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Old 03-11-2005, 04:25 PM   #15
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yes...short story: its working.

the long story: I was rather po'd at the repair shop that went ahead and "fixed" a furnace that "shouldn't be used", according to them, and also could not be re-installed in a trailer without that vent kit I mentioned. Why didn't the tech just stop right there when he saw the condition? why did they not know, being an authorized Suburban repair facility, that my broken parts are not replaceable, rendering the furnace unuseable???? (I found this out by talking to tech support at Suburban. no replacement available). Why would anyone in their right mind want to pay 125 bucks for something that shouldn't be used, and is essentially "un-fix-able"????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????? but I digress...


that "vent cap adapter" is a 39-cent sheet metal stamping that seals the exhaust tube on the furnace to the inside and outside wall. I know there is a picture here on this site somewhere, where I posted the solution, and you can see the part I'm talking about.

the solution: a kind hearted aistreamforums member had one of these parts kicking around his shop, (his furnace was recycled, but this part didn't leave with the rest of it), and dropped it in the mail to me. Last fall, I installed the furnace when the need for heat arose, and it works flawlessly. no soot, no CO, no nuthin. works great. I'm sure I'll get a few more years out of it, but I doubt I'll be spending any more money on it.

As for yours...gotta find out "why" it doesn't work to determine whether or not its worth fixing. I wouldn't replace. I just don't think they're worth what they cost. (~$600). and they take up too much room. They use so much electricity, it isn't practical to use them while boondocking. If you can only use it w/ shore power, you might as well just use one of those little $30 electric-ceramic heaters, which will warm this size trailer very nicely. The only choice when boon-docking is a catalytic, which runs on propane only. The drawback to those is that they don't have a thermostat, and I've found that even on the lowest setting, its TOO warm! (even in 30 degree weather).

now, your mileage may vary. you may like to boondock just for 1 night...charge the batteries all day on the road from the tow vehicle. You may want to use the hot-air system's waste-tank ducting to keep your tanks from freezing in -0 weather, which would be beyond the capabilities of a catalytic or ceramic heater. I have no grey tank, and the black tank is not under the floor...so no hot-air ducting from the furnace exists. and I don't camp when its that cold, anyway. I went to the trouble of re-installing the furnace because I have a very young son, who does not yet understand "NO!! DON'T TOUCH!!! HOT!!!". a catalytic or ceramic heater would be within his reach, and are therefore, quite dangerous. The furnace is not within his reach. In a couple of years...I might make better use of the cabinet space under the sink.

edit: see this thread for pics of the part I'm talking about:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...hlight=furnace
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Old 03-11-2005, 05:01 PM   #16
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Question Ouch!

I got an estimate on the cost of replacement and it's like you said, plus tax and labor, so $870. It might be in the future for us, but I think for now we'll at least try to find out what's wrong with our furnace and whether or not it can be fixed and still be safe to use.

Truth is, right now we don't know how we'll be using our Safari because it's so new to us. At some point we might want to use it in cold weather but for now it will just be a 3-season camper, weekends and vacations. We do have an old catalytic heater that works. It's a little rusty, but it works and warms nicely.

Btw, I have the original "Installation, Operating, and Service Instructions" manual for my Suburban NT-22A (also covers model numbers NT-20A, NT-20AD, NT-22A, NT-22AD, NT-22CS, NT-22CDS, NT-30A, NT-30AD, NT-30CS, NT-30CDS). I also have a manual for model numbers NT-22FCA, NT-22FC, NT-22FCD, NT-32FCA, NT-32FC, and NT32FCD. Don't know why I have them, but they came with the trailer. I'm happy to make a copy for anyone who needs it.

-Jamie
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Old 03-11-2005, 05:32 PM   #17
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Jamie,

Those furnaces are definnalty not worth having to pay the labor to check them out.

If you know about such gas appliances and can get it going yourself it may be worth it. I pulled mine and fixed the crossover recall tube, cleaned, and repaired the brushes on the motor.

It works good, but.... I still don't trust it just because of its age. I have a three year old camping with us and its just not worth the risk.

I did install an LP and CO detector though and would suggest that everyone do the same.

We use a ceramic heater that has a thermostat built in. We also purchased the heatstrip for the a/c and that helps too. We always use full hookup sites so it's not a problem for us.

If you need a reliable and safe furnace I'd save up and get a new one when you can.
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Old 03-12-2005, 12:35 AM   #18
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You can also try a refurbished furnace from Colaw's.
I got an NT-20 to replace the old, leaky and smelly one in my Minuet. It was $300 shipped to me.
He may not have one for you right away but it is worth waiting for it. He even sent me a new cheapy thermostat for it.
It also came with a six month warranty on it.
If you want a new NT-20 you can pick one up at www.bigdiscountrv.com for right around $450 with free shipping. That would help you save money too. If they would have had them for that price last year I would have a new one now.
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Old 03-12-2005, 10:17 AM   #19
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My story:
When I began having problems with my Suburban NT-30 refusing to light after initial heating sequence several years ago, I pulled it out and took it to the local RV place. He found numerous muddaubber nests inside the combustion chamber, a motor that was not spooling up fast enough to "trip the sail" and a circuit board that was shot. He blew out the nests, replaced the motor and put in a new board all for $385. I remember seeing NT30's for $425 plus shipping at the time on a yahoo shopping search or ebay (can't remember). After I got the unit back, I put it in and it ran fine for awhile then wouldn't re-light again. I took the entire trailer in and he ran some tests. He found that the thermo switch which prevents overheating was on the high side and messed up the board he had put in. He graciously replaced the board and put in a lower or functioning thermo switch. It has been fine ever since but I wondered if maybe I shouldn't have just bought a new unit at the time.
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:19 PM   #20
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New furnace/

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
just got off the phone w/ the local repair shop. I dropped off my furnace to have it checked out a few weeks ago. Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.

So the person on the phone can only tell me that the bill was 130 bucks for 2 hours of labor, and the slip has written on it "recommend buying a new furnace". um...ok. why? (no answer). so I'll have to try and nail down the tech when I go to pick it up, but it kind of make me wonder: is it fixed, or isn't it??? is there something "dangerous" about it...or does the tech just not like the color?

assuming that I really *should* buy a new furnace...where's a good place?
Did you end up with a new furnace? I want to replace the one I just took out oo. Can you recommend any names or modles/
thanks
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:29 PM   #21
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new furnace!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
Jamie,

Those furnaces are definnalty not worth having to pay the labor to check them out.

If you know about such gas appliances and can get it going yourself it may be worth it. I pulled mine and fixed the crossover recall tube, cleaned, and repaired the brushes on the motor.

It works good, but.... I still don't trust it just because of its age. I have a three year old camping with us and its just not worth the risk.

I did install an LP and CO detector though and would suggest that everyone do the same.

We use a ceramic heater that has a thermostat built in. We also purchased the heatstrip for the a/c and that helps too. We always use full hookup sites so it's not a problem for us.

If you need a reliable and safe furnace I'd save up and get a new one when you can.
What furnace do you currently use? Or is it a portable one? I want to replace mine but dont know what is a good brand or size for my 29'er.
thanks for your help.
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:25 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albert
Did you end up with a new furnace? I want to replace the one I just took out oo. Can you recommend any names or modles/
thanks
read the whole thread, and you'll see the rest of the story....

personally, I don't think a furnace is worth the $$. As I said earlier in this thread, they require so much electricity, they are not practical to use while boondocking, and if you're connected to shore power, a small electric/ceramic heater will do the same job for 30 bucks. a replacement furnace would cost 20 times that, PLUS require extensive modification to the trailer to install. (new intake and exhaust holes, new ducting, etc, etc).
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:41 AM   #23
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New furnace

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
read the whole thread, and you'll see the rest of the story....

personally, I don't think a furnace is worth the $$. As I said earlier in this thread, they require so much electricity, they are not practical to use while boondocking, and if you're connected to shore power, a small electric/ceramic heater will do the same job for 30 bucks. a replacement furnace would cost 20 times that, PLUS require extensive modification to the trailer to install. (new intake and exhaust holes, new ducting, etc, etc).
So your solution sounds quite simple and appealing! You use a portable electric heater, when needed. Did you have to close off the old furnace ports leading to the outside? how? I have 2 holes from the previous furnace. I like your idea, but I also would like a solution for boondocking. Is there a 12Volt solution for you did?
thanks
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:44 AM   #24
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a new furnace for us

Albert -- I don't know if this helps your situation or not, but we ended up replacing our old furnace (Suburban NT-22A) with a Suburban NT-24SP. That was the closest fit our RV Service center could find for us.

We're aren't comfortable working around propane ourselves so the replacement cost us more than we might have wished for ($652 for the furnace; $200 for labor), but we went with the lowest estimate by a reputable dealer. Other estimates went as high as $1200+!! This probably varies according to which part of the country you live in and labor costs there. We were charged for 2.5 hours of labor; others said it would take them 5+ hours.

We also had our old catalytic heater removed at the time because of concern over young children going too near it. The catalytic heater would provide a small amount of heat for occasional use, but I wouldn't have wanted to rely on it as a permanent solution. Also, we put in LP and CO detectors.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:13 AM   #25
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Wow, I'm surprised and impressed that you got away with it that cheaply!! I'll have to check it out at the next rally.

one solution for the catalytic heater vs. young children issue is to not turn it on.
fwiw: mine puts out a huge amount of heat. even on the lowest setting. on a 40 degree night, I was kicking the covers off, and I was sleeping in one of the bunks fairly far away from the heater. we woke up afraid that we had cooked the baby, who was on the front couch, right in front of the heater. (no risk of him "touching" the heater as an infant...but now, as a toddler, its a problem. I did use it last summer, before my furnace was repaired, but only when he was confined to his pack-n-play crib.).

Albert: the catalytic heater runs on gas only; no 12v solution required. And I don't use an electric heater, yet. my furnace was repaired. I just meant that the ceramic heater WILL be my solution one day, when the furnace eventually wears out. not worth repairing/replacing, imo.

I have a friend from our locall wbcci unit who also has a 23-footer, and he removed his deceased furnace completely, and uses an electric heater. He covered the holes in the outside of the trailer w/ an alluminum plate, then re-attached the old furnace's intake/exhaust cover plate over that. So it "looks" original from the outside, but is actually a "dummy".

this pic from my photo album show the location of the catalytic heater, mounted on the fridge-wall, adjacent to the entry door:

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Old 07-07-2005, 12:41 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
Wow, I'm surprised and impressed that you got away with it that cheaply!! I'll have to check it out at the next rally.
Thanks for saying so -- it makes me feel, umm, not quite so bad about the cost. We were putting it off, but we started to get scared about having the old furnace around not knowing what it might be spewing, and once we made the decision that it had to go (and we sure as heck weren't doing it ourselves ), we went ahead and had it replaced. That's one major expense behind us now.

BTW, our catalytic heater was in working order, but it was pretty old and rusted and we figured its days were numbered anyway. No need for it once we replaced the furnace anyway.

Your trailer looks great inside, Chuck! The catalytic heater is in the same spot ours used to be in. And you even have the fancy cover!
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Old 07-07-2005, 06:20 PM   #27
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Looks great Chuck

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
Wow, I'm surprised and impressed that you got away with it that cheaply!! I'll have to check it out at the next rally.

one solution for the catalytic heater vs. young children issue is to not turn it on.
fwiw: mine puts out a huge amount of heat. even on the lowest setting. on a 40 degree night, I was kicking the covers off, and I was sleeping in one of the bunks fairly far away from the heater. we woke up afraid that we had cooked the baby, who was on the front couch, right in front of the heater. (no risk of him "touching" the heater as an infant...but now, as a toddler, its a problem. I did use it last summer, before my furnace was repaired, but only when he was confined to his pack-n-play crib.).

Albert: the catalytic heater runs on gas only; no 12v solution required. And I don't use an electric heater, yet. my furnace was repaired. I just meant that the ceramic heater WILL be my solution one day, when the furnace eventually wears out. not worth repairing/replacing, imo.

I have a friend from our locall wbcci unit who also has a 23-footer, and he removed his deceased furnace completely, and uses an electric heater. He covered the holes in the outside of the trailer w/ an alluminum plate, then re-attached the old furnace's intake/exhaust cover plate over that. So it "looks" original from the outside, but is actually a "dummy".

this pic from my photo album show the location of the catalytic heater, mounted on the fridge-wall, adjacent to the entry door:

Thanks for all that info. I think I will try the electric portable for awhile. Is there a 12V portable, does that even work? Do you worry about ventilation on your catalytic? Or that it does not warm your tanks underneath? I do live in Lake Tahoe but it AINT no Minnesota!
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Old 07-08-2005, 12:32 AM   #28
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We always camp with full hookups. So we use the portable ceramic heater that has the built in thermostat. It works well. I think its a 1500watt.

We also added the heat option for the A/C. That works great too. Expecially if you have little ones around.

We don't camp much below 40 degrees and are quite comfortable with our setup.

As far as a 12volt heater option. I don't think you will find one. They would draw too much power and drain your battery in short order.
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