DIY – Coleman Lantern Upcycle


This is one of those Simple FUN & FREE projects that just came out of the blue. Recently I acquired an old Coleman lantern. As soon as I saw it I asked, “Are you going to use that, or can I have it? please, please” I was told this old lantern was someone else’s discard, replaced with a brand new one, so, “YES!” (happy dance, it was now mine.) The only reason the lantern wasn’t already in the trash was because it was inside the yellow Coleman clamshell where the new lantern was yet to be stored. This sweet old lantern is smaller than today’s Coleman style, and the ROUND globe glass gives a hint that its old. I knew I could use it as a blog photo prop or something…


Before removing parts to clean, take a photo to refer to when time to reassemble.


Well, my plans took a crooked path when I took it apart to refit it to make a flameless candle lantern. As I cleaned and polished it, I began to wonder about its true age. It had a lot of manufacture engravings on the metal pieces and the globe had 2 stampings. I did not want to remove the patina built-up over decades of camping adventures. So I carefully removed some black soot, caused by a kerosene flame, using a technique I had watched my dad use years ago when he lovingly gently removed rust & grime while restoring his vintage cars. I used a wet sandpaper method, using a super smooth black sandpaper, you may have seen it in stores, gently sanding the metal while it is submerge in water or water runs over it. All kinds of gunk just washes away. I was able to control the patina so just enough brass shows so it will glow in the new (flameless) candlelight.


To hold the flameless candle firmly to an unlevel base, I used Quake Hold! a non-permanent putty that stays soft so candle is held in place but can be removed easily.


Cleaned & Reassembled with the flameless candle…


Back to the engravings which kept my interest while I rubbed, and polished and rubbed some more…I said elbow grease, right? Curious about its age, I did a Google search while everything was sun-drying, and found out that this sweet little lantern is 78 years old! I knew it…it was so different from today’s Made in China aluminum Coleman lanterns – it had to be OLD!

It is easy sort of to date Coleman lanterns, because each one is marked with the information, you just need to know where to look and what it means.

Here is the best site I found, to date Coleman lanterns & stoves. Below, last 2 paragraphs apply to my lantern.



According to the tables above my lantern markings show it was made in June 1938. The Model number on the cuff is Model 242B, which was made from 1937 to 1942. The bottom of the fuel tank gives me the year as “8” so that has to be in the 30’s decade, according to the manufacturing range and the “6” tells the month is June. When I first looked at the bottom for those numbers I could not see any engravings, so I took the online site’s advise and used a damp sandpaper again to gently wash away the corrosion. There the numbers were!


All this sleuthing changed my mind about leaving out any parts of the lantern to make room for a bigger candle. I did not want to ruin the collectability of the lantern.

Tip: I was careful NOT to use an abrasive on the glass globe. Soapy water and a sponge gently cleaned the glass without scratching a logo printed on the glass in Coleman green ink. On the other side of the glass is stamped, “Pyrex Made in USA”.

I found a lantern just like this one, on Ebay, but without the original glass, the description says it has a nickel-plated kerosene tank. That explains why my stainless steel cleaner did not polish the metal. Oooo, nickel, I am really liking this lantern, the more I learn about it.

So that is it. Next time you run across an item that looks different from the norm, take a second look, its charming characteristics may point to its age, then Grab It and put it back to use. That might mean refitting it a bit and it will mess up your manicure. But it is worth it…I can’t wait to give this campy little guy new adventures…lakeside.

To read more about the invention of Coleman lanterns and inventor, W.C. Coleman HERE is a link.

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!

new Kathy sig w wc & big mug 159x50

6 thoughts on “DIY – Coleman Lantern Upcycle

  1. That wa fun reading about this DIY project. A good example of how you start with one goal in mind and then your curiosity can lead on to something else which may or may not be connected. In your case it’s the age of your lantern. It’s updated condition is cute. I can see it on the patio softly lighting the area.

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