Fitting a Propex heater.

Our first winter in Vera proved to be a thoroughly miserable experience (Winter 2004), we experienced levels of discomfort previously unknown to us. I looked into renovating the original heating but decided it was unlikely to be up to the job of keeping us 'toasty warm' on it's own, so I bought a secondhand Propex Heatsource 1600 off of Ebay.

I have summarised the procedure I followed below, it took me a whole day to do as i had to keep going to B&Q for screws and other assorted items.

A few notes on the photos:

  •  Since taking these photos I have fitted proper hose clips to the gas hose.
  •  I drilled a 30mm hole in the floor of the R&R bed to allow gas to exit the van safely if a leak should occur. I will be buying a gas and CO2 detector shortly.
  •   NEVER USE A NAKED FLAME TO CHECK FOR GAS LEAKS !!!
I'd originally planned on fitting the heater to the o/s floor beneath the R&R bed but decided against it in the end as I'd found an old article in Volkszone that suggested mounting it on the sloping part of the bulkhead.
Make sure you have a good hole saw to do this, the first one I bought from B&Q was useless and the teeth blunted in seconds without making a cut.
Here I'm lying under the van, the gearbox is on the right and the n/s heater pipe is on the left, you can see the stainless steel Propex exhaust on the right and inlet on the left.
Here you can see I've routed the Propex exhaust over the top of the gearbox and over to the rear o/s wheel arch where the steam can escape into the atmosphere.

The unit, showing the exhaust and inlet pipes attached. In fact I mounted the unit first with no pipes attached, then went underneath the van to attach and jubilee clip the two pipes in place. This was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

The mounting kit for the unit was practically useless as this part of the body work is uneven, I had to use a few nuts as spacers to keep the mounting bracket level, this was a pain and if I had to do this again I would fabricate a better bracket..

Here I've used a hole-saw to create a hole for the hot air vent.
I put the re-circulation vent over to one side.
Using the two large jubilee clips provided I secured the hot air ducting to the Propex and the hot air vent.
I pop-riveted an isolation gas tap to the bulkhead, then fitted one end of a length of copper pipe to the compression fitting on one side of it. I used PTFE tape on all the threads on the compression fittings.
Here you can see where I've plumbed the pipe into the test point on the side of the Propex. Unfortunately I forgot to use PTFE tape on the thread, and when I came to check for leaks using soapy water on the joints....

... I could clearly see a gas leak, this bubble got bigger as I tuned the gas on. I dismantled and applied PTFE tape to the thread, tighted it all up and this time no leaks.

I used special clips to hold the piping steady against the bulkhead as any movement or vibration can gradually work the compression fittings loose.

With the plumbing finished I turned my attention to wiring the Propex thermostat.
It was very straightforward and I had it wired in about 5 minutes.
The finished article. It's a pain losing so much storage space, but I really appreciate the warmth. I am considering fabricating a cage to enclose the unit and it's pipes, then perhaps I can get back a small amount of storage space.
The long-term plan is to mount the thermostat under the dashboard, unfortunately the supplied cable is not long enough. I have bought another length of this 5-core which I'll use to extend it to the dashboard.