Installing Wood Stove in Camping Van

  • I have sat here and read through a lot of this, wondering if it was a joke. I registered just to reply. Old thread I know, but if anyone stumbles across it like I did please know just how incredibly stupid and wrong it all is. I'll try to give some good information on SOME of these things but honestly there are too many. So just do a little research ffs.

    First of all, propane is really super dangerous... there are many reasons you don't keep your tanks inside a small enclosed space, one is that propane is heavier than air. Even an otherwise undetectable leak, in say a cabinet inside a van, can accumulate and explode easily. Easily. Do I need to go into the propane thing more? Read about it or ask someone qualified. You're not just putting yourself in danger, you're rolling down the highway, and telling others to do these stupid stupid things.

    This whole thing is a very good example of a saying, "trying to reinvent the wheel" and also how you can't learn anything if you think you know everything. Which I can see, saying anyone that disagrees with or questions you has a small mind, etc. Honestly, this atrocity of a build is just stupid, from the beginning and at every single step. It bothers me that you are allowed to buy dangerous tools and gasses.

    When I say from the beginning I mean with the stove. It's a pos. You should never ever have to worry about smoke coming out of the stove when you open the door. The chimney should have a draw. In tiny little 80 square foot cabins, or little sailing boats, RV's, busses, Van's, I have used wood stoves with the door completely open, watching the flames. No smoke. You did it wrong. There are many things that effect how this works including the length of the chimney and what kind of pipe. One of many reasons to research something you don't understand. Even a guide gear stove would not pour smoke back in to the van if installed correctly. (I have and use one in a canvas tent) many of the stoves I've had and used in tiny spaces were 100+ year old cast iron. Not exactly airtight. In fact an airtight and non airtight are completely different kinds of wood stoves that would be installed very differently.

    The thimble you made.. you could have had one meant for that purpose for less than all the hardware you bought, not a huge waste of time, not a danger to everyone. You don't even have to buy one, just look up how to make one right. All you need is plates of anything non flammable, something to seal them from rain, and insulation. Use ceramic wool.. or mineral wool, or.. air. By the way if your chimney where it passes through the ceiling ever reaches 1000 degrees you fu""ed up. That's not normal.

    Anyway, for a van just use things meant for a boat. Like the thimble meant to go through the deck. They are also called roof jacks and flashing. Just Google that and see the many options. I know how much hardware costs don't lie.

    Yes having to go outside to feed the fire is pointless. So much wrong there. Perhaps everyone but you doesn't just do it the other way because they are just too weak to go outside? Again if your stove worked at all from the beginning that design choice wouldn't have been considered. Some things just have to be done right, if you can't afford to do that then you can't afford to do the project. And I say this as someone that does most things with little or no money, I haven't bought anything new for years. Just because fittings are the same size doesn't mean they will work, some are for air and some for propane, some natural gas, some just because they are different brands. They are not interchangeable.

    Wood stoves, gas appliances, the right materials for skoolies, vans, whatever, can be had cheap used. Free too. Scraps from home building are usually the right amount. Information is free. There is usually a solution for an idea you have and it's usually better. Many people came before you. it will almost always cost you a lot more trying to half ass something yourself than just buying it. Besides, what is your time worth? And with things like this you also wouldn't be held criminally accountable for damage caused by a stupid build.

    I'm not going to keep going, I forgot the rest. But I hope this helps someone. I have lived most of my life off grid. Cabins, conversations, rv, fishing boats in the bering, remote oil rigs far away from any help. I know how to do a lot, from actual experience. the most important thing I know is how to admit I don't know something so I can learn.

  • @stellarsea Hmm..... I, too, read thru the entire thread. As it unfolded, even. 🐕

    While I have no use for a wood stove in an RV, I thought it an interesting engineering project. Seemed to have been fairly well thought out. At least at the time. I did not delve into Author's facts and logic too deeply. Seems you have. Would be interesting to have a civil discussion 'twixt the various viewpoints. Maybe Dingus will pop in.

  • Dingus can be pretty firey 😉

  • @stellarsea If you've lived off grid them I am sure you have encountered oil burning stoves. Turning back the way back machine....

    The Mush Shack in Kasilof was twenty by fourteen. Stick and plywood, insulated and dry walled, plywood floor, iirc. Sported a loft. Kitchen area was just large enough that you could reach sink, cutting board, and three burner propane stove/oven with only a pivot foot. Step to the bathtub/shower that drained straight below before running down slope. Take your dump business out to the outhouse. Yep. Never had any plumbing problems. Other than knocking down the frozen poopsicle once or twice, depending on how full of shit you were...

    So, we heated this with an old fish camp oil burner from some decade of yore. Worked dandy. Had half dozen or so 55 gallon drums that I'd hand pump transfer/refill the one mounted horizontally on a stand as the feeder. About two-fifty to three hundred gallons got me thru the winter.

    More inland and a bit further north, a couple log cabins in native villages on the Yukon, swap in "Monitor" and/or "Toyo" stoves. Super efficient. And they've got thermostats and pilots, even. Shitting in tall cotton, we were.... Maybe now burning four to five hundred gallons per winter but these winters were also longer and colder.

    Anywho... cutting to the chase... those puppies are super efficient. I wonder if anyone has thought about use such as this? I know they did it back in the old days, pre LPG on sheep camp base trailers. Hmm..... 🤔

    P.S.; Uh, yeah, one of best part of mush shack living was I had trail access from the dog yard. Hike it up!!! 🐕 🐕 🐕 🐕 🐕 🐕

  • @DingusMcgee said in Installing Wood Stove in Camping Van:

    Stellar sea,

    The pos stove is still working fine. Perhaps you could change that word "how" of your final statement to 'when' and we would have clarification for the long rant? Oh, and also add 'don't'?

    You say," I know how to do a lot, from actual experience. the most important thing I [don't] know is [when] to admit I don't know something so I can learn."

  • Dingus. how is the rig working?

  • NickG. Good to hear from you!

    The rig got used last spring more than this fall. During summer I ocassionally go where 4wd & winch offer more ways out than the rig offers. I will start a new thread for additions to my Suburban. I see you are out & about

    Stellarsea's rant: he is stuck in the box -- "...from actual experience...". He seems to have missed the characterization of my posts that EXPERIMENTS tell you when a new idea can work -- when doing things outside the box you go against the grain of experience. His knowledge base is experience -- hence the clash.

    for the stove design I had a very stringent criteria -- no smoke in the cabin, which is a little different than what I imagine for the allowable smoke from a wood stove in an ad hoc fishing shack somewhere in Alaska. Smokers don't seem to be bothered by wood stove smoke. So does stellarsea light up?

  • I just used a Mr Buddy propane rig last fall in the sprinter. She will likely go on the road again next week? trying to stay salt free. Mr buddy will get another workout. The next thing is to see if i can refill the coleman canisters. I have the attachment but have never tried it. Isa has 20lb tank for her tiny house so i will steal some of her gas and see if it works .

  • NickG,

    Have supply tank above Coleman canister with supply tank upside down. You want the liquid to flow downhill through the thief line. Slightly open the schreader valve of the upright canister after opening main tank valve. Coleman canisters are filled only about 80%. Weight the empty canister before any filling and add this tare weight to what the can label says the net propane weight sold. If you get more product than the net propane sold, bleed off the excess via the shreader valve while you are not smoking. The schreader valve is not an automatic safety relief valve for too much pressure. The 20% empty is your safety volume.

  • If you do not open the schreader valve at all you usually get about 50% full but check to make sure you are less than 80%.

  • how can you tell??? the gizmo did not have any instructions.

  • BY EXPERIMENTS...I weighted the partially full canister and subtracted the tare weight(canister empty), then I divided that weight by the amount of contents in the can. I did this fullness ratio measurement for some dozen cans.

    You ought to have a scale for doing propane canister refilling. If you overfill 'em they may blow apart on a hot day.

    Maybe gloves to keep from freezing your fingers.


    Note: "Net Weight"

  • NickG says," instructions..

    How do I know? I seen the likes of some stellarsea type minds attempting a propane "thieving operation" on a drilling rig circa 1968. They were not in the need of advise, for cavaliers they were.

    A home propane yard tank filling worker told me the details of how to do it safely -- long time ago -- before 1968.

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