Tiley Lamp HOWTO

This document describes in detail how to light, maintain and repair a Tiley lamp. The Tiley lamp runs on paraffin which it burns in a mantle rather than using a wick resulting in a much brighter light than the more common (and cheaper) Hurricane lamp.

Warning: Tiley lamps are filled with the pressurized paraffin. As such using a Tiley lamp that in is in a poor state of repair can be dangerous. While this document should describe how to ensure your Tiley lamp is in a safe condition the author will not be responsible for damage caused by the use or misuse of this information. Please be careful!

Lighting a working Tiley Lamp

  1. Fill the tank with fuel (paraffin). Make sure the tank is filled on a level surface since the position of the filler cap ensures that the tank is not overfilled.
  2. Replace the pump unit, ensure the fuel tap is off and pump for thirty stokes.
  3. Soak the priming torch with methalayted spirit, clip it to the vapouriser and set light to it. Note you can still light the lamp if you soak the torch in paraffin but this will soot up the globe and this makes the lamp dimmer.
  4. When the vapouriser has warmed completely turn on the fuel tap, if the vapouriser is hot enough there will be an audible hissing sound. The flame from the priming torch will light the gaseous paraffin in the mantle. If the vapouriser is not hot enough the mantle will not light and flames will come out of the top of the lamp. Don't worry if this happens, simply turn off the fuel tap and wait for another minute before trying again. Once the mantle is lit the priming torch can be removed.

Replacing the mantle

Replacing the mantle on a Tiley lamp is not difficult and there are pictures of how to do it on the packet the mantle comes in. The key bit of knowledge is realizing that the metal ducting that comes down from the top of the lamp goes through the mantle. The mantle is then tied to this metal ducting at the top and bottom. Before the lamp is lit the mantle will look far, far to big for the lamp. Don't worry about this, the mantle will shrink by about three times when the the first time you light the lamp..

Components of a Tiley Lamp (glossary)

This section describes the purpose of each separable component of a Tiley lamp together with a picture of that component. It can also be used as a glossary of terms.

Fuel tap

The fuel tap sits between the vapouriser and the fuel tank. The tap is controlled by the heat proof plastic knob that forms part of the assembly. In addition to the fuel tap itself the fuel tap assembly also contains filters to prevent contaminated fuel from blocking the vapouriser.


Also called the glass. This is the heat resistant glass that protects the delicate mantle from prodding fingers and the cruel wind.


The handle, perhaps suprisingly, is used to carry the lamp. It is fairly long so that the fingers wrapped round it don't get burnt by the heat rising from the lamp.


The mantle is where the paraffin burns producing a strong white light. Although originally made of fabric [TODO: what fabric exactly] after its first use it turns to ash and is therefore very delicate. Even the slightest nudge with the fingers can damage a used mantle so take great care handling a dismantled lantern.

Priming torch

The Tiley lamp can not be lit until it is very hot. The priming torch is used to heat the vapouriser until it reached working temperature allowing the lantern to be lit.


This is the part of the Tiley lamp consists of a painted lid to protect the other components, tubes that duct oxygen and gaseous paraffin to the mantle and the mantle itself. Because the mantle is so delicate the top should be removed only when need in order to clean the globe or to change the mantle.


The vapouriser is the vertical tube that runs up the centre of the lamp. This tube becomes very hot so that the liquid paraffin that is pumped through it becomes vapourised into gas so that is can be burned. This component is sometimes called the generator because is 'generates' the gas to power the lamp. I believe generator terminology comes from Coleman lamps which, although they run on petrol, work on the same principle as Tiley lamps.