The Life and Death of a Gas Heater

VW's aircooled mini SUV. Great for riding in the country, or cruising the beach.
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suntour
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Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:15 am

Post by suntour » Fri Dec 03, 2004 2:19 am

Well my parts (two BN4?s in assorted states of disassembly) showed up today. I feel like I hit the heater jackpot. These came with parts I wasn?t expecting but more than happy to received, including a brand new metering pump bracket and that rubber mount for it, new thermo overheat switch and the missing section of wiring harness, etc. In fact it came with so much stuff that I think I can get two working heaters out of this and one more almost running. (missing a plastic gear for the metering pump contact points.)

One of the heaters looked almost ready to run so I thought I would just hook up the rest of the stuff and see if it would fire up before I tore it down for parts if it didn?t run. I adjusted the point gap for the coil, put on some rubber mounts and the temperature regulating switch, the plastic covers on both sides, exhaust and intake pipes, and rigged up a temporary timer switch under the hood and temporary metering pump to the gas tank. I crossed my fingers and turned it on.

It started the blower motor and the fuel pump started to click, but it didn?t fire up. I tracked the problem down to a sticky outlet on the metering pump and tried it again and damn if it didn?t fire right up! Hot damn, I got heat!

I still need to go through everything as per the manual to check everything out and make sure everything if up to specs. I do have one question, just how hot are these supposed to get? The air was warm but doesn?t really get hot after 15 minutes. Is this normal operating temps? I have not tested the pump to see if it is delivering the right amount of fuel yet, and the manual said that a lean mixture will cause insufficient heat out put, so this could be the problem, but I have no idea how hot these are suppose to get.

I still have one more heater to build and get working; I will post pictures of the build as I go along. I can?t believe it! 16 years latter and I finally have a working heater.

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suntour
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Post by suntour » Fri Dec 10, 2004 3:29 am

Well if miracles don?t cease to happen. I just hooked up my second heater to see if it would run and wouldn?t you know it, it fired up faster and stronger than the first one I got running. I literally pieced this one together from two completely destroyed BN4?s. I had to completely disassemble two electric combustion motors and swap the guts around plus a few creative drill and tap tricks to the housing and that thing that hold the brushes to the windings to get it to work. (Those electric motors are the total weak link in these heaters, out of the three motors I have, two have broken housings. The aluminum ends are so soft that they have stress fractures all over them.) I still need to pull it out and redo the wiring harness. I did a total tweaker job on the wiring since I had only one color of wire lying around and was too impatient to see if I had succeeded in building the heater correctly to get the right wire colors. (I suppose the guys on the Off Road forum will ridicule me to no end for that.)

Now I just need to find a store that sells the right color of wire and electrical connectors to finish this harness. Oh I also need to replace the safety switch, you need to fidget with the switch to get it in the right place to work and the internal mechanism is gummed up with some brown goop stuff. Now that I have two working heaters I am thinking I should mount it in the back of the car and really get the heat going. (or just keep a spare incase one of those motors decides to crap out again.) All I need is another motor and I will have three working heaters, but then again that could be a little obsessive.

Anyone need some spare parts?

Oh, sorry I didn?t take any pictures. The wife has the camera and I don?t know where she is right now.

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Bob Ingman
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Post by Bob Ingman » Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:24 am

Justin nice to hear a story with a happy ending (except for the missing wife aspect).
I admire anyone capable of making sense of a gas heater. I have somehow managed to keep mine running for the past five years but it has been a juggling act.
Luckily I have just aquired a spare. Mine has a lot of hours on it and I feel it may decide to give up the ghost before long.
Even here where I live I have never seriously considered a need for a second heater. If it was a bus I`d do it in a heartbeat but the thing is another matter entirely. Mine would be more efficient if I understood how it should be rouuted or in which directions the heat should be directed. I have a single outlet forward of my right knee and no others. I`m sure that it should somehow be directed toward my winshield as a defrosting aid as well. Is this true?
I have mine basicly on an on/off toggle period. No other control. When its too cold I turn it on. When its too hot (right knee melting) I turn it off.
Anyway congratulations on your accomplishments. And thanks especially for providing us all out here in Thingland with a pictorial display of the inner areas of the mystery we know as our heaters. In time I will remove this and other bits of chit chat so that your entries read more as a text for archival purposes. Bob

Jersey Thing
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Joined: Sun May 16, 2004 8:45 pm

Life and death of a gas heater

Post by Jersey Thing » Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:32 pm

Greetings all -

Kindred you were correct in the fact that i should try the reset switch, sure enough after hitting that switch, i turned the green timer dial and sure enough the blower started blowing, an it was not loud as stated in you earlier post.

The issue(s) I am having are; number A) is that as you stated earlier it is blowing cool air even after several minutes and number B) after several minutes, no real interval, i have to hit the reset switch again to have the fan start again. In addition there is a toggle switch and the red knob to the extreme left. I have tried turning and pulling the red knob and nothing. It does not seem to turn but it does push in and pull out. The toggle switches back and forth with same results.


As far as the freakin' emergency flashers\emergency flashers issue from another post, well i have given up and going to run te car down to my mechanic.

Joe

caspar
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 am

Post by caspar » Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:50 pm

another questions for the heater masters..lol i have the heater blowing, but no hot air. i am not getting fuel up to the heater.. i have tested the fuel pump(hook up pump to another battery out side of car, it click,and when i touch the wire to and off battery it click, but just once)
i have two pumps and both does the samething went i test it. i have power going to the pump when it is install.. but when i put test light to either wire brn or grn both shows it hot.. does it matter where grn and brn wire go???

hope i explain this half way decent..

caspar

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suntour
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Post by suntour » Sun Jan 23, 2005 1:47 pm

Yes It sounds like your pump is fine and both wires to the pump should read hot (light turns on). The way it works is there is this worm drive gear setup inside the blower motor that opens and closes a set of points every 33 revolution of the fan. (That orange colored fan under the driver side fresh air intake is the blower fan/motor assembly.) When the points close it grounds one of the wires (green one) to the pump and makes it click. It does this about once every second. The manual for the heater states that the pump is not polarity sensitive so you can plug the wires in any way you want too.

From your description it sounds like either the point gap needs to be reset and cleaned or the condenser for the points is shot or the worst case scenario the plastic gear for the points is stripped out like mine was. It looks like you need to tear the heater apart to get to the motor and check it out.

caspar
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 am

Post by caspar » Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:11 pm

thanks for reply..cant say i like what u said lol.. but i will take it apart and look at it..i will get back to you u guys and let you know what i found out.

thanks again

caspar

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suntour
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Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:15 am

Post by suntour » Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:15 pm

Label your wiring before you take it apart that is the biggest pain to redo. Just taking the heater apart and reassembly is easy.

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raygreenwood
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Post by raygreenwood » Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:52 pm

The difference in heat found from one system to the other...when all things are running well...is generally due to not having the correct fuel output volume. from the metering pump. The metering pump is adjustable by loosening the locknut on the output end and turning the fitting in or out. You will need a graduated tube to set the flow in CC's per minute. Ray

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Kubelmann
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Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2003 3:01 am

Post by Kubelmann » Tue Jan 10, 2006 3:52 pm

I am unsure if anyone is looking for a complete gas heater. Ark Mavis the premiere gas heater expert has a number of complete freshly overhauled gas heaters listed on Samba for sale. Also Bob Ingman long time moderator here also has a complete working gas heater for sale. This is just an FYI in case anyone is looking/ K-mann

caspar
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 am

Post by caspar » Fri May 19, 2006 4:46 am

my heater was working fine last week. now blower runs, i hear the clicking from the fuel pump, but no hot air. after 5 to 10 minutes the finger safty switch trips. any idea why, or what this could be.

it still gets a little cold at night and early am, i need my heater lol.

thanks

caspar

KevinMurphy
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:03 pm

Gas Heater - Darwin Award - Honorable mention

Post by KevinMurphy » Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:33 am

Hello,

I've had this '73 Thing since '79. In the fall I'd crank up the gas heater. I would clean the spark plug, flip switches and replace fuses if needed. It usually took a while, (click, click, click...) but eventually it would start and envelop the car in a cloud of black smoke. Then heat, wonderful heat.

Well, last year it would not start. I could hear the pump and fan, but no ignition. Screwed with it on and off for hours. Nothing. So I had the brilliant suggestion of squirting some starting fluid into the intake.

The resulting noise and flame was incredible. Think of something that happens in an action movie. Like a loud boom and a flamethrower looking thing. Wow. Really bad, but no visible damage to me or the car. Just about knocked me on my ass.

A friend had stopped over to watch football and was hanging around watching me when this happened. He said I screamed like a little girl, but that must have been his voice he heard.

But the flame started a fire on the frame under the gas tank. Note, it's lifted 4" so there's plenty of room. It was good my buddy was there and so excited, cause when asked to, he got the water hose to squirt out the fire in no time.

It seems the heater would not start because a hose connected to the little pump to the heater was bad and was dripping gas. In fact before we put the fire out I could see the flaming droplets of gas dripping down, .

In short, don't put starting fluid into the heater.

Oh yeah, I replaced the hose and it runs great.

Kevin
Baltimoron, Maryland

Piper
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Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:03 pm

Post by Piper » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:50 pm

I realize this is an old thread, and that your heater is most likely fine by now, but for others, they DO make a heater to run on those green propane cylinders. Coleman makes a few, different heat ranges, and options. I have a 3000 BTU unit in my Westy for cold weather camping. I'm not sure I'd recomend them while moving unless you made a secure place where it couldn't roll over, or fall, but it sure is nice when camping!

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Kubelmann
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Post by Kubelmann » Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:14 pm

Lets get this one going as the winter sets in. Those of us in the North have found heater solutions.

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Kubelmann
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Post by Kubelmann » Fri Dec 21, 2007 1:51 am

CAn we bump this one?? We have the major Heaterman (awol) and there is another guy that has surfaced that seems to have a skill set to keep these heaters going.

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