Coleman Easi-Lite Valves:
A Field Guide
William Klock – January 2020
The Easi-Lite valve was introduced by The Canadian Coleman Company in 1973. The 321 Lantern was the first to use this new design, followed the following year by the 621 and 331, the latter having a revised and simplified version of the original valve. A similar valve was introduced in 1976 on the full line of Canadian stoves: 431, 432, 433, and 505.
The reason for these new valve designs seems to have been a desire to integrate the fuel tip cleaning feature directly into the fuel valve control. This meant switching from the traditional threaded valve and valve stem to a new design centred on an eccentric block and a mating valve stem capable of running through “Closed, Clean, Light, and Run” in a single rotation, using a combination of o-rings and Schrader valves as seals.
All of the Easi-Lite valves use an o-ring to seal the valve stem. Early models incorporated a Schrader valve to control the flow of fuel, while later valves relied on o-rings that seated either into the bottom of the valve or the top of the fuel and air tube.
Troubleshooting and Repair
Early version of the Easi-Lite valve are notoriously vexing to work with. The design was simplified in later versions, but all of the Easi-Lites at least suffer from the problem of o-ring failure.
The symptoms of o-ring failure are fuel leaking at the valve stem (behind the control knob), poor burning, and failure to shut-off when the fuel valve is closed.
With the exception of the full-size stoves (431, 432, 433), valve stem o-rings are easy to replace. Remove the retainer nut or spring clip and pull the valve stem out of the valve body. When the new o-ring has been installed, simply reinsert the valve stem and rotate it until it mates with the eccentric block and “falls” into place. If it is seated properly, turning the stem will cause the eccentric block to rise and fall.
To replace the valve stem o-ring on the full-size stoves, the valve itself must be removed from the fuel tank so that the fuel and air tube can be removed. The plunger is spring-loaded and will pop up when the valve stem is removed from the valve body, obstructing reinsertion. With the fuel and air tube removed, the valve stem can be reinserted. The fuel and air tube can then be reattached and the stem turned until the plunger falls into place.
Refer the appropriate valve diagrams to see how to replace the o-rings or Schrader valves that control fuel flow. Each valve is different.
The 321/621 and 431 valves incorporate a Schrader-like valve into the plunger itself. If the seal on the plunger fails, it will likely be necessary to source a replacement from a donor lantern or stove.
The 321A/621A/505 valves are best left alone if they are working properly. The Schrader valves “stick” in the fuel and air tube, requiring cautious heat applied with a propane torch in order to free them. If you try to unscrew the Schrader valve without first heating it, you’ll separate the top of the valve. You may have trouble getting the two halves back together again. Overheating the tube to remove the valve may also damage the valve’s seals. Additionally, once removed, the 321A/621A/505 fuel and air tube is tricky to reinstall as it’s not simply a matter of screwing it into the valve until tight. On these models the old adage is best observed: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Sourcing New O-rings
Coleman typically used o-rings made of fluorosilicone, which can be identified by its blue colour. Fluorosilicone is fuel resistant, but is best used in static applications, as it wears out fairly quickly. Coleman seems to have preferred it, because it holds up to cold very well. If you’re going to use your stove or lantern in very low temperatures, you may want to source fluorosilicone replacement o-rings. If not, Viton is a better (and more readily available) option, as it’s both fuel resistant and very durable.
When sourcing replacement Schrader valves, be sure the ones you select are fuel resistant as well.
I hope the following diagrams help demystify Easi-Lite valves and help with troubleshooting and repair. I also hope to add diagrams for the 621C and 505 when I can get my hands on specimens of each.