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Technical INSTANT HEAT, just dont add water (TECH WEEK)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bandit Billy, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,575

    Bandit Billy

    Okay, here's the background so you know what prompted this project. I am building an American Speed 33 roadster (with a flathead), not a very traditional body but an nice all steel canvas to have some fun with. I live in the PNW which means rain and cold if you like driving during the seemingly endless winter months (and I do). Since my "roadster" has roll up windows I decided to add a heater but wanted to keep it old school. I also added defroster slits to my dash so I needed a heater/defroster. Remember the flathead? well it is a fully polished, Navarro blown 8BA that I do not want to run water lines off of...or drill holes in my firewall...or have hot water inside the car for that matter if I didn't have to. So I had an idea...

    I started by surfing the internet looking for an electric 12V heater that had enough muscle to take a bit of the chill off and clear the windshield. I found this,
    Its a golf cart heater or maybe for the cab of a semi or a small fishing boat. Here are the specs,
    So I had my heater, now I needed a box to hide it in. One of my favorite expressions in building my cars is "hide your technology", thus I surfed epay and found a heater that would work out of an old Chrysler or something, pretty cool, all of the plastic door pulls were perfect plus it had defroster cables and remote dash mount that I will use.
    Out with all the stuff I didn't need,
    I had to make a few adjustments to make the new heater fit. I bought a heater with 3 outlets, one I will use for the defrosters and the other two will be routed to the doors on the cabinet. I had to cut out the right side door to create a space for the heater to breathe but that will be against the passenger toe board of the dash so you wont see it.
    defroster vent hole this is for the intake vent
    I had to remove the factory vent tube connectors then I added some sheet metal ones in their place to direct air flow from the heater to the doors and to my defroster ducts.
    this ones for the defroster ducts right side floor
    And this one if for the front floor opening
    I left enough clearance to allow the heater to be assembled and disassembled (for powder coating still to come) and service if needed.
    You can see the switch still mounted in the heater, that is the fan control, it will be relocated to the control panel as will the adjustable thermostat the heater came with. I have the box blasted and ready for finishing. I used a method one of the HAMBers put up on straightening grille teeth to remove all of the damage from the stainless beauty belly band, still have to run it across the buffer though but you get the idea.
    Here is a shot of the defroster duct, this is the original butterfly valve that came on the Chrysler heater, I just relocated it to the rear of the cabinet.
    It just slides in place and is held by a sheet metal screw. They are cable operated from the control panel. This stud secures the heater element to the box.
    I still need to cut out a patch and weld it in here to finish the right side of the box a bit
    I have to build a bracket that the heater will bolt to under the dash so it does not hang off the firewall (no un-needed holes in the firewall). Here is where I will place it, just peaking out from under the passenger side dash. You can catch a glimpse of the defroster slit in this pic too.
    So there you have it, not the neatest idea in the world but it's mine, and now it's shared with my fellow HAMBers. It is the only project I had currently that I could post for tech week, hope you enjoyed it. Some pinstripes will likely be mandatory.

    Attached Files:

    Hnstray, scotty t, Bubba1955 and 12 others like this.
  2. I like it! Very cool, ah , or should I say HOT idea.
  3. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,953

    from Tampa, FL

    Clever and well done. Gary
  4. I'll be curious as to how well this works. With a top/side windows, you may have enough heat to defrost but not much more. Most water heaters put out at least 2-3 times more heat. And I hope you're not trying to run this off a 'traditional' generator. You should have at least a 70 amp charging system for adequate current for the whole car. Don't use anything smaller than #8 to wire it in, #6 would be better.

    I did see one of those bodies at a recent show, and they're pretty slick. Up close you can tell they're not Henry, but from a distance it's tougher to tell. Good choice for the rainy NW... LOL.

  5. Good work!
    I actually bought that same old heater off epay as well.
  6. That BTU rating is pretty suspect; the generally accepted conversion is roughly 300 watts equals 1000 BTU/hour, which would put this at about 1600 BTU. Most 1500 watt heaters manage about 5000 BTU, so I don't know where they're getting their number.
    patmanta likes this.
  7. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,575

    Bandit Billy

    Thanks guys, I don't plan on it heating the car as much as defrosting the windshield and maybe taking a bit of the chill off. I used one in a golf cart that had drafty side curtains and it definitely was warmer inside then outside. Not a sauna, but comfy.
    Hnstray likes this.
  8. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,685

    from Woburn, MA

    Yeah, that caught my eye too. 8000 BTUs is almost enough to heat my shop!

    Really nice job retrofitting that heater box! I've got a few in my pile I may consider doing this to if I don't sell or run them with water.
  9. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,575

    Bandit Billy

    Thanks, I appreciate the compliment.
  10. Lcats
    Joined: Mar 17, 2008
    Posts: 80

    1. A-D Truckers

    Very nice work.
  11. keyster
    Joined: Dec 27, 2011
    Posts: 26


    Forty amps is quite a load.
    DC power needs large conductors and good mechanical connections.
    Be careful.
  12. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,856


    Creative idea and nice fab work, but if it was me I'd just run water lines to that nice Chrysler heater core you had there. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, toasty! And traditional, too!
  13. Bugguts
    Joined: Aug 13, 2011
    Posts: 703


    COOL idea! I mean,.....that's HOT. I like your hiding it. Most will never know.
  14. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,020

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    Interesting idea, however I don't think that it is very practical. If electric heat was a good idea for a car the car makers around the world would have been making and perfecting them for years.
    They have not done so for a reason.
    As said, a regular hot water heater would have been better .
  15. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,962

    from Quincy, IL

    The creativity and conversion are very good. Congrats on that.

    Let us know how the physics works out once you have had an opportunity to try it

  16. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,856


    My thoughts exactly. With an ample supply of hot water available, why bother converting physical energy into electricity to make heat? Even air cooled cars didn't use electric heat.
  17. I'm somewhat surprised that no one has tried a 'heat exchanger' set-up like the old VW Beetle used; when those were working right they could blow you out of the car. Maybe a dual-chamber muffler with a variable-speed fan to blow air through it and some round duct to get the heated air inside the car....
    Hnstray likes this.
  18. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,856


    Not to mention some of those gasoline-fired heaters that VW and others used.....
    theclaw1 likes this.
  19. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,020

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    A really , really bad idea. With exhaust corrosion inevitable and the accompanying exhaust leak, thereby blowing carbon monoxide into the car along with warm air. Can we say go to sleep and die ?
    The old VW systems were simple shrouds that took heat from the engine cylinders (The air cooled section) totally separate from the exhaust.
  20. No they weren't. They were sheetmetal shrouds around the cast iron exhaust manifolds. The flanged tube and the straight one out the other end are the exhaust flow, the Big tube is where the heater hoses attach that then run through the floor pan. The top side near the control lever is where the hose from the fan shroud attaches
    Hnstray, zzford and doinbad like this.
  21. Sorry, but the VW system uses a surround on the exhaust manifolds to generate heat (got a VW motor laying on my shop floor). The engine cooling fan is what forced the air past the manifolds, but the heater ductwork is separate from the engine cooling part of it. Yes, they could be dangerous if not maintained, but VW sold 15 million of 'em and CO2 poisoning/deaths wasn't common....

    Don beat me.... although he got the connections backwards. The left end is the connection into the car, the large tube on the right is the connection to the air cooling housing.
  22. And by the way, small aircraft have used this concept as well.
    Hnstray likes this.
  23. Blownolds
    Joined: Mar 31, 2001
    Posts: 2,335

    from So Cal

    you know, the way the guys that hawk heat-shield material (the kind of stuff you put on firewalls and floorboards) talk about reducing heat, maybe an easier solution could even be just simply not using that stuff, and letting the headers warm the car. Might work for a few folks, anyway. Just another possibility I thought I'd mention.
  24. There's more than a little truth to this... My avatar isn't insulated well and I get a lot of heat though the firewall/floorboards. Fine on cool days, but the inability to turn it off sucks on warm days....
  25. Being aviation, these no doubt have 'high altitude' prices, but proves the concept....
  26. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,020

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    Ok, it's true that VW used it and it worked well. In a climate where the cold was not severe. ( like frosty Alberta fall days)
    I had one here in Alberta back when I was a youngster (64 beetle) and near froze to death in it when full blown winter rolled in. :D
    The recovered heat was pretty minimal when the outside temperature was -35. :eek:
    Any potential carbon monoxide leak was the farthest thing from my mind at the time.

    And obviously I sold it well before I had to do any wrenching on it. :D

    It just seems like a bad idea to me, capturing heat from a potentially hazardous source like the exhaust.
    A cast iron manifold would be less likely to leak than a muffler.
    62hotcat likes this.
  27. When the VW system was in good, new working order, it worked quite well. I bought a 63 ragtop sunroof from the original owner ( a high school friend of my mom) who bought it at the factory and spent the winter driving through the Bavarian and Austrian Alps - I asked her about the heat(being a cloth sunroof car) and she said it was quite toasty inside. The heater worked well when all new - including the hoses (the ones to the body are known to fail and most people don't know it), the tubes through the pan (which do rust out and let the heat escape) and all the vents
  28. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,524

    Atwater Mike

    Your '64 was a pre- 'Fresh Air' system. Had you substituted a later (post '64) engine with Fresh Air system, you would have witnessed a 'marvelous experience', that would have endeared you to any and all VW memories. :D
    Hnstray and hotroddon like this.
  29. Yours probably had damaged rubber boots where the manifolds connected to the interior ductwork, or somebody pulled the motor and didn't reconnect them when reinstalling; a very common problem. I carpooled with a guy in the early 70s with a Beetle. We got a cold snap (sub-freezing for multiple days) and we were scraping ice off the inside of the windshield during our commute for a week. He took it in and had it fixed (the boots were bad), after that you couldn't run the heater full open or it would blow you out of the car. When all the parts were in place and working right, the VW heaters worked very well...

    I looked at those aircraft 'heaters'. Pretty simple and actually not all that expensive. 12" of straight pipe and you have your heat exchanger....
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  30. badshifter
    Joined: Apr 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,322


    image.jpeg It's actually a great idea, and tens of thousands or more were sold and used, just like this on my model A. Works like the VW heater, except the radiator fan pushes the air through the heat exchanger.

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