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Aircraft Heat; What Works, What Doesn't

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  • Aircraft Heat; What Works, What Doesn't

    I plan on setting the C-170 up w/ electric heaters for in town pre-heat. I've got a Honda 2000 generator, but when I'm parked out front I'll have power close to the plane.
    What do you guys use for "in town" electric heaters?
    What do you use for areas that you do NOT have power?
    What have you used that just did not work, and what were the reasons that system failed?
    Have you developed any new and cool ideas that you want to share?
    Are you a "fan" of under the cowling catalytic heaters? Why or why not?
    Where did you buy your "components" to build your own? Do you have photos?
    Likely there are charts someplace for ambient temps, vs. heat temp, vs. time to bring an engine up to an acceptable temp to avoid damage. Does anybody have one handy that they can copy and paste?
    Again, you guys have done this, been there, and I really do appreciate your insights. I find that there is all sorts of gear available today that I did not have access to 25 years ago.

    Along with the topic of heat, how did you develop or install winter fronts on your aircraft? The 170 is very open up front. No doubt that especially the front cylinders will run cold, especially at low temps. How did you solve that problem on your aircraft? I've noticed that my cowling is different than the original when the plane had a 0-300. I've been looking at other 170B w/ conversions, but have yet to really see what I think I'm looking for. Do you know anybody in the FAI area that I might be able to talk to? And of course, any photos you have, Cessna or other, would be cool.

    What am I missing?
    ARR

  • #2
    Check your PMs. I've sent a message . . . . .

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    • #3
      I prefer oil sump heaters, preferably a pair of 250W Wolverine heaters. The nice thing about the oil sump heaters is they are very safe. Installing them properly is best done when the engine is not on the airplane. Since my current plane has not had the engine off since I bought it, I don't have sump heaters. At present my solution is to use a 250W space heater in the pilot side air inlet, a battery blanket heater stretched along the copilot side inside the cowling, and an incandescent work lamp hanging from the engine mount. I am very cautious about how I set them up to keep from having cords that anybody could decide to try to walk over. Not a big fan of the current situation. Going to install heaters hopefully soon. And I use a 1000W Honda generator in the field.

      I use an oil cooler cover in the winter. Haven't done anything else.
      14 Days to Alaska
      Also available on Kindle and Nook

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      • #4
        Tanis electric heater and an engine blanket works pretty good.

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        • #5
          Engine blanket...I guess I assumed that...certainly would be a waste to try to preheat without it...
          14 Days to Alaska
          Also available on Kindle and Nook

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          • #6
            For in-town I use my Red Dragon heater with a small propane bottle and 12 volt jumper cables. And of course my insulated engine cover.

            I have hauled the Red Dragon, engine cover and my 12 volt jumper system battery out in the boondocks a few times in larger planes.

            I also have a metal 5 gallon paint pail with vent holes and a flexi pipe. Inside that I place a Coleman camp stove. It drafts right up the stack and will eventually pre-heat an engine or hold heat into a ward engine. I have also used it as a large tent heater. In-flight i store items in the 5 gallon can.
            Float-CFI, Photo Guide, Fishing Guide, Remote Kayaking
            Guest Cabin, Flight Reviews, Aerial Tours

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            • #7
              I've used sump pad heaters and a Little Buddy and they work, but a Reiff Turbo XP system heats better and faster. I run mine on a 1000w generator. Away from town I can carry the generator when I can and have a home made Northern Companion knock-off for when the gennie isn't practical. You can but a Northern Companion or here's a recipe to build your own, plus a simple idea for using a camp stove with just a few bucks in parts from the heating aisle at the home improvement store. The Northern Companion uses an MSR XGK stove for a reason. They put out a crapload of heat and they're tough as nails. Use what you have but for the ammo can you'll need a remote tank stove like the MSR. Any combustion heater requires that you stay to attend to the flame. Electric heaters don't need your attention. BIG advantage to electric if you can manage it.

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              • #8
                Here's a couple more of the ammo can. I carry the stove, spare fuel, and two scat hoses in the can. This is a shameless copy of the Northern Companion except theirs uses one larger diameter hose that's hard to fit into the cowl. Mine uses two 3" hoses that are easy to stick into a Cub or a Cessna cowl. If you use a stove type heater it's imperative that you open the cowl cover a little in the front to let the warm air flow through.
                Attached Files

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                • #9
                  Here's the Little Buddy heater. I used one for years. It was mounted to the engine mount with adel clamps. It's a 900w heater element w/ fan and no tip over switch. Along with a 50w pad heater on the sump a 1000w generator could power it but the Reiff alternative works way better, faster, and with less power. http://www.amazon.com/Zerostart-260-.../dp/B000NM73ZA

                  The #1 lesson in airplane pre-heating.... it takes time. You want the oil warm enough to circulate and the cylinders comfortably warm. At least above 32*, which is the magic number most guys use for heating. Give the heater time to heat the oil, cylinders and the crank to your target temp. It takes time.

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                  • #10
                    Great input folks, thx.
                    I've preheated before, but let's just guess somebody new might be looking in on us. Experience tells us that long and low heat work best, not short and hot. The goal is to get the oil warm and insides of the engine, not the outside, right? There are no shortcuts to getting enough of the right heat on an engine. I'm still looking for that excel spreadsheet that shows time vs temps.
                    Years back I used a "master" heater w/ steel ducting, an old sleeping bag, and a tarp big enough to tarp the engine and prop. I'd throw the bag over the prop too, so the constant speed hub got warmed up too. I spent a lot of time huddled under that mess. I also used an interior car heater mounted to the engine mounts. I liked that as I could plug it in late in the evening and the oil would be liquid the next morning by the time I had done everything else to get ready.
                    Right now I have a MSR XGK that I never use. Also have the Coleman single burner stove and about 50 ammo boxes. That's plenty for making mistakes. I like the idea of light weight and self contained for both ideas. The MSR gives me a multi fuel advantage which is nice. As I recall though the small tank will require more pumping than the Coleman. I've also been looking at miniature catalytic flameless heaters. They seem like a good idea, not sure I can find a good place to put one under my cowling.
                    For the guys using open flame stoves, did you install a spark arrestor in the tube?
                    Thanks for the photos, those really help. Keep the ideas coming, you guys rock!
                    ARR

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                    • #11
                      In the old days I had a coleman single burner for preheating the cub. In the cold and in the wind this was a pain at best. Now have a tannis system on the cessna 185. After calling the factory rep they like to see 100 cylinder temp before starting. With an engine blanket this is about 3 hrs or so. Also have a glue on oil pad heater. Good easy starts.

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                      • #12
                        I park our plane for the winter and go to our Nut farm on the Big Island. Works very nicely!

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                        • #13
                          For my 170 I copied Mr Pids ammo can a few years ago. Works good and is portable to leave at the cabin. I have since installed a Reiff Turbo and am very pleased with it. Mine runs off my honda 2000 and I put a small indoor type space heater on the floor inside. Like everyone else says, give the heat some time to work into the crank and the cold spots inside the engine.
                          You must have the 0-360 conversion?

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                          • #14
                            I've got the 0-320 160hp w/ constant speed. I put heat on the plane today in hopes of flying. Small electric heater under the cowling and a heat lamp under the panel. Left it running for a few hours and when I got back the oil was flowing nicely. Alas, the wx turned sour w/ snow/mist. Just not worth going up and building ice.
                            Does anybody have the old style XGK w/ the metal pump? Those worked in the cold better than the plastic ones they have now. I keep my eyes open for the old style, but never seem to find one.
                            ARR

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                            • #15
                              I use Reiff, works really well. I used to use a little electric car heater in the old days, but never felt comfortable doing that. Happy I went with Reiff.

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