RIP little Buddy, or at least Portable Buddy...

Discussion in 'Heating / Cooling Systems' started by dbhost, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    League City, Texas USA.
    So yesterday my old (bought in probably 2005), Mr. Heater Portable Buddy heater, the model most folks want to call the Little Buddy, or just Buddy heater, died a violent and miserable death, and all because of an unforseen structural failure.

    Mind you I can't complain, this heater has kept me warm in my unheated garage workshop, in tents, deer blinds, and campers now for I guess 13+ years.

    I was going through my storage totes, trying to get things packed away in a more efficient manner, reduce wasted space so that I could get it all stowed neatly in totes in the garage for quick grab & go, without having to climb into the attic.

    I grabbed the buddy heater, which was the old style with the fixed handle, not the newer hinged handle style, when I had the heater fully out of the tote and moving to my workbench to set it down and dig on the other devices, the handle simply came disconnected from the heater, and the heater came crashing down to my concrete shop floor leaving the handle in my hands.

    As it made contact with the concrete, the plastics on the bottom of the heater turned out to be surprisingly brittle, and the whole bottom, of fuel bottle side of the heater more or less exploded into little bits of plastic shrapnel everywhere on the floor.

    Now I have watched enough of the youtube RV channels to know that the new model Portable Buddy heaters aren't nearly as reliable as the version I had. The newer ones under regular use seem to last only about 2 years, where as my old one was coming up on the 14th winter of use soon...

    The big issue I see with the new ones is the control knob / gas valve is known to fail, a LOT on them.

    This begs the question. It's not like the market for portable propane indoor safe unvented heaters is exactly saturated.

    For the time being, my intent is to camp in tents until the truck is done, and then truck shell camping until the pop up is ready...

    Is it worth getting a new model Portable Buddy? The Olympic Wave heater is another popular option, but they tend toward lower BTU outputs, and much higher prices. But are they more relaible and worth it?
     
  2. lostboy

    lostboy Active Member

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    I have a big buddy that is probably 4 years old. Not sure if that is new enough or not but it's worked great so far. I use it to heat my garage, back up for the camper etc. Not sure on Olympic Wave but my buddy has been reliable and with 18,000btu on high it can run you out of the camper!!!
     
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  3. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    League City, Texas USA.
    No doubt. In the climate I camp in, the 9K BTU of the Portable Buddy is actually quite enough.

    I've never run into any issues folks claim about the Big Buddy heater.

    The problem is for me at least, the Big Buddy is just far too much for my camping rig, even on the lowest setting. The Portable Buddy honestly was a bit much.

    My camping rig so far is tent camping out of a 2006 Chevy Malibu, because my 04 F150 has the 5.4L 3V engine that is simply failure prone. I have a company that does a pretty good "bulletproofing" job fixing the known failure points. The big issues are related.

    #1. The factory oil pump design used a stamped steel back plate that flexes under load allowing oil to blowby dropping volume and pressure.
    #2. The variable timing setup uses cam phasers that are dependent upon oil volume and pressure, as well as the tensioner etc...
    #3. The oil journals in the cylinder heads are bored too small for sufficient for proper oil flow and pressure.

    Are you seeing a pattern here?

    So given these issues, for the rebuild, we are adding an aftermarket high volume, high pressure oil pump with a cast iron backing plate, and upgraded design cam phasers and tensioners, not to mention improved journal boring to increase oil flow.

    Once the truck is up and happy again, we are throwing on a used Leer 122 High Top truck topper. I got the topper used. It has the carpet headliner and I am looking at how to pack insulation, I.E. Reflectix or Thinsulate behind the carpet. Probably a dead idea but worth looking into anyway. I am currently prepping it for paint, however the weather has been way too hot to spray, the paint would be dry before it even hits the shell... I will paint it Arizona Beige (factory color of the truck) and will paint / roll out the roof section only in Henry Tropicool to help reduce heat gain in the summer. I am considering building a "Tent" to close in the section left open with the tailgate and hatch open. All told I will have maybe 9'x5'x5'max to heat / cool. A grand total of 25 square feet, and 225 cubic feet.

    I could probably keep the shell / sleeper warm down into the negative numbers with a candle.

    Having said that, the kitchen, and privy are outside, and in cold weather, I would use the Little Buddy in a tent (200sq/ ft) or outdoors to keep my legs warm while cooking...
     

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