all of the suggestions, folks!  Apologies for the late reply

Cottage-hill-bill, you don't sound snarky at all - just like somebody who's trying to help another person who's given you absolutely no information on his electrolysis setup.  :-)

I use a rectangular, 30-gallon plastic bin with 4 rebar anodes on each of the long sides.  I built it specifically for de-rusting cast iron griddles and camp stoves, although this is the first time I've used it on a stove.  It's currently filled with 25 gallons of water, washing soda, rust, paint bits, and the bottom half of a suitcase stove.  It's powered by an old Schauer 10 amp/2 amp battery charger I inherited from my grandfather in the late '90s.  I run it at 2 amps because I'm concerned about iron embrtittlement.

I did de-grease the stove before putting it in the tank, but I probably could have done a more thorough job on the bottom half.

I have followed your suggestions about adjusting the angle of the pieces to be cleaned, and I've also moved the parts with more stuck paint closer to the anodes as well, which seemed to help.  That, and just letting it sit longer in the tank.

I have been blessed with great weather the past week plus.  I don't have any available floor space in the garage and we don't have a covered porch, so I have to run the electrolysis setup out in the open.  I have a small shelter I've rigged for the charger, but I don't run it when rain is expected.  That can really slow up the process.

The stove chassis that generated this original question has run through the tank process and all but a few determined flecks in the inside corners eventually came off with electrolysis, a nylon scrubber, and a little but of sandpaper for the stubborn spots.  It was so effective on the wind shields that I didn't even have to scrub them - the loose paint just wiped right off after a night in the tank.

I started painting yesterday and it's really coming along nicely.  I wish I'd gone with a brighter shade of red, but I'm committed now.  With its yellow-painted sister stove, they king of look like ketchup and mustard.

Thanks again for your suggestions!  I really appreciate it.


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