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Old 10-30-2018, 09:16 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: dixon, new mexico
Posts: 14
Espar heater issues.

My sprinter van SMB was picked up from Fresno in March. The airtronic heater had 5 hours on it and was smoking a lot the last few times I tried to fire it up. I have been not so good at monthly warmups. The heater stopped firing up a month ago, no flame detected. Of course we were camping in the Rockies at 9000 ft and froze our butts off. So I began the process of whats next. Contacted SMB Fresno and waited a few days for a return call. Was told to pull the heater fuse, to no avail. Then advised to contact Rixen Co. They answered the phone, answered my questions and taught me a lot. I sent the heater in to them. The result, 5 hours of use and carboned up. It turns out the heater has an altimeter and it has not ever been working. There is apparently a issue with the wiring between the heater and the altimeter. I have a phone date with Michael at Rixen this Friday to go over the wiring and test out the current. I am hopeful, but really was it not wired right from SMB west or some other issue. Great vans, love it. Figured that with so many new systems installed at once that something was bound to fail. I will let you know the outcome.
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:57 AM   #2
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Bummer about your issues.

thanks for posting. I'll follow your progress to learn from it.

Hope you have a speedy and happy fix.

john

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Originally Posted by salim View Post
My sprinter van SMB was picked up from Fresno in March. The airtronic heater had 5 hours on it and was smoking a lot the last few times I tried to fire it up. I have been not so good at monthly warmups. The heater stopped firing up a month ago, no flame detected. Of course we were camping in the Rockies at 9000 ft and froze our butts off. So I began the process of whats next. Contacted SMB Fresno and waited a few days for a return call. Was told to pull the heater fuse, to no avail. Then advised to contact Rixen Co. They answered the phone, answered my questions and taught me a lot. I sent the heater in to them. The result, 5 hours of use and carboned up. It turns out the heater has an altimeter and it has not ever been working. There is apparently a issue with the wiring between the heater and the altimeter. I have a phone date with Michael at Rixen this Friday to go over the wiring and test out the current. I am hopeful, but really was it not wired right from SMB west or some other issue. Great vans, love it. Figured that with so many new systems installed at once that something was bound to fail. I will let you know the outcome.
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Old 10-31-2018, 08:11 AM   #3
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Location: Santa Fe, NM
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I’ve also had issues. Mine didn’t work the night I picked my Sprinter up. It seems the unit is great when it works but requires careful installation. At first my unit woukdn’t Fire at all, then it wouldn’t work from shore power, then something went wrong in the wiring and that now has to be re.done. My next trip to SMB will be my third to get the heater working. I hope the third time is the charm! By the way at some point I do hope to make it to Oregon so Rixen can take a look. When my heater works it blows really well but all in one spot under the bed. That cavity gets super hot but I need a solution to spread the heat around. Frankly that’s more of a concern to me than getting the unit working. Any ideas?
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Old 10-31-2018, 08:20 AM   #4
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Location: Durango, Colduhrado
Posts: 459
Just to add on to this, the repair guy at ThermoKing Denver got mine working again and they too had to re-wire what SMB did when they originally built it. Working well now - for now.
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Old 10-31-2018, 08:51 AM   #5
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Location: dixon, new mexico
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rixen helps

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Originally Posted by dford415 View Post
I’ve also had issues. Mine didn’t work the night I picked my Sprinter up. It seems the unit is great when it works but requires careful installation. At first my unit woukdn’t Fire at all, then it wouldn’t work from shore power, then something went wrong in the wiring and that now has to be re.done. My next trip to SMB will be my third to get the heater working. I hope the third time is the charm! By the way at some point I do hope to make it to Oregon so Rixen can take a look. When my heater works it blows really well but all in one spot under the bed. That cavity gets super hot but I need a solution to spread the heat around. Frankly that’s more of a concern to me than getting the unit working. Any ideas?
Micheal at Rixen 800-925-6260 has always answered the phone and been super helpful. They assemble and sell to SMB and they want these heaters to have a good name. They are going to walk me thru the wiring by phone on Friday. The van is new and under warranty. I think they would help by phone for free even if it wasn't under warranty. Give then a call and talk to the experts. Good luck.
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Old 10-31-2018, 09:33 AM   #6
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Santa Fe, NM
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I agree Rixen has been great. I’ve had several problems but don’t think those had anything to do with the product itself. As I mentioned my biggest problem of all is that I need to figure out how to move the hot air around the van. I think ducts would have been the solution but that may not be an option now. Possibly next Summer i’ll Make it to Oregon.
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Old 10-31-2018, 09:48 AM   #7
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Location: dixon, new mexico
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I am curious about your heater vent. I know my heater is under the bench seat and has a tube running from the heater output to a vent in the front wall of the bench seat. I am sure the heater would make my bench seat super hot if it wasn't attached to a tube to run that heat out from under the seat. I am sure you have looked under the seat to see it's configuration, but just sharing my limited experience.
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Old 10-31-2018, 09:52 AM   #8
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Also ThermoKing in ABQ, 5053429378
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Old 11-04-2018, 12:22 PM   #9
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Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 4
Espar diesel heater learning curve.

My 2010 E-350 RB-50 SMB’s Espar unit never worked correctly. Seven years and only 38 hours of use later I pulled it and sent it to Rixen’s. Michael explained the whole trouble prone set up of bad altimeters, lousy thermostats,
and installation problems. Quite an eye opener. Now, it runs with my thermostat disconnected and all systems turned on (system, furnace, and water heater). If I don’t turn on the water heater too, my furnace shuts off after about a seven degree temperature gain. Like some others, I am thinking of a trip to Rixen’s to get the whole system running as it should have in the first place. SMB really should correct these well known problems before hoisting them on unsuspecting customers.
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Old 11-04-2018, 03:43 PM   #10
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I also had some issues with my Espar heater. The good news is that I live in Portland Oregon and Rixen's is in Sandy, Oregon about a 40 minute drive from my house.

To make a long story short the system was wired incorrectly and in a sub-standard manner. Jim Rixen called Sportsmobile West and gave them a dressing down about the situation and billed SMB West for the service.

Jim Rixen, Michael, and the two other guys that work there are just awesome. They got my heater fixed up the same day that I called to make an appointment. They just had me bring it in right away. Can't say enouigh good about them.
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