Noun: res·to·ra·tion \ˌres-tə-ˈrā-shən\


The act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.


Every collector has their own method of madness for restoring an old rusty kerosene lantern they purchased. Any information on this page is my own method which I’ve learned through trial and error. As you become more experienced with restoring, you’ll figure out all those little tricks on your own. What works for me may not necessarily work for you as each lantern is very different and can react in a negative manner to certain chemicals or cleaning processes that you use.





Q. Why restore? It looks old and rustic. Isn’t that fine?


ANSWER: If your intent is to display your lantern in “as found” condition, of course its fine. Or maybe you want to use the old lantern as yard art. It’s also possible the lantern is beyond any attempts at restoring. It is your call. You can either restore it or leave it as is.  Keep in mind that there is a definition difference between 'PATINA' and 'RUST'.  If the rust is not removed, eventually the lantern will be 100% destroyed and end its life on Ebay under the listing of "FOR PARTS OR REPAIR".  It is a fine line.



Q. What tools/chemicals do I need in order to restore my lantern back to working condition?


ANSWER: Here is my list of all my ‘weapons’ on my workbench that I personally use. As stated above, you may have your own methods and you will learn your own methods of restoring.



· WD40 - Kano Kroil (This actually works far better than WD40 and has become my favorite for freeing up burners, etc.)

· Steel Wool in various grades (Medium, Fine, Extra Fine and Finest) I use more of the “Finest” grade steel wool than any other grade. A too aggressive steel wool can scratch the lantern. Better safe than sorry.

· Dremel tool. I only use certain attachments for final buffing/polishing. The one attachment I use the most is the Polishers Buffers Abrasive 1" Scotch Brite Wheels. They are fairly cheap and do the job. Once again, do not use aggressive attachments when restoring. The other attachment is the Dremel EZ472SA 120-Grit Detail Medium Abrasive Brush. USE CAUTIOUSLY! This is perfect for removing paint from tight, intricate areas on the lantern.

. DISPOSAL GLOVES.  I use tons of these so I buy in bulk.

· Hook and Pick set. Invaluable for removing micro pieces of old wick from the burner.

· Blue Magic Metal Polish Crème and Mothers Billet Polish

· Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Aerosol. *Satin, Semi-Gloss or High Gloss depending on what the original finish was.

. POR 15 TANK SEALER.  Works great for fuel tanks that have pin holes leaks in them.

· Flitz Metal, Plastic and Fiberglass Polish Paste. This is fairly expensive, but you use only a very small amount. The final result is outstanding.

· Soft cotton rags; a bag of cotton balls; Q-Tips; pipe cleaners

. Mr. Muscle Oven cleaner.  For me this works far better than paint stripper and is much more affordable.

. Soft Polishing attachments for the dremel - various styles

 .Workshop Hero Metal Rescue Rust Remover - 5 Gallon Pail. This is expensive ($90.00 for the 5 gallon pail). Worth every penny and I simply cannot stress the importance of having this on hand. You won't regret having this on hand for removing deep rust.


. Citric Acid update:  For very little money, you can purchase powdered Citric Acid and it does an acceptable job of removing rust.  I use about 1/2 pound of powdered Citric Acid in a 5 gallon bucket of water.  If after 2 days of being in the Citric Acid I'm not satisfied with the results, I then put it in Metal Rescue.  That finishes off the job.


· It is worth noting that in my personal experience, the older WW2 German Lanterns do not react well to Workshop Hero as even though it generally does not remove paint, any rust that might be underneath the original RAL military paint will most likely start to deteriorate. PROCEED WITH CAUTION & MONITOR THE LANTERN.




ANSWER: A lantern that has been spray painted by its previous owner will either work in your favor or against you. There could be numerous sins (Rust/holes) hiding underneath that lovely 1950’s gold or green OR because it was painted, it will be a real treasure hiding under the paint. You won’t know until you remove it.


Striping spray paint off of a lantern is one of the worst jobs. Make sure you wear gloves and do it outside. I’ve tried many various paint strippers and the one that works for me is Citristrip Gel or Spray. There are no harsh fumes. You can plan on at least 2 full days of a very messy striping process. I do know that other collectors and restorers of lanterns use other methods, but I prefer this one as I can monitor the lantern itself to make sure no further damage is being caused.  Once again, it is up to you how you would like to approach stripping off the paint.


Q.  How about using Lye or some other Drain cleaner?


ANSWER:  I did experiment using Drain Cleaner (diluted) to see if it would take the paint off of an old Lantern.  After sitting for a full 24 hours in the solution, the paint did just fall off.  So, the paint did come off, but disposing of this potentially hazard solution is of concern.  Once again, I use Citristrip as it is considered to be a 'safe' paint remover.  The other product that I just recently started using is Mr. Muscle Oven Cleaner.  "Easy Off" oven cleaner somewhat takes the paint off, but Mr. Muscle Oven Cleaner works fantastic; especially on old lead paint.


Q. I’ve removed the glass globe, but the burner cone won’t budge.


 ANSWER: This is a common obstacle with restoring. All those years of heat and rust meld all the pieces together. If you have used Workshop Hero, it should be able to be rotated and removed. If the problem still persists, this is when you need to soak it for a few days bathed in WD40.


Q. Now that I've removed the globe, should I clean it with hot water and soap?  Can I put it in the Dishwasher?


ANSWER:  NO!!!!  With these antique/vintage glass globes you run the risk of cracking the globe by putting it in very Hot/and or Cold water.  Personally, I only use Windex.  It may take repeated tries to get the globe sparkling again.  I have also used Oven Cleaner around the rim to remove the baked on kerosene.  Works very well and it has never harmed my glass globes.  USE YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT THOUGH.


Q. I have everything apart, but the wick won’t come out of the burner.


ANSWER: Happens to me most every time. Once again, if the wick burner/driver has been in Workshop Hero, you should be able to gently massage the wick out of the burner. I have had to cut the wick off and then with my hook and pick tools, carefully extract the remaining wick pieces.  Once again: CAUTION.  You do not want to break or damage the little 'wheels'  - those are the 'wick drivers'.


Q. The wick burner simply will not budge from the intake opening. Maybe it's time to trash this lantern.


ANSWER:  This is not an easy problem to solve at times. For me, it is one of the most frustrating situations.   You must be patient and soak the burner with WD-40 or something similar like PB Blaster (Do this outside as this is not a pleasant smell).  Most burners simply 'sit' in the intake valve.  Note the photos above where I discovered that the burner SCREWS into the intake.  This lantern is the Bon Jour Lantern. The burner was frozen and the intake valve was cracking and becoming loose.  I did not want to shear off the intake valve so I used Por-15 and secured that area. Por-15 is a liquid metal that turns rock solid and I use for sealing pin hole leaks in lanterns.  This burner did sit for over 2 weeks constantly being bathed in WD 40/PB Blaster/Engine De-greaser.    Finally, I had success and the burner was able to be unscrewed from the brass intake.


UPDATE: Kano Kroil works far better than WD40 or PB Blaster.


I have not used a Micro Torch yet to remove a frozen burner.  Many other restorers do use that method of heating it up, cooling it down and doing that a few times in order to break the 'seal'. 


Photos speak a thousand words.  I'll be continually updating 'Before/After' photos. 


You will see the various steps and then the final finished restored lantern. All of the restorations that I’ve done are a labor of love, but I feel compelled to bring these lanterns back, as close as I can, to their original state so that “she may burn again!”


And most importantly, have fun.  Realize the whole process is a learning experience. Practice makes perfect....well, almost.  Each lantern is so different.  Be as serious as all heck with what you collect, but if you find yourself hooked on the challenge of restoring them, grab that steel wool, put on some music and enjoy yourself!





Comments: 47
  • #47

    Mel - Owner (Sunday, 28 June 2020 18:31)

    Hello Byron,

    The closest paint that you can find which will be a pretty accurate match is Rust-Oleum Enamel Satin Spruce.

  • #46

    Byron Baker (Sunday, 28 June 2020 18:09)

    Hi was wondering on Embury defiance air pilot lanterns the green paint is what color of green in spray paint thanks Byron

  • #45

    Mel - Owner (Friday, 29 May 2020 07:47)

    Hello Kent,

    Your issue you are describing could be two things going on. The first is you have the wrong size wick. The second issue is that the burner is broken. The little wick wheels can appear they are turning but when the wick is inserted they do not turn correctly. Even just one of the little wick wheels on the rod may be broken. Please use the main contact form and then we can chat via email.

  • #44

    Kent Lawenda (Friday, 29 May 2020 00:02)

    I've been cleaning and restoring an old railroad lantern and have run into a problem with the new wick not catching and feeding as it should. At first it fed crooked no matter how much I tried to help it feed tor up the wick. Then I noticed wick remnants and cleaned those out using heat on a gas stove. Did I damage it doing that? Anyhow the 1"wide wick does not catch properly. The two wheels teeth to catch seem like they are straight and working but the wick won't catch right. Ever had this delemma? What do I do?
    Thanks for any help!

  • #43

    Allen Storey (Tuesday, 05 May 2020 20:29)

    I have a Sherwoods “rail road” lantern made of copper. The overhead handle was repaired (prior to my ownership) using what appears to be common solder. Well, after lighting the lamp and after about an hour, the solder turned loose. I am interested in having the repair done properly but have no idea where to take the lantern. Any advice would be great.
    I could supply photos if that would help.

  • #42

    Mel-Owner (Wednesday, 22 April 2020 10:34)

    Hello Malia,

    Please use the main contact form above and then I can help you our more directly with your questions.

  • #41

    Malia B (Wednesday, 22 April 2020 07:44)

    Hello !!
    So just a random moment in my grandmas laundry room , waiting for my clothes , I was looking around the shelves and found to awesome “old vintage” lanterns .
    I love antiques for one and the second I’m decoration a garden .
    So I have 2 dietz little wizard lanterns that I want to bring back to life , I have never done anything like this or have the faintest idea as to where to start .
    I read your supplies list and what not , just didn’t know if there was anything I could do more for myself to do this the right way I suppose �

  • #40

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 24 March 2020)

    Hello Pat,

    I appreciate your reply and I'm sorry the only option is to look for a parts lantern. Don't give up hope! I've been in that situation so many times and trying to locate parts for 1900's German lanterns is not easy.

    Thank you again and good luck with the hunt!

  • #39

    Patrick Cox (Tuesday, 24 March 2020 17:06)

    Hi Mel. Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, Kirkman couldn't help me either. No suitable substitute either. They recommended picking up a parts lantern on ebay. Just wanted to give you a "heads up" in case you ever get asked this question again regarding the Embury Air Pilot #2.

  • #38

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 24 March 2020 14:49)

    Hello Patrick,

    You definitely need to find the replacement burner for your lantern. I believe that WT Kirkman will have that part you need. I would contact them.

  • #37

    Patrick Cox (Tuesday, 24 March 2020 14:32)

    I recently acquired a pretty nice Embury Air Pilot #2. It had been repainted black at some point in it's life and looked to be a pretty decent job. Other than some fairly small holes in the tank, everything else was very good. No dents of scratches, etc. I wanted to restore it to it's former glory but have run into a problem with the burner. I removed it from the lantern and removed the wick from the burner (very tedious job as it was almost petrified in there) but the top of the burner (that surrounds the wick) is degraded very badly. Looks like it just burned away. And the spiked wheels inside the burner will no longer move the wick up or down. I did manage to get a new 3/4" wick into the burner but the spiked wheels just kind of tear it up without moving it. the burner cap is 2 3/8" wide and fits snugly on the flange of the lantern. My question is, will a new Dietz burner (which, accept for the wings looks very similar) fit this Embury lantern?? If not, any ideas where I might find a replacement?? Please advise. Thank you so much for any light you can shed on my problem.

  • #36

    Mel-Owner (Sunday, 09 February 2020 08:06)

    Hi Adam,

    With your Embury lantern that has a hole in the bottom, if it is quite large you need to fill it first with either liquid metal or solder it. Then you need to seal the inside of the tank with POR 15. Feel free to use the main contact form and then we can communicate that way.

  • #35

    Adam Wilburn (Saturday, 08 February 2020 19:21)

    Hi Melanie,

    I thought this format looked familiar. I messaged you not long ago about a perfection heater...still working on that! I also have an Embury Air Pilot with a pencil lead size hole in the bottom. What do you recommend?


  • #34

    Mel-Owner (Sunday, 26 January 2020 08:02)

    If you have a leaking lantern/lamp and the holes in the fuel fount are not too large, you will want to seal the tank with POR 15. Feel free to contact me directly by using the main contact form.

  • #33

    Wez (Sunday, 26 January 2020 00:53)

    Hi there I have an old porcelain oil lamp and it seaps oil can you advise me what to put in to seal and stop it seaping please

  • #32

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 10 September 2019 08:17)

    In regards to the leak you have on your Aladdin, I would need to see photos. Please use the main contact button and then we can take a look at it.

  • #31

    Nikki (Monday, 09 September 2019 21:50)

    We have an aluminum Aladdin oil burner that has a leak in top rim. Several people have suggested liquid solder, what do you suggest.

  • #30

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 03 September 2019 15:20)

    Hi Graham,

    You do not need to use a special high heat paint for lanterns. Use a very good high quality spray paint. For example, the Rustoleum high performance enamel spray paint. I've used a lot of the Black Satin or Flat black on most of my lanterns. Just don't use some cheap hardware store paint. I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me directly using the contact form above.

  • #29

    Graham Ellis (Tuesday, 03 September 2019 15:16)

    Hello, I’d like to ask for your advice on ‘what type of spray paint finish you would recommend ? I am planning on using the lamps and am wondering if I need to use a paint suitable for high temperature. Thank you for your assistance.

  • #28

    Philip anglin (Monday, 08 July 2019 18:37)

    I’ve just started to collect that the lantern a peals to me, and old Coleman lanterns. I’ll be reading your text to help me to gain more knowledge of these beautiful Coleman fuel lanterns for their lights the put out, ty sir very mud, looking forward to more chats!

  • #27

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 28 May 2019 14:09)

    Hello Ndam verlaine ,

    That doesn't make a lot of sense as liquid is liquid. So, whether it be water or kerosene if you have a tank that is leaking due to pinholes and the seams are not tight, you would see 'weeping' or actual leaks coming from the tank. The only thought I have is that you are not putting in the same amount of water as you are kerosen and the leak may occur when you fill the fuel tank with much more kerosene. Where exactly are you seeing the leaks? On the very bottom or on the sides of the fuel tank? What you should do is seal your fuel tank (the inside of it) with POR15. If you want to email me directly by using the main contact form, I can help you with that process.

  • #26

    Ndam verlaine (Tuesday, 28 May 2019 12:40)

    I have noticed something with my old and rust lamp.When I fill it with water it doesn't leak but with kerosene it leaks.Please what makes it to leak with the kerosene and how can I solve the problem?

  • #25

    Mel-Owner (Wednesday, 17 April 2019 08:39)

    Hi Barbara,
    I'd be glad to help you. Please use the main contact form above and then we can communicate properly. This area is for general comments only.


  • #24

    Barbara Mathieu (Wednesday, 17 April 2019 08:30)

    Hello, I have a Nouvelle Lantern BONJOUR that needs restoration but I cannot figure out the basics.. like how to take the glass globe out? I am sure there is an easy solution but I don't want to force anything incase it breaks. Can you help?

    Thank you

  • #23

    Mel-Owner (Saturday, 23 March 2019 10:23)

    Dear Laurie,

    You can use either Metal Rescue or the Citric Acid/Water rust removal. Given how badly it is rusted, you can also try the 50/50 apple cider Vinegar - water method. Then use a good metal polish.

  • #22

    Laurie Maley (Saturday, 23 March 2019 08:54)

    I have a Pierced Tin Lantern that a craftsman made, the Paul Revere type , , that was made in 1979 and parts of it have rust on it are not shiny now, the front it , from where it was stored. What can I do to remove the rust and get it shiny again?

  • #21

    Mel-Owner (Thursday, 14 February 2019 13:12)

    Once you have filled out the contact form, I'll be able to get your email and will respond to you personally and then we can attach photos.

    The 'Main Contact' form does not allow attachments.

  • #20

    Mel-Owner (Thursday, 14 February 2019 13:06)

    Hi Jim,

    With the code to entry (it's for stopping spam & bots), you need to enter what you see correctly. Meaning, some of the letters are Capitalized and some are not. Such as:

    J K u p T

    I just tested it and it is 'case' sensitive so it does work if you enter the letters correctly.
    Try it again. :)

  • #19

    Jim (Thursday, 14 February 2019 12:58)

    Hi Melanie,
    Thanks for the information. When I go to the Main Contact page and enter the code it tells me I entered it wrong and won't send the message. I also couldn't find where to attach a photo.

  • #18

    Mel-Owner (Thursday, 14 February 2019 10:37)

    Hi Jim,
    From the information I have, that was an aftermarket globe made by another glass company. I've seen a few different letters underneath the word 'Crescent' in the half arc shape. I do not believe they are considered very common and do have value to them. If you use the main contact form, then you could send a photo to me so I can see what you have. Here is more information:
    Crescent Glass Company was established in Wellsburg in 1908 by Henry Rithner, Sr. and Ellery Worthen. When Mr. Worthen was killed in an accident in 1920, the Rithner family bought his interest in the company from his heirs. The first location was above Twenty[ninth and Yankee streets. Later the company moved to the former Riverside Glass site at Sixth and Yankee and is till operating at this location.

    Their original line, until the Prohibition era, was "bar goods". After Prohibition, the company started a new line- red lantern globes. The company became the major supplier for Ford Motor Company's ruby taillight lens. For these items Mr. Rithner, Sr., had developed a solid ruby glass processing. Prior to this, the globes and lenses had to be stained. Crescent also made cut, crackle, carnival and marbleized glass.

    At the present time (1975) the Crescent Company makes lamp parts, novelties, signal globes, and votive glass. Henry Rithner III, the third generation of Rithners in the glass business in Wellsburg is president of the firm.

  • #17

    Jim (Thursday, 14 February 2019 09:51)

    Hi Melanie,
    I'm not on facebook but I've seen your posts on the facebook lantern pages since they are public pages. I know you mostly collect German lanterns and the restorations you do are amazing and you have beautiful collection! I recently purchased a C. T. Ham No. 2 lantern and it has a 'Crescent' embossed globe in it. The word 'Crescent' is in a semi-circle with the letter 'F' below it. It is lightly embossed with small letters and is hard to see. I didn't realize it was embossed with a name until I got it home and cleaned it. It is that faint. I was wondering if this was a rare globe or if it is just a run of the mill replacement.
    Thank you for your time,

  • #16

    Mel-Owner (Sunday, 30 December 2018 18:10)

    Can you please use the main contact form so that I can respond to your email directly?

  • #15

    Gene (Sunday, 30 December 2018 18:07)

    I just purchased what I believe to be an English hand held oil lamp. The oil reservoir access cap is frozen so I cannot add oil or a new 1 inch wick. I’m not sure of the maker. A image search ion the internet did produce results. I’m not sure whether the cap prays off or unscrews. I would send a photo but not sure how to do so on your website.

  • #14

    Mel-Owner (Monday, 08 October 2018 08:52)

    Hi Matt,

    Unfortunately, when the wick driver is broken and the little 'wheels' inside no longer feed the wick up because those 'wheels' are broken or spin freely on the shaft, there is no way to fix it. Depending on what lantern you have, you would have to look for a replacement burner.

  • #13

    Matt (Monday, 08 October 2018 06:22)

    How can I repair the wick driver as mine doesn’t send the wick up and down, it slips very easily

  • #12

    Dave wagner (Saturday, 15 September 2018 19:36)

    I am wondering if you are available for hire for a restoration job? I bought a Detroit & Mackinac RR lantern about two years with the intent on retiring it. Life, job and kid commitments have led me to finally accept the fact that I’m not getting around to it anytime soon. I also have no idea what I’m doing.

    The glass is in great shape but the metal has seen better days.

    Do you do commission work?



  • #11

    Mel-Owner (Sunday, 02 September 2018 10:25)

    Hi John,
    Can you please use the main contact form so that I can respond to your email directly? I'm unclear as to what you are needing help with.

  • #10

    John curry (Sunday, 02 September 2018 08:54)

    I'm needing a glove for a
    Feuer Hand miniature
    Its 17/8 round top h bottom
    & 2 3/16 tall
    Please let me know where I can get one.
    Thanks John

  • #9

    Mel-Owner (Wednesday, 29 August 2018 12:28)

    The burner on a Bat 2850 lifts out. It sounds like it is frozen in place. I can help you out but I need you to use the main contact page so I can get your email from you for communication.

  • #8

    Mario (Wednesday, 29 August 2018 11:36)

    First, What a fantastic site! Really love to browse and learn..I do have a question...on a BAT 2850 how does the burner come out? Been trying everything, to no avail, any pointers? THX!

  • #7

    Mel-Owner (Thursday, 07 June 2018 08:15)

    Kyle: Can you contact me with your question through the main contact page? I do not have your email. Then I can respond to you. This area is simply for comments.


  • #6

    Kyle (Wednesday, 06 June 2018 18:42)

    I have two old kerosene lamps that have been converted to accommodate an electric bulb. They have a half octagon shape so 180 degrees of illumination. Everything for kerosene operation is still intact. Who would you recommend to contact to ascertain if they might have value to someone? Thanks

  • #5

    nath (Wednesday, 21 March 2018 14:16)
    Heres his link so you can delete it after review

  • #4

    nath (Wednesday, 21 March 2018 14:15)

    Just click his name will take you to his blog

  • #3

    MEL - OWNER (Tuesday, 31 October 2017 15:22)

    Greetings to you Juan! What is the link to your blog?


  • #2

    Juan (Tuesday, 31 October 2017 12:12)

    Congratulations for your Website and for your collection.
    I collect lamps of all kinds and my collection is classified following two criteria:
    Human activities (mining, police, navigation...)
    Concept and fuel.
    Only a small part of my Blog is in English, I hope to fix that in the future.
    A greeting:

  • #1

    Dwyann Dalrymple (Thursday, 07 September 2017 14:49)

    I'm trying to find out how to restore old lamps and lanterms.