Ford Transit USA Forum banner

Espar B4L Heater not starting at Elevation

37440 Views 322 Replies 60 Participants Last post by  brío
So I installed a Espar B4L in my 2020 transit, under the passenger seat and have a problem with the heater starting when I am at elevation.

I live in Boise ID, at around 3k feet elevation, when down here in the valley my heater starts 99% of the time without issues. When I travel to my local ski area around 6800K feet the heater NEVER starts first try and generally will take around 30+ minutes of trying to get the thing started. Once it does starts at elevation, it will run absolutely fine stopping and starting. When I got back down in elevation it also will always start fine, and then back up to elevation I again have the problem.

Ive completely taken apart the entire gas line from the pickup in the tank all the way to the heater, ensuring rise, fittings, etc are perfect... still have the same problem of getting it started at elevation.

Heatso has been sorta OK to work with, but I feel like they dont really know either. They will be sending me a new ECU (when they get them in a couple weeks).

Has anyone had this problem, is there a trick to getting it started I could use until i get the root cause sorted?

Appreciate any pointers!
41 - 61 of 323 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
376 Posts
I have a B4 in my current van (promaster) and have only had issues over 10,000'. Even then it's not all the time. I have the previous generation B4 with the add on altitude sensor.

My Transit is being built and I bought another previous generation B4 for it. I don't have the altitude sensor yet. I assume I'm going to need the sensor AND a different fuel straw? I'd love to know these answers.
No one knows "the answers." We all have our opinions and what we think are the answers to some things. I think your answers are: Yes you'll need another sensor, and I'd use the fuel straw that comes with a new heater.......... regards.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Hey All! Long time listener.. first time poster. I've got a 2020 250 HighRoof, fully baked build from Paradigm Van Conversions in Littleton CO. I put a new Espar B4L in with assist from a friend.. he's a mechanical engineering PHD student and auto mechanic. This was his second install.

I too am having issues at altitude. Getting the "H1 Fuel Supply or Pump" error message. This past weekend I was at 8300 ft and it worked the first night and wouldn't the second night, but it did fire up in the morning after we froze our asses off all night :( When it fails it really grunts and groans for ~10 minutes and then shuts off. I try again once, twice, three times to no avail.

I have no dips in the exhaust and I'm using the Ford aux straw. I don't have any issues with it starting when I'm at home at 5,600 ft. which in my simplistic troubleshooting, points to an altitude issue. But 8,300 feet??? That's 2/3 of where Launcher said could be full vaporizing. At what altitude does gas start cavitating/vaporizing?

One thing to consider is that no matter what product or component you have, you are fighting against the physics of gasoline vapor pressure. What this means is that there is an altitude above which any and all pumps will ALWAYS vaporize the fuel making it impossible to run the heater - probably around 12,000 feet. This is what causes vapor lock. This aspect is due to the properties of gasoline and has nothing to do with Espar or any other heater. Some factors that affect this are: how much "head" is your pump pumping, where "head" is the vertical distance from the bottom of the standpipe to your pump. Other factors include the diameter of the standpipe, the number of 90 degree elbows, etc. In addition, "gasoline" itself is variable, and significant differences in vapor pressure can occur depending on the blend, even with certain standards. As an example, one solution for high altitude carbureted cars is to add 10% diesel, which has a lower vapor pressure than gas. Another solution used by auto makers has been to make the fuel pump a "sump pump", so that the pump itself is in the gas tank reducing the "head" to zero.
And thank you Launcher for your write up... very informative!!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Hey All! Long time listener.. first time poster. I've got a 2020 250 HighRoof, fully baked build from Paradigm Van Conversions in Littleton CO. I put a new Espar B4L in with assist from a friend.. he's a mechanical engineering PHD student and auto mechanic. This was his second install.

I too am having issues at altitude. Getting the "H1 Fuel Supply or Pump" error message. This past weekend I was at 8300 ft and it worked the first night and wouldn't the second night, but it did fire up in the morning after we froze our asses off all night :( When it fails it really grunts and groans for ~10 minutes and then shuts off. I try again once, twice, three times to no avail.

I have no dips in the exhaust and I'm using the Ford aux straw. I don't have any issues with it starting when I'm at home at 5,600 ft. which in my simplistic troubleshooting, points to an altitude issue. But 8,300 feet??? That's 2/3 of where Launcher said could be full vaporizing. At what altitude does gas start cavitating/vaporizing?

One thing to consider is that no matter what product or component you have, you are fighting against the physics of gasoline vapor pressure. What this means is that there is an altitude above which any and all pumps will ALWAYS vaporize the fuel making it impossible to run the heater - probably around 12,000 feet. This is what causes vapor lock. This aspect is due to the properties of gasoline and has nothing to do with Espar or any other heater. Some factors that affect this are: how much "head" is your pump pumping, where "head" is the vertical distance from the bottom of the standpipe to your pump. Other factors include the diameter of the standpipe, the number of 90 degree elbows, etc. In addition, "gasoline" itself is variable, and significant differences in vapor pressure can occur depending on the blend, even with certain standards. As an example, one solution for high altitude carbureted cars is to add 10% diesel, which has a lower vapor pressure than gas. Another solution used by auto makers has been to make the fuel pump a "sump pump", so that the pump itself is in the gas tank reducing the "head" to zero.
And thank you Launcher for your write up... very informative!!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,435 Posts
I think everyone who has problems needs to try this fuel standpipe. I’m 100% positive esparparts in Michigan knows what they’re doing, and if they identified that this is required on the transit (they sell transit kits) to fix problems, then it probably is required.


Not sure if it'd be related, but according to the guy at Esparparts.com you need this standpipe when using the B4L on the transit:

 
  • Like
Reactions: TrevMetz

· Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
I actually got my B4L from EsparParts and I did buy the Transit kit. Would have been great if it came with that new standpipe then I would have been one and done.. And it makes sense too... the larger Ford straw would be much more inclined to drain then the thinner aftermarket one from EsparParts. It's very possible I let my fuel level drop below 1/4 tank and just got a bunch of air. I'll gove them a ring

I think everyone who has problems needs to try this fuel standpipe. I’m 100% positive esparparts in Michigan knows what they’re doing, and if they identified that this is required on the transit (they sell transit kits) to fix problems, then it probably is required.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
Trev I've found around 9,000 feet is where the espar starts to really struggle to the point of failure. No surprise it has the issue at 8,300 feet. Mine shuts off in the middle of the night often. Full fuel tank and it still struggles. I think espar should recall these petrol heaters or something. They absolutely suck at altitude and their overly complicated software is not helping.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,435 Posts
Again, you need a smaller diameter fuel standpipe. It is not rocket science that the heater will not work correctly using a tube diameter 3x the recommended diameter by Espar (6mm vs 2mm). Not that complicated.

launcher wrote some very detailed recommendations on the prior page, I’d say everyone who’s having problems should make sure they try all those before thinking this is a bad product.
Bad installation/incorrect configuration does not equal a bad product
 

· Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
And if you are going diesel, you might as well give the Chinese heater a shot first.
@Janus9 you got any good examples of someone installing a auxiliary diesel tank? thx

here is one

 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,386 Posts
@Janus9 you got any good examples of someone installing a auxiliary diesel tank? thx

here is one

@JeffWest has posted that there is a Facebook group all about using these Chinese diesel heaters. I am sure there are lots of examples there.

I have seen the one where they used a go cart fuel tank and also one where the person installed a tank in the DEF location and now uses the DEF filler spout besides the gas cap to fill with diesel.
That’s a really slick setup, but probably pretty involved to install.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
@JeffWest has posted that there is a Facebook group all about using these Chinese diesel heaters. I am sure there are lots of examples there.

I have seen the one where they used a go cart fuel tank and also one where the person installed a tank in the DEF location and now uses the DEF filler spout besides the gas cap to fill with diesel.
That’s a really slick setup, but probably pretty involved to install.
just found that - looks great, some many ideas for the next conversion. I am currently on the gas webasto with a propex backup
 

· Registered
Joined
·
248 Posts
We installed our 5.5L diesel tank under the van to the left of the fuel tank and behind our grey tank. Our pump is also underneath...a short run directly to our heater. I can fill the tank easily using a transfer pump...or drop the tank in a few minutes. But that's just our solution -- it really doesn't matter as long as it's protected :)
 

· Registered
2020 AWD 148" MR Crew
Joined
·
13 Posts
Was wondering how the Espar 300mm fuel standpipe is installed? Does a new hole need to be drilled into the Transit fuel tank, or does it somehow use the existing auxiliary fuel tap? I've tried searching but no results. I'll be installing a B4L in the next couple of weeks.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Was wondering how the Espar 300mm fuel standpipe is installed? Does a new hole need to be drilled into the Transit fuel tank, or does it somehow use the existing auxiliary fuel tap? I've tried searching but no results. I'll be installing a B4L in the next couple of weeks.
Asking the real questions. I was wondering the same thing. Looking at the instructions it appears to be a new hole?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Asking the real questions. I was wondering the same thing. Looking at the instructions it appears to be a new hole?
I spoke with Ray Lawrence at Espar Parts Michagan 2 days ago about my transit B4L kit. I asked him about this problem and he proceeded to tell me that they are now insisting on installing the new straw in the tank. The Espar fuel pick up is 2mm id and it does cause problems to use the ford fuel auxiliary. He also confirmed that you do need to drill a new hole, but my rudimentary understanding is that the hole is drilled in the "dummy" port cover that one would remove when replacing with the new ford fuel pickup tube. He assured me that it does not tie into the van's fuel line. The dicey part, after thinking about my conversation with Ray, will be deciding how far down in the tank to stick the new straw! He said they recommend, I think, 2 inches off the bottom which still leaves several gallons of petrol in the extended 31 gal tank. Not really sure about guessing what vertical placement to use when installing. I may be calling Ray back when I install my unit to get more clarity on the placement of the new 2mm tube. On the positive side, this will do away with any fuel line adapters or connecters. He said it will be one uninterrupted 2mm id fuel line from the tank to the pump which should take care of the problems they were seeing. He was very helpful and informative and also pointed out that their European supplier has been blocked at the ports in Canada and this is the cause of some of the shipping delays. He said they just received 40 units and will be back to shipping them out if you had one ordered and wondered what the delay was all about. Cheers.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
ok thanks windword for the report. I called EsparParts and left a message and sent email. I'll call Ray direct.
Looks like the next obvious step is to put in a new standpipe.. not an easy fix when i've got a foot of snow under the van right now. I'll have to wait until I don't need the heater to fix the heater that doesn't work :0
 

· Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
I spoke with Ray Lawrence at Espar Parts Michagan 2 days ago about my transit B4L kit. I asked him about this problem and he proceeded to tell me that they are now insisting on installing the new straw in the tank. The Espar fuel pick up is 2mm id and it does cause problems to use the ford fuel auxiliary. He also confirmed that you do need to drill a new hole, but my rudimentary understanding is that the hole is drilled in the "dummy" port cover that one would remove when replacing with the new ford fuel pickup tube. He assured me that it does not tie into the van's fuel line. The dicey part, after thinking about my conversation with Ray, will be deciding how far down in the tank to stick the new straw! He said they recommend, I think, 2 inches off the bottom which still leaves several gallons of petrol in the extended 31 gal tank. Not really sure about guessing what vertical placement to use when installing. I may be calling Ray back when I install my unit to get more clarity on the placement of the new 2mm tube. On the positive side, this will do away with any fuel line adapters or connecters. He said it will be one uninterrupted 2mm id fuel line from the tank to the pump which should take care of the problems they were seeing. He was very helpful and informative and also pointed out that their European supplier has been blocked at the ports in Canada and this is the cause of some of the shipping delays. He said they just received 40 units and will be back to shipping them out if you had one ordered and wondered what the delay was all about. Cheers.
Wow, great info! Thanks for doing some leg work.
 
41 - 61 of 323 Posts
Top