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Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP tank
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hrtm
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:45 pm    Post subject: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP tank Reply with quote

Tried to find some info specific to this modification with no luck. Just a lot of reviews/debates on using these portable heaters in the first place.

First a little background: Not having the budget for a Propex (yet) I decided to give the Mr. Heater Buddy a shot after a strong recommendation from someone I trust who has been using one for 3 years without issue. I got to test it on a recent trip up to Colorado Springs to have my transmission worked on. Overnight temps were in the upper teens/low 20s and even with my homemade Reflectix window covers, and a thick utility blanket snapped in place between the front seats & the rest of the camper, the van is drafty enough and poorly insulated (stock) to make things uncomfortably cold when below freezing. Sure, bundling up with sleeping bags and blankets, et al. keeps the body warm - but breathing that icicle air really makes for a rough night's sleep IMO.

Was VERY pleased to find that by opening the Westy sunroof I could run the Mr. Heater all night and not starve for oxygen nor wake up to a cascade of water on every window. Bone dry! HOWEVER - you quickly go through a Coleman 1lb bottle this way, and those bottles add up quick. I used to work at an independent REI of sorts back in SF and we had a recycle collection for those bottles, but recent research tells me this is a pretty rare thing - recycling these things is a pain and having a bunch of empties clanging around in the van is no fun and takes up space.

SO - I want to put a T into one of the stock copper lines (from the sink cabinet) and run an available flexible adapter hose to the heater. I've seen it done by a couple people (and also a guy who hard piped a copper line to a Wave heater mounted behind the passenger seat) but none offered any info on exactly how they did it. Just pictures of the finished mod.

So my questions are many-fold to anyone who may have done this already:

1. Which line is better to tap into - the fridge or the stove? and how do you tell which is which (Bentley is no help here)? I'm thinking fridge b/c if it's cold enough to need heat I doubt you need to run the fridge at the same time.
2. What size is the line - it looks 3/8" to me but I'm not sure.
3. I presume it best to use flare fittings or no?
4. How to get from the T to the hose fitting with the least amount of adapters? Trips to Lowe's and Home Depot both yield little more than the T fitting itself. Where the heck do I source this stuff? The hose BTW is designed to run off of a 20lb external/BBQ type tank. Walmart has a hose and adapter that would fit straight into a typical propane valve (i.e. what the regulator screws into on the stock LP tank) - so I guess the question is getting from a T to a shutoff valve (and yes I *do* want a shutoff valve for the system!).

If this has already been covered somewhere by all means steer me to the thread and I'll delete this one.

Also if your only comment is going to be "it's dangerous to use those in your van" please don't - I'm a grown man who knows all the risks and would much rather have a Propex but I don't have the money for one OK? Please only comment if you have technical advice on this mod/install only.

Appreciate it!
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

An alternative you might consider - particularly as this sounds like an interim set-up until you get a Propex -- is the attachment that enables one to refill a 1lb bottle from a large BBQ size tank of propane.

With that you can refill your 1lb bottles for the price of bulk propane.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

DO NOT DO WHAT HE SUGGESTS...

I don't care how many times you've seen another person do it, or you've done it your self... DO NOT REFILL SINGLE USE PROPANE BOTTLES!!!!

Single use non-refillable gas cylinders are NOT manufactured to withstand refilling or reuse. They aren't even pressure tested after they are filled originally... It is a federal offense to refill single use propane tanks, it's a federal offense to transport a refilled one, but really beyond that, it's DANGEROUS AS HELL. Brick wall

Please do not refill these containers.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

Either line will work. They are already T'd at the tank regulator. Both have same pressure and volume. When you look in the sink closet, from memory the rear line goes to the fridge. You should verify though. You can follow that line with your hand, or remove the grill on the opposite side and look in there with a flashlight.

We used a Little Buddy for one season. We were stuck inside the van at Yosemite each evening due to cold wet weather. We'd get the Buddy going, take the chill off and then shut it down. During the night, no heat, just bundled up. Next morning, Mr Buddy again. Using this method, we squeezed 3 days out of one tank. It was only in the 30s though.
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70coupyel
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

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From this thread:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=245630&highlight=
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Emmitt
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

Following:

I too am in the same pinch up here in Alaska. I am gonna get a propex later, but this year I wanted to do some Ice fishing. I was gonna make a kinda shanty off the side of the van slider. Trouble is I have a Tin Top I partially converted like a frankenstein. I have the old style westy sink stove, which is killing me to find the damn grill cover, and welded up my own cupboards with newer westy fridge. I was just gonna "T" in a flexible rubber hose to hook to Mr. Buddy. I was wondering the same thing and will be copying this. I actually don't even know how good I ran my original copper lines or fittings??? I don't smell gas so I think I did good.
Anyway here is my setup so far and any input will now be helping two people out:

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Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


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davevickery
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

hrtm wrote:

1. Which line is better to tap into - the fridge or the stove? and how do you tell which is which (Bentley is no help here)? I'm thinking fridge b/c if it's cold enough to need heat I doubt you need to run the fridge at the same time.
2. What size is the line - it looks 3/8" to me but I'm not sure.
3. I presume it best to use flare fittings or no?
4. How to get from the T to the hose fitting with the least amount of adapters? Trips to Lowe's and Home Depot both yield little more than the T fitting itself. Where the heck do I source this stuff? The hose BTW is designed to run off of a 20lb external/BBQ type tank. Walmart has a hose and adapter that would fit straight into a typical propane valve (i.e. what the regulator screws into on the stock LP tank) - so I guess the question is getting from a T to a shutoff valve (and yes I *do* want a shutoff valve for the system!).


IIRC it is all 3/8" standard stuff and I used flare fittings from ACE.

I made just one like the picture above for a Buddy heater in my first Westy. I tee'd into the front line (physically teeing into the rear line seems like it would be harder to route the line to the front and I don't think it matters which you use) . I used the same quick disconnect fitting as pictured with no shutoff and it was fine. The quick disconnects are approved for inside RV use without a secondary shutoff valve. [I originally put in a shutoff valve but it was bulky (lots of adapters as I recall too) and more potential leak points so I took it out] Ace hardware has most of the brass fittings and copper. I think I got the quick connect fitting on line. I bought a flaring tool and everything went as expected (don't go crazy on the flaring and split the copper). I did read up a bit on safety stuff and you want to make sure you are using the right parts. A local propane service place has helped me with stuff like this from time to time and this would be a piece of cake for them. And they would spot if you are doing anything wrong. It would be worth at least having them take a look at your finished product.

I had to keep the cabinet door open while a hose was connected which got in the way sometimes. Mine tee'd just under the shelf inside the cabinet. You could drill a hole in the cabinet and mount a quick connect in the cabinet face to make it better. I wanted to pick a spot for the tee that wasn't going to get banged by pots or whatever. I think the lower left or right corner might be a better location, or possible the front of the stove panel so the lines are all hidden. You might be able to tee right at the fridge connection that way and avoid cutting or maybe tee at the tank and drill a hole in the floor to bring another line into the van from there. Cutting into the existing line works, but it would be clean if you could avoid that.
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Emmitt
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

Thanks for the info, I did use ACE HW for my fittings and tubing, lolol. So why do Westifillas have two coper lines what did I screw up, what are both lines for?

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/370695.jpg

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/372560.jpg

I didn't go nuts with the flaring tool, But I kinda went Magilla Gorilla tightening my lines. The thought of gas leaking scares me.
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FreewheelinWesty
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

this is my install of my mr. heater, love it it works great.


http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7860915&highlight=#7860915
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hrtm
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

Hey Emmitt, on a stock Westfalia the Dometic and the stove were given dedicated copper lines Tee'd straight off the regulator outside the van. Not sure if there's fundamentally any reason not to do it inside the cabinet the way you did it. My guess is you're good so long as there's some kind of regulator involved. My original query as to which line is better to use revolved around whether or not having a secondary draw of propane to the Mr. Heater Buddy would effect the performance of either appliance - though now it makes sense to just go with the front one it seems - if only for access sake. @MarkWard thanks for reminding me it's already Tee'd from the regulator so it's all the same same.

@ DwarfVader I hear ya loud 'n clear! I don't trust the refill on used 1lb bottles at all!

@ FreewheelinWesty thanks for the link to your setup - I'll give a read and post questions for you over there if I have any!

@ davevickery thanks for chiming in! - you've now got me very intrigued at possibly doing some sort of aux quickconnect right at the stove panel with a dedicated 3rd rotary valve pillaged from a junkyard Westy. Too bad I kinda wanted to get this setup going for the current Winter as it seems going a stovepanel route will take some research and careful planning. But I'm glad to have the idea seeded before I start cutting into things! I may put off heavy camping this season and deal with the clutter of little green bottles until I brainstorm the perfect solution. Thanks again for helping me rethink the possiblilities! 'Twood be pretty cool to be able to fire up a second Coleman cooktop to get 4 burners going for a grand camping cookout or some such!
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Tobias Duncan
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

DwarfVader wrote:
DO NOT DO WHAT HE SUGGESTS...

I don't care how many times you've seen another person do it, or you've done it your self... DO NOT REFILL SINGLE USE PROPANE BOTTLES!!!!

Single use non-refillable gas cylinders are NOT manufactured to withstand refilling or reuse. They aren't even pressure tested after they are filled originally... It is a federal offense to refill single use propane tanks, it's a federal offense to transport a refilled one, but really beyond that, it's DANGEROUS AS HELL. Brick wall

Please do not refill these containers.


Are you sure thats true? They even sell the adapter to refill them that way at Wal-Mart.
I have never heard there was a law against this.
Where did you read that?
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DLJ
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a Mr. Heater Buddy from the stock Westfalia LP t Reply with quote

You shouldn't need an additional regulator as there is already one on the tank.
T off any line under the sink, both have the same source and gas pressure.
Like you say,closest to the front( for ease of installation.
Or, you can run a larger in house LP tank. There are some nice smaller units available. If you chose to do this, then you will need a regulator and the hardware to go from bottle to heater. Its what I do.
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