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Old 12-01-2008, 04:43 PM   #1
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Olympic heater installation

I removed the old furnaces from all my Airstreams, mostly due to the high current drain of the fan, which severely reduced boondocking time on batteries in cold weather. The obvious replacement was a catalytic heater. It seems to me that a good place to put the heater is on the end of the kitchen counter (the Sovereign and Overlander both have the kitchen counter immediately to the left of the door on the curb side). But this would tend to fry anyone (or anything) on the other side of the door.

The solution is allow the heater to swing in a 180 degree arc so that it can point at any place in the front area, or all the way around to point back down the hall towards the bedroom/bath.

Here's the heater installed on the end panel of the under-counter cabinet. The right photo shows the heater swung around 180 degrees and pointing aft.

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The design issue for me was how to swing the heater and the propane supply line. The solution is a propane hose through a strain relief slot aligned exactly under the hinge line, which allows the heater to swing without needing to feed out more hose. The strain relief slot is designed so that the hose is restrained from dragging on any edges, or if it does, very lightly. All edges are sanded smooth.

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My self-criticism is that I found I didn't need as much strain relief arc (6"). I think it would have done fine with 3", which would move the heater away from the shell 6 or so inches (the 5" offset can be reduced if the arc swing is reduced and the hinge line is moved closer to the inboard edge of the panel).

One modification to the heater helped make for a cleaner installation. The propane fitting was moved from the side to the bottom. If it had been on the other side, it would have been OK, but the original location required a 180 degree turn to get the hose pointed in the right direction, eg, towards the hing line.

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Can't wait to install it tomorrow when the temps are up and the snow is gone!

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Zep
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:10 PM   #2
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Now that is a really neat install.

Just one comment. Make sure you design some form of cover for the heater when not in use. Mine was down to useless in less than 3 years because I did not cover it.

I just reinstalled the repaired unit and covered it right away.
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:56 PM   #3
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Design looks great - I'm tackling the same project after Christmas (if Santa is good to me) but hadn't thought about relocating the gas line; hose slack is definitely an issue.

The large metal sheet, I assume, is the end of your oven area? Or something you made and are attaching to the oven cabinet?

Also, am I correct that photo 4 is the hose channel that goes horizontally into the oven cabinet to connect to gas? And photo 3 is before you closed the two pieces of metal to make the channel? (In other words, these are the back side of the large plate in photo 1?)

Thx Zap, looks great.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
Now that is a really neat install.

Just one comment. Make sure you design some form of cover for the heater when not in use. Mine was down to useless in less than 3 years because I did not cover it.

I just reinstalled the repaired unit and covered it right away.
I've been told that dust kills these things. However, I don't understand it. If the propane is still flowing and not killing you, then it must be combusting and therefore must be heating. Help me out, here.

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Old 12-01-2008, 07:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cammur View Post
...The large metal sheet, I assume, is the end of your oven area? Or something you made and are attaching to the oven cabinet?

Also, am I correct that photo 4 is the hose channel that goes horizontally into the oven cabinet to connect to gas? And photo 3 is before you closed the two pieces of metal to make the channel? (In other words, these are the back side of the large plate in photo 1?)
...
You got it right. I didn't have the hose in hand when I started cutting metal, so I estimated its stiffness and I was way off. That's why the swing arc can be smaller and the heater can be moved more toward the center of the panel. You can see here how the stress relief works on the business side...

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One of the benfits of this installation is that the heater can be moved to another Airstream by removing three screws and disconnecting the hose. The three screws can be replaced, making the panel look "whole," except for the funny hole, of course.

The panel is the end of the cabinet, by the stove. It's a completely aluminum cabinet--more photos to follow as I get the drawer stack installed, etc.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:20 PM   #6
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Why do you have to cover the heater? I have one in my 78 Argosy that's not covered and has been working well for maybe 10 years. What will happen to make you want to cover it?
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Old 12-01-2008, 08:08 PM   #7
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Yes Inquireing minds want to know. Mine does not have a cover either.
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Old 12-01-2008, 08:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I've been told that dust kills these things. However, I don't understand it. If the propane is still flowing and not killing you, then it must be combusting and therefore must be heating. Help me out, here.Zep
I can't give you a reason. All I know is I was told to cover it originally and did not. Originally the complete face of the heater would glow red in a darkened trailer and you would feel the heat 5 or 6 ft. away. Before I sent it in for repair less than 1/3 of the face would glow and you had to be within a ft. to feel and heat at all.

When I was setting up the repair one of the service individuals suggested, in addition to covering it, running it full out for an hour or so every few months.

At $145.00 to have it repaired, $50.00 a year, I decided that an hour at the sewing machine would be a good investment.

As for those that have older units that are still working there must be a different material used in the older cats, maybe asbestos, or maybe just more platinum.
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:48 PM   #9
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I can't explain the process either, I've read that the contamination interferes with the catalytic combustion process. I'll look further because I'm now curious...
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:06 PM   #10
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A couple of past threads on the subject of cat heaters:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...-ir-38149.html

http://www.ventedcatheater.com/6.html
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:50 PM   #11
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The final installation is here. Polish salute for not thinking of the control knob, which interferes with the oven door, so the hater only swings about 150 degrees. It's adequate, but is another reason to move the heater toward the street side about 4 inches.

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The heater is retained against the panel with 6 pairs of 1/2" by 1/8" rare earth magnets. The magnets are on the opposite faces of the aluminum, so they are roughly 0.063 apart when the heater is against the panel.

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Old 12-05-2008, 10:55 PM   #12
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Zep you don't do anything half "way" do you?!? Amazing work!
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:15 AM   #13
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I like it, very slick.............toastie
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:00 AM   #14
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Nice looking, and magnets are a simple and clever way of restraining it for travel.
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