What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Clemente
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What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by Clemente »

I have recently purchased three propane Coleman catalytic heaters, models 5033 and 5038. Two were used, and the heater head only glows partially orange with the rest of the head dark (both between 1/3 to 1/2 glowing, in an uneven pattern, mostly on 1/2 side of the head). Does this mean these heaters are partially worn out and not putting out full BTU output as when they were new? Is that common over time to happen to this type of heater? And can these propane powered catalytic heaters be restored to full glow again by any technique?

There is a lot written on cleaning the older liquid fuel powered Coleman catalytic heaters, but nothing I've seen to restore the later propane models.

The third Coleman catalytic heater I bought was sold as New, never used, in box on Ebay. This one is a Sportcat 5035 model. The orange glow is evenly distributed on this one around the periphery of the heater dome, in a perfect circular shape (unlike the two used ones mentioned above, which had uneven patches of glow on just 1/2 of the heater head), however on this "new" Sportcat model the center of the dome (about 1/3 of the area of the head) there is no orange glow, it is completely dark. Is this normal for a new, never used Sportcat to have about 1/3 of the area in the center of the head not glowing at all?

How about on the two used models I have, they too have significant portions of the heater head completely dark even though I understand on these it may be they were used a lot and just plain partially wore out. If the new one is "worn out" in the center area too, is there a way also to restore it so the whole surface area glows? Just not sure if these propane catalytic heaters were designed to fully glow on complete 100 percent of heater head area or actually when new did have significant area that was intentionally designed to be dark.
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campinut
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by campinut »

Yes, they do degrade through the years with use and storage. These need to run awhile to get completely red. Not sure about cleaning one as they could be too far gone and fall to pieces, if removed? On the Sportcat, is the area around the center? I know on some, there is an area that the material is held down to burner. This might be the reason?. Love the Cat heaters..campinut

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JimL
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by JimL »

Do not attempt disassembly of the catalytic head. It holds together nicely within the screen, but when removed from the protection of the screen, it easily falls apart and makes dust. I'm not certain, but am 99.98% confident it's asbestos. The material is good for rebuilding a hand warmer burner, but only work with it outside, upwind. If not disassembling, there's no need to fear it. Actually, it's probably still not bad since we're not working with asbestos day in and day out for many years.

As far as cleaning the head, I suspect the normal procedure for doing a Coleman fuel one would be the same for propane, to clean off any dust or other debris built up over time. Another thing you could try, or at least I would, is to lay it so the black or unlit section is above the section that's glowing and let it run a while. Perhaps that will help clean it. Although being propane and having a jet disperse the gas, I suspect the jet itself maybe could use a cleaning since it's directing the gas.
-Jim

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Clemente
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by Clemente »

Hey Russ,

Yes, the area on the "new never used in box" Sportcat I bought recently which is not glowing orange but instead blacked out, as though that area is inactive or at least appears that way, is perfectly circular in size and in dead center of the round heating head. So about a 1/4 to 1/3 circle in the dead center of the unit appears black, as though it is unlit, while just the outer periphery of the unit is glowing orange, also in a perfect circular shape from outer edge of heater inwards.

The Sportcat as you probably know is a round dome shaped model, not the rectangular floor standing unit you have pictured but I think you know that already. Does that one you have pictured still run well, any areas that don't glow orange or red?
Clemente
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by Clemente »

Thanks Jim, I saw an older post on this forum that said they contacted Coleman and asked what that bedded material is in the heating head and they said it was of ceramic composition embedded with platinum catalyst. A follow up poster to that thread said it could still be asbestos but a ceramic form of asbestos.

As I did not pay much for the two used propane catalytic heaters, I took a chance and blew some compressed air from a compressor over the bed which is under the protective metal grate on the heater head, and sure enough it poked a hole straight through that material--I figured it might do that, but since the heaters appear partially dead/blacked out they are not of much use anyway so learned something new! Don't do that is the lesson! It's delicate material is what I found out.

Great minds think alike, I did try positioning the darked out half of the two units on top with glowing part of heater head below in hopes the glowing part of the head would rise upwards and ignite the blacked out part, but that did not happen, gave it at least 10 or more minutes and not even a little bit of a creep upward of the glowing part into the non glowing part.

Is it easy to clean the jet? Perhaps as you say that is partially blocked and the propane is only being directed to part of the heater head. Not sure how to unclog it if that is the issue.
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JimL
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by JimL »

I have no idea on the jet or even if the unit would get destroyed trying to get to it. I tossed it out there as an idea, but never tried myself. If you still have one not physically damaged, I suggest using Coleman's procedure of cleaning it with alcohol.
-Jim

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campinut
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by campinut »

Yes, but like mentioned, they have to run awhile before head glows solid. I have several radiant and catayltic heaters. I prefer the radiant. Less funny smells to mess with my sensitive head. Best heater IMO wiuld be the Coleman, Focus 10 radiant heater. 5000 to 10,000 btu makes short work to heat up an area..campinut

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sleebus
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by sleebus »

I've got a focus 5 and we both love it. That 10 must really put a hurtin' on propane bottles!
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campinut
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by campinut »

Hooked to a 20lb tank it can run all day..🤣🤪😲🙄..I only do quick jobs in my garage during the winter so not concerned about how much it uses..
Like a moth at night, I am attracted to the light!..7/7/1964...Russ, from Missouri..
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by Chucker »

Focus 5 fan here.
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Re: What is correct glow pattern on Coleman PROPANE-POWERED Catalytic Heaters?

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Post by outlawmws »

I have 2 Focus 5's and a 519, (3K) A black cat, one of the older box Cats shown above, and one 513A "Dome Cat heater.

Leaving Fuel choice out, the F5's are the best. But the 519 is white gas... With it I'm a one fuel camper...
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