As said in a previous blog, we went for propane instead of diesel and all the reviews pointed to Propex units for both central heating and water. Looking at the build I wanted to keep as much as possible outside the van, particularly gas. This is for two reasons, safety and space saving, with what I thought was oodles of room in between the chassis rails.
I paid a premium for both units to have the external units suitable to be stuck underneath in all the muck and water. The water boiler, which you can see in the foreground in the first photo below sits neatly in the space behind the gas tank and infant of the offside wheel arch.
Where it is located it is nicely protected from being whacked by anything. I had to measure up and cutout a rectangle in the floor for the electrical and water connections inside the van. My nibbler made short work of this, which you can see with the heater poking through the floor in the next photo.
It’s the black rectangle with a yellow knob on it. This is the drain valve for freezing weather.
The only snag I came across was the gas supply entry to the unit. It’s on one end and beautifully clashes with a chassis crossmember! 😦
What a sod to sort out!! some accurate measuring (I’m getting quite good at this) and a bit of butchery with a hole saw and the gas pipe enters through the chassis leg. It’s a bit fiddly, but after scuffed knuckles and a real effort to make there would be no leaks its in.
Given the hassle with the gas supply on the water heater and limitations with waste water tanks etc, I decided to fit the central heating inside. There was also the fact that I would need to cut 2 70mm diameter holes in the floor as opposed to two 25mm holes for the intake and exhaust, convinced me to go for an internal fitting.
We had been thinking about the design of the interior and throughout it has been adapted as we’ve gone along, although still on the general layout theme. One thing that was a challenge was getting sufficient storage for everything, despite over head lockers planned throughout. The solution after a bit of uming and arrring (is that how it’s spelt?) we decided to raise the floor in the rear section of the van where two single beds/seats would fit lengthways. This would give e room for a large 160l fresh water tank between the wheel arches, the central heating unit, water pump, plumbing and two storage areas under the floor accessed for the front floor area and a larger area from the rear doors. This will be ideal for camping gear, mains leads, hose pipe, biking gear etc…. Basically all those things not needed day to day.
Fitting the central heating unit was a breeze. Three holes, inlet, exhaust and gas feed. The flexible large bore air circulation pipes will be ducted into the bedroom area, shower room and main kitchen area.
Both have been tested and work great with scalding hot water and continual hot blown air completely independently of the van engine.