Now there are two ways of getting fuel to your Webasto Airtop Heater and you really need to work this out before doing anything. Webasto have a very nifty system for getting fuel out of an existing diesel tank and it is just one of many options suggested. You simply drill a hole in the top of the tank and drop in a pick up tube, which is then simply sealed using a unique clamping system - very similar to the method used by RV Electronics on their excellent water tank gauges. Initially this worried us a lot, as a friend almost blew his head off doing a similar task - drilling holes in petrol fuel tanks. So we asked around! Colin McLean of Paradise Motorhomes has done several installations and he always takes the tank right out, and in that way he can easily remove any swarf with compressed air etc. A method we used on Keith and Laurie Symth's Coaster was to tap into the drain point on their second tank. Webasto supply a plastic tee for breaking into a fuel line, however you do need advice on this if you have a high tech motor as found in Mercedes/Iveco/Fiat etc. On other brands make certain that you are tapping into the line BEFORE the vehicle's fuel pump, otherwise your heater may only work with the vehicle's motor running, as many units have a submersible pump inside the tank!
We elected to go down the separate tank path. The piccies below show the location we used, however we suggest you don't rush in, but give this lots of thought if your RV is not similar to ours. We found it best to drill the fuel filler hole early in the piece. We did this BEFORE ordering the tank, so that we could get the entry angle spot on - makes filling so much easier. It's best not to silicone the fitting in at this stage, however you can drill the holes for the stainless steel CS screws. These don't come with the fitting by the way. Make sure that you place a piece of timber behind the hole if you elect to use a hole saw. As this is fairly large (and expensive!) it would probably be a "borrow" job! We got our "hole" absolutely spot on by using one of those circular drum sanders in an electric drill - ours came from Timbecon in Perth WA. This eliminates any chance of chipping the fibreglass. We have used this method several times and it really works well - Gary Dryden of Dryden Trailers was really impressed, as he kindly loaned us his holesaw! If you can't get hold of a holesaw simply draw a circle and drill a series of 1/4" holes. Remember that you can't actually see the finished hole, so you don't really need a perfect finish. Just a note on drilling large holes into the side of an RV. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES drill through any metal part of the frame, as this could have disastrous results on the overall integrity of your RV. Always triple check where you are drilling. Metal detecting devices are notoriously inaccurate on motorhomes - some are great on steel, but absolutely hopeless on aluminium. A really good method is to photograph your rig on a freezing cold day very early in the morning. The "cold transference" will be clearly visible. Even though we have three different detecting devices, in this particular case we drilled a series if 1/16" holes from inside the motorhome as we knew that Winnebago have very sensibly used a lot of metal at the rear of our unit. Winnebago are also very helpful in this area. If you ring Sahda and quote your Serial Number, he will get back to you on any problems you may have with the area in which you wish to drill as they keep records of every unit built. A VERY helpful guy!
|We like to comply with all vehicle safety standards, and for that same reason at present we don't carry spare fuel. Jerry cans bolted on the back are a giant no, no, regulation wise - you wouldn't think so though if you walk around a rally site. So we have solved two problems in one go by installing an alluminium 23 litre diesel tank, built into the confines of the vehicle, with external filling. Ours was made up by Jason Small at J & T Marine Welding - Jacobs Well Qld and cost a very reasonable $115.00 - absolutely recommended and a truly first class job from an expert craftsman! Phone (07) 3807 7846 - Mobile 0411 602 989 and snail mail PO Box 992, Beenleigh, 4207. We used the Fiamma black filler as used on many commercial tanks - $24.90 from Coast to Coast RV as per the photo above right. These fillers have an inbuilt breather, so blowback when filling, is only a minor problem. A tiny thing to watch with this set up though, is they sometimes fail if too much force is applied to the base. The trick is to always insert the nozzle gently. After 4 months use we have concluded that the Fiamma was not the most perfect choice as filling is very iffy when forced to use high flow diesel filling pumps - found in many country areas. Watch for work-a-rounds on these pages if we eventually get frustrated enough and do something about it! The photos show the ideal location for us, but you may have problems due to model variations. We suggest that you try to stay away from the front of the vehicle, as this is an area in most Winnebagos (applies to most RVs) where you do not want to increase front axle loading - particularly all bed over cab models. Our Mercedes is very very borderline in this area for instance. With Iveco you can adjust the front torsion bars in under a minute, nevertheless you still must not exceed the manufacturer's maximum loading recommendation. There are also insurance considerations.|
For those using a separate diesel tank this is what we did. The
opposite locker had a similar void to the drivers side, so we used this area for
the diesel tank. Once again we had to make an entry into the void and also move
the tail light supply lines. We used the "void" to allow the filler
pipe to enter the tank at a 45 degree angle. We also used a 10 mm spigot to act
as a breather. The connecting pipe MUST BE FUEL GRADE. This is easy
to pick in clear plastic as it has a red fleck through it - easiest to buy at
marine suppliers such as Whitworths Marine. We used Nylex drum pump
hose (25 mm) only because we had some in stock. It worked fine and you can get
it at Bunnings for around $6.00 a metre. They will sell you half a metre if you
grovel a bit! We used a Fiamma filler as noted at the start of this
article. If anyone comes across anything better and not toooo expensive please
email us the info so we can post it here.
The gadget shown below left, is called a 90 degree drill attachment and is made by Supertool. You find these in Bunnings for under $30.00 and it is an excellent addition to any tool kit even though it is of fairly light construction. This gadget lets you easily drill holes in places with very little headroom at 90 degrees to the drill itself. Honestly, we would have been there for hours if we didn't use this device. Makita make a special drill that does the same job, but it comes in way beyond our budget, at a very hefty $395.00! In our case it let us drill from the top, rather than having to lay on the ground, with hot metal shavings going all over the place. You do get softer in your old age! The floor in most Winnies is 1 5/8" thick. This is made up of lino, plywood, styrene foam and galvanised iron. It is fairly easy to drill through with a hole saw. You do need to clear it often, but it is an easy job using just a battery powered drill.
Having decided on tank placement or fuel delivery method,
the next step is to locate the heater in a safe place. The Webasto literature
suggests that you can install the thing anywhere. We totally disagree with
this, as motorhomes have special safety problems that must be addressed.
For instance it's no good putting the heater on the floor of a bin if items can
fall on it, or move whilst on rough roads, otherwise you run the very real risk
of blocking the air intake. Now the Webasto has a plethora of fail safe systems,
BUT you never know if one of these could itself fail, so in our
view the best bet is to allow for failures, by never allowing the air intake to
be obstructed in any way. It makes plain common sense to us. Similarly, the outside
of the heater itself gets quite hot on the discharge end - around 55/70 degrees,
so once again you have to think about any effect this could have on goods stored
adjacent to it. In our Leisure Seeker we found the absolutely almost
perfect spot right at the rear. The 2002/2004 models all have a false/double floor
and we used this to our advantage. We simply cut an access hole through the 3
mm plywood into this area as shown in the photo above left. This spot has an enormous
hidden advantage. As the "void" goes right across to the other side,
it is just about impossible for air to ever be cut off completely, due to the
number of access points. It was a shame we had to use this spot though, as it
could have made the most perfect sullage hose storage area, simply by inserting
a large waste pipe with screwed ends.
Next you need to make the "rectangular hole" through
the motorhome floor. In our case this was a bit of a nightmare due to the lack
of room to use a jigsaw, as the void is not very high. However, given enough time
you can do anything using hand tools and lots of elbow grease and by drilling
a zillion holes from underneath. Our rectangular hole ended up 250 mm by 125 mm.
This was the maximum width we could get due to the metal frame in the floor -
never cut this! To protect the foam from radiated heat from the exhaust, we used
small pieces of light gauge angle pop riveted onto the 1 5/8" thick floor.
It is very easy to bend just by clamping or using your vyce. You do not need to
mitre the corners, as you just don't see the finished installation, unless you
lie on the ground. We deliberately didn't mitre the corners so as not to frighten
others off! Self tapers are quite OK if you don't have a pop rivet gun. We feel
it would not be a wise move to use "Liquid Nails" etc. as these adhesives
could eventually fail due to the radiated heat. Gary Dryden came up with an excellent
idea AFTER he saw the completed job. He suggested mounting the complete
unit in a flanged metal box with one long side missing. This would have the effect
of having the unit below floor level and thereby dissipate any heat build up.
This would not have worked in our case due to lack of room, but the idea appealed
to us as it would be a doodle to fit.
The photos below are of an installation not done by us we stumbled across at a CMCA rally. We used it as an example for our own job due to the lack of Webasto motorhome specific info available (absolutely zero on the web as well but heaps on marine use?). We found that the hole needed to be lined or the exhaust covered in heat resisting lagging (asbestos type tape). Rather oddly, in this example the exhaust was clamped to the fibreglass side panel - very worrying as apart from the fire hazard this could well lead to delamination problems later on. We also didn't like the way the fuel supply line was routed and clamped, particularly as there were no precautions taken where the fuel line actually went past the sharp metal edges. The heater was also mounted directly onto the bin floor which meant it could easily be smothered if the cargo should move around.
So next we connect up all the hoses/pipes and make sure that the rubber gasket supplied is fitted. The supply line to the electric pump is folded up inside the air intake. Remove this now and connect up the plug you will find temporarily attached to the pump line. Assembling this plug can be an intelligence test, as the connections need to be trimmed before starting. The photo below shows the before and after shots - we are curious as to why Webasto use these fittings. Don't forget to put on the little rubber stoppers before finally crimping the cable on - look at the pump end of the cable to see how these work. You simply push the pins into the housing until you hear a "click". They either go in first pop or you have to "fiddle" using long nosed pliers. If you find this all too hard, just eliminate this section and use a connecting terminal block from Dick Smith etc. or if you have them use crimping pliers and push to connect terminals. In our view crimping pliers are an essential tool for any motorhomer. The photo below left shows the heater ready for siliconing to the floor. Note that the rubber fuel pipe has been attached as it can be difficult to do this later.
We used silicone on the base plate to seal it to the floor. Be
very generous with this, as the last thing you want here is for exhaust gases
to be leaking back into your motorhome. Please remember that carbon monoxide
is a deadly silent killer, as it is invisible and totally odourless. Inserting
the screws along the back was very fiddly due to the lack of room/visibility,
and also the tail lights getting in the way. We used a magnetic screwdriver and
a mirror on a stick (all Winnebago owners should get one of these!). Another neat
trick is to use Loctite on the tip of the screwdriver. Set it hard
by using a little heat then quenching in water.
The Webasto pump needs to be mounted as low down in the vehicle as possible, and preferably at a 15 degree angle. We used an area right at the rear of the vehicle near the spare wheel. Don't forget to use the rubber vibration mount supplied. We also fitted a small plate behind the pump to give it a bit more protection from flying stones/mud etc. Run the cable to the socket near the air intake. The diesel line goes straight to the Webasto. Try to keep this going uphill with no dips, otherwise you will give yourself lots of grief with air bleeding problems. Try to keep it as far away as possible from hot areas. The picture below shows the diesel line on the top, and the electric supply/control line on the bottom. Please note that the Webasto pump does not run continuously, so don't try running it to bleed the system of air, as it is a single pulse type, quite different to those used for fuel delivery. You wont have air bleeding problems if you stick closely to what we did. Make certain to push all connections right in to eliminate air gaps - the main cause of fuel line problems. This is all important stuff if you don't want to spend hours figuring out why the thing wont work!
For some odd reason, Webasto don't supply a fuel filter as standard. In our view you would be completely daft to install the unit without one, as it is just so easy to get "iffy" fuel in the back blocks of Oz. As we had no time to get one from Webasto, we used a Cooper at $3.99 from Autobarn Part Number DF 198/1. We attached it as close to the tank as possible using a 1/4 BSP brass barbed fitting. You can easily squeeze this into the small rubber hose supplied by Webasto. The other side of the filter goes to the inlet side of the pump. Sadly the instructions don't make this really clear, as the only clue is a tiny arrow marked on the pump body - very easy to miss. Stamping "inlet" and "outlet" on the body would be a good move. The outlet/discharge side is the end with the grey plastic gadget on it at 90 degrees to the pump body.
you need to hook up the main 12 volt supply voltage. Connect the dual loom up
to the top of the Webasto. Make absolutely certain that you seal the cover back
on until it clicks. We tapped into the cables going from the house batteries to
the Electrolux fridge (better than 15 amp circuit and usually on a 20 amp fuse).
The fridge and heater will NEVER be run at the same time in our
case (if you did though the fuse could blow on Webasto start up). If you intend
to use your Webasto for drying clothes etc. on the move, then please use a completely
separate circuit. There is a 2.5 mm pink and purple wire coming out of the Webasto
supply harness. Roger advises to just cut these off. There is NOTHING
in the manual about this!
We made up some safety grills to shield the tank entry and the Webasto itself. This of course will vary with the model. The diesel grill (white plastic) came straight off the shelf from Bunnings (photo on left) and fitted perfectly - so rare in DIY jobs! We used a piece of security gauze on the Webasto side, but anything will do - you could use strips of timber, or heavy chicken wire for instance.
The final step is to run the main air distribution hose into the motorhome. For some odd reason Webasto don't supply worm drive hose clips for this, so you will need to buy at least one 65mm job - $1.65 at Autobarn. All installations will be different and below is what we did. Remember that hot air rises, so it's best to keep it just above the floor. If you have pets please think about them when choosing a location. We attached the vent using metal thread screws. These weren't supplied in the kit but in our view should have been. The photo below right shows where we plonked ours! It is at the rear and points to the front and really warms your tootsies when sitting at the dinette! Our Border Collie "Rex" thinks it's a great spot!
so we are now at the moment of truth. Webasto rather sadly only give you half
a paragraph on starting up for the first time. Put some diesel in your tank and
turn the thermostat FULLY clockwise. The fan should run at low
speed. Leave everything for at least two minutes. If the fuel run is less
that 2 metres it should start. This is happening if you hear it speed up and roar
a bit like a quiet 747! Now if it doesn't start, turn it fully anticlockwise and
wait until the green light goes off (this resets the computer). Turn fully clockwise
again and keep repeating with a rest between each attempt, until you get blast
off! The main advice here is don't rush it, as it will eventually go! Try to avoid
testing on days over 35 degrees, as this can prevent the unit from starting due
to the built in fail safe devices.
NOTE: We strongly suggest that you seriously consider running an extra line to the bathroom. On freezing mornings we have found by "bitterly cold experience" that this is really a necessity particularly if you visit Tassie or Victoria in the winter months. All you need is a "Y" type tee piece and a little more tube and four worm drive clips. It is a good move to put "switchable" registers on the ends of the tubes as Trakka is now doing as standard on the Sandpiper etc. With these you can control the amount of heat going into each area or even isolate one area. This is great for using your bathroom as a drying cabinet. The installation shown below also shows the mounting plate we continually harp about!
The photo above shows the huge amount of gear "left over"! In discussions
with Roger at Webasto it was continually pointed out to us that it might be too
expensive for them to supply a motorhome specific kit. Sorry Webasto, we totally
disagree, as if you didn't need all the gear above it could easily be accommodated.
All we need is a base mounting plate, a 65 mm worm drive clip and a bit of light
angle for the hole. There is nothing in the manual about service life, but Terry
Child (CMCA Casino Village Director and Rally Safety Officer) told us
about a Danish couple who got 20 years out of theirs before a service - impressive
stuff. Yes it is an expensive piece of kit at up to $2000.00 depending on where
you buy, but as things stand, we feel it is the best heating option for the thousands
of motorhomers who would rather cut off a limb before buying a generator! We are
certainly enjoying ours to the full and look forward to lots of warm and cosy
WARNINGS:- Please read these instructions and everything supplied by Webasto very carefully before commencing work, as this article is NOT intended to be a substitute for the factory advice, Make certain that nothing is getting too hot and take immediate precautions if it does. Have a fire extinguisher handy during initial testing just in case. Make sure you have a "buddy" with you during testing in case of accident. To find out more on just how it works please read the excellent informative articles by CMCA technical Guru and author, Collyn Rivers.