torpedo heater help

Not open for further replies.
May 25, 2009
fremont nebraska
Hey guys. I have a "green machine" brand torpedo heater. Thing looks 20 years old, maybe older lol, says 150,000btu. Runs on kerosene or diesel. Last year i ran kerosene in it with no issue. This year im running diesel because its easier to get, and it doesn't want to ignite when it gets really cold. Ive mixed the diesel with stuff that stops it from gelling, but even at 30 degrees (which i dont think is that cold) it has troubles igniting. Ill plug it in, let it run a minute, and unplug it, then repeat that process til it fires. Tonight it is 10 degrees, and its not going to start, period. This isn't normal behavior, is it? Like, if i go spend 300 dollars on a brand new unit, that is capable of kerosene and diesel, i wouldn't have this problem, would i? Was just wondering if anyone could give me some advice on some things to check to get this running? or any other advice is always welcome.. I took it apart and took out the spark plug looking thing, (ignitor, i thinK?) and cleaned it up, and that made no difference. There is definitely diesel flowing because after 30 seconds of running, and it not firing, it starts spitting liquid diesel out the front of it. It also smokes after about 30 seconds to a minute of it not firing..
Last edited:
The easiest thing is to run the heater on kerosene and be done with it. Can you rig up a "Y" valve going to a small container of kerosene. Start the heater on kero, let it get hot, then swap over to diesel.
yeah, thats of course an option. The only place i can get kerosene tho is only open weekdays until 5pm, which between work and kids, just isnt able to happen that often. I can get diesel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from like 10 different places within 2 miles lol. (im not running it because of price). But im mainly wondering if a brand new heater would act like this, or is there a legit problem going on here?
I would remove the spraying nozzle and blow it out with air, carb cleaner, or whatever you can find. I had some issues like that when mine was new and since cleaning the nozzle mine has never failed to fire. On another note I run mine exclusively on #2 diesel/whatever the blend is i get from the #2 nozzle in the winter and I do not have a problem with smoking or excessive smell. Even when my garage is down in the 20's I have never had a problem getting diesel to fire up immediately. The truth is kerosene is so close to low sulfur diesel these days its absolutely ridiculous the extra money they get for kerosene. If the OP's heater is working correctly it shouldn't have a problem on diesel. If you do run it cold enough to reach a point where diesel is gelling any of the off the shelf anti gelling additives should work. I prefer diesel 911
Originally Posted By: Jakegday
But im mainly wondering if a brand new heater would act like this, or is there a legit problem going on here?
There is a legit problem going on with your heater. If it says it can run multi fuels, or kerosene or diesel it shouldn't have a problem. It's -10 F here right now a few hundred miles north of you, my garage is in the the high 20's and my 100% diesel fed torpedo heater fires immediately with no additives, no smoke, and very little smell once it warms up. I would take that heater a part again and this time remove the nozzle and spray it out with something to clean any debris out of it. Even something very small can disrupt the flow enough that the fuel wont atomize, and if it doesn't atomize the spark plug will not ignite it.
Some of them have a screw to adjust the fuel pressure. Maybe a adjustment is needed to change from kerosene to diesel? Some also have an inline fuel filter.
These are used in the plains states up north of you... adding 2%-5% unleaded gasoline will get the fire lit when it's super cold out. Make sure the spark plug gap is correct (super long electrodes)
Originally Posted By: edwardh1
are these heaters dangerous inside?
no too much - but Back in the days of "high sulfur" diesel, after about 20-30 minutes it tasted like you've been chewing on match heads. YUCK.
Make sure the ignitor is producing a good solid arc. To run diesel fuel reliably you should also increase the air pressure to somewhere between 4 and 5 psi. The closer to 5 the better. I run diesel in mine...and find it actually makes less smoke and odor...and is way cheaper.
Originally Posted By: ShotGun429
They are for indoor use, why would you have a concern?
I wouldn't run these inside, topo much smoke & possibility of CO poisoning. Use a propane heater if you have to use one indoors. To the OP-have you tried draining it, warming the diesel indoors, and then running it? I have an ancient Reddi-Heater one that I've used forever, and it runs just fine on winterized #2.
Last edited:
just wanted to follow up on this.. I went and bought a new heater, and it had the exact same problem with the gas station diesel. I went to the fuel supplier and got some kerosene, and the lady there confirmed those heaters dont like the gas station diesel, but they sell a diesel blend (that they sell to lots of customers) that would work better. I got kerosene anyways. The new heater fired right up with kerosene. Last night though, when i was messing with my old heater, i tried starting it with the cover off, and it fired right up. I tried this several times, and it works perfectly, every time. Even with the gas station diesel. So i used a grinder and made a little "door" in that top cover, right over the opening between the fan blades, the tube where the fire happens. Ill open every time i start that heater, and close it once its going. Any ideas whats going on there?? Its like the fan blows to hard at first for it to light, so if i let all that air escape, it works great
You're not getting enough (properly atomized) fuel. By allowing some of the housing air to escape you are altering the balance and making up for low air pump pressure. Make sure the little foam or paper (both if it has them) air pump inlet filters are clean. Make sure your pump can make at least 4.5 psi and it will be fine. Mine runs on any diesel winterized or not in any temps...and clean enough it doesn't set off the shop CO2 alarm. As for your new heater...most are pre set for kerosene...and somewhere in the instructions it will tell you if you want to use diesel you need to crank up the air pressure.
yes there is a pressure adjustment on the back side that you usually have to turn up for diesel. some heaters are more picky about running diesel then kerosene as others it doesn't seem to matter. I have a Mr. Heater 75,000 and it definitely runs better on kerosene. my dad has an Old Reddy heater 60,000 and it doesn't seem to matter what you run in it, burns pretty much the same temp you want the end cone to be pretty evenly orange to get the pressure adjustment right. there shouldn't really be any dark spots when you get it adjusted right usually the only thing you notice between the kerosene and diesel is the diesel will smoke a lot more on startup or shutdown but one the heater gets going good and you have it set right there isn't that much of a difference as they will both smell a bit. I use my in the garage and there is enough of a draft from around the doors etc that its kinda vented
Not open for further replies.