Heating Your Bus
Everyone knows that the heating on the Camper van can be awful at times especially if it is neglected, and not checked out properly. So below are a few helpful hints on how to keep your bus a bit warmer than usual.
Heat Exchangers and Pipe Fittings
Check to see if the heat exchangers (right) are in good condition and there are no signs of holes in them, If you are replacing the heat exchangers try to get the original VW ones, because with these there are more fins inside the exchanger and they transfer the heat far more efficiently. Next have a look at the hoses from the fan-housing to the heat exchangers and check to see if they are in good condition and are secured with jubilee clips. Take a look under the vehicle to see if the plastic hoses from the heat exchangers to the body are secure. Then check the cable hasn’t broken or the linkage hasn’t fallen out. If the under floor has no belly pan check the large metal tube that runs from the back to the front for holes, that is situated in the centre of the vehicle (insulate this and it will stop the heat from escaping) Then check the ones at the front, above the hand-brake cables are secure and have clips fitted. If when you have completed these checks and fixed any problems then your bus should be a bit warmer.
If you have checked the above and you still feel it could do with some more heat, and that it’s still not warm enough, there is always the option of buying a propex gas blown air heater from Bluebird Customs. These are great heaters that blow out 3000 BTU’s and are quite warm once they get going. I have installed one in my Camper and have had it for about 3 years now, with no problems (touch wood). The 1600 compact though has been discontinued and has been replaced by the propex heat source 1600, which is what they are selling and blows out a massive 5000 BTU’s. Spares etc for the compact will be available for a hell of a long time.
These heaters run off either butane or propane gas. They are quite easily installed (fitting instructions by Bluebird) and are situated under the rear seat. There is a safety cut off valve incase anything should happen, and a warning light that glows when the gas is getting low. A optional timer can be purchased so it can be used like central heating, with a built in clock and alarm. There are other products available on the market, but be careful which one you purchase, and make sure you get the right one for your VW Camper.
The Eberspacher model BN4 12 volt gasoline heater was an option in 1968-1974 Volkswagen Type II US models (’75-’79 non-US buses with 1600cc engines probably also had BN4s). The heating capacity of the BN4 is variable from 4,000 BTU to 16,000 BTU with a fuel consumption of .42 to 1.37 pints per hour, drawing 50 watts at 12 volts. Basically, a BN4 can turn your freezer on wheels into a rolling toaster oven with the flick of a switch, very little fuel consumption and reasonable electrical draw. The BN4 has safeguards built into its electrical circuit to prevent: overheating, fuel buildup in the combustion chamber when the spark plug has failed, and heater operation when fuel is not present. If the fuel supply is cut off or the spark/glow plug fails, the “safety switch”, the clear plastic box with a red, resetable switch on the side, cuts power to the heater.
When buying a BN4, it’s good to know if you’re getting all the parts you need to make it work in your bus.
The Decision is Yours
Working on VW’s and other vehicles comes with getting your hands dirty. Any mechanic will tell you that repairs can be messy at times. It is never wise to wear a good outfit when starting repairs they could easily be damaged or stained. Keeping extra cheap t shirts on hand for working on vehicles or any type of maintenance. It will help make sure you don’t ruin any of your good clothesduring a repair job.