Monday, December 08, 2008

No Heat - No Problem

For some time now, I have been "getting ready" to take on the task of adding a heater to the Cabbie. There are, by my count, about three reasonable possibilities:

Option One: Replace the old hot water heater with an electric ceramic element. The ceramic element would be installed in the original VW heater box, along with the appropriate electric controls to run it. This would make a nice professional installation and the heater would function much like the original VW unit. I actually have all the parts gathered together ... I just haven't gotten around to it.

Option Two: I have read about several heater installations involving conventional hair driers. Since the hair drier really doesn't care if it's plugged into the household 115 vac outlet or my 98-volt DC battery pack, the hair drier will run just fine (maybe even better!) and put out copious amounts of hot air. Some builders have stuck the end of the drier into one of the car's air vent lines and simply switched it ON/OFF manually. An advantage of the hair drier is it can be pointed directly at the windshield for fast defrost or defog. I'm thinking: If I constructed a small metal box as a "docking station" to hold the hair drier, the box could direct the warm air from the drier into the cabin area. Then if I needed defrosting or defogging, I just lift the hair drier from it's "docking station", then return it when the windshield has been cleared. I actually am beginning to favor this approach ... to the point that I will probably give it a try ... after I get tired of Option Three!

Option Three: Do nothing! I've been driving quite a bit in 25-28 deg. F, weather with no heater and it really isn't all that bad! With a warm coat, light gloves and a warm hat, I don't mind it that much during my nine-mile work commute. After all, it would usually take three or four miles for a conventional car to warm up, so you would dress warmly, anyway.

BOTTOM LINE: Don't get too worked up over how to get heat into your conversion. Just make sure all the holes in the vehicle firewall are plugged. I had one pretty good sized hole where the old heater assembly came out and that let in a lot of cold air, while driving. Once the air leaks were plugged, as I mentioned, "It really isn't all that bad."

HINT: If I have the chance, I "pre-heat" the cabin, using a small 115 vac ceramic type heater. (Yes, the one that I planned on taking apart to permanently install in the car.) If I know I'll be driving in 15-30 minutes, I put the heater on the floor of the passenger side, being EXTREMELY careful that it isn't in any position to overheat any part of the car (Like in: Catch on fire!) The warmed up car feels pretty good and the heat will persist for several miles.