Your Wagonmaster heater may kill you - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-27-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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Your Wagonmaster heater may kill you

I was at a rally this past weekend. One of the items that came up for discussion was that Waggonmaster furnaces have been banned locally.

The concern is that the inner tube in the intake/exhaust can rust out. Although this could be an issue in terms of efficiency, would it cause a hazzard? If the outer tube is intact, the exhaust should still go outside. These furnaces are really very simple.

It goes without saying that if you are using any gas appliances, you should have a carbon monoxide detector.

Has anyone come across this "ban?". What's the full story here? What, specifically, are people worried about?

Derek
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:52 PM   #2
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I've never heard of that brand of furnace. Were they common in Bolers, or what?
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by glamourpets View Post

What's the full story here? What, specifically, are people worried about?

Derek

Its an carbon monoxide issue! due to their design and poor venting/air exchange to the outside.
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:06 PM   #4
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I'm guessing "Eggfest Ontario" held this past weekend in the vicinity of Derek!!
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:30 AM   #5
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It is my understanding, (I am no expert) that the Wagon Mater furnace was typically installed in Bolers. It can be recognized by its characteristic tall and narrow shape. About 8" wide, by about 2.5 feet tall.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glamourpets View Post
I was at a rally this past weekend. One of the items that came up for discussion was that Waggonmaster furnaces have been banned locally.

The concern is that the inner tube in the intake/exhaust can rust out. Although this could be an issue in terms of efficiency, would it cause a hazzard? If the outer tube is intact, the exhaust should still go outside. These furnaces are really very simple.

It goes without saying that if you are using any gas appliances, you should have a carbon monoxide detector.

Has anyone come across this "ban?". What's the full story here? What, specifically, are people worried about?

Derek
Cars with rusted exhausts and floor boards are equally dangerous, the key is proper maintenance, Why not fix the problem instead of banning the furnace? How do they "Ban" them locally anyway?(and who are they?)
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:53 AM   #7
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David your correct they can be found in older Bolers.

They are an old style permanently mounted gravity feed furnace which as the OP correctly states are no longer legally sold and no reputable repair shops will touch them. They dont have any auto shut off and very poor exterior air exchange. I may be wrong but I think the big issue (besides the age of most of them and the rusting out issues causing an even more dangerous situation) has a lot to do with only having a very small exterior air output port and no air intact from the outside and/or fan to generate the interior air exchange? Perhaps a bit like running a Buddy heater today in a trailer with no widows open?
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:03 AM   #8
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Cars with rusted exhausts and floor boards are equally dangerous, the key is proper maintenance, Why not fix the problem instead of banning the furnace? How do they "Ban" them locally anyway?(and who are they?)

The reason they were banned is there is no way of fixing the basic design issues. They ban them by just not allowing them to be sold. If you still have one you can carry on using it at your own risk but good luck getting a qualified party to fix it for you.

I suspect this is a situation were one could say ignorance was bliss. We know much more now about the longer term effects on humans of even low levels of carbon monoxide than we did at the time they were originally built.
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:05 PM   #9
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Wagon Master pipes

The inner pipe is just steel car exhaust pipe - simple to replace if necessary. Some Wagon Master furnaces have three concentric pipes, which contains the exhaust gases even more. I think they are quite simple and reliable, and easy to pull apart if you are concerned about the integrity of the inner pipe. Same for Hydro Flame and other brands.

As always, run a carbon monoxide detector.

John
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
It is my understanding, (I am no expert) that the Wagon Mater furnace was typically installed in Bolers. It can be recognized by its characteristic tall and narrow shape. About 8" wide, by about 2.5 feet tall.
You have identified this furnace correctly. Its a Suburban product sporting the Suburban logo on the front. A lot of the Bolers at Eggfest had these heaters, though I have no idea how many people were actually using them.

The way they ban these furnaces is through the licensed propane technicians. If you take your trailer to get propane related work done, the licensed technician can disconnect and/or disable the furnace. The same is true of your home furnace. If you try to get work done on an expired design, they will condemn the furnace.

For what its worth, I did buy parts from Trillium in Alberta a few years ago. He was able to diagnose the problem on the phone and ship out the needed parts. If you want to rescue an old unit, its worth a phone call. The rules might have changed since, or the rules in Alberta may be different. I don't know. He did comment that most dealers would rather sell a new unit than fix an old one.

If the inner tube were to rot out, wouldn't the exhaust gasses continue to go outside? You should be still protected by the inner tube, or do I have this wrong?
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:25 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=If the inner tube were to rot out, wouldn't the exhaust gasses continue to go outside? You should be still protected by the inner tube, or do I have this wrong?[/QUOTE]

I think you have it right - if the inner (exhaust) tube leaks, it leaks right into the outer (fresh air intake) tube, and just gets run through the furnace again, not to the camper interior. More of a problem is a cracked/leaking heater box (for want of a better term), but modern furnaces do that too, when their heat exchanger cracks. I've seen it happen to home furnaces too. At least the old ones are easy to disassemble and inspect.

John
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:53 PM   #12
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It seems to me about two years ago (or maybe longer, I have sometimers disease) everyone that was a dedicated boondocker was really wanting one of these furnaces because they're gravity fed and require no power to heat the trailer. Is that right? Seems to me checking out a furnace, no matter WHAT brand is a maintenance issue and if things are going bad, they need to be fixed or replaced. So, I don't know why this furance would be any worse than any other. YMMV
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:16 PM   #13
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Its worse than the others as I understand it the old Wagon Master had/has very small air exchange which doesnt work well, (lack of a fan doesnt help on that front) resulting in fairly high levels of bad stuff staying in the trailer...much higher than other types/brands of propane RV furnaces commonly in use today, thus the reason it was banned from being sold and Suburban stopped offering the same design in their line up of RV furnaces.

IMHO you really are taking your chances continuing to use something the manufacture and those in the industry have acknowledged as being to dangerous to use.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
It seems to me about two years ago (or maybe longer, I have sometimers disease) everyone that was a dedicated boondocker was really wanting one of these furnaces because they're gravity fed and require no power to heat the trailer. Is that right? Seems to me checking out a furnace, no matter WHAT brand is a maintenance issue and if things are going bad, they need to be fixed or replaced. So, I don't know why this furance would be any worse than any other. YMMV
This is what I'm trying to figure out -- what's WRONG with these furnaces. From what I am seeing, these are simple and electronics free. There is no circit board to burn out or fan to empty your battery. If the furnace is in good shape, the exhaust goes outside. The only concern is rust-out which leads to the heater exhausting carbon monoxide into the trailer. The solution is regular inspection and a carbon monoxide detector. Thoughts?

As for suburban nolonger offering these units, this may have more to do with profit margins. Suburban is offering to the general RV market, and the 13' boondocker trailer folks represent a very small number of buyers. I suspect that these heaters could be remodeled to improve intake/exhaust airflow if there was the demand for it.

Derek
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