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Old 02-25-2004, 10:56 PM   #1
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Surburban Furnace Ills - HELP

Hi guys...

It's Cat. I need to repair my Suburban furnace. It's not working. What happens is this:
It starts up (ignites) and 10 to 30 seconds later, it dies. STOP!
It has been ascertained that it is due to the main "Mother Board" ("Circuit Board")...
I went to my friendly local RV dealer, and they gave me parts numbers...and costs...yikes!!!!
Then I called our Forum friend, Andy, who told me basically, that parts obtained cheaper are not always the best (who knew?). (In automobile 'spek' we call it "AFTER-MARKET PARTS')
....Not always a good deal.

Like Andy at Inland said, you can save a few bucks at the get-go---by buying an 'off-brand', and then be forced to spend BEAUCEAU bucks later because the cheaper one didn't properly fit with the 'stock parts'. (Should be no surprise.)
(THIS IS WELL KNOWN IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY)

I also got good advise from Andy, that taking the furnace apart (the "S" curve---between the fan and the combustion chamber---and giving it a little shake as it's removed (gently) can shake out close to a whole CUP of rust &/or other CR___ that's gotten into the chamber...which can reduce the efficiency of the furnace (to have the combustion chamber's volume so reduced). He also suggests I do this prior to installing a new circuit board & he says that my '83 (shhhhhhhhh! it's 'really' an '81..right?) is really worth repairing,,,since the original parts & appliances are so well-made that they are worth keeping, rather than replacing.
So, here's what my plan is:
1. Get a space heater to keep Bear warm while the furnace is down.(*see below for question.);
2. Pull the furnace OUT ("S" curve first); the 'mother board' is already out; the 'ignitor plate (with elemments) is also out---and the gasket is being ordered and replaced (after the back of the plate has been thoroughly cleaned with 'gasoline');
3. Thoroughly clean the whole furnace...with gasoline & a toothbrush...and reassemble;
4. Replace the main "circuit board" (Mother Board);
5. Replace the Ignitor plate with new gasket;
6. Put the whole furnace back together and start up.

DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY OTHER 'WORDS OF WISDOM' TO IMPART TO ME??? (to
give me more advise....?)
DOES ANYONE HAVE A MAIN "SUBURBAN" CIRCUIT BOARD FOR SALE?? I'd actually rather buy a brand new one ($143.00 + shipping)...but I've heard of those who have either totalled their A/S, or are parting them out for one reason or another...and I'd purchase one that was a Suburban that was in good working order if the price was low enough.

ANY SUGGESTIONS ON A GOOD SPACE-HEATER TO PURCHASE? I DON'T MIND SPENDING A GOODLY AMOUNT ($70 to $100)...AS LONG AS IT'S ONE I CAN USE AGAIN AND AGAIN---TO SUPPLEMENT THE PROPANE. (I do want to buy a space heater that is ELECTRIC.)

I will apppreciate all advise
and will be very grateful for any offers to sell a 'second-hand' part mentioned above.

...........Cat
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Old 02-26-2004, 04:47 AM   #2
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Thumbs up

Try Three Way Campers in Marietta, Ga., Price should be about $107 and then you can get 10% discount with Good Sams membership.
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Old 02-26-2004, 06:54 AM   #3
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fixing a furnace

You might want to move step 6 up to step 4. If a whole cup of detrius came out, cleaning might solve your problem. Unless it is obviously a fried component on the circuit board, sometimes cleaning contacts, blowing off the dust, and freeing up items like air flow sensors can solve problems that look like electronics. You might save the cost of the motherboard.
Good luck!
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Old 02-26-2004, 12:49 PM   #4
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CAT

Do not "EVER" use gasoline to clean anything that will be exposed to a flame, especially a furnace combustion chamber.

To do so is "ASKING" for an explosion.

Andy
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Old 02-26-2004, 01:46 PM   #5
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no help on fixing the furnace, but just wanted to suggest that you consider adding a catalytic heater instead of (or in addition to) a portable electric one. The catalytic heater runs on propane only...no electricity at all, which is great for boondocking. The furnace runs on 12v, but will drain a battery fairly quickly.

Mine will easily heat my 23' trailer, although not as evenly as the ducted FHA furnace. The other draw back is that in below freezing weather, it won't keep your tanks from freezing, like the furnace will. But I doubt that there are too many of us camping in sub-zero weather. Anyway, I know people that have simply removed their furnaces completely to gain the extra cabinet space, and use the catalytic exclusively. The PO of my trailer couldn't tell me much of anything about its furnace, because they hadn't used it at all in the 5 years that they owned the trailer.

My only beef with the catalytic is that it doesn' t cycle on and off like the furnace, and even on its lowest setting, I woke up in the morning being "too warm"! (it was 40 degrees F that morning, too..pretty chilly). But, another time last fall, I went dry camping and discovered that I was having battery problems on arrival. It would have been a problem if the furnace was my only source of heat.

just throwing that $.02 in there....
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Old 02-26-2004, 02:01 PM   #6
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Hey Chuck,
Where can I get One of thoes catalytic heaters?My 76 never had one and it sounds like it would be great for the spring and fall.My furnance works ok but it makes alot of noise at starting up.
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Old 02-26-2004, 02:14 PM   #7
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Most any RV dealer can provide an Catalytic heater.

Probably the best one is made by "Olympian."

They run from $270.00 for an 2800 BTU unit to $575.00 for a 7000 BTU unit with features.

Andy
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Old 02-26-2004, 02:24 PM   #8
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Gasoline

Thanx Andy,,,
However, if you had noticed, I said

>>2. Pull the furnace OUT ("S" curve first); the 'mother board' is already out; the 'ignitor plate (with elemments) is also out---and the gasket is being ordered and replaced (after the back of the plate has been thoroughly cleaned with 'gasoline');

3. Thoroughly clean the whole furnace...with gasoline & a toothbrush...and reassemble;<<

What I should have added, is "Piece by piece".
You see, my husband and I completely overhauled a 350 Grey Marine engine from our Owens yacht years ago because it was loaded with electrolosis...and having the whole engine apart, (numbered & inventoried in boxes)...we cleaned the electrolosis from the metal using a toothbrush and gasoline little tiny piece by little tiny piece (like the surface the ignitor gasket has to adhere to)

Anyway, I was just envisioning cleaning this little furnace the same way. (Should be a piece of cake after that V-8 engine.)

You think this is ok?

Thanx again for caring Andy (my roots ARE dark )..
.........Cat
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Old 02-26-2004, 02:28 PM   #9
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I will concur with Andy, DO NOT use Gasoline or ANY other flammable solvent (kerosene, lighter fluid, etc) to clean the furnace. It can get into it in such a way that it may seem all gone, but when you light it, KABOOM.

Once you have the heat exchanger pulled from the housing I would use compressed air to clean it and thats it. Getting it cleaner than that will not add any efficiency to the furnace.

You should be able to use compressed air to clean out the inside of the heat exchanger once you pull the blower.
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Old 02-26-2004, 02:54 PM   #10
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LADIES BEWARE

I was telling my son about the "dos & don'ts" of this subject about the furnace repair vs. replacement, and the 'ifs and buts" we've been talking about on here, and he made a good point>.
HIS POINT WAS
Why did that guy (service manager of a local RV shop) say that my motherboard is fried...? He never even tested it. He just looked at it and said, 'yup...it's bad...we got a new one I think...let me look...(goes back & comes out with one nearly identical except for one little 'whatchmacallit' (nib)..NOW WHAT WOULD THAT DO?) and says 'yep I got one'...'for only $149'.

My son says>

"NO TESTING?? He didn't even hook it up to an ohmmeter? Ohhhhh...& he's also got a sign on the wall that says
"Ladies, please be prepared when you bring in a part that will will have a replacement part to sell you,,,and no testing will be needed to ensure that you need to buy that new part. Our Motto is "WE WANT TO SELL PARTS". Either bring your checkbook...or bring a man with you." (I raised him).

HEY ANDY (INLAND RV ANDY)..what do you do when someone brings in an electronic part?
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Old 02-26-2004, 02:57 PM   #11
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Cleaning First

WOW....
Thanx for that PEARL of WISDOM
I think it's called "troubleshooting"...right?

Because the contact point might need to be hooked up to an ohmmeter...and the wires also seem to be fresh appearing...and in checking the connections and wires, all seems to be good.

I do think Andy at Inland had a good piece of advice too...and that was to NOT just blow the dirt...but gently shake it out as you take the Cumbustion-Chamber out...and then needing to replace the 'tunnel gasket',,, would be necessary as well.

It's not like the motherboard would be too difficult to replace AFTER the cleaning if it was discovered it still had a problem, eh?

Moving right along....to Step 2. (thanx guys).
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Old 02-26-2004, 03:16 PM   #12
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There are pros and cons to catalytic furnaces. Do a search on "catalytic" and you will find some very good points made by both those who fear them and those who use them regularly.

Mark
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Old 02-26-2004, 03:18 PM   #13
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Had the same problem. The RV dealer in Georgetown Delaware charged me $193.00 for a circuit board, $75.00 for an igniter, and $158.00 for labor! for my 12 year old Suburban NT-3200.
STAY AWAY FROM RV Dealers!!
Could have bought a new 3200 for $20 dollars more.
Dick
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Old 02-26-2004, 03:24 PM   #14
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FYI The two threads have been merged to keep the info together
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