Engine Preheaters

Engine Preheaters

I am in search of an engine heater.  I like the Red Dragon concept of blowing hot air all over the engine, but they are pretty pricey once you get all the needed accesories.  I also don't like the idea of having a propane tank in my hangar should there be a fire.  I do have electricity and would like something like the Red Dragon but just runs off of electricity.  Sorta like a big hair dryer I guess.  Any ideas?

I also hear the pads that you attach to the oil pan take a long time and they only heat the oil pan, not the rest of the engine.  I live in NC, so preheat would be for weather in the 20's and 30's.

Thanks in advance,
Tom Imbus

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Tom,

I live in cental NC (based at EXX) and experience about the same climate as you do.  Here is what I and a few others have done.  I purchased a space heater from Lowe's (Home Depot, or Wally World will have them as well). On mine, you can set the thermostat and can control the temperature. 

I then purchased some a/c duct pieces. I mounted a T-shaped piece to the heater. Then attached a clothes dryer vent to each side of the T.  I place these in the opening on either side of the cowling on my 172.  The dryer duct vent will fit nicely in place. 

I try and leave the unit plugged in at all times during the cold times.  The engine is nice and warm, not hot, but warm enough to where I can crank it on the coldest of days and not feel as if I am damaging the engine. Someone currently has a  heater on ebay.  I have about $60 in my contraption and have used it for a couple of years now.

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Re: Engine Preheaters

You could look for a couple of used hot air popcorn poppers at garage sales or second-hand stores and use metal clothes dryer duckwork to direct the hot air under the cowl by the nosewheel strut. This could be done for under $10.

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Tom, Larry, and Mike

I would be very careful about leaving one of those space heaters on unattended. Sure the engine may be toasty warm. But should you have any fuel leak or fumes that may then be a disaster waiting to happen. Planes have been know to catch fire while using some heaters.

If it is your own unattached separate hangar with only your aircraft do what you like, but not endanger others equipment. 


Bill

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Re: Engine Preheaters

The heat pads that affix to the oil pan are great! I have an EZ heat on my Lycoming O-320, plugged it in Saturday night, went to the airport yesterday morning, temps were down in the low-mid teens. I felt the cyls and the were warm to the touch, not hot but warm. I believe this is a better way of heating an engine BECAUSE the entire engine is being heated. Take a Red dragon or another of comparison, they just heat the outside. I doubt a 20 minute "hot air" heat will warm a cold crank shaft. Y'all can do what you want to your engines, I am a firm beleiver that a Rieff, EZ Heat or a Tannis in the ONLY way to properly heat an engine.

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I do agree with Bill, safety is of primary importance.  That is why I don't like the idea of having a propane tank in the hangar.  I do share a row of T hangars with 7 other airplanes and wouldn't want to call my insurance company to explain the loss of 8 airplanes due to some home made unapproved device.

I have heard good things about the heat pads that Bryan mentions.  My only problem is the 40 mile round trip drive to the airport, which would make driving out the night before and plugging up the pad a pain.  I think Tannis has a remote control that you can call on the phone to turn it on, but not sure of the cost.  Any one familiar with this?

Tom

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Re: Engine Preheaters

  I have the Rieff Hot bands and a sump pad heater.   Now that it is cold every day, I leave it plugged in all the time.  Whenever I go out to the hanger, everything under the cowl is nice and warm.  ( not too hot either).  the Hot bands heat the cyls and the sump pad warms the sump, keeps the whole engine warm. If you don't want to leave it plugged in, I have heard of beeper activated switches that you could phone in to turn them on.

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Tom,
Are there certain times/days you are more likely to fly? Like after work, Sat AM etc? Then you could get a 7 day timer and set it to turn on (then off) the engine heat pads a couple hours before those times.

The AP that overhauled my engine believes that keeping a heater on all winter does more harm than good. The prop is a big heat sink so the front main bearing of the crankshaft gets cold, condenses moisture, and rusts.

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Re: Engine Preheaters

tom,
i've been reading every thing that has been writen to you and biting my toung (and fingers as they reach for the key board) when the topic turned to on engine preheaters, ( this is such a touchy subject i don't even want to go into it) back to your orginal querry, another way to preheat is with a 60,000 btu kerosene bullet heater kerosene is less volital than Lp (but not much) most bullet heaters will ecept a 6 or 8 inch house hold  heater duct, you can divise a routing to fit your a/c and a way to heat the cabin (recomended by most manufactures) remeber just as the red dragon your introducing flames into the ducts caution needs to be taken. By the way an a/c in the 30's i would'nt bother to preheat. bone up on your cold weather start up and you should be fine. the real trick is getting your a/c up to temp after startup, the 180df mentioned several times earler is a minamum for temp, and should be maintained for as long as possable, 30 min flight probably isn't doing any good to remove moisture.
brad

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Mike:  actually with the heater on all the time, the heat migrates its way well into the prop, nothing ever gets cool enough to condense moisture.  in fact the prop is warmed at least 10 to 12 inches out from the hub and with a cover would probably be warm to the tips

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Re: Engine Preheaters

I use a kerosene salamander heater positioned about a foot or so from a 8" round duct that is about 8 feet long, with an elbow on the output end. I position the elbow to blow the hot air up into the wheel well, and can control the output temperature by the distance of the heater from the other end of the ductwork. There is a wooden handle on the ductwork to move it, as it gets quite hot. The ductwork needs to be supported at the right height to line up with the nose of the heater.  I never leave this unattended nor do I fuel the plane with the heater running! By the way, if one does not have electricity in their hangar, like me, the salamander will easily run off a 350 watt inverter powered by your car battery.

I have a 172M with the oil cooler mounted on the firewall. I totally blocked the inlet to the 2.5 inch scat hose going to the cooler and the oil temp is about 1/3 of the way thru the green arc. I guess that is about as high as the oil temp will get on cold Michigan winter days!

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Re: Engine Preheaters

I hanger close to an owner of a new 172 and dropped in on him to kick the tires.  He had two 100 watt shop lights as his pre-heaters.  One was dropped into the oil inspection door and suspended just below the engine and the other was dropped into the front cowling, pilot's side.  He covered the whole cowling with a custom C172 blanket, including the spinner & prop (about $200, he said).  I used his fancy infrared/laser tempurature sensor and discovered that the engine was reasonably warm (50 to 70 dgrees depending upon the proximity to the shop lights) on a 30-35 degree day.

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Our shop guys recommend the stick-on heat pads, and all the rental aircraft have them. They are about $150 in the catalog and 1 hour labor to install (I assume I have to remove and reinstall the cowl) according to the quote I got. Some camps are opposed to these because they say the area right near the pad gets very hot and "cooks" the oil, others disagree. You can plug them in anywhere there's a cord.

My O-300 would not start Friday, it was 11 degrees and I should have known better. After 15 minutes preheat with the industrial-strength Propane heater everything was nice and warm and she fired right up. But the heater needs to be dragged out to the ramp (I wouldn't feel right about using propane near a line of aircraft in the hangar) and put back in the pickup when done.  There are some of these heaters on Ebay and in the catalogs but you can't take it with you so if you get stuck somewhere you are REALLY stuck. The one I looked at had a qick disconnect so you can leave everything except the fuel tank in the hangar and take the tank home in your truck (NOT in your trunk!)

My ceramic space heater draws 1500 watts. If a long extension cord is used with it, the cord and outlet become nice and warm. I have warmed small engines with it before but I would be sure the wiring is up to the task!

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Re: Engine Preheaters

Tom,
would you be kind enough to send - or post - some picture of your device? Maybe I am not "mechanic" enough to understand how you constructed it ... (or my English isn't too good eather!?) - and I am probably unable to buy exactly these parts you mentioned as I am living in Germany. Thank you!

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