Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-20-2022, 11:08 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1987 32' Excella
Sagle , Idaho
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 74
1987 Excella Suburban Heater help

I have a 1987 Excella 32 ft with the original Suburban NT 30S heater. It is located under the original Magic Chef oven. Recent repairs had it working.

Now when I activate the thermostat all goes well until ignition. Ignition happens and the propane lights but only for about 1 second then the flame goes out. Any educated guesses as to what might be my problem?

It is my understanding the NT S30 configuration is no longer available. Am I correct?

A new heater would require drilling new intake and exhaust holes in the aluminum skins which I prefer not to do. And I do not want to address cabinetry issues nor rerouting duct work.

In other words, I want to fix what I have. Can it be done?
southsaglejim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2022, 07:30 AM   #2
Rivet Master
1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 4,992
Blog Entries: 1
We have a 1987 32 foot also. I have heard tales of igniters not being available and the need to change the intakes. Have seen a trailer that was done to.

We have a good, reliable mobile rv repair service where we keep the trailer in Florida. They came and pulled the heater and ran it in the back of their service truck that has propane and 12 volt. They got it working fine. They put it back in the trailer and it did not work. Gas flow meter showed that it was not getting enough gas. So they changed the regulator. Still did not get enough gas. So..they found that the rubber hose that connects the copper lines to the regulator had failed internally and was partially blocking the gas flow. A new line there and everything was fixed and it works now. Good luck with yours.
Bill M. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2022, 08:33 AM   #3
Site Team
richard5933's Avatar

1994 25' Excella
Waukesha , Wisconsin
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 5,259
Images: 5
There are a couple of other threads about this, so a search might find you some help. One thing mentioned was to confirm that your regulator is working correctly and supplying the proper pressure. Wouldn't hurt to verify that you have fuel and/or that the switchover mechanism is working.

If the basic components are solid and not rusted through, you should be able to get the furnace repaired. I had a similar furnace from that series in our vintage coach. It took minor surgery, but I was able to get it running again and avoided having to make the kind of modifications you described.
1994 Excella 25 Follow the build on Gertie!
1999 Suburban LS 2500 w/7.4L V8
1974 GMC 4108a - Custom Coach Land Cruiser (Sold)
richard5933 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2022, 10:32 AM   #4
Rivet Master
1988 32' Excella
Robbinsville , New Jersey
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 2,929
The main thing to worry about is the fire box rusting through. That can't be replaced and is dangerous (CO poisoning).
Wazbro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-22-2022, 10:31 AM   #5
2 Rivet Member
1972 31' Sovereign
Dry Branch , Georgia
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 44
May not be the problem but make sure no dust or debree is on pilot light Then the thermocouple must be in the flame.
Buckless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-22-2022, 11:22 AM   #6
2 Rivet Member
1988 25' Excella
Sunriver , Oregon
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 27
Vintage Suburban furnaces are worth saving

We also have had to spend quality time recently with our Suburban NT-30K in a late 80s Excella. Like you, I refuse to cut up a decent trailer for the sole purpose of making something that was not designed for it somehow worth the time and expense.
Some thoughts, referrals, and one piece of important advice:
· Suburban told me they no longer manufacturethe NT-30 series.
· There seem to be NOS and serviceable-as-removed units for sale on various platforms, including this one. Most know what they have, and are priced accordingly. Be hyper-vigilant to protect yourself from fraud and scammers.
· Used parts also seem to be readily available from numerous internet sources, if you know exactly what part (i.e. part number) you need.
· The electronic ignition board is generic and readily available at reasonable pricing. PM if you need specifics.
· Honor the high quality troubleshooting advice on previous posts to this thread. Start with the simple stuff first, to include the serviceability of the thermostat. My experience has been the furnace is a decent design that facilitates a full teardown if necessary, well built with decent quality materials, and in general is worth the effort to maintain and repair when necessary.
· One important piece of advice (IMHO): if the furnace is removed for repairs or maintenance, start by CLOSELY inspecting the firebox for perforation or impending burn-through even though this item is not generally a flaw in the design or manufacture. It is simply a common sense safety check easily performed. No point in even beginning to resurrect a malfunctioning unit if the firebox is unservicable. The firebox can be patched, but I wouldn’t let anyone who hasn’t done it before use your stuff as a learning exercise.
Best wishes for solving your maintenance problem before the winds turn cold.
Turbine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-22-2022, 03:27 PM   #7
3 Rivet Member
lemley's Avatar
1988 29' Excella
Lorena , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 209
Been there, don’t that.

I have an ‘88 29’. Have had several issues with the furnace over time. Got to know the operation sequence like the back of my hand.

At the point in startup you are describing, the board is looking for heat to see that there is good flame and to leave the propane solenoid active.

So I’d look at three things:
Propane flow (hoses, regulator, crushed pipe)
Thermocouple. Positioning can be critical. And the thermocouple can go bad. It’s pretty easy to replace.
Control board. I never had a failure there.

Finally got to the point where every trip was a crap shoot. I bought a new furnace off of a wrecked new unit on eBay. There is a seller specializing in these units. These furnaces are dirt cheap, but buyer beware. Some are in good shape and some are pretty badly mangled. The info is in the postings but look at the pics carefully. There are several different geometries- vertical or horizontal mounting, dimensions, propane hookup inboard or outboard. But there are none with three vents. I added a 1/8” plate to cover things up. It looks like a cover. That covered the old holes and allowed me to put the new holes in precisely the right location. Connecting the ducts was straightforward except for one vent 1” from the cabinet wall. That took a little furniture carving but allowed me to change the propane detector mounting to the new geometry. I’m happy with the result. DW is glad the heat comes on EVERY time.
lemley is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Suburban heater: Help with proper ducting Tony S Furnaces, Heaters, Fireplaces & Air Conditioning 7 03-09-2014 12:57 AM
Heater in 1987 Excella making a loud whine, just started Airstruck Furnaces, Heaters, Fireplaces & Air Conditioning 4 03-06-2012 08:34 AM
1987 Airstream Argosy 29' :: 1987 Airstream Argosy Squarepants Airstream Registry Discussions 0 02-24-2012 09:25 PM
Bowen water heater door with newer suburban water heater durans54 Water Heaters, Filters & Pumps 37 11-19-2008 08:17 AM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:36 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.