(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Heater exhaust wind deflector

The van has an Empire T-10 model 10,000 BTU (input) / 7,000 BTU (output) furnace. About 10 months ago, I was able to get it working by blowing compressed air through it to clear out dirt or whatever it had in it that was causing the pilot not to stay lit when released (per lighting protocol). Too bad I already bought an extra, rare pilot thermocoupler for it. But at least I have a spare now since they are really scarce.

It must not have been windy at all that day, it worked beautifully. It turned on and off as it should automatically depending how the thermostat was set. I tested it for about 10 minutes then shut it off.

Today, it was around 32 out with light but semi-constant wind.. and it was blowing into the furnace and blowing out the flames completely. Even when the heater is actually on and running, not just the pilot.. so wasn't a pilot light issue. I watched through the little window as it was burning fine.. then being beaten with wind and then being blown out as the wind picked up. When I opened the window, I could feel a strong breeze blowing straight through the burner.

I saw a webpage talking about a wind deflector they bought for their water heater: WH Wind Guard

I looked around and found an old desktop PC's side cover from a PC I scrapped about a year ago.I bent it down the middle, drilled a hole, ran down to the hardware store and got about $5 worth of items and came up with what you see attached.

It's not something that can be left when driving but that's ok. The van's factory dash heater works for when I'm driving. With gloved hands it can be removed even when hot and tossed into my utility trailer, so the big bulky metal plate isn't something I have to worry about taking up valuable space. The plate has a hook on it and so does the grill on the van. So I only have to keep from losing the tensioner in the center. If I do, they're about $3 to replace. I may keep a spare in the glove box just in case, or even get a closed hook for the plate instead of an open one like it has now so the tensioner will be tethered to the plate.

The pilot/gas supply has an electrical-type thermocouple (generates power from heat or something, doesn't use 12V) and so it has 2 wires running from the pilot's thermocoupler to another component (gas supply switch) and I think it's getting a bad connection. I bumped one of the wires and it cut off instantly. I had to pull the wire connections off and put them back before the pilot would stay lit again. Then I had it working, I exited the van to get my camera for the following photos, took them,gotent back in the van and the flame was totally off, pilot too.

Thankfully it *does* stop the gas from blowing if the flames go out totally despite being in the "on" position. By the 70's they already had that kind of safety feature. I had to wiggle the wires again before I could get the pilot to stay lit. Then it stayed lit and the heater came on fine.

I think shutting the van door made the bad wire connection vibrate enough to disconnect before. It just uses 2 short wires with female blade connects on each end, so it's very easy to make new ones if the old ones are a bit worn out on the blame connectors. Sometimes you can squish them with pliers to fix them as well, then put them back on the blades.

 Anyhow.. now it's lit again and running and seems to be staying lit now despite repeated door closings.

I am testing how well it heats the van at around 32-33 degrees outside.

I set the thermostat to 5 and it heated the van up about 15 degrees in an hour. That's much faster than the electric heater did at 900w running constantly. The gas heater turned on and off at least once or twice in that time when it felt it was warm enough based on the thermostat setting.

Since then, I have bumped it up to 7 and I'll check back an hour later to see how warm it is. A heater set to 1500w would put out at best 5000 BTU or so.. which would be ok for the most part. The propane heater will be a supplemental heater when I have electric to plug in to.. or use exclusively when I'm stopping someplace without hookups.