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Old 12-05-2009, 11:00:06 AM   #1
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Kerosene torpedo heater problems

Working on an old, but very big kerosene "torpedo" construction site heater. It has worked very well in the past but recently would not fire up. Fuel pump, supply, and fan are all good, has to be the ignition transformer not firing. I can manually light with a propane torch and it will run, just very rich because of no electronic ignition. Well, the darn thing is so old I cannot find a model number or even a name. That said I took off the old heavy ignition transformer and it seems like a pretty simply thing to swap out. Except I cannot find the exact same type - that is, mine has 2 big spark plug type wires coming out the back that go to the igniters. They plug into the back of the transformer and the ends of the wires look exactly like the end of a regular spark plug. All the transformers I can find are the flip down type with coily spring connections. Anybody know where I can find a matching transformer with female snap-in connection on the back?
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:47:00 AM   #2
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You try Grainger yet ? They usually have off the wall crap like that.

I'd look REALLY hard for part #'s....otherwise you're SOL unless you find someone that knows more about them.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:51:19 PM   #3
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Are those igniters actually spark plugs? Or some type of electrode? Common for these to burn at the tip and get out of adjustment and not arc just right. Might take a look at them, on a furnace they would usually be about 1/8 inch apart. Clean any carbon off the electrical path too.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:41:44 AM   #4
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Thanks, the transformer is certainly shot, had it tested today. The igniters are not the spark plug type, and they look OK. Tried Grainger, got the pump there years ago. The transformer had some info on it, but not a part #. Got a heating and air friend who told me that these big torpedo heaters are very similar to an old fuel oil home heating furnace. Going to try matching it up at a hvac supply house.

Funny that you can light this thing manually with a torch and it will light and stay lit, and make heat, but the flame sound is not the same roar and it is so rich you have to adjust the flame rod all the way and it still makes your eyes water like Niagra Falls.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:54:38 AM   #5
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There may be too much air pressure for the flame front to move against the flow and back into the ignition chamber.

I wouldn't use it until you can be sure the kerosene is igniting properly.
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:07:08 AM   #6
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Might take a look at your kerosene bottle. Lent one of the torpedo heaters I got from lowes/home depot to a friends dad. they had the exact same problems you described, and we ended up figuring out fuel pressure/tank size was smaller than what was recommended. Note, this was after the heater "accidentally" caught fire while they were trying to get it to work....long, sort-of amusing story....
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Old 12-07-2009, 04:42:18 PM   #7
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No bottle, this is a BIG one with a 25 gallon kerosene tank on the bottom. Never been lent out and I've always fueled it so I know its good down there. Fuel and delivery is not an issue it is the auto ignition thingy for sure.
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