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: 92
  • #92

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 08 August 2023 08:05)

    In response to the question about a wick winder not working properly ("Its a Chalwyn Tropic, the problem is the wick winder on the burner just spins and doesn't turn the wheels. Is there any way to get into the burner to address the issue?"), the burner is broken and you will need to find a proper replacement for that model lantern.

  • #91

    Chris (Tuesday, 08 August 2023 04:40)

    Hi there.
    I have restored a couple of lanterns before, but I have encountered a problem I'm not sure how to solve.
    Its a Chalwyn Tropic, the problem is the wick winder on the burner just spins and doesn't turn the wheels. Is there any way to get into the burner to address the issue?

  • #90

    Jes Holm (Thursday, 03 August 2023 07:32)

    Just bougth a Frowo 105.. and the tank cap is missing... look like a diameter at 22 mm. Is it possibel to get at new cap
    .. mayby from anotther cap/lamp brand... ?

  • #89

    Liz (Thursday, 29 June 2023 20:58)

    Hello I’m interested in restoring an oil lamp that was my grandparents.

  • #88

    johnny mensi (Thursday, 13 April 2023 19:05)

    what and where do i get the paint.what kind of paint

  • #87

    Doug Pitts (Tuesday, 11 April 2023 12:07)

    What size wick is used for Embury No. 210 Supreme lantern. Appears to be 1/2 inch but can’t find size chart anywhere.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  • #86

    Mel-Owner (Monday, 20 February 2023 18:41)

    Hello Jeff,

    I do not live in Loveland, Co. Loveland is my last name though. In order to find your missing parts you can either hunt on Ebay, find a 'donor' lantern or call WT Kirkman to see if he has the parts.

  • #85

    Jeff Rosenbach (Monday, 20 February 2023 17:20)

    I am curious- are you in Loveland,Co ? Do you have access to parts? I am restoring a Rayo #77 and the wick wheel is missing , so I think I need a complete burner assembly

  • #84

    Mel-Owner (Monday, 19 December 2022 10:55)

    Hello Christina,

    I do not work on American Lanterns at all. I'm sorry.

  • #83

    Christina B. (Monday, 19 December 2022 09:51)

    I just bought 2x Rayo lamps that have a decent well kept base, but doubt they are functional- also no glass tops. Do you know how to restore these and what are your rates?

  • #82

    Mike (Monday, 07 November 2022 12:31)

    I have a Embury No. 2 Air Pilot that I’m in the process of cleaning up. Can the spring loaded chimney be removed from the lantern for cleaning? If so, can you explain how to remove and reassemble the chimney? Thanks. Mike

  • #81

    Ted J Kapanjie (Wednesday, 21 September 2022 10:33)

    Any tips on removing a rusted dietz lantern fuel cap? When I put a pair of pliers on the cap and turn it to loosen it the spout (portion attached to the fount) turns.


  • #80

    Mel-Owner (Tuesday, 06 September 2022 09:47)

    Hello Bessie,

    Can you use the main contact form to contact me and then we can chat about your lantern? Without seeing photos, it is hard to say what the issue is.

  • #79

    Bessie Young (Tuesday, 06 September 2022 08:25)

    I have a small oil lantern that looks upside down but I can't get it apart I'm afraid of damaging it what's the safest thing I could try? Wish I could attach a photo .

  • #78

    orin mayer (Monday, 01 August 2022 23:28)

    I have inherited a Little Defiance No 1 Lamp-Embury Mfg. Co. Has been in a garage for almost 70yrs abn fairly sure its older than that. I would like to restore it as my Grandfather was a train manager in Deshler, Ohio. Has beautiful red glass.

  • #77

    Gavin Morris (Friday, 29 July 2022 14:49)

    I have a rust old feuerhand 201 lantern

    I was wondering if you could tell me if it is of any value

  • #76

    Mel-Owner (Thursday, 14 July 2022 18:44)

    Hello Dennis,

    What you can do is soak that area with WD40 (it won't hurt the glass) and/or Dawn Dish liquid. Most likely it is the old soot and kerosene that has stuck to the glass and metal. Just be careful and don't force it.

  • #75

    Dennis Rhodes (Thursday, 14 July 2022 15:26)

    I have a Feuerhand lantern with the globe stuck to the chimney it contacts. How do I get it unstuck?

  • #74

    Tim Hennessy (Saturday, 09 July 2022 17:01)

    I have a Rayo No. 75 Hot Blast lantern. Looking to replace the fill plug. Any information you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks

  • #73

    Mel-Owner (Friday, 08 July 2022 18:33)

    Hello Randy,

    Can you use the main contact form so that we can chat about your possible restoration project?

  • #72

    Randy L. (Friday, 08 July 2022 16:43)

    I inherited an old Embury No. 2 lantern. It's in fair shape, but needs a good has sentimental value. I'm not very good at this kind of project. Do you do restorations on these? If so, how much $$ ? Thanks!

  • #71

    Mel-Owner (Friday, 13 May 2022 14:48)

    Hello Peter,

    If you are referring to the paper or rubber gasket that is sometimes still present on the fuel cap, you can find a similar replacement at most hardware stores. It is not really necessary though as long as the fuel cap screws on tight enough to prevent any leaks.

  • #70

    Peter Polshek (Friday, 13 May 2022 13:44)

    Hi. Wonderful resource, thanks! Great restoration work! I just got an older (made in US) Dietz Comet lantern. What do you use to replace the gasket on the fuel tank cap? Take care,


  • #69

    Mel - Owner (Thursday, 24 March 2022 16:29)

    With your Tropic lantern, it depends on how bad it is leaking. Usually sealing the tank with POR 15 will stop all the leaks.

    Please use the main contact form so that you can send me a photo and we can communicate that way.

  • #68

    Jason (Thursday, 24 March 2022 14:39)

    Hello Mel

    I have a old tropic chalwy lantern, it be longed to my granddad. It’s leaking from the base and possibly around the side of the base, what would be the best way to fix this. Trying to keep it as original as possible

  • #67

    Mel - Owner (Friday, 28 January 2022 12:21)

    Hello Jim,

    Can you use the main contact form and then we can chat? I would need a photo in order to help you figure this out.

  • #66

    Jim C. - Owner (Friday, 28 January 2022 12:08)

    I have an Adlake switch lantern I’m attempting to strip the red and green paint off down to the steel. 2 Minute stripper (many coats) has gotten me down to the base color but doesn’t seem to touch the base finish. Do you what the base finish is (i.e., baked enamel, lead?) and the best and safest way to remove it? Thanks.

  • #65

    Mel - Owner (Saturday, 25 December 2021 08:05)

    Hello Dylann,

    Without seeing photos, it is hard for me to help you. I also don't know what you mean by '2K' paint. Offhand, if the top of the lantern was peeling with paint, it is very possible that you did not remove all the rust first before painting. Please use the main contact form and contact me directly.

  • #64

    Ndylann (Saturday, 25 December 2021 07:36)

    Hello Sir,

    I just lit up my freshly repainted FROWO 55. But the 2K paint peeled of the top cover right away! I’m quite disappointed! Could you please bring me an example of paint that you would use for this purpose? What about a base layer to control rust? Any good combination of rust protection and paint that you could share?

    Thanks for your help!

    Best regards.


  • #63

    Mel - Owner (Saturday, 02 October 2021 10:57)

    With your K & T Panzer: Do not lift the globe up. Take off the cage (globe guard). There is a finger lift on the top part of the chimney. Lift it up and gently tip the globe out. You can use the main contact form to contact me directly.

  • #62

    nathan richards (Saturday, 02 October 2021 10:29)

    Hi I have an antique original panzer enclosed lantern I'm struggling to work out how to get the globe out in order to clean it! Do you need to raise the globe up and then prize the burner cone off? Thanks

  • #61

    Mel - Owner (Saturday, 25 September 2021 08:22)

    Hello Joshua,

    You need a German made wick (22mm) wide to fit your FH280. Wicks you buys from Amazon do not work properly. Make sure your burner is 100% clean so that when feed the wick up, it works smoothly. You state your lantern, when lit, that the flame is 'popping'. That sounds more like an air obstruction than a wick issue. You can you use the main contact form to contact me directly and I can try to help more.

  • #60

    Joshua Wright (Friday, 24 September 2021 21:15)

    Hello, I have a FH Nr.280 that is popping and burns uneven. I have tried several wicks from Amazon all 7/8". However none of these seem thick enough for the burner as they all have play from side to side. Would one of the German wicks from the website you provided solve this issue? Or is there something else aside from the wick I could look for? Thank you!

  • #59

    dave mercier (Saturday, 24 July 2021 16:13)

    I have an antique railroad lantern that has something like cotton batting or cotton balls inside of the oil tank where the wick also is. I'm switching to paraffin lamp oil and i'm wondering if putting new "batting' inside the tank is good to do or not. I have already installed a new wick in the burner. Thanks very much for any advice. My email address is

  • #58

    Walter Hunt (Monday, 24 May 2021 11:05)

    How do you remove the wick holder/burner for an Embury #2 Air Pilot? I am currently soaking it in Kroil, but I am not sure if it lifts straight up when free, or if it is held in by a detent. I haven't had any luck finding a video or pictures of one actually being removed from the base.

  • #57

    Philip Robinson (Friday, 23 April 2021 14:35)

    Hi, I have recently started to restore kerosene lantern and appreciate the information that you have shared. I have many questions, but will ask one. After rust removal do you use the Scotch Brite wheels with the Dremel and then polish by hand?
    Thank you,

  • #56

    Rene Centeno (Thursday, 11 February 2021 13:05)

    I have in my possession a Dietz Monarch lamp. I’m going to attempt to restore it as it is heavily rusted. How does the glass globe get removed?

  • #55

    Jon R (Wednesday, 30 December 2020 20:40)

    I received a lantern, and the smell is horrible, old fuel I'm guessing? but the outside is as bad as in the tank, guessing it was laying on it's side, product to get rid of this smell?

  • #54

    Mel - Owner (Friday, 04 December 2020 10:30)

    Hello Robert,

    You do not need to use specific High Heat Paint on your lantern. I only use High Heat paint on my restoration of Perfection Kerosene heaters where the temp can reach over 500 degrees on the top of the heater. I've never had an issue with using just good quality paint on a lantern.

  • #53

    Robert Smith (Friday, 04 December 2020 10:00)

    I'm restoring a few lanterns and have a question on paint. I've looks through the previous questions, but haven't found the answer.
    Do I need to use a high temp paint if I'm restoring to an original kerosene burning lamp? These are mostly Dietz lanterns,

  • #52

    Mel - Owner (Tuesday, 24 November 2020 17:40)

    Hello Patty,

    I don't know what model or brand lantern you are referring to. Please use the main contact form and then we can communicate that way. This area is for general comments only.

  • #51

    Patty Kennedy (Tuesday, 24 November 2020 17:08)

    I am in search of a red replacement globe for a Dip Ti No. 5 oil lantern. Im ok with clear but just prefer the red glass. Can you help in any way?

  • #50

    Mel - Owner (Saturday, 10 October 2020 17:50)

    Hello Richard,

    Over the years the blue that has been used on different models of Dietz lanterns has changed. The best advice I can give you to to take your lantern to the hardware store that has a very good selection of spray paint and match it up as close as possible. Rustoleum spray paint is usually what I will pick for a lot of my lanterns. If you want to get more detailed, you need to get the exact RAL color of what you have right now and then most likely order it. This is where I've ordered speciality paints from in order to match the original paint on many of my German Lanterns.

  • #49

    Richard V (Saturday, 10 October 2020 16:00)

    I have a large collection of Dietz Lanterns (I believe the color is Mariner Blue). I have mostly the Dietz #80 Blizzard that I use at our seasonal campsite. Time has taken its toll and a lot of them are rusting. I have been looking for a spray paint to match the color and have had no luck. Is there a rustoleum spray paint that is close to the color? Thanks!

  • #48

    Dan hodge (Monday, 05 October 2020 12:23)

    My dad just passed and left me a gsw beacon oil lamp. The fuel tank cap is missing - where can I get another?

  • #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.