How to light the furnace pilot light - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-18-2021, 04:13 PM   #1
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Name: Glenna
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 1
How to light the furnace pilot light

I feel like an idiot but I have a fear of blowing up my trailer if I do this wrong. I just bought a new-to-me Boler and want to see if the furnace works but am not sure how to light the pilot. Also wondering how I can tell if Iím getting gassed inside or not. Iíd really like to get a few more camping trips in this year but itís already dipping close to zero Celsius at night and I want to try using the heater. Any suggestions or anyone have access to a manual? Itís a 1974 Boler. Thanks for any help you can share.
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:49 PM   #2
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Name: You can't call me Al
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 390
If it's new-to-you nearly FIFTY year old camper and you have no idea how it was maintained, or how to operate the appliances, I would STRONGLY recommend you take it to a processional and have the entire propane system checked out BEFORE you turn anything on.

Getting full-body burns from a propane leak while lighting a furnace will be no fun at all.

Sorry to be a safety Sam. I'm not usually, but this time I think it's important.
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:26 AM   #3
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Trailer: 1981 Trillium 5500
Posts: 1,047
look for a model number and make of the furnace, that will help us figure out the steps, usually it is under the front cover somewhere, and the cover normally pops off, take a picture and post it, that will also help to identify the model
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:17 AM   #4
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Name: Marilyn
Trailer: 13 ft 2005 Scamp Deluxe; 2002 Subaru V6 Outback
Posts: 285
Lighting your furnace

Absolutely. take your trailer to an RV shop to examine and make any necessary repairs to your propane system before you attempt lighting the pilot light. They will also show you how to light it.

I had to have a new regulator installed on mine after I bought it.

You should have an LP gas detector and a carbon monoxide detector installed inside the trailer.

I keep a file of appliance manuals in my trailer for review at the beginning of each season if needed.
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:52 AM   #5
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Name: Wil
Trailer: 2010 Casita 17' SD
Posts: 107
"Safety Sam's" advice is good. But if you want to give it a try - These are general instructions for the "normal" old pilot light furnace so you'll have to use your judgement on just where the valve and pilot are. You may have to open a small door on the fire box to find the pilot.
1. Set the thermostat as low as it will go.
2. Get to the back of the furnace through on outside door. You may find lighting instruction on a label there. Follow them.
3. Otherwise on the gas pipe you'll probably find a valve with a knob on top with labels OFF, PILOT, and ON or some such.
4. Turn the valve to PILOT, hold a lighting device (match, propane lighter, etc.) near the pilot burner and press the valve down. The pilot should light.
5. Hold the valve down for several seconds - this allows a thermocouple in the pilot flame to warm up.
6. Continuing to hold the valve down turn it to ON. You should be able to let go of the valve and the pilot will stay lit.
7. If the pilot doesn't stay lit repeat steps 4 - 6 holding the valve down a little longer before turning it to ON.
8. If the pilot doesn't stay lit after several tries take "Safety Sam's" advice.
9. If the pilot lights successfully (close the pilot door if necessary) go back inside and turn up the thermostat to higher than indicated ambient temperature. The fan should come on for a few seconds followed by the main burner lighting.
10. If the main burner doesn't light or the pilot goes out, you've got some other problem. Take "Safety Sam's" advice.

Normal operation - When the thermostat tells the furnace to come the fan will run for a few seconds before the main flame lights. There is a "sail switch" that detects that the fan is running. If the fan doesn't come on or the sail switch doesn't work the main burner won't light. Safety feature to prevent furnace overheating. When the thermostat tells the furnace to turn off the main burner shuts off and the fan will run for some time to cool the heater box before shutting off.

Hope that helps
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:28 PM   #6
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Great instructions from Wil.
Ref step 9: "The fan should come on for a few seconds followed by the main burner lighting."
It may be a bit different with some furnaces. Here's how mine works: when the thermostat reaches its set point, the main burner will light right away, and the fan will only kick a couple minutes later in when the temperature in the air plenum is warm enough (a thermal switch controls the fan). There is no sail switch, but there's an overtemperature switch in case the regular thermal switch fails open or other issue and the fan never turns on. When the ambiant temperature is warm enough, the thermostat opens the circuit, the main burner shuts down, and the fan keeps running a few minutes until the plenum has cooled enough.
My heater is a Coleman ST-200 in a Trillium 5500. Starting procedure and pilot lightning is just like you described.
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Old 09-19-2021, 06:24 PM   #7
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Trailer: 1981 Trillium 5500
Posts: 1,047
Some of the furnaces were gravity type with no fan, in my trillium 1300 you lit the furnace from inside

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Old 09-20-2021, 07:28 PM   #8
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Name: Terry
Trailer: 1971 Hunter compact Jr, 1979 Terry 19', 2003 Scamp 16'
Posts: 175
Like Joe MacDonald's the furnace in my Compact Jr is gravity flow. The gas valve is behind the grill inside the trailer. The thermstats is part of the gas valve. Before attepmting to light it turn the valve to off for several minutes to allow any built up gas in the chamber to dissipate, then control to pilot and attempt to light the pilot while depressing the knob. It may take a while for gas to get to the pilot. If it lights keep the knob depressed for about 45 second and then release. If it stays lit turn the control knob to on and the heat control knob to high to see if the main burner lights and stays lit.
That should get a furnace in good working condition heating
Now to the bad. If the furnace has not been been used for a long time you may have wasp nest in the exhaust tubes or even in the heat exchanger. If the heater does seem to work perfectly don't use it. This type of blockage can cause the burner burn poorly CO and suit or shut down. I pulled the range and furnace out of my Compact Jr day before yesterday to service them. When I turned the furnace on it's back 2 wasp nests (one partly burnt) and a large mud dauber nest. If I reinstall I'll use insect screens.
It can be time consuming to remove the furnace if the vent pipes are stuck.
Remember to always have a CO alarm in your trailer. Especially with these old furnaces. If the heat exchanger crackes it can let exhaust gas into the living ares.
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