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Old 01-05-2020, 08:46 PM   #1
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Residential forced air furnace: temporary heat

I can get my hands on a 75,000 BTU residential forced air furnace fo free. It’s set up for natural gas. I looked for an LP conversion kit. They seem to be discontinued for this furnace which was built in 2007 .The kit that was once offered consisted only of a spring for the gas control valve and new orifices. It looks like it’s a pretty easy matter to consult a gas orifice chart to find the equivalent propane orifice for the BTUs to be generated, but I don’t know if gas orifices for these applications are universal in terms of their thread diameter and pitch or if different manufacturers used special parts that only fit their equipment. There is also the question of the spring. If the manufacture doesn’t offer a spring specifically for this application, are there generic equivalents?

My purpose for such a large furnace is to heat the bus while I’m working on it.

This is what the kit that has been discontinued looked like.

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Old 01-05-2020, 09:49 PM   #2
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If you can find the specs of the spring -- maybe the manufacturer will tell you the spring rate. Then you just need to find a spring with the same spring weight.
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Old 01-06-2020, 12:58 AM   #3
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If you can find the specs of the spring -- maybe the manufacturer will tell you the spring rate. Then you just need to find a spring with the same spring weight.
I was thinking the same thing.

In the meantime, I might have found the spring in another kit, and possibly orifices from yet another seller. The money they want for the stuff is crazy. $61 per orifice from some HVAC parts houses! I had to look at four or five sellers before I found them for $38 apiece. I found someone else blowing out an entire kit for a different model furnace from the same manufacturer that looks like it may have some parts I can use, for only $16.

I think I probably would be smart to lay my hands on a manometer so I can check the line pressure of my propane and to check that the gas valve is supplying the right pressure to the manifold after I replace the spring.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:08 PM   #4
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Well this feels like real progress. I have a residential LP furnace up and running in my bus. Now interior work can begin in earnest. I have been wanting to wash the metal floor before putting down insulation, but it was impossible because any water used for washing would just freeze to the steel. I am also considering pouring close cell foam into the chair rail space of the wall, but it is filthy and wet inside that space. Moisture is turning out to be a real issue. It seems to be coming from a number of sources. Particularly leaky window frames and roof seams, And there is the ever present condensation. Any moisture generated in the bus right now seems to condense straight away on the exposed metal floor. it has me thinking again about applying peel-and-stick water and ice membrane to the floor before installing the foam insulating board..

Back to the heater though. This is a different furnace than the one I mentioned earlier. I saw an excellent deal on a 40,000 BTU furnace that was already converted to LP, so I grabbed it. The fluegases pass through the roof at the escape hatch, which I have temporarily removed and replaced with a plywood cover, which is itself a stopgap measure that I employed to get heat going as quickly as possible. I have a sheet of 10 gauge steel, acquired for two dollars at my local recycling center, that will become the new hatch cover with accommodations for the 4 inch B vent flue pipe
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:32 AM   #5
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So far I've only run the heater a couple of times for about 10 or 15 minutes each time. That's enough to raise the temperature from near freezing to a comfortable "room temperature". Yesterday I manufactured a new cover for the escape hatch opening, to replace the temporary plywood cover that I had made a couple days ago. The replacement cover is made out of 10 gauge steel that I bought from a salvage yard for two dollars. I will screw and glue a pipe flashing to it to make what I think will be a nice weatherproof cover. I also have a simple thermostat that I'm going to wire up. I need to do a little more testing before I feel confident letting it run unattended. I want to run it with a couple of carbon monoxide detectors in the bus to make sure the venting process is working and there are no leaks from the heat exchangers.

And all just in the nick of time, as we will be seeing some single-digit nighttime temperatures starting in a day or two.

I am eager to get the floor insulated and decked with some 5/8 inch tongue and groove plywood that should be here by Friday or Saturday. I also have to pull off the wall panels below the windows so I can pull out that polyester batting that the factory installs and wash those spaces so that I can make them ready to get some closed cell foam poured in. I am going to pour them at one section at a time so that I can carefully heat both the inside and outside body panels to a proper temperature to ensure that the foam adheres.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:36 AM   #6
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theres potenrtially issues i see with that install..


thats a single pipe 80% furnace.. it uses interior air for combustion so anytime it runs you are sucking in outside air from around your windows, doors etc to use for makeup air..

a 90+ 2 pipe unit that uses 2" PVC for vents (2 of them) makes much more sense..


any residential furnace uses sensitive pressure switches to operate the ignition and burners.. if you have no plans to run it while driving you will be fine.. but if you removed your nus heaters and want to use that while driving, the various wind currents will likely trip the Inducer-Flow limit switches or cause severe flame-roll-out


otherwise it will indeed heat the bus and probably do a good job of it.. make sure the flue is such you dont get water down it.. the heat exchangers dont like water on the 80% units.. only some of them are stainless steel.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:09 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
theres potenrtially issues i see with that install..


thats a single pipe 80% furnace.. it uses interior air for combustion so anytime it runs you are sucking in outside air from around your windows, doors etc to use for makeup air..

a 90+ 2 pipe unit that uses 2" PVC for vents (2 of them) makes much more sense..


any residential furnace uses sensitive pressure switches to operate the ignition and burners.. if you have no plans to run it while driving you will be fine.. but if you removed your nus heaters and want to use that while driving, the various wind currents will likely trip the Inducer-Flow limit switches or cause severe flame-roll-out


otherwise it will indeed heat the bus and probably do a good job of it.. make sure the flue is such you dont get water down it.. the heat exchangers dont like water on the 80% units.. only some of them are stainless steel.
Thanks for your input. This is purely a temporary heating setup to allow me to get some work done. I am definitely experiencing the downsides of drawing combustion air from the heated space. The furnace is rated at 40k BTU. At 80% efficiency that leaves 32k for heating the bus. Today the high temp outdoors was 16F, but the sun was shining and there was substantial solar gain. The furnace easily heated the space to a pleasant temperature. When the sun went down the outside temp dropped to about 10F. Without the passive solar gain the furnace labored to heat the space to anything I would call comfortable, but it did keep the dog's water bowl from freezing. I am getting a crash course in the Thermodynamics of space heating. As I look around the bus I'm seeing vast expanses of single pane glass and a bare metal floor with zero insulation. I am also becoming painfully aware of the amount of air moving in and out of the space. I have my work cut out for me and I am looking forward to seeing things improve as I address the various issues. If I see a super deal on a two pipe furnace with efficiency in the 90% range I might go for it, but I don't want to spend too much on a temporary solution. I have a 75,000 BTU, 80%, natural gas furnace that I might try to convert over to LP if I have time, but for the most part I think my time would be better spent insulating, sealing and deleting some windows.
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Old 01-17-2020, 03:18 AM   #8
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Oh got it, I was thinking this was going to be your main means of heat for the bus. For temp use carry on I somehow miss that part.

As for heat when they were new, just like AC in a school bus, they have incredible amounts of heaters to heat them.

My driver heater is rated at 100,000, my door heater at 90 and my rear at 30 I think. For a short bus.. when it’s 0 out and I’m driving I run them all on high to make it short sleeve warm inside...

Of course once a bus is insulated and tightened up its much better..
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Old 01-17-2020, 08:10 PM   #9
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Oh got it, I was thinking this was going to be your main means of heat for the bus. For temp use carry on I somehow miss that part.

As for heat when they were new, just like AC in a school bus, they have incredible amounts of heaters to heat them.

My driver heater is rated at 100,000, my door heater at 90 and my rear at 30 I think. For a short bus.. when its 0 out and Im driving I run them all on high to make it short sleeve warm inside...

Of course once a bus is insulated and tightened up its much better..

I remember your post about keeping the factory A/C. The capacity of those systems was a revelation to me. Because I remembered that info, it was not surprising to me that heating requires big numbers too. I have a diesel parking heater installed at the very back of the bus. It's a 5 kw unit. Which I think translates to 17,500 BTUs. Even at temperatures hovering at a balmy 32 F, running it makes no noticeable difference in the interior temperature with my bus in its current state I hope to have it heat the sleeping area at the very back of the bus once things are better insulated. Eventually I want to pursue a hydronic system that can heat my engine, the interior of the bus and provide domestic hot water.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:29 PM   #10
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A winter storm is on its way today, so I was motivated to upgrade my roof hatch cover/flu pipe pass-through. I had made something out of plywood a week ago just to get the heater up and running, but I knew that if I wanted to keep the snow and rain out of the bus, I would have to make something a little bit better. A quick trip to my local scrap yard yielded a piece of 10 gauge steel sheet about 32 inches square. Cost to me? Two dollars! I cut it down to 25 1/2" x 25 1/2". Two edges we're already finished with 90 bent over edges. I scored the other two sides 1/2 inch in from the edge and folded it over with a big hammer. I also welded on two brackets to attach the hatch cover to the frame in the roof. Then I glued and screwed a pipe flashing to the outer surface. I swapped out the wooden cover and Presto-Changeo! I have a much better solution.

Of course this is not a solution for going down the road. This is to get some good heat in the bus so I can work on it during the Wisconsin winter.


I have to give a shout out for the little welder that you can see in the picture. It is a 160 amp stick welder that I purchased not too long ago for $149. It uses inverter technology and can run on either 120 V or 240 V. For this operation I was using 3/32 6013 electrode at 95 A running on 120 V. I am not a very good welder but the machine is capable. The penetration at this setting is very good. Last year I welded a jack leg on my trailer with the same settings. It gets beat to hell but just a few 1/2" tacks are holding it together nicely. Stick welding takes a little bit more skill than MIG welding but it has advantages in simplicity and low cost of entry, and a stick welder will generally get better penetration, which is good for sticking together stuff like angle steel and tubing with thickness ranging from 1/8" on up. With these kind of prices, there's no reason for anyone to be without a welder if that's what they want.

This is the latest version of the welder I was using. Check out the reviews!

https://www.amazon.com/ARC-160D-Inve.../dp/B06W5K3414





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Old 01-18-2020, 05:32 AM   #11
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Insulation is everything. Factory RVs have much better insulation than factory busses, RV design is to be parked and occupied for long periods. Busses were designed to only ever be occupied when the engine is running, heat is free so insulating for heat was never considered, AC esp in school busses has only recently become even remotely common , and most busses are ordered without and it gets installed by 3rd party by the dealer. Bluebird offers factory AC and seems like insulated better on those.. Thomas sends all theirs out to 3rd party so you get a as me insulation regardless ..

Either way the factory stuff is only good if you are chasing nice weather , parking in the shade and just using it as a casual RV.. otherwise real insulation is key
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Old 01-18-2020, 09:10 PM   #12
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Insulation is everything...
More good lessons today. The day started out at about 28 F. By mid afternoon I took a quick look at the thermometer and noticed that it had dropped to 23 F. A quick look at the forecast says that I should expect 4 F for the overnight low. In the meantime I added a thermostat to my furnace set up. It's a simple, non-programmable, Honeywell digital unit. I haven't had any kind of thermometer at the bus. So the readout on the thermostat was providing me a lot of new information. I did a test to see how the furnace would run if I left it unattended with the thermostat set at 48 F. The outside temperature was 10 F at this point. The furnace cycled every five minutes. It would get up to 50 F about 8 feet away from the furnace and 4 feet off the floor. The furnace has a shut down routine that takes about two minutes once the thermostat signals that the surrounding air has reached the set temperature. At that point the furnace goes into standby mode. I figured the furnace would be running for 30 minutes out of every hour at that rate.

I was thinking of heating the bus to 48 while it's unattended because my cat is living in there, and I didn't want her to get too cold. I can't justify running the heater that much, plus I worry about it running unattended for long periods. I'm not sure I fully trust the system yet. I am not worried for the cat's safety and comfort though. I got her a special heating pad that is specifically designed for pets I put it under a couple layers of blankets and a comforter. She found it right away and burrows under the blankets according to her needs. If it's in the 40s out she just gets under the first layer but when it gets much colder she goes deeper. As long as I visit her a couple times a day she seems to be completely happy on the bus. The next thing I am going to look for is a heated water bowl to prevent her from losing access to the water when it freezes over.

Today's lesson learned is that insulation and sealing air leaks is the thing. Remodeling the passenger door is high on my list of priorities. Right now wind is just basically blowing around it. I hope to convert the pivoting door panels into a single panel with a conventional storm door lock set and strike plate. I also want to rig up some close-fitting insulating curtains for the door, the windshield and the drivers window. I'm thinking of using moving blankets that I can buy at Harbor Freight for around $4 to $6 apiece depending on the size
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:08 AM   #13
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sucks to be the poor cat having to live 20 hours a day wrapped in blankets....
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:28 AM   #14
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Might be worth rigging up a bit of ducting for the furnaces' intake air so it's not "burning" the air you've already worked to heat.

Nothing fancy -- cardboard would probably work very well for this -- duct it to an open floor hole if you have one (close to the furnace) or to the nearest window.
Cardboard & duct tape will also be easy to move out of the way during work sessions if needed, and then replaced.

Till you re-engineer the entrance door -- just wad up an ol' puffy jacket or sleeping bag on the stairs for the door to close against.

No way to heat a drafty space in 0F -- your heat's like water falling out of a sieve...

Just be conscious of creating trip & fire hazards.
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:32 AM   #15
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Great idea on makeup air for the furnace but use metal.. of that burner rolls out once on startup it could be bad..
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenchtech View Post
Thanks for your input. This is purely a temporary heating setup to allow me to get some work done. I am definitely experiencing the downsides of drawing combustion air from the heated space. The furnace is rated at 40k BTU. At 80% efficiency that leaves 32k for heating the bus. Today the high temp outdoors was 16F, but the sun was shining and there was substantial solar gain. The furnace easily heated the space to a pleasant temperature. When the sun went down the outside temp dropped to about 10F. Without the passive solar gain the furnace labored to heat the space to anything I would call comfortable, but it did keep the dog's water bowl from freezing. I am getting a crash course in the Thermodynamics of space heating. As I look around the bus I'm seeing vast expanses of single pane glass and a bare metal floor with zero insulation. I am also becoming painfully aware of the amount of air moving in and out of the space. I have my work cut out for me and I am looking forward to seeing things improve as I address the various issues. If I see a super deal on a two pipe furnace with efficiency in the 90% range I might go for it, but I don't want to spend too much on a temporary solution. I have a 75,000 BTU, 80%, natural gas furnace that I might try to convert over to LP if I have time, but for the most part I think my time would be better spent insulating, sealing and deleting some windows.

Hang some blankets over the walls to provide some insulation and slow down the drafts, tape the worst ones.


Christopher mentioned the combustion air issue, but he did not tell the whole story. Cold outside makeup air coming around the windows is one issue, but even if you can heat the air fast enough to feel warm you are burning the air that you just heated and throwing it out the flue.


The solution is to find out where/location on the furnace the combustion air intake is going to the burners, maybe build a plenum (preferably, light sheet metal) around it and duct it to the outside (temp thru roof, wall, window floor-easiest? - screen for insects/pests and rain proof). Presto - outside combustion air.

Right now your whole bus is serving as the combustion air intake plenum/duct.




Edit - Sorry didn't read far enough to see that Banman had already commented on this.
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:33 PM   #17
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More good lessons today. The day started out at about 28 F. By mid afternoon I took a quick look at the thermometer and noticed that it had dropped to 23 F. A quick look at the forecast says that I should expect 4 F for the overnight low. In the meantime I added a thermostat to my furnace set up. It's a simple, non-programmable, Honeywell digital unit. I haven't had any kind of thermometer at the bus. So the readout on the thermostat was providing me a lot of new information. I did a test to see how the furnace would run if I left it unattended with the thermostat set at 48 F. The outside temperature was 10 F at this point. The furnace cycled every five minutes. It would get up to 50 F about 8 feet away from the furnace and 4 feet off the floor. The furnace has a shut down routine that takes about two minutes once the thermostat signals that the surrounding air has reached the set temperature. At that point the furnace goes into standby mode. I figured the furnace would be running for 30 minutes out of every hour at that rate.

I was thinking of heating the bus to 48 while it's unattended because my cat is living in there, and I didn't want her to get too cold. I can't justify running the heater that much, plus I worry about it running unattended for long periods. I'm not sure I fully trust the system yet. I am not worried for the cat's safety and comfort though. I got her a special heating pad that is specifically designed for pets I put it under a couple layers of blankets and a comforter. She found it right away and burrows under the blankets according to her needs. If it's in the 40s out she just gets under the first layer but when it gets much colder she goes deeper. As long as I visit her a couple times a day she seems to be completely happy on the bus. The next thing I am going to look for is a heated water bowl to prevent her from losing access to the water when it freezes over.

Today's lesson learned is that insulation and sealing air leaks is the thing. Remodeling the passenger door is high on my list of priorities. Right now wind is just basically blowing around it. I hope to convert the pivoting door panels into a single panel with a conventional storm door lock set and strike plate. I also want to rig up some close-fitting insulating curtains for the door, the windshield and the drivers window. I'm thinking of using moving blankets that I can buy at Harbor Freight for around $4 to $6 apiece depending on the size



Any idea of how much propane is costing you a day to try to heat it?
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Old 01-23-2020, 10:42 AM   #18
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sucks to be the poor cat having to live 20 hours a day wrapped in blankets....
The cat is fine. Depending on the time of day, she has different windows that she sits by where she can enjoy the sunshine streaming in. And then most days I am there working with the heat running. And what did she do before living in the bus? Sleep for 20 hours a day Curled up in some out-of-the-way place in the house, often under a coat or some blanket or a towel. Not much is changed.
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:32 AM   #19
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Any idea of how much propane is costing you a day to try to heat it?
Havent had a chance to figure that out yet.

I bought 100 # cylinder from a fellow I found on Craigslist the other day. I paid $65 and as a bonus it was about one fifth full of propane. I ran that down, but did not exhaust it. Now Im working on a 20 pounder that was full when I started. It seems to have drawn down pretty quickly, considering that I dont use the furnace that much. I will probably get another 100# cylinder in the next couple days. I am also thinking I need to build a rack for my trailer so I can transport the cylinders upright and secure to and from the propane dealer.

Unseasonably warm temperatures are forecast for the next 10 days. It is really noticeably easier to keep the bus warm when the temperature is in the upper 20s lower 30s than it is when the temperatures are in the single digits. And likewise, when the air is calm it is easier than if the wind is blowing. Last year at this time we reached almost 30 below zero. I feel fortunate that were not seeing a repeat of that.
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Old 01-23-2020, 12:26 PM   #20
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Every kitty has different personality, mine is out and about all the time. He sleeps sometimes during the day but if I’m home he is out and about with me . If no one is home he gets depressed and hides. My roomie says that.. cats are actually pretty social if they are allowed to be
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