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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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Old 30 Jun 2005
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If your stove breaks, make a new one !

Here is a website with loads of home made stove designs (mostly fuelled by meths or wood) should you have a mishap you can make a new stove with a couple of coke cans !!

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Old 30 Jun 2005
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I remember reading in a book years ago, about the 8th Army, that the tommies used to brew up on a 'Tommy Cooker' Which was just a tin, full of sand and fuel poured in over the sand. What I cant remember was what the fuel was. I would imagine, being that they were in army trucks, it would be deisel, or did trucks back then use petrol? If i tried this with petrol from my bike tank would I explode in a ball of flame or would it just provide me with a nice cup of char? Anybody had experience of this kind of cooking?


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Old 30 Sep 2005
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The fuel used in the WW1 "Tommy Cooker" was solidified alcohol which was smokeless to avoid detection by snipers.

Another meaning for "Tommy Cooker" quoined by the Germans in the north Africa conflict was for the Sherman tank which had a nasty habit of catching fire very easily.

If there's a will there's a way so I will anyway!
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Old 1 Oct 2005
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You can test this quite easily - it does work but its not as rapid as gas or wood fire:


1. empty can (beans, soup etc)
2. half a can of sand
3. a spike to hole the can
4. a few stones for ground clearance


Remove the top of the can, spike some air holes in the side and base (in the base make only very small holes). Pour in the sand to half fill the can. Add 1/8 of a can of petrol evenly over the sand, leave it for a few mins to allow the petrol to spread out and dampen all the sand. Set can safely on stones to allow air way under the can. Light with a taper or burning stick.

Will boil a mug of water in approx 4 to 5 mins.
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Old 26 Jan 2006
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i've been using a soda can stove for three years. it's easy to make, doesn't cost anything, weighs only a few ounces, doesn't have any moving parts and fuel is easy to find\use\carry. very popular in the long-distance hiking community

"Your daily life is your temple and your religion" -Kahlil Gibran
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Old 28 Jan 2006
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The original Tommy cooker used petrol and sand. There is no truth in the reply about snipers and solidified alcohol. Interestingly, the phrase Tommy cooker was used by the Germans occupying France around D-Day when they fired on the British made Churchill Tank, which exploded and burned so easily. Therefore, "Tommycooker", for the tank crew died horribly.
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Old 8 Feb 2006
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Sorry to contradict you but the tommy cooker wasn't the churchill which had very thick armour but the sherman which didn't. Also known as the "Ronson" as it lit up every time....

which is nice
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Old 9 Apr 2006
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Just to changethe topic slightly, has anyone any experience of using a 'kelly kettle' ?
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Old 21 Apr 2006
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Originally Posted by oldbmw
Just to changethe topic slightly, has anyone any experience of using a 'kelly kettle' ?
Yep, used to have one a few years back (it got stolen). A brilliant device boiled water in next to no time with any available solid fuel (cardboard, sticks, dung - has to be solid so no splodgy cow pats!, etc.) but a bit heavy/bulky and not multifunctional enough for me to pack on my bike.
1995 R1100GS 1980 XT250
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Old 23 Apr 2006
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Soda can stoves

Although the soda can stoves are attractive due to their simplicity etc (like the Trangia), the meths (alcohol) is very inefficient for power/weight ratio. Gasolene or Kerosene (almost the same in energy terms) are way more efficient. This means you can carry less stove fuel and if you use gasolene, you carry many more litres in the gas tank of the bike. I've met quite a few Trangia users while out camping and they have run out of fuel early. They don't burn well any other fuel. I'll stick with my MSR which I refuel from the gas tank using quick release connectors in the fuel lines.
Tim ('91 R100GSPD)

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Old 4 May 2006
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The improvised cooker using a can, sand and petrol was actually called a Benghazi (after the town in Libya, no doubt where the British 8th Army had got to when some bright spark invented it). Very effective; we even used a bunch of them in Algeria to mark out a desert landing strip at night.
Moto ergo sum
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