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Cleaning & Tuning a Torpedo Heater


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#1 spudland_dave

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 08:52 AM

My new garage is finally done, blew the budget doing all the finish work, so my plans for installing a unit heater this fall are probably on hold till next summer. That being said, my FIL had given me a K1 fueled Torpedo heater last fall, which I used last winter when the building was not insulated at all. Heats up GREAT but puts out too much odor to be bearable in a "sealed" garage.

Anybody know how to clean them? what can be done? etc... My FIL had told me that years ago it ran like a top with barely any fumes, but he himself noticed that recently it was getting "dirty".

 

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#2 BOBSIH856

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:05 AM

Can it also burn Diesel? Diesel doesnt smell quite as bad as kerosene.  



#3 tcmtech

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:06 AM

On most of these types of heaters there is a small rotary vane type air pump that is used to regulate and atomize the fuel flow.  

 

The pump has a sort of pressure regulator, more like a simple screw and spring pressure relief, that determines how much fuel is blown in and that regulator can get plugged up causing the air pump to deliver too much fuel causing a slight to moderate rich burn condition which makes for the stink. 

 

It should be accessible from the back and all you need to do is try adjusting it first. If that does not work then a simple disassembly and clean out is needed.  At worst you may have to buy a rebuild kit.  ;)


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#4 spudland_dave

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:27 AM

Can it also burn Diesel? Diesel doesnt smell quite as bad as kerosene.  

 

Yes, it can burn diesel...but I thought that using Diesel made it smell worse and K1 was the cleanest option?

 

On most of these types of heaters there is a small rotary vane type air pump that is used to regulate and atomize the fuel flow.  

 

The pump has a sort of pressure regulator, more like a simple screw and spring pressure relief, that determines how much fuel is blown in and that regulator can get plugged up causing the air pump to deliver too much fuel causing a slight to moderate rich burn condition which makes for the stink. 

 

It should be accessible from the back and all you need to do is try adjusting it first. If that does not work then a simple disassembly and clean out is needed.  At worst you may have to buy a rebuild kit.  ;)

 

 

I'll take pics of the heater hopefully tonight and post em here...sounds simple enough, and what you describe about it running rich also sounds right. Last time I used it was at the end of July, used it to dry out the joint compound in the corners, even with all 3 of my garage door's open the fumes were too bad for me to say in the garage.

This is an older unit, so I just assume buy a rebuild kit from the get go and do it right....



#5 smfarms

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:56 AM

I use one of those heaters in my garage also. I burn diesel fuel. Cheaper than kerosine. Any time I get any oder from mine is when it picks up fumes from any type of solvent like WD-40 or something similar. Remember they don't get outside air
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#6 tcmtech

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 10:15 AM

 

I'll take pics of the heater hopefully tonight and post em here...sounds simple enough, and what you describe about it running rich also sounds right. Last time I used it was at the end of July, used it to dry out the joint compound in the corners, even with all 3 of my garage door's open the fumes were too bad for me to say in the garage.

This is an older unit, so I just assume buy a rebuild kit from the get go and do it right....

 

You may get lucky and not have to rebuild anything. The pressure adjustment is most often used to fine tune the burner unit for whatever type or grade of fuel you are using in them.  Being there is a fair amount of viscosity and heat content difference between different grades of kerosene and diesel fuels the air adjustment is how you set the burner for the cleanest burn depending on  which fuel you are using.   Your burner may simply be set to rich for whatever fuel and grade you have in it at the moment. 

 

On the back of most good models there is a small pressure gauge that read between 0 and 15 or so PSI.  That is your reference point for setting the air/fuel ratio.  If yours has a gauge and it's reading way at the top end the odds are the pressure is set too high or the little regulator valve is partially clogged.  

 

Easy fixes for that and no rebuild is needed.  Just take the set screw out and clean the inside where the spring and ball sit with some either and an air hose. A lot of times that spring and related internal parts get gummed up with old fuel residue and it throws the settings off.   ;)

 

 

 I picked up three  commercial torpedo heaters a few years ago that had air pump problems.  

The local dealer claimed they were brand and model specific and no parts were available so they got the customer to buy all brand new ones.  :rolleyes:

 

I knew different so I picked them up as scrap.  About 20 minutes online and I had their actual manufacture and equivalent sub models tracked down.  After that it was about 10 minutes on eBay to find the aftermarket rebuild kits to repair them.  Total cost for me to fix all three was less than $100  to make about $1500 worth of heaters work like new! 

 

I gave one to my brother and one to my dad.   We don't use them much but when anyone needs a lot of heat fast they are the got to machines to do it!  

 

So if you do need to rebuild yours the odds are you can find aftermarket parts online rather cheap. 


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#7 New Englander

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 10:39 AM

Good advice from many how to fix them.

 

The main problem is they're not so good for your health especially if you are using any solvents/chemicals.

 

I'd like to offer a  good alternative: Pick up a Miller mobile home furnace, buy their cottage adapter and have a real heater. I've been able to buy them for around a hundred bucks, the cottage base is around fifty, and the flue won't cost more than another hundred. They are pretty efficient. I heat my 28X42X12 shop all winter, never below 60, with about 250 gallons heating oil. Used tanks are around for free.



#8 exSW

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 10:42 AM

Good advice from many how to fix them.

 

The main problem is they're not so good for your health especially if you are using any solvents/chemicals.

 

I'd like to offer a  good alternative: Pick up a Miller mobile home furnace, buy their cottage adapter and have a real heater. I've been able to buy them for around a hundred bucks, the cottage base is around fifty, and the flue won't cost more than another hundred. They are pretty efficient. I heat my 28X42X12 shop all winter, never below 60, with about 250 gallons heating oil. Used tanks are around for free.

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#9 spudland_dave

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 11:10 AM

Good advice from many how to fix them.

 

The main problem is they're not so good for your health especially if you are using any solvents/chemicals.

 

I'd like to offer a  good alternative: Pick up a Miller mobile home furnace, buy their cottage adapter and have a real heater. I've been able to buy them for around a hundred bucks, the cottage base is around fifty, and the flue won't cost more than another hundred. They are pretty efficient. I heat my 28X42X12 shop all winter, never below 60, with about 250 gallons heating oil. Used tanks are around for free.

 

Funny you mention the Miller...my dad has heated his shop with a miller for YEARS, and it was my original plan to run a Miller as well. BUT a couple things came into play...A) in speaking with a bunch of HVAC guys the newer Millers which are easy to find now aren't as good as the old ones and B) Stainless flue is much more then a hundred bucks. Just the thimble is almost that. Factor in all the stainless flue I need, big cost there. And then the tank...rather not go used. Pricing it out it was almost 800.00 for the metalbestos flue. Used furnace which requires a rebuild, tank, flue, etc... led me to going with a Reznor or Modine LP fired unit heater....that's what I will be doing for permanent heat.

The torpedo is really only for those days I want/need to tinker on the tractor, or do a brake job on my truck, etc.. If I had the cash to buy the Reznor and horizontal vent kit, it would be installed. If I burnt a whole tank of fuel on the torpedo from now till next April I'd be surprised.

 

Trust me, I'd rather be talking about installing a Modine/Reznor or Miller, but just not in the cards for me right now.



#10 New Englander

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 10:39 AM

I was just looking for the cheapest way for you to heat it without breathing fumes. I have been using two of their galvi mobile home roof jacks for the two buildings I heat. They're both over 10 years old and still are nice and strong. I think I paid $80. for them, probably more now.

 

If you're limiting your exposure to the torpedoes, I'm sure you'll be fine.





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