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Propex: Blinking 5 Times (Are they Lemons?)
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boulderdrop
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:45 pm    Post subject: Propex: Blinking 5 Times (Are they Lemons?) Reply with quote

I bought my Propex HS2000 in Feb of 2008, installed it under the rear z-bed and I love the *idea* of it.

Sadly, the thing is constantly failing to light up the burner in the middle of the night and results in "blinking 5 times" on the red LED.

I can sometimes get it to light by turning the Propex off, waiting a few second, turn the Propex On and then let it try again. Sometimes, after about 5-10 times, it'll light up and I'll sleep nice and toasty until it reaches the desired temp, turns-off and ... lather, rinse, repeat.. all.. night.. long. It sucks.

There's a small 80mm fan with a black/white pattern printed on the top of it. When the fan is running, an optical-sensor will see this black/white pattern-spinning and knows it has good airflow. When it doesn't spin or fails to detect it spinning, the unit will not light-up and will instead "blink 5 times".

My question... has anyone made a fix or changed the fan themselves? It's out of it's 2-year warranty, as I'd like to effect the repair myself and begin to actually use (trust) it.
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andy syncro-nutz
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Think this guy would be your best help Smile

http://westyventures.com/propex.html
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syncrodoka
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Karl would be the most knowledgeable with those units.
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boulderdrop
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya, Kurt at Westy Ventures put me in touch with Kirk at North Westy that performed the warranty repair in Dec 2009.

But I'm looking for non-warranty repair solutions, as it's out of it's warranty and (being a computer hardware guy) these 80mm fans die *all-the-time* in on circuit-boards.
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Five blinks indicates a blocked combustion tube. These things are really sensitive. To prove my point, just put your hand close to the exhaust tube while the heater is running.


Check the routing of the tubes to see if there are any restrictive bends.
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presslab
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, my fan became sticky after a few years and I pulled off the little sticker and put some 3-in-1 oil inside it. It's been fine for over a year now.

But first make sure you blow out the pipes with compressed air, sometimes that's all you need. I added a large lawnmower muffler and it gets clogged with soot. The Propex doesn't burn that clean, I guess. But a quick puff with the air gun, a cloud of soot, and then it's good to go.
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andy syncro-nutz
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This looks very useful too,

http://www.propexheatsource.co.uk/pdf/HS2000_issue_2.pdf
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Propex: Blinking 5 Times (Are they Lemons?) Reply with quote

boulderdrop wrote:
I bought my Propex HS2000 in Feb of 2008, installed it under the rear z-bed and I love the *idea* of it.

Sadly, the thing is constantly failing to light up the burner in the middle of the night and results in "blinking 5 times" on the red LED.

I can sometimes get it to light by turning the Propex off, waiting a few second, turn the Propex On and then let it try again. Sometimes, after about 5-10 times, it'll light up and I'll sleep nice and toasty until it reaches the desired temp, turns-off and ... lather, rinse, repeat.. all.. night.. long. It sucks.

There's a small 80mm fan with a black/white pattern printed on the top of it. When the fan is running, an optical-sensor will see this black/white pattern-spinning and knows it has good airflow. When it doesn't spin or fails to detect it spinning, the unit will not light-up and will instead "blink 5 times".

My question... has anyone made a fix or changed the fan themselves? It's out of it's 2-year warranty, as I'd like to effect the repair myself and begin to actually use (trust) it.


Unfortunately, like any small device that sits idle, bearings can get tight by non-use. Propex recommends that the heater be run at least a couple minutes each month to keep the little sensor fan bearings happy. That said, they did have a large batch of the fans that got tight with normal use - unfortunately some of these ended up also in the warranty parts bin. Try first blowing compressed air into the intake pipe a few times - if that doesn't cure it, then the fan is tight again. The fan is actually only about half that size, or 40mm. Any lubrication should be sparingly and a super-light dry lube. To check the fan, if you blow gently across the blades it should spin for a few seconds easily. If it stops or refuses to move easily, it needs replacement. I will extend the Propex warranty on this item alone if if happens a second time, and Propex UK is not covering my expenses at all. I can send you a fan or if you'd like to send the heater back to me I could do the repair N/C.

This said, the heaters from 2/2010 production all have a new electronic airflow sensing system. At some point Propex will phase out the replacement fans and supply a swappable electronic sensor for the older units. This could take at least a year, knowing Propex. Laughing
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FNGRUVN wrote:
Five blinks indicates a blocked combustion tube. These things are really sensitive. To prove my point, just put your hand close to the exhaust tube while the heater is running.


Check the routing of the tubes to see if there are any restrictive bends.


Yes, always blow air through the tubes to check for blockage, stuck or slow A/F sensing fan, etc. I had one come back a couple years ago that inhaled a few chunks of sagebrush. Laughing
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

presslab wrote:
Yes, my fan became sticky after a few years and I pulled off the little sticker and put some 3-in-1 oil inside it. It's been fine for over a year now.

But first make sure you blow out the pipes with compressed air, sometimes that's all you need. I added a large lawnmower muffler and it gets clogged with soot. The Propex doesn't burn that clean, I guess. But a quick puff with the air gun, a cloud of soot, and then it's good to go.


If your heater was produced in the last three years, and you've adjusted the regulator, back it off to 11" wc. Too much fuel can cause fluffy carbon in these. If the muffler is of at least the same size and a 'straight thru' type, keep it there - otherwise chuck it - too much exhaust restriction also causes soot buildup.
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Last edited by westyventures on Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ANGOVAY
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talk about great service! Kurt I hope I don't have any problems with my propex-(purchased I think in April this year) but if I do it's nice to know you are out there to offer your knowledge and help. Think I'll go out and turn it on for a few minutes. Thanks.
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presslab
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

westyventures wrote:
If your heater was produced in the last three years, and you've adjusted the regulator, back it off to 11" wc. Too much fuel can cause fluffy carbon in these. If the muffler is of at least the same size and a 'straight thru' type, keep it there - otherwise chuck it - too much exhaust restriction also causes soot buildup.


It's an older unit, I remember you sent me an upgrade with a new jet and instructions for sealing it up inside. I'm pretty sure my regulator is adjusted higher than 11" water; I know I fooled around with this for a while. It starts up just fine at high altitude now, I'm leery to mess with it, but maybe I'll bump the pressure down a little.

The muffler is a simple lawnmower muffler, not quite straight through but it's pretty wide open. Even without the muffler I remember soot in the lines but they are too large to get clogged up.

westyventures wrote:
At some point Propex will phase out the replacement fans and supply a swappable electronic sensor for the older units.


I'd be interested in this when it becomes available.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

presslab wrote:
I'm pretty sure my regulator is adjusted higher than 11" water; I know I fooled around with this for a while.


I checked this the other week and my pressure was nearly exactly 11" water column so I must have set it back.

Last night my heater give the 5 blinks in the middle of the night (after working fine up to then) and a restart did not fix it; this was at 5500' or so. The muffler was not hooked up at all.

westyventures wrote:
At some point Propex will phase out the replacement fans and supply a swappable electronic sensor for the older units.


Any idea when this new sensor will be available? Looks like I need to tear into the Propex again and it would be great if I could stick in the upgraded sensor. Thanks!
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

presslab wrote:

Any idea when this new sensor will be available? Looks like I need to tear into the Propex again and it would be great if I could stick in the upgraded sensor. Thanks!


I will check with them and keep you posted.
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boulderdrop
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

westyventures wrote:
I will check with them and keep you posted.


Can you add me to this list too? I just can't really trust the fan situation with sub-freezing temps in the middle of nowhere.

I lost one opportunity getting my wife to snow-camp.. not going to risk it again with her until I can get a bulletproof solution. Right now, the fan is really an issue for me recommending a Propex to everyone.
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep in mind that few units have an airflow sensing problem. First thing to do is to run the heater a few minutes each month, even 'fan only' is fine. This keeps the sensing fan happy. Otherwise, try to keep the bends in the pipes to a minimum and follow the recommendations on proper length. It is possible that a pulsing burn will cause the sensing to be erratic and also shut it down.

There definitely was a batch of heaters where the fans got tight over time, and if you have one of these we will cover the fan swap. If it's over two years old, you're welcome to swap it out yourself and I'll supply the fan. But so far, no word on when the updated omron sensor update will be available, yet.
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No firm word yet on the new sensor setup. BUT, we have an important note regarding the heaters produced after Feb 2010:

These newest heaters with the Omron sensor must have the full length inlet and exhaust pipes installed - no more cutting down the pipes. This sensor is more reliable but at the same more precise in what it expects. Without the proper length pipes the airflow characteristics change and will cause the heater to shut down.
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scobax
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received two HS 2800's last Tuesday (thanks Carl!) and installed one of them into my personal rig last week. We took her out for an inaugural run this past weekend. We only got up to 6200' but the Propex ran wonderfully at all tested altitudes. We are eagerly anticipating some really cold temps to put it through it's paces.

With regards to Carl's last post pertaining to the length of the burner inlet and exhaust hoses, I would like to add some observations that might help anyone out there who is having lighting issues.

While installing my Propex I noticed that the stainless intake and exhaust hoses were much harder than I expected (a good thing) and as a result, the supplied hose clamps were having a bit of trouble clamping them tightly onto the burner inlet and outlet pipes before the clamps would begin to fail.

If you are having lighting issues with one of the new Omron based units then you may want to take a look at the tightness of your intake and exhaust lines, too. Give them a tug where they clamp onto the bottom of the unit. If they move, then it may be that the resulting air leak could essentially create the same effect as a shortened SS hose.

To improve the clamping, I took the hoses off and gently crimped around the end with needle nosed pliers to allow the hose clamps to crush the hoses down a bit better onto the burner pipes. I also lined the intake hose with a small bead of high-temp silicone to better facilitate an airtight intake seal.

I'll be installing the second unit in the next week or so and I will post any relavent data or observations as they become available. The more info the better.

BTW- Hats off to Carl and the WestyVentures crew for such great support on these heaters... even when they have no control over the quality of everybody's installation. It's a helluva lot of pro bono work thats greatly appreciated out here!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I second the hats off to Karl, I have one of the new omron units and it took a while to figure out with Karls help that the pipes should not be cut (actualy the instructions do say this but in such a convoluted way that unless you read them closely it apears to say "cut to size").

Karl is kindly sending me a new set of pipes at no charge even though it was my fault for not reading the instuctions - apparently the instructions have been made clearer now.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ping. I had to pull the propex last weekend in order to solve the "5 blink" problem in the propex and the 40mm fan sticking. Any word on the new sensor for the HS2000 purchased Feb 2008?

westyventures wrote:

presslab wrote:

Any idea when this new sensor will be available? Looks like I need to tear into the Propex again and it would be great if I could stick in the upgraded sensor.

I will check with them and keep you posted.

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