Sunday, November 16, 2014

A New Challenge From The Roadside

My son found this out by the side of the road earlier today.

It's a propane patio heater.

It appears to be more-or-less in working order, but the big heat reflector on top can't be fastened in place as it ought to be; the part that it should fasten to (the burner shroud's lid) is badly rusted-out.

Repairing that will take a challenging bit of fabrication work.

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Here's a view of the burner shroud off on its own.

That sheet metal on top is well and truly done for. I can't re-create it exactly, but it should be possible to come up with a functional equivalent that the heat reflector can fasten to.

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Here's a view of the heat reflector.

It's quite large; it's 32 1/2" in diameter. Broken-out remnants of the burner shroud's top are still attached to it by three rusty standoffs and wingnuts. I'll get those removed, and then I'll have a hole-drilling 'template' to guide me in re-creating the top of the burner shroud.

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A New Lid For The Burner Shroud -- FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2014

I've torn away all the oxidized remnants of the original burner shroud lid, and installed three 3/4" steel corner braces, like so.

Those corner braces will be the attachment points for the new lid, which I'll fabricate from 22 gauge (0.028" thick) sheet steel.

Here's my blank for the new lid, laid out and ready to be cut.

That green sheet metal cutter will handle the 0.028" steel easily enough, but it's not really meant for curved cuts. We'll see how this goes.

Here's the cutter at work, having gotten a good start on one corner of the blank.

As expected, the cutter tends to jam as the size of a corner-waste piece increases. At intervals, I had to lop off corner-waste pieces, and restart the cut. That method went better than I expected it to, and got me a pretty good approximation of a disc.

I ground the cut perimeter reasonably true on the belt sander/grinder, and drilled holes for the corner brace fastenings and the reflector standoffs. That got me to here.

Not a bad outcome at all. Here it is with the centre piece of the reflector attached by its wingnuts.

I'm quite pleased with that -- I've got a functional equivalent of the original burner shroud. The plain steel lid and corner braces may only last a season or two before they need replacement again, but that's ok. So long as the stainless steel perforated shroud portion holds up, I can keep it in service fairly easily.

Next up is to deal with the heater's weighted base; that's a bit of a mess that wants correcting.

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The Weighted Base -- MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2014

The heater's base contains and conceals a black plastic container that's meant to be filled with sand, so the heater is weighted down and isn't tippy when the wind blows.

There's nothing provided to seal the opening in the top of the sand container. The container, as I got it, was full of a filthy mixture of sand, gravel and water. I got the container emptied and dried out; now I need to refill it with clean sand, but I don't want it to get wet again. I'll fabricate a cover-disc for the container's opening, to be installed with screws and silicone gasket-maker. That should be the last that I'll ever have to attend to the weighted base in any way.

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And here's an aluminum cover disc, trial-fitted to the container's opening.

Now I just need to get a bag of sand, fill and seal the container and I can be done with it.

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Container Filled -- MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2014

Filling the base-weight container with sand was a chore -- it could only be done little-by-little with the aid of a funnel. Anyway, that's over with, the container is sealed and back in the base.

Trying It Out

I reassembled the heater far enough that I could try to light the pilot light, and that was no go. It turned out that the pilot light's fuel supply orifice was clogged. Clearing the tiny orifice was all it took to get the heater going. See this post for information on dealing with an inoperative pilot light.

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