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HVAC, Air Conditioners, Aqua Hot, Primus, Webasto, Chassis Heaters, Furnaces and Water Heaters Questions and information about the wide variety of Heating and Air Conditioning as well as Water Heater systems available are discussed here.

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  #1  
Old 03-07-2013
lindsayway lindsayway is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: St. Augustine, FL
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Default Primus Primer

Greetings,

Resent aquisition in this 1993 WLWB. Many things sorted out, much more to go. I am at present, busying myself with the Primus heating system matrix.

There is a lot of good info found on this site but have had no luck in the simple stuff. I replaced the heating element in the electric water heater and to do this, the box had to come out of the coach which meant that the water and the antifreeze lines had to be disconnected.


To my question, I am sure that air has been introduced into the primus circuit and I wish to purge air out before running the boilers (which I have gotten to fire up). Question, I can not see how the primus fluid is tied into the expansion tank for the engine coolant circuit, is the fluid circuit for the primus just what is in the lines PLUS the small expansion tanks mouted up high in the rear of the engine compartment?

After I fired up the forward boiler, there seemed to be a large heat build up on the fluid lines at the bulkhead near the boiler and I could hear gurgling there as well.

Question: Do I simply add water, antifreeze or a mixture into the expansion tank and start opening up the vent valves and waiting for fluid to come out?

The fluid is clear,bright green and viscous but as stated earlier, might have trapped air. Also, what is the direction for the fluid, in the bottom of the boiler and out the top?


Also, Is it ok to jumper the heat sensors in the fluid path at the rear of each boiler? I found one of the switches had the spade clips removed and a automotive fuse plugged into the two wires effectively short circuiting the switch with a fuseable link?

Some one in this blog mentioned the short circuiting these switches?,


I prefer not to do this without a "second- motion".

Also, by what means is the fluid pumped through the circuit?


Is the pump turned on whenever the boilers are on?


When running the rear boiler, (bedroom station controlled) I cannot hear anything but the furnace running.

When I run the forward boiler, (cockpit station controlled) I hear some additional noise which sounds like a pump.

I will admit, I have more studying to do on the control aspect so i expect that "knobology" may cause some confusion as I set about learning this sytem.

Any help appreciated, will post many pictures of the many phases of repair for this wonderful black hole. Not complaining, actually, I am out of sorts unless I can be working on some problem at all times. That is why I will enjoy this adventure.

Bob.
1993 WLWB
178K Miles
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St. Augustine, Florida
1993 MVP
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2013
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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WOW!!
So many good questions!
We need to break this down into smaller segments.
I'll see if i can do that.

OK,we have your questions broken down so its easier to read and to reply.
The primus guys will be along shortly,to explain it all.
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2000 LXI 43
Bainbridge,Ga.
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  #3  
Old 03-07-2013
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The switch that is bypass is a add on Wanderlodge Snap Disk to the Primus system. It is not needed as the Primus has it's own. Leave it bypassed. Mine are bypassed and works fine.

When you turn on either boiler you should hear a pump running. Some systems have a pump for each boiler and other systems have only one pump. If you have one pump the boilers are tied together.

The fluid in my Primus system normal automotive antifreeze is used. Just the Tanks and lines for the primus is used for heating unless you have a heat exchanger. Even with the heat exchanger the fluid is not tied directly together with the engine.
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  #4  
Old 03-07-2013
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I could hear the pumps turn on a few seconds before the burner fired on my 93.
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1993 WB40
1997 WB43
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  #5  
Old 03-07-2013
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jimbonich jimbonich is offline
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The pumps are electromagnetic and draw very little battery power, which is why is why they are so expensive (around $175 if I remember correctly).

Look in you BB manual/notebook and there is a section about how to purge air from the lines. Basically you jack up the rear end of the coach and turn on the single lightning bolt in most coaches that do not have the supplemental electiric heating element, but if you coach has that option then you can also jumper the two sides of the bosch relay that turns on the pump (follow the wires from the pumps and you will find the two relays mounted on a bulkhead nearby. The pumps are so quiet (at least when new) that I have to place my hand on them to see if mine are running.

Run the pumps for a couple of hours with the rear end jacked up as far as possible to purge the air bubbles. Rick May advised me to reroute the lines to the overflow tank UNDER the air cleaner because the high point should be at the overflow tank and as installed by BB the high point was right above the air cleaner--making it harder for the air bubbles to escape. Run the pumps until you don't have to add any more antifreeze (standard automotive 50/50 mix).

The pumps should come on whenever the thermostat is not satisfied, but the boilers will shut off when the system starts to "boil" antifreeze back up in the lines to the expansion/overflow tanks and the snap disc thermostat on the side of the boiler breaks the circuit. These thermostats can go bad also and can be usually be ordered from Dupree products or obtained through a local appliance repair outlet as they are used in maytag (and other?) dryers. If you replace them make sure you use ones set to "snap" at the same temperature. They are usually color coded with a dot of fingernail polish to show what they are calibrated at, and you can find the correct temp by digging through Primus manuals that can be found elsewhere on this site or online.

A primus system that has been neglected for awhile takes some time to get back into shape. It's not a great design with the control heads being exposed to the elements in the engine compartment, but once you have it working correctly they are very efficient and keep my coach warm down into the single digits. I do recommend raising the base plate on which they sit and installing ball valves on the input and output side of each boiler--this makes repair/replacing and troubleshooting them a LOT easier.

Feel free to email me at jim.nichols.s121@gmail.com and I can give you more advice and I can probably locate some pics of how I refurbished my system.
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  #6  
Old 03-07-2013
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Found some pics. Here are the boilers before refurbishing:


And after....


You should keep a spare gas shutoff solenoid on hand as these tend to fail. The main weak point is in the small wire leads so I soldered heavier wire and stronger disconnects onto them and then potted them with JB weld:


Here are the two refurbished/repainted boilers. You can see the gate valves above the boilers but there are others behind each boiler on the input side of the plumbing also. This improvement, in addition to raising the boilers up above the lip of the body panel in front of them, makes it easy to remove the boilers for repair, plumbing fixes, etc. NOTE: Do NOT use the plastic ball valves in the picture--they deformed under the intense heat and had to be replaced with brass valves.


The gate valve in the upper right (use brass here also) replaced the manual summer/winter valve that allows you to only use that boiler to heat water when dry camping in warmer weather. The valve right below it is normally operated electrically by a Summer/Winter switch on the left wall of the compartment just above the driver's head. Mine was defective so I removed it and just use the manual valve instead. This is a very handy feature as you can use the Primus boiler controlled from the front of the coach to just heat water without having to run your generator or heat the entire coach in warm weather. It takes about 45-60 minutes to reheat a tank of water with either the electric element or the Primus--using both you can have a fresh tank of hot water in 30 minutes which is nice in some circumstances.

If your coach has the original plastic expansion tanks they will probably fail soon. I installed new metal tanks from Dupree Products as the plastic ones crack with age. Once you have your Primus up and running and get any leaks in the coolant lines fixed (these are usually in the hoses/fitings in the engine compartment) they are pretty much hassle free and a very good and even heating system. I use my electric toe-kick heaters when parked at campgrounds, but the Primus system does a great job when called upon.
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  #7  
Old 03-07-2013
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jimbonich jimbonich is offline
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Robert-

One thing I should have clarified when I said to "jack up" up the rear of your coach to get the air bubbles out of the Primus lines--I meant to use the onboard hydraulic jacks to raise the rear off as much as possible WITHOUT raising the rear wheels off the ground as the parking brake is attached to the drive wheels and the coach can slide off of the jacks with unexpected and disasterous results.

Likewise you shouldn't ever get under the coach when it is raised by either the airbags or the hydraulic jacks. A failure or leak in either system can cause the coach to settle and crush you underneath so please be aware of this and look at other threads on this site about raising the coach, blocking it with adequate jack stands, etc.

It is possible to raise the rear enough to assist in purging the air bubbles with the onboard jacks but do not get under it even for a moment unless it is properly supported by other safe methods. And you don't need to get underneath to just purge the air bubbles.

Sorry I did not include this precaution earlier but I should have. Another solution is to simply park the coach where the front end is on the downward side of a moderate slope and this will accomplish the same thing without the use of jacks, jack stands, etc.
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  #8  
Old 03-07-2013
lindsayway lindsayway is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: St. Augustine, FL
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Default Primus Primer

Many thanks to the thoughtful response from Randy, Rick, Jim and exxis. I was sidetracked for the day chasing another problem on the coach but will get back to the Primus directly. I understand from Rick that the switch mounted in the fluid path can be short circuited without detrement to safe operation and that there is a redundancy "snap" swith mounted directly to the burner wall that would turn system off. The wires that I intend to connect together (thereby bypassing the switch) are 22 awg orange wires. I did manage to test the pumps for operation now that I understand that pressing the single lightning bolt alone will turn on the pumps. The rear boiler pump will turn on and stay on with the aforementioned button depressed at the rear control station, but when interfering with the forward control station, the forward boiler pump will not stay on in the same manner. In fact, the pump will only run for 5-8 seconds then shut off unless I also depress the button with the hose bib (faucet) icon. I get the same indication with the winter/summer switch in either position. Is this normal operation? I am not sure how to describe the options, and do not thoroughly understand the option identifiers, but I do know that the electric hot water tank has a secondary jacket for antifreeze. I assume this is so I can heat the hot water with the engine coolant water? Pre-Heat the engine with the electric water heater? Heat domestic water with the Primus? Rick mentions that the Primus fluid heat transfer fluid is autonomous from the antifreeze coolant fluid for the Drive engine which makes sense. Still trying to get the "big picture" but thanks again for your responses all!!!

Bob.
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  #9  
Old 11-05-2015
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Juergen Juergen is offline
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To all Primus experts on WOG
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  #10  
Old 12-08-2016
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White Hat Guy White Hat Guy is offline
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OK you primus experts out in Wanderlodge land, I have a gnawing question for you.

This last spring after the one of the plastic Primus reservoirs burst and sprayed antifreeze in my engine compartment I ordered a couple of the steel reservoirs Mr. Birtles sells. Glenn Rodgers at Coach installed the reservoirs for me and determined in the process I needed a new pump which he installed.

Now with wintertime upon us, I cranked up my trusty rebuilt primus. New problem has popped up. after about a hour or so of running, set on about 1/2 power, antifreeze has started blowing out of the vent in the cap on the curbside reservoir. That reservoir is the only one doing this.
Anybody want to opine concerning this new problem? I don't like cleaning up the ejected antifreeze in my engine compartment. And before I head back down to Glenn and CoachCraft, I would kinda like to know what the issue is. Getting too hot? Putting in too much antifreeze? Help.
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