SVEA123R repairs, mods and ramblings

I've gotten that spring fever travelling bug, and as I had received some stove parts on eBay from The Fettle Box for my SVEA123R, I thought I'd best retrieve the stove and pots from my Givi side cases in the garage and upgrade the stove with some new washers made from a better material than the stock rubber.

The Fettle Box sells the "Svea 123/123R filler cap seal & safety valve pip" made from "Viton" which is supposed to outperform the manufacture's stock washers and safety valve pip, and as I had spent some time on a picnic table at a campsite at Matane QC tinkering and trying to solve a pressure leak with the stove, I felt that replacing these parts was overdue.

Where there is a SVEA, there is a fire!

Svea 123/123R filler cap seal & safety valve pip

Svea 123/123R filler cap seal & safety valve pip
Disassembly of the filler cap was required in order to remove the safety valve pip, which was causing me the grief by venting a slight amount of pressure, but there is a hitch, as the filler cap has a pentagram rather than a hex shape on the top, and the removal tool sold by the Fettlebox is £17.00 which  coupled with shipping is priced too high, so I tried a number of bits and found that a Torx T-15 pictured below worked well to remove the safety valve retaining cap. Be careful as they used a thread locker, and you may want to use a bit of heat or acetone to dissolve it in order to avoid damaging the brass pieces. I made out alright with just hand pressure on the screwdriver. Mark the thread depth before removal, to aid in reassembly. 

The Torx T-15 works on the standard filler cap

Conversely, I was unable to use the T-15 Torx on the filler cap that ships with the optional accessory air pump cap, so I replaced the filler cap on the stove with my original filler cap after replacing the seals.

What to expect when you crack it open... Type 3

Air pump and replacement filler cap
And, as we used to say in the Army, "Test after assembly"...

Priming and Preheating:

When I first bought the stove, I used to use Coglhan's Fire Paste in a squeeze tube,
 but it was bulky and left sooty residue all over the stove, so I then resorted to the pump to pressurize the stove, then crack the valve and let raw fuel jet up then leak down into the primer depression, closing the valve when the primer cup became full, then light the white gas (naptha, or Coleman Fuel) and that preheats the stove nicely. The pump and pressure venting cap are really only required at high altitudes and cold operating temperatures, so I needed to fall back on to a method that would work with the stock cap, so I made a straw out of a Bic pen (supplied by Canada Moto Guide's Fundy Adventure Rally). So the prime is quite easy:

  • Remove the filler cap
  • dip the straw into the fuel, sealing one end with your thumb
  • place fuel into the primer cup and repeat as necessary
  • replace the filler cap
  • light the fuel in the primer cup on fire
  • crack open the valve and wait for blue flame and distinct "helicopter roar"
    This year I upgraded the bic pen to a short piece of plumber's pipe, 1/4" by about 2" to 3" in length.

    I've seen other folks preheat their stoves using methylated spirits aka denatured alcohol, but I'm already carrying around a spare fuel bottle, and all of this on top of a tank of unleaded fuel on my motorcycle...

    The Bic priming straw 

    I've been watching some YouTube videos lately, and saw one where the gentleman had modded his stove, and moved the regulating key from the center of the stove where it was fastened, onto the brass windscreen as pictured below. It used to be a bit of an acrobatic dance with fire to mount the windscreen after first threading the regulating key and chain through the center of the windscreen, all while the burner was pumping out a lovely 5000 BTU flame. Now that I have relocated the key, I can simply mount the windscreen then position the key. It has an added benefit of applying a nice friction fit to the aluminum pot that ships with the stove, so I'm quite pleased with this well thought out mod.

    The new location for the chain of the regulating key 
    While riding the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec with my girlfriend, I made this short video to highlight how loud this stove can be while in use.

    Can it actually burn unleaded automobile fuel? (aka gasoline, gas, petrol, benzene, l'essence, gasolio etc.)

    The official answer printed in the Optimus SVEA User Manual is NO:
    F. USE ONLY white gasoline (unleaded). Not car gasoline.
    But unofficially you can burn automobile fuel in the "Swedish Hand Grenade" and the original SVEA123 includes a jet cleaning tool to remove deposits while the SVEA123R has the jet orifice cleaning tool attached to the regulating valve so can easily be cleaned. White gasoline or naphtha (Coleman Stove fuel) burns hotter and cleaner, so if you do drain the fuel on your motorcycle and add it to your SVEA, I expect your pots will be as black as the inside of your exhaust pipe. This gentleman travelled extensively while using unleaded gasoline in a Coleman two burner 425 model. A tip to reduce fouling of the stove was to add a dash of fuel injector cleaner to each tank of fuel.
    Obviously you do so at your own risk. Advice from the internet is worth what you paid for it. Jimbo runs automobile fuel in his SVEA... and another source in Australia runs petrol in his, but also stipulates that he rinses it out well and NEVER stores the stove over the winter with gasoline in the tank as the newer ethanol blends will separate, gum up and varnish the works, just as they would do to a carburettor.
    Gasoline will blacken your pots as it is a very dirty fuel, so be warned.

    Petrol (Gasoline) in the SVEA 123

    And it runs beautifully on two year old fuel. Love this stove!
    And it runs beautifully on seven year old Coleman fuel after one prime. I love this stove, as it's very simple to operate, maintain and clean, and with the upgraded Viton washers, should require no further repairs for a very long time. In fact I understand that refined white gasoline has a very long shelf life, and the only danger of buying the one gallon tin, is that cold air in the tin might condense water vapour and contaminate the fuel, or rust the interior of the can.

    Classic Camp Stoves in the UK has some excellent information on the SVEA lineup including this great tear down How-To article. You might also want to search YouTube for "Bernie Dawg SVEA" 

    The Optimus SVEA123R product information including manual is here, and it sells the spare parts kit here.

    Spare Parts Kit
    Spare Parts Kit for Optimus Svea.
    1 cleaning needle
    1 jet
    1 spindle
    1 metal ring for spindle
    1 graphite ring
    1 stuffing box for spindle
    1 packing for tank lid

    Article number: 8016526

    The parts list for the 123R

    Update: 2017-08-12 

    That plastic tube I was using to fill the primer cap started to split and I was having trouble using it as a "pipette" so I upgraded to a wee 1/4" piece of copper pipe used by plumbers and HVAC repair, and it worked very well for daily use over eight days of camping this year. 

    The viton seals are holding up perfectly. Although on the motorcycle, the vibration is causing my regulator key to slip it's chain, so moving the key hasn't been a perfect solution, it is easier to use in this fashion, and takes seconds to slip back onto the brass windscreen. Perhaps another pinch with the pliers is in order to close the gap a touch more. 

    I need to clean and perhaps polish the stove as it is harder to place and remove the twist on windscreen as the tank oxidizes and accumulates minute dirt particles.

    Note the key was moved to the windscreen,
    and the copper "priming straw" seen in the photo 

    Update: 2023-05-08

    I was out for a picnic lunch this past weekend with my girlfriend Caroline, and like a newb I completely forgot to check the stove for fuel, and it was wet, but just, so I wasn't able to hear the helicopter roar that I'd waited for all winter long. **Sigh. Idiot. I did think you might be interested in the new pot set that I'm carting it around inside, so here you go. 
    The cup on the left is chineseium 750ml mug/pot
    The stainless steel kettle with lid is 1.1l

    The svea nestles well with some room for knick knacks like a can opener, a spork, and a lighter.

    And the tank was dry... Darn it! 

    We ended up using a wee pocket gas stove and a 110gr cartridge that I bought for Caroline and I so we would have more than one stove with us on every trip. I needed. lol. 


    Optimus Svea 123R Stove Review (White gas/Naphtha only)

    BernieDawg's Svea 123R Stove Reassembly


    Upgrade your forks - a pictorial "How-To" guide

    I was perusing my Feedly articles when my attention was caught by this article, and I thought it was a a great visual on how forks are upgraded.





    Gone with the Dogs

    Motorcycles, I can't get enough of them. I've thrown my leg over anything my friends trust me not to scratch, and some they put me on for entertainment value such as a Gas Gas trials bike scrambling over a pile of logs in the back yard. It didn't end well, but it sure was a hoot while it lasted.

    Dogs. Just how long have you got? Most days I'd rather be with my dog than with my fellow humans for perhaps we both have simpler interests and needs.

    How do you combine the two? One year I took a trip out to Prince Edward Island with my dog Honey, and found that she loved chasing my nephews dirt bikes around the fields there. She'd come in the house totally covered in that bright red PEI mud and as there's no such thing as a white dog on that island. Honey learned that motorcycles were fun and that generally she loved the people that rode them. Do dogs like speed?

    P1060344.JPG I'd have to say they do, but I thought our fun together would be confined to four wheels. :(

    Until in July of 2006 at the Parry Sound Sport Bike Rally, I was introduced to Julian and Pera from Kingston ON, by my good friend Michele. Here was proof that you could ride with your dog! 

    Here Pera is seen sporting "Doggles" while sitting in her basket, a large plastic crate that Jules bolted to his BMW. Pera is wearing a harness that attaches her to the crate for her protection.

    Julian and Pera have a long ride back to Kingston and get enough time for quick hug before they're off to fill up the tank and get going.

    So now I hit a brick wall with my ambition of working out something similar for Honey and I, as my ex-wife wasn't willing to accept the same level of risk as Honey and I were, so Honey had to be content running down the side walk chasing me once and a while.

    After my divorce, I decided to make a clean break of it and arranged for a puppy recommended to me through my friend Stacey, she advised me that they ran a hobby farm and bred dogs as well, specifically the cocker spaniel-poodle mix breed that I had become enamoured of during my time with Honey. My parents had poodles, so I spent my formative years bonding with lapdogs and consider them to be part of the family.

    Enter Suzi Bandit:

    2659_74136805754_686050754_2053917_4052772_n.jpg "Wait a second? Suzi Bandit? Did you name your dog after a bike?"  I didn't intend for that to happen. A friend commented on the fact that she looked a bit like she was wearing a mask around her eyes, so why not call her Bandit? Hey, (sez I to myself) I've got a motorcycle in the garage that I smacked into a deer a couple of years ago, a Suzuki Bandit! 

    So now there was nothing barring me from getting this show started, now it was April riding season was here, and as a puppy she'd socialize and become comfortable with whatever was in the here and now, so I'd best get started with this. My plan of action was this:

    a) Introduce her to non-running bikes and ensure she got high value treats paired with the experience
    b) Start the bike and bring her to a comfort zone to get more liver treats
    c) Shrink that comfort zone so she thought a running bike was "part of the background"
    d) Obtain protective eye-wear
    e) Get rain gear to protect her from the elements. This is Ontario after all.
    f) Fashion a container and a means to keep her safe while on the bike
    g) Ride with Suzi and develop an understanding of her comfort zone on the bike, while at the same time distraction proofing myself so that I could handle the bike safely regardless of what she was doing. 

    A thu E was relatively easy, and facilitated no doubt by the fact that most of my friends ride, and Suzi found that she liked all of my friends, so at the sound of a bike it meant that company is coming! Complete with liver, chicken treats, fun and games. I did make note of the fact that she detested the exhaust area of the bike, so we approached from the front, back and sides of a bike.  We made an outing or two to the racetrack to watch my friend Brian in the R.A.C.E. series:

    P1160206.JPG She met the Rider's Choice pit crew... P1160204.JPG Some of the riders... P1160485.JPG ...and did what all pit dogs do at some point...P1160964.JPG

    ...settled in and waited for the excitement to begin.

    So I had a dog that was happy to be around running bikes, riders, gas and exhaust fumes. What next? Oh yeah. Or rather oh F & G. Right, we need something that she can ride in. Taking stock I had a backpack that she would fit in, and if I firmly secured her leash to one of the shoulder straps, she'd be unable to get out, but able to sit or lie down if she chose. Now to test ride it...

    And it worked! We did run into a couple of snags. At the stop lights she really didn't like the idling and decided she'd make a half hearted attempt to get out which didn't work as she didn't have enough slack. At another light a carload of young girls with high pitched squeaky voices (dogs like higher pitched voices, they represent prey animals), she tried to ditch the motorcycle for the back of the car. This too was foiled, but clearly I had to do something about these escape attempts so that if they occurred at speed I could simply ignore them and drive on. My sister had given me a body harness that her Jack Russell Terrorist had grown out of, but would fit Suzi admirably so I began putting that on her, and it worked so well that once while trying to put my kickstand down at the TTC kiss and ride to meet my girlfriend, she scrambled out prematurely and found herself dangling from the harness. There were too many people there to provide a distraction, and she found she had to get out, close with and love them all to death. She's only jumped and dangled once more, and again only when the bike is stopped and she forgot that she had to wait until I let her down to the ground. She's never once even attempted to bail on a moving ride.

    Now the backpack idea was working for short rides under an hour in duration to and from my girl friends place in Mississauga, but I'd need to find something better for the longer ride I was planning that summer to Prince Edward Island to visit with my sister. I did some research via Google and managed to find this website:

    Most of these dogs were smaller in general than Suzi, and the cruisers pictured there make better platforms than a Kawasaki KLR 650, but I saw some pet carriers used there, and my friend Karen had tagged me in a facebook photo of a woman in Toronto that rode a cruiser using a front based pet carrier, so I had a look and found the "Pet-a-Roo" by Outward Hound.

    pet-a-roo-front-carrier-medium-352-p.jpgMine came without the attractive blond and her dog, in black. It features a cross strap design and a waist belt, so there here was something I could put Suzi into with her harness and clip it onto myself. She loved it, as did I, for now she could see where we were going and I got to watch her enjoy the ride.


    In the picture above you probably see that I've really loaded a lot of things onto the bike. I never really thought it out until it came time to pack how much room the dog would need for what I thought would be a three day journey to Prince Edward Island from Toronto. Some are obvious needs...

    harness and collar
    pet carrier
    full body rainsuit 
    water bottle for the dog
    dog food
    dog treats
    dog toys
    26' "Flexi" leash
    A bag to put all this stuff into.

    I would also bring camping gear as I was unsure of how many motels would allow pets on the way there and back, so I needed to keep my options open. 

    Let's talk about the weather. It was going to be  crapshoot, it could be perfect, or cold and wet. I knew that we could handle the perfect and cold weather to a point, but what about the rain? Humans can don rain gear and worst case, get off the highway and take themselves into a Tim Horton's or if it's really bad book a hotel right then and there, whereas I was pretty sure that the best Suzi could hope for was not to be tossed out of the front entrance of a Tim Horton's by someone claiming to represent corporate hostility at all pets everywhere. Or was that doctors? Lawyers? Insurance agents? Whichever. Once people here the words liability either dollar signs start dancing in their heads or their sphincters tighten up. One day I'd love to see a sign in a restaurant stating "Dogs allowed, Municipal and Government employees not allowed".  The tent on the bike became sort of an emergency relief valve. If all else failed I could set it up and warm us up in the sleeping bag. The last time we'd been camping was on the top of Turn 2 at Mosport for the Superbike Double Header and she'd pretty laid back about it.

    So shall we let out the clutch and get on with it?

    This is how Suzi handled herself on the superslab. She felt much the same way I did about it, super boring. She'd tuck in, curl up and ignore it until the bike slowed down for a gas stop or there was a REALLY fragrant manure pile somewhere.


    We had perfect weather with one cold spell at Port Elgin New Brunswick that Suzi shook off in her rainsuit while sniffing out mice in the tall grass, but I had every layer that I could stuff on before I felt good. IN AUGUST!!!! That winter I bought a heated jacket at long last for moments like that...


    She really began to wake up as we travelled closer to the St. Lawrence seaway and our speed dropped below seventy kph. The smell of rotting fish and seaweed in the air, with a hint of salt was enthralling. Throw in the odd pig and sheep farm by the roadside in Gaspe and she was in ecstasy. Now that long boring stuff was gone and we focused on the important things such as montreal smoked meat and fresh curd in our poutine.

    While riding with Suzi you'll note that the carrier that is strapped to my chest is resting on top of a loaded tank bag, so that limits my movement on the bike, as I usually move my bum around quite a bit and can be spotted sitting in the passenger seat with my feet on the passenger pegs at times just to uncramp muscles and keep everything moving. Not being able to take any relief like that, I had to stop every couple of hundred kilometres to stretch, and Suzi took full advantage to make friends. If we did anything to our roads in Ontario, it should be to add more grass and green parks as rest stops along the 401. A place to pull over, get a drink, go pee and let the kids and dogs romp for a bit. Quebec and Nova Scotia stand out for that alone.


    Back on the bike and we're rolling again, headed for an early stop at six to hit the "lodging" button on the GPS and start calling hotels to see who took dogs. I'd always call the ones in an Easterly direction first, as it seemed to make sense. "Une Chambre pour la nuit avec une petite chien?" I heard one guy say over his shoulder "Der's a sicko 'ere dat wants a room that comes wit a small dog, eh?" after telling me they had nothing. We struck pay dirt in a little motel along the St Lawrence and were all settled in before eight so we took to the beach to explore, take some photo's and watch the sunset.


    Apparently I can charge for this sort of thing, as the owners cat wanted to come along with us...


    Here we are arriving at my destination, my sister Wendy's place where Suzi is met by her dogs Abby the Labrador Retriever and Zip Zip the Jerk Russell Terrier. I immediately pulled out some liver and chicken as well all got acquainted since my last visit.




    This is why I brought her, she's part of my pack. We had an excellent adventure last year, and I invite you to see more pictures of our travels here:


    I'll leave you with this, my last day in PEI, and I think Zip Zip wanted to come along with Suzi and I. Live to ride, ride to live. Lol.

    Some pictures from our 2014 trip to Prince Edward Island and the Gaspe. 


    Sadly, Suzi Bandit was attacked by a coyote on Feb 2, 2016 and passed away in my arms later that day. 

    She hated the 1000km days, but loved the secondary coastal roads, farms and their livestock, and being with me for every road side adventure. 

    We shared seven wonderful years of adventure and love, and I miss her dearly.

    Suzi Bandit
    February 11, 2009 to February 2, 2016