About Me

Wellington, CO
I'm a regular guy that has a weakness for collecting cars. It's not my fault that they follow me home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Let there be heat!

...And there was heat, and it was good!

So I haven't made a blog entry in 3 months, but I haven't been totally without progress. Of course none of it was on the 55, but progress is progress. After the normal holiday slowdown, it got really cold here so I didn't feel the urge to work out in the shop. I replaced my woodstove in the house with a pellet stove so I was going to replace my barrel stove with that woodstove. Along the way, I came across a family that needed a woodstove to heat their house. So I donated it to them figuring they needed it more than I do. After this I began to look for an alternative heat source. I stumbled on to the garage junkies forum and it seems like a lot of the guys on there were installing propane shop heaters, so I checked them out online. I found a 75,000 BTU propane shop heater a Mr. Heater Big Maxx:

Got one on sale at Northern Tool for $399 and $53 S/H which isn't bad considering it weighs about 90 lbs. However, when it arrived it looked like it had been to Beirut and back. Note to self: Do not ship anything you care about via UPS. The case was mooshed and in pretty sad shape. However all the dents pounded out fairly easily.

Well, I guess you need a propane tank to run a propane heater so I gave the folks at Cenex a call. They delivered a full 120 gallon propane tank and set it up right outside the shop:

I called an HVAC contractor to come out and put it in since I was pretty busy with work. 1st call never returned, 2nd call finally came out to look (6 hours late, I stayed up after a night shift and waited) :( Said he was heading out back to the shop and would call me with a total. Well, I'm still waiting. Finally I said screw this and decided to try it myself. How hard could it be, right? The hardest part was getting this 90 pound behemoth up in the air by myself. I bought a couple 2x4's at the Home Depot and cut one and drilled a hole for an eyebolt in it. Hooked up my comealong and a looped a couple of ratcheting straps around the heater. Got everything up into position and made a couple support rods from 5/16" allthread and hung the heater from them:

Borrowed a pipe threader from work and ran my own gas line from the tank to the heater. Gave all the joints a soap bubble test.....no leaks! Used a flexible gas line to go between the heater and my awesome piping job.

Next step was wiring, this was pretty straight forward. White to white, black to black ,etc. Strung 50 feet of wire to the other side of the shop so I could mount the thermostar right inside the door. OK, now we've got fuel and power! I suppose if I don't want to drop dead I should probably vent this thing to the outside. I needed a wall thimble to run my 4" vent line out of the building and the local hardware stores were a washout. One phone call to Chehalis Sheet Metal and they had one for me in a day. Always a little scary when you cut a 7 inch hole in the side of your shop, but it all worked out:

Here's other views of the finished product:

Fired it up for the 1st time, no explosions, fireworks or carbon monoxide poisioning so I must have done it right! And saved a couple hundred bucks to boot, which is never a bad thing.

Does it work? Oh yeah, it works! I took this photo when it was 36F outside:

I shut it off when it hit 68 in there and put it in auto at 65. Worked like a charm! Should make shop time much more enjoyable. Hit a couple swap meets the last couple weekends. Not a whole lot of good stuff, but I've got enough spare parts and projects to keep me in business.

The next shop improvement project will be upgrading the lighting. The el cheapo flourescents are going bye-bye soon to be replaced by 8 ft fixtures using 4 ft T-8 bulbs which should be a noticeable improvement. I'll get pics of that too. Until next time...

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