Propex Heater Problem

Warning this is a totally technical post and if you’re not interested in Propex gas heaters or Dab radios then I suggest you look away now because it’s going to get boring.

Our recent trip to fforest fields showed up a problem with our Propex Compact 1600 gas heater. It didn’t work.

Once we were home I set about investigating the fault because with the Scottish trip looming we were going to need heat.

There are a lot of people asking about repairs to these heater on the internet, but very little technical information

When switching on the heater the red & the green Led would light up and the fan would start to prepurge the chamber for approximately six seconds. Then there was a click and the heater shut down. I did this several times in case there was an airlock in the gas supply. I checked the power supply at the thermostat which was 12.84 volts and the power to the heater switched on and off when the control knob was turned.

propex compact 1600 (67) (2000 x 1500)



The ignition system wasn’t sparking, so I’m presuming at this stage that the fault is either the ignition electrode or the spark generator. With a healthy 12.84 volts, shutting down because of low voltage was ruled out. I also checked that the air inlet and outlet were clear.

The heater unit is mounted under the food chest on the Trident Autosleeper and it’s accessed by removing the base of the chest.


propex compact 1600 (19)

Deep in the food cupboard


There isn’t a lot of room to work in there, so I decided to remove the unit to test it. This was easier said than done. Once I had worked out where the hidden mounting screws were and the fact that it was also held in place by double sided tape it became pretty obvious how the unit could be removed. It was all the cussing & cursing about who would fit a heater in such a confined space that took the time.

propex compact 1600 (11)

There is a screw under exhaust outlet and one under the air intake


propex compact 1600 (40)

the wooden mounting plinth with the doublesided tape



With the heater remove it was dismantled for inspection. The cover is screwed on and also sealed in place with a type of high temperature silicone sealant.

propex compact 1600 (49)

The Sealed section of the case showing the motor, fan, gas burner and gas solenoid


The design of the heater is fairly basic.

propex compact 1600 (48)

On the left are the Heat sensors and the PCB has the spark generator


propex compact 1600 (55)

Ignition Electrodes


This heater hadn’t been opened since it was first manufactured in 1995 as the warranty seals were still in place. Not bad twenty one years of operation.

propex compact 1600 (45)

I contacted Propex to see if they had a parts list available, but they hadn’t due to the age of the unit. I then started an e mail correspondence with them describing the faults that I had.

Propex suggest that it could possibly be the spark generator and offered to take the heater in and repair it.

I could have replaced the obvious components and hoped that the heater would operate again, but time was running out, so I took up the repair service offered by Propex. Although doing this would cost more, at least the unit would be up and running and would carry a warranty.

I’ll update when the heater is returned.

On a brighter note I replaced our cheapo radio that was playing up with a Panasonic DAB radio. Fitting was all very basic as it had standard plugs and I opted for a self adhesive windscreen mounted aerial. Everything tuned in fine, but as yet I haven’t tested the reception when driving around.

Well I’ll be Dammed

And we’re off. Finally after all this time Puffin hits the highways and it feels good. Ruby was tagging along for the trip, as she has missed out on several camping adventures

We head towards Worcester then on to Leominster past the OK Diner. Our destination is Fforest Fields campsite at Hundred House, not far from Builth Wells. We left home with the sun shining down us, then past Worcester it started to rain heavily and as we came within 4 miles of our campsite we drove through a snow blizzard. We pulled into the campsite gates in sunshine. The weather in Wales is changeable to say the least. The radio in Puffin has been playing up. It won’t pick up any radio signals and turns itself on for no apparent reason. We are going of get a Dab radio in time for our upcoming Scottish trip in May. The E/Knitter can’t live with out the Archers.


After taking Ruby for a walk on one of the many routes around the site, we settled down to watch “The Lady in a van” DVD as there isn’t any television signal on site.


The Extreme knitter had prepared meat balls in a homemade tomato sauce for our supper. It was going to be served with tagliatelle, but guess who forgot to bring it, so we had potatoes with it instead. All washed down with a cheeky Bacardi & Coke. Some days when camping you just have to rough it.


(The E/knitter interjected at this point to make it known that she doesn’t partake in any of the alcoholic beverages mentioned in this blog)

Fforest fields camp (no Anna that’s not me stuttering) has a casual vibe and it is a popular base for many activities. Hikers, kayakers and mountain bikers. It’s situated beneath a range of hills that are used for paragliding. The facilities here are excellent and spotlessly clean. There’s a small boating lake and a separate fishing lake.

Fforest fields camp site


Sunny Sunday and after a full English breakfast we set off to Rhayder and took the minor road to the Elan Valley, the home of Birmingham’s water supply. The visitor centre is situated below the Caban Coch Dam and looked interesting, but we couldn’t go in as we had Ruby with us and dogs aren’t allowed. We drove up to the car park and view point at the top of the dam. The shear power of the pure, clean Welsh water cascading over the dam is spectacular.

The Elan Valley Visitor Centre



We ended our trip at the Claerwen dam having driven over the submerged Garreg-ddu dam that looks like a viaduct.



Later back at the campsite the E/knitter lay in bed reading her latest knitting magazine and pronounced that on the 25th April there would be a knitting show held at the Builth Wells Royal show ground which just happens to be down the road from the camp site. I think she’s hinting that another visit here is on the cards.

This trip was also a try out of our new 3 inch thick memory foam mattress topper which replaced our previous 2 inch topper. The result was a unanimous thumbs up.

The E/knitter was also wearing her walking boots for the first time after her foot operation to get used to them again in readiness for our Scottish trip. Our dirty walking boots travel in an old ex army rucksack that I modified to attach on to Puffins ladder as storage space inside is at a premium and who wants to sleep with smelly boots?

back pack

It was a slow and lazy start to the Monday morning before we broke camp and headed home.

We passed through Leominster and I was disappointed that we couldn’t stop for lunch at the OK diner and rediscover the 1960’s. Travelling with a dog does have its restrictions.