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Old 10-19-2007, 09:35 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1989 29' Excella
anywhere USA , full-timers traveling the country
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 60
Newbie question about suburban furnace

Couple of Newbie Heater Questions
...Hi! We are using the heater for the first time ever in our newly aquired '89 Airstream Excella. Having lived a mechanically sheltered existence, we've never actually dealt with maintaining gas appliances before - and the manual is that annoying type that just assumes you know your way around this stuff, so I have a few questions (don't worry - we're smart enough not to move this thing until we understand how to use the propane tanks properly)

1. In order to turn the furnace on, it says you have to turn the "Manual Lever" off and let the blower run for five minutes to clear the air out. Fine. But WHERE is this manual level? The instructions refer to an illustration that doesn't exist, and the text says it should be near the furnace body, but I SWEAR I don't see any level on the furnace. Are they referring to the connections at the eternal tanks themselves?

2. For that matter, here's a really stupid question: How can I tell if the external tanks are ready to be used? I mean, the tubes are connected properly, but do I have to do something to them first? Should the levers/dials be turned on all the way? Half way? On only when I use an gas item? On all the time? Off when we travel? Does twisting the levers clockwise open or close them? This is the sort of context that instruction manuals never do a good job communicating...

I know these are annoyingly vague questions, but I really don't know where to start here. I'd love some advice on where to go to learn more...


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Old 10-19-2007, 10:18 AM   #2
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1962 16' Bambi
Newtown Square , Pennsylvania
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I'm taking a guess here that the manual lever would be on the gas supply line feeding the furnace and is probably a lever that you turn so the "handle" is in line with the gas line to be "on" and at a 90 degree angle to the line to be off. As for the propane tanks, there is usually an arrow on the knob to indicate open and close. On mine, "close" is clockwise and "open" is counterclokwise - would believe this to be a universal system.
I will always turn my tanks on all the way when in use. I will always travel with the tanks closed, but there have been many threads regarding this and some people leave the gas "on" to keep the refrigerator operational while traveling. I might consider that in the future - but I would never travel with the heater operating. In fact, if I do use the refeer when traveling, I would shut off the gas to the heater with the "manual lever" just in case. As for the tanks themselves, If you have the water heater going while camping and want the stove operational all the time, you'll need to keep the tanks "on" for the duration of the camping at the camp site.
Also, there are no stupid questions here!! I'm still asking and learning - that's what this forum is all about.

1962 16' Bambi (sold )
1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon
Airforums# 7906, WBCCI #4248, WDCU
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rec
In order to turn the furnace on, it says you have to turn the "Manual Lever" off and let the blower run for five minutes to clear the air out. Fine. But WHERE is this manual level?
On my Excella I need to pull off the decorative wooden cover at floor level below the furnace. Then down at floor level on the left, the gas pipe comes into the furnace. Just where the pipe enters the furnace is the manual on/off lever for the gas. As stated above, when the lever is in line with the pipe, the gas is ON. Turning the lever clockwise through 90 degrees turns the gas OFF.
I rcommend that you have the furnace professionally serviced, and get the service agent to show you how to operate the furnace.
These furnaces can be dangerous if not correctly maintained and operated.
Nick Crowhurst, Excella 25 1988, Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel. England in summer, USA in winter.
"The price of freedom is eternal maintenance."
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:15 PM   #4
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1987 29' Sovereign
Sparta , Tennessee
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Nick's description works on my 1987 furnace installation. I remove the wooden front cover at floor height and the on/off valve is difficult to reach but, is at floor level right on the front of the furnace inline with the gas line.

My manual also has the same start,safety procedure. That procedure is only if you are having trouble starting the furnace and it has run for some time without lighting.

My normal procedure is as follows -
(1) turn on gas at tank
(2) light oven burner to be sure gas is flowing (nearest applicance)
(3) move thermostat lever until I hear a pronounced click that indicates the circuit is energized. lever at extreme left is off, should incur some resistance as you move the lever to the right. move until I hear the click.
(4) furnace will take a half minute or so to start blower.
(5) furnace will run for a half minute or so before ignition. ( I can actually hear mine trying to ignite)

My furnace need a new electronic board. If it sits for a long time like over the winter, it gets damp and will not fire in the spring. I put a elec heater in front and blow warm air on the furnace until it dries it out. Works fine for the rest of the year. Also have a catalytic heater.

I will buy a new furnace before I put a board in an old furnace.

I would recommend buying a new furnace rather that letting some repairman get you for $250 for a board and installation. same applies to sail switch or gas control valve. Good money chasing bad.

Learned this the hard way. Gas control valves stick shut.
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Old 10-25-2007, 05:17 PM   #5
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1989 29' Excella
anywhere USA , full-timers traveling the country
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 60
Smile Thanks!

You people are awesome -- at first I thought we were REALLY retarded, because when we took the decorative front off and looked at where the gas came in, there was still no lever. Apparently, you have to actually take the metal front cover off the furnace to access the lever -- duh! Thanks -- I'm all warm and toasty now!
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Old 10-25-2007, 07:05 PM   #6
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Trotwood , Ohio
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I just wanted to remind you ,The ONLY Stupid Question is the one U DONT ASK. There is a wealth of knowledge here and a search box. I am sure there are people here that HAVE BEEN THERE,DONE THAT and will be glad to share knowledge on any AS subject.

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