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LONG TERM REPORT: Brasslite Turbo II-F (Curt)

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  • nwcurt
    Brasslite Turbo II-F Stove - Long Term Report - April 2005 www.brasslite.com Below you will find: 1) Brasslite Turbo II-F Stove Weights and Specifications 2)
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2005
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      Brasslite Turbo II-F Stove

      - Long Term Report -
      April 2005

      www.brasslite.com

      Below you will find:

      1) Brasslite Turbo II-F Stove Weights and Specifications
      2) Brasslite Turbo II-F Usage and Long Term Observations
      3) Contact and Background Information

      ____________________________________________________________________

      1) Brasslite Turbo II-F Stove Weights and Specifications

      Brasslite Turbo II-F Stove: 1.4 oz. (40 gm) *1.4 oz. (40 gm) mfr.
      claim
      3 in (7.6 cm) across the base
      2 1/2 in (6.3 cm) across the top
      2 1/4 in (5.7 cm) tall
      Capacity: 1 fl oz (29.6 ml) according to manufacturer
       
      Brasslite fuel container and measuring bottle: 1.2 oz (34 gm)
      3 1/2 in (8.9 cm) wide
      1 1/2 in (3.8 cm) thick
      6 1/4 in (15.9 cm) tall
      Capacity: 8 fl oz (237 ml) with 1/2 fl oz (15 ml) measuring reservoir

       
      2) Brasslite Turbo II-F Usage and Long Term Observations

      Stove Usage and Background

      I have used and taken apart and tested and modified dozens of
      backpacking stoves. I have tried wood stoves, Esbit stoves, and all
      kinds of liquid gas and gas cartridge stoves. I have studied them and
      spent waaaay too much of my life thinking about them. I've even
      written two stove reviews for BackpackGearTest.org, one of which
      includes extensive testing that has since been duplicated in a
      variety of ways and validated by numerous other sources. But through
      it all, I've avoided alcohol stoves. The more I read and the more I
      learned, I somehow convinced myself that they can be a fun hobby
      stove, but not cut out for the backcountry. Sure, they worked, but
      they need 4 times the fuel and 3 times as long to do the job. The
      lightweight stoves and lack of cartridge weight savings were quickly
      lost to increased fuel consumption.

      Then 2-1/2 years ago I became a parent. Suddenly my 5 day trips
      turned into quick weekends or overnighters. I began to use stoves for
      one or two quick boils on an entire trip. All of the sudden the
      heavier fuel didn't matter because I needed so little of it. I still
      clung to my gas cartridge stoves for speed and convenience, but the
      lure of alcohol stoves has become stronger and stronger. So, here I
      am now with one of the lightest alcohol stoves on the market - the
      Brasslite Turbo II-F.

      Not only have I never tested a Brasslite stove before (one of the
      requirements of this test), I've never used a real alcohol stove
      before this test. I bring an alcohol stove "newbie" experience to
      this test, but from a backpacking stove veteran perspective.


      Long Term Observations

      I have used the Brasslite Turbo II-F exclusively during the testing
      period. The majority of usage has been on the Western slope of the
      Washington Cascades. I have used it primarily on morning hikes
      (sometimes breakfast, sometimes lunch) and a couple of times for all
      of my day's meals. Conditions have been record-setting strange for a
      Pacific Northwest winter. Our snowpack during the testing period was
      about 13% of normal, temperatures significantly warmer than usual,
      and adverse weather conditions were rare. Temperatures ranged from
      the high 20s F(-3 to -1 C) to the low 50s F(10-12C). Elevations
      ranged from 1100 to about 3700 feet (335 to 1130 meters). Water used
      for boiling ranged from 32F(0C) to about 50F(10C). I used HEET fuel
      almost every time. I experimented around the house with 90% and 93%
      alcohol, but the flame was not nearly as clean and efficient. The
      manufacturer recommendation to use 100% alcohol blends is best taken
      seriously. I used a well-fitting windscreen every time I used the
      stove.

      On the whole, the Brasslite Turbo II-F performed well. After using
      it routinely, there are aspects about it I have come to really
      appreciate, and others that left me with a bit frustrated. I believe
      most of my original test plan questions have been answered now, so
      I'll discuss my Long Term Observations based on them:

      Boiling Times and Fuel Consumption:

      Boiling times were one of the more frustrating aspects of the Turbo
      II-F. They ranged considerably depending on exact amount of fuel
      used, wind conditions, and the physical setup of the stove. I found
      there's a significant difference between relatively minor
      fluctuations in windscreen wrapping. A super-tight wrap gets the
      stove pretty hot, but rather than boil the water faster, it seems to
      burn fuel faster near the stove itself. For example, the heat that
      generated at the base of the stove (evidenced by a definite hotspot
      on a log) was pretty intense and the fuel burned off quicker than
      normal. A too-loose wrap that allowed even a gentle breeze cut
      efficiency in a big way. Brasslite notes that a close wrap can cut
      burn time, and my usage definitely verified this. Of course, my
      usage also showed the opposite to be true, too, so getting it just
      right is important. Compared with pressurized fuels, much more
      monitoring and less room for error should be expected. Finally, my
      Field Test times of around 8 or 9 minutes to boil on an ounce (30 ml)
      of fuel held up as the average time needed to boil a pint ((0.47L).
      Brasslite claims that "The Turbo I and Turbo F are designed to boil
      16-20 US fluid ounces (appx. 475-600 ml) of water using 0.75 oz (22
      ml) or less of alcohol fuel." I never came even close to the 4:30 to
      5:30 that Brasslite indicates is possible in perfect conditions. I
      also never came close to getting 20 ounces (600 ml) of water to boil
      with just .75 ounces (22 ml) of fuel that Brasslite indicates as
      potentially possible. For me, a tad under 1 ounce (30 ml) of fuel
      could consistently get a pint (.47 L) to boil in 8 to 9 minutes.
      None of these factors is a show stopper for me - the stove works just
      fine - they just are aspects that need to be considered carefully
      when using the Turbo II-F.

      Weather effects:

      With the exception of wind, the Turbo II-F did not seem affected much
      by weather. It didn't care much how cold it was or how wet it was.
      The boiling times and fuel consumption I indicated above were true on
      sunny dry days and wet cold days. There may have been slight impacts
      in boil times and fuel usage due to the weather, but the range of
      boil times was broad enough that this was undetectable. I wouldn't
      hesitate to continue to use the Turbo II-F in wet wintry conditions.
      The only exception to this would be in melting snow for water, as the
      amount of fuel required to do this would quickly negate any weight
      savings achieved by using a lightweight alcohol stove. I plunked a
      couple handfuls of snow into the pot at one point just to verify
      this, and it was obvious to me that melting stove on an alcohol stove
      would quickly become an exercise in frustration and patience. It's
      certainly not what this stove is intended to do, so this is hardly a
      criticism on the typical usefulness of the Turbo II-F

      Fuel spill issues:

      While fuel spills were not a big issue for me during this test (a few
      drops were lost now and then when pouring from the fuel bottle to the
      stove - mostly when fuel clung to and ran down the side of the
      bottle), the stress of a spill is very real. This, of course, is
      completely subjective and each user will have their own level of
      worry, but for me, the amount of fuel carried cuts it so close that a
      spill almost certainly would mean the end of stove use for a trip.
      For example, I carried a 2 ounce (75 ml) mini-bottle of fuel with
      me. This allowed me two good boils with a little bit spare as a
      backup in case of strong winds or some other factor. With such a
      small amount of fuel, a partial spill is unlikely - it's probably all
      or nothing. As a backpacker who is used to having the fuel safely
      stored in a cartridge with plenty of backup fuel, this was an
      adjustment for me. The fuel bottle available from Brasslite goes a
      long way in mitigating this stress, but it's ridiculously large
      relative to the rest of the kitchen setup I used, so I often chose
      the mini-bottle over it for trips. Again, the stove worked well and
      definitely has a place in the backcountry kitchen, but close
      monitoring, more care, and less room for error are to be expected.

      Simmering ability:

      I used the Brasslite Turbo II-F almost exclusively to boil water. I
      did tinker with the simmering sleeve (never use your bare fingers!!)
      and it definitely increased stove burn time. Since cooking multi-
      course gourmet meals routinely during my guiding days (and washing
      all of the subsequent dirty dishes), I have gone almost completely to
      boil-water-only food. The ease, simplicity, and cleanliness is a
      high priority for me now, so the limits of the simmering capabilities
      of the Turbo II-F were not pushed by me during this test. I will
      certainly add future addendums to this report if I decide to try out
      any simmer-mandatory dishes.

      Impact on Total Kitchen Weight and Weight Over Various Length Trips:

      Obviously, it is in the category of weight that alcohol stoves
      shine. They are light - incredibly light. This is what compensates
      for higher fuel consumption and longer boil times. After 6 months of
      testing, I have decided that a small alcohol stove setup is
      definitely the way to go for solo short trips. For this end use,
      this long-time cartridge stove fan has become an alcohol stove
      convert. Where the decision on which stove to use gets interesting,
      however, is in trip length and the amount of water that needs to be
      boiled. For my setup, here is the breakdown of typical setups I use
      carried out to the break-even point.

      Components
       MSR Pocket Rocket Setup
       Brasslite Turbo II-F Setup

      Fixed Items
      Stove
       3.5 oz (99 gm)¹
       1.4oz (40gm)
      Empty Fuel Container
       2.7 oz (77 gm)
       1.2 oz (34 gm)
      Windscreen
       1.3 oz (39 gm)
       1.3oz (39gm)
      Pot
       3.4 oz (98 gm)
       3.4oz (98gm)
      Foil Lid
       0.1 oz (4 gm)
       0.1oz (4gm)
      Fixed Item Total
      11 oz (317 gm)
      7.4 oz (215 gm)

      Fuel Per Day²
      ~0.65 oz (19.22ml)
      ~2.25 oz (67ml)
      Total Setups

      Fuel x 1 Days + Fixed Items
      11.65 oz (330 gm)
      9.65 oz (274 gm)
      Fuel x 2 Days + Fixed Items
      12.30 oz (349 gm)
      11.90 oz (337 gm)
      Fuel x 3 Days + Fixed Items
      12.95 oz (367 gm)
      14.15 oz (401 gm)
      ¹ includes piezo igniter add-on
      ²Includes 16 ounces (.47L) for coffee at breakfast and ~24 ounces
      (.71L) for a boiled water dinner and a hot drink after dinner. Also
      assumes canister cartridge with known fuel quantity in it. I
      routinely weigh and label cartridges after trips and can pick and
      choose ones with a variety of remaining contents for each outing.

      So, according to my personal fuel schedule, for 2-3 days the
      cartridge stove becomes a more weight efficient option. My reality,
      however, is that even for a weekend trip that involves 2 breakfasts
      and 2 dinners, I choose the cartridge stove. For less than an ounce
      in weight penalty, I get much more convenience and predictable
      performance. For quick overnighters, though, the alcohol stove is my
      choice. I usually will forgo a hot breakfast when I take the alcohol
      setup as well, as my goal on these trips are to cover ground
      relatively quickly in the short time I have. A couple protein bars
      and a couple Starbucks Double Shot Espressos can get me by for the
      morning allowing me to carry half of the fuel (and a smaller fuel
      container) that I would for 2 meals. This gets my entire kitchen
      down to about 8 ounces (227 gms), offering even more weight savings.
      It's important to note here that the comparison above is for starting
      weight of setups at a trip's outset. When comparing take-home
      weight, the alcohol setup gains another advantage due to the lower
      fixed item weight and the greater loss of fuel weight. I compare
      starting weights because that's when my pack is at its heaviest. By
      the end of a trip the loss of food and water weight are many times
      any weight savings in my kitchen setup, so take-home kitchen weight
      is less important to me.

      Suitability for couple stove:

      For me, the Brasslite Turbo II-F is not a good choice - nor is it
      claimed to be - for more than solo backpackers. Brasslite makes the
      Turbo II-D for this use. According to my use and cooking patterns,
      the weight savings of an alcohol stove would quickly be eliminated by
      forcing it into two-person duty.

      Durability:

      The Brasslite Turbo II-F is a durable stove. In my experience, it's
      at least as durable as its cartridge stove counterparts, and much
      more durable than many of the homemade alcohol stove that I have
      seen. Unless a backpacker decides to jump up and down on the stove,
      it should hold just fine to the rigors of backpacking use.


      Long Term Highlights of the Brasslite Turbo II-F:

      Stove itself is incredibly light - especially considering its
      toughness.
      Using HEET fuel, there is absolutely no soot or residue on the bottom
      of my pot.
      Very small stove unit. This allows it to easily fit inside even
      small pots with room or fuel and windscreen.
      Sturdy and durable.
      Only have to bring the fuel that will actually be consumed. Further,
      the fuel can be transported in bottles with virtually no weight of
      their own, allowing an almost 100% loss of fuel-related weight over a
      trip.
      100% reliability of lighting. No finicky igniters, no blown-out
      matches. During testing, every use was a one match effort!
      Cools very quickly.

      Long Term Concerns with the Brasslite Turbo II-F:

      Fuel Consumption: This is dramatic on a use-by-use basis, using
      almost 4 times the fuel of a cartridge stove.
      The potential for a spill is always a reality, which could leave one
      completely without fuel.

      Lack of Shut Off: No simple way to shut off the stove after a boil is
      achieved. I tend to always error a little on the side of too much to
      make sure it gets the job done, which means most of the time I'm
      burning just a little more fuel than needed.

      Final Notes:

      Overall, I'm impressed with the Brasslite Turbo II-F. It's very well-
      built - the quality and craftsmanship are top notch. It does exactly
      what it's intended to do - boil water for a solo backpacker. This
      stove has caused me to re-think the way I cook in the backcountry.
      While it requires more attention to setup and conditions and the fuel
      has much less room for error than a cartridge stove, the weight
      savings and tiny setup afforded by the Turbo II-F make these
      compromises worthwhile considerations. Another advantage is in fuel
      cost - alcohol is much cheaper than fuel cartridges and even solid
      fuel. This is a small consideration for me in the big picture,
      however, as any backcountry fuel cost is a comparatively small. For
      thru-hikers, this matters. For most recreational backpackers, more
      money will likely be spent and fuel used in their automobile for a
      single dayhike than all backpacking trip stove fuel for many years.
      If I could make changes or had to come up with a wish list for the
      perfect alcohol stove, it would keep many of the characteristics of
      the Brasslite Turbo II-F. I like the material, the easy "pour in and
      light" simplicity, and the option to simmer. If I could add two
      features, they would be:

      1) A fold-up broad pot support. Brasslite offers permanent pot
      support "wings" for a more sturdy pot holder, but something that
      could be folded up to maintain the small package would be nice.
      There a number of potential designs already on the market that do
      this in a variety of stove types, and undoubtedly as the alcohol
      stove market continues to evolve and individuals tinker and modify
      their stoves, the chance of a Brasslite stove with this capability
      seems possible.

      2) Some sort of on-board fuel storage. As far as I know, the
      comparatively heavy and less efficient Trangia alcohol stove is still
      the only stove that does this, but the capacity to store a few ounces
      (~100ml) of fuel in the stove, light it, cook with it, and then snuff
      it out and cap it is a very attractive idea. No fuel pouring on the
      trail, no separate fuel storage bottle to carry, and the ability to
      use exactly what is needed for a cooking session - no more, no less.
      This "wish" poses more of a challenge for stove makers and modifiers,
      but there are a lot of smart folks out there that play with stoves,
      so I'm hopeful we'll see more of this design in the future.

      The Turbo II-F offers a small form, reliable performance, incredibly-
      light weight, and a quality build in an attractive-looking package.
      It works well, stands up to the abuse of the backcountry, and has a
      manufacturer committed to his products. The Brasslite stoves have
      been evolving and improving for a few years now, and this has
      culminated in the current version of the Turbo II-F. Undoubtedly
      there will be new versions to come, but for the current alcohol
      stoves on the market, Brasslite gives a solid choice in the Turbo II-
      F.

      Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Brasslite for the opportunity to
      test the Turbo II-F!


      4) Contact and Background Information

      Name: Curt Peterson
      Age: 33
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6'3" (1.91 m)
      Weight: 270 lbs. (122 kg)
      Email address: curt <at> boopants <dot> com
      Location: North Bend, Washington, USA

      I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 miles (32 km) from the PCT
      via footpaths leading right from my backyard. Most of my outdoor
      time here in Washington is spent on dayhikes, backpacking journeys,
      climbs, and ski trips everywhere from the Wilderness coast to the
      rainforest to the massive volcanoes to steppe.
       
      I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big
      guy perspective.  I tested gear for Seattle's biggest gear retailer
      in the mid-90s, then guided backpacking tours in Olympic National
      Park for a few summers. My typical pack load ranges from 12 to 19
      lbs (5.4 to 8.6 kgs) and usually includes a tent to keep dry in the
      Pacific Northwest's incessant dampness.
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