Author Topic: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!  (Read 1929 times)

Offline grouseman

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Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« on: Mar 04, 2019, 02:14 PM »
I bought a Mr. Heater Little Buddy heater about 3 years ago. I have a Frabill one man flip shack so the 3800 btu/hr was more than enough heat. Also I needed the small size of the Little Buddy as my flip shack is very limited in space. Shortly after I bought it the thing it stopped working when it got below freezing. I contacted the manufacturer and followed their instructions with regards to cleaning the pilot orifice. Still it would not work at below freezing temperatures. The manufacturer kindly sent me a brand new replacement unit.

Well that unit worked well for about 2 1/2 years. Now it is the exact same darn problem. The pilot light ignites just fine. Then when you take your finger off of the red start button it extinguishes itself. Instruction say to hold the red start button for 30 to 60 second. I have tried holding the red start button in for 5 minutes (nice pilot flame) and the lousy thing still wonít work!! And yes I have cleaned the pilot light orifice.

As far as I can tell the flame sensor is some kind of thermocouple which puts out a milli-voltage when heated. This in turn pulls in a weak magnet in the main control valve. I know it would remove the safety feature, but if I could bypass the lousy thing I would.

I would love to get it going as this is prime ice fishing time. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

My advice to folks looking for a reliable heater is to not bother with the Mr. Heater Little Buddy. In my opinion it is a piece of crap.

Grouseman

Offline meandcuznalfy

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #1 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:16 PM »
Try replacing the thermocouple, it may be bad.

Offline bobberbill

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #2 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:20 PM »
Bypass won't work. Are you using the 1# cans or a tank. Safety devices in the hoses and tanks are a PIA. Some tank hoses need a filter, some don't. The pilot light flame should appear strong. If it's just a small flame it won't heat the thermo up enough. Mr. Heater tech support is pretty good.

The tanks don't work very well below freezing. It's more than likely a tank problem and not a heater problem. I've heard of guys using a cooler with handwarmers to keep 1# cans warm.

Offline Gunflint

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #3 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:23 PM »
Mine's worked many times at -20 and -30.

I use it with the 1 pounds normally, but have used it with the 20 pounders as well.

When really cold, better to keep tanks inside the hut, but I have kept them outside as well.
Veritas Odium Parit

Offline DR.SPECKLER

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #4 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:25 PM »
My little buddy does this every year.its a pos but mine problem was the tipover switch was stuck.i took it all apart and hit the switch with a screwdriver handle.i also carefully bent the thermo couple into the flame more.it works for now but i know it will have problems again.unreliable heater when I really need.

Offline maddogg

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #5 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:27 PM »
Mine does the same thing if you find out how to fix it let me know.

Offline bobberbill

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #6 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:29 PM »
8į here with wind. Hope my Buddy heater works OK for me in about an hour from now. If not, I'll walk back to the house.

Offline Kevin23

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #7 on: Mar 04, 2019, 03:56 PM »
I don't like mine either, I only take it when I need to save weight or space. I had a similar issue and was so pissed off at it that I threw it across the ice.. I went and picked it up and tried it again and the pilot stayed lit. I'm not sure what I did, maybe the tilt shut-off was stuck.

Offline Fontona19

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #8 on: Mar 04, 2019, 04:38 PM »
Try replacing the thermocouple, it may be bad.

This is my guess as well

Offline Dtinsf

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #9 on: Mar 04, 2019, 07:42 PM »
I bought a generic little buddy 15+ years ago (dyna-glo) and it's been a good unit.  I've driven miles on the ice and some times the heating pad has been covered with snow and it still lit. Maybe I just got lucky...

Offline Hooked up

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #10 on: Mar 04, 2019, 08:23 PM »
I've had my Mr. Buddy heater for a few years now and have no problems. Hopefully you get it worked out.

Offline Vine Valley

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #11 on: Mar 04, 2019, 08:42 PM »
I do not own a machine so I have to walk everywhere on the ice. My #1 concern with all my equipment is size & weight. I have a Mr. Buddy that I no longer use. A few years ago I bought a very inexpensive Coleman Micro Stove that runs on a Butane/Propane Mixture. (I do not use it for cooking but I could cook with it.) I use it exclusively for heat. I love it. It is tiny with no weight. Even the Butane/Propane bottles are much smaller than the propane bottles I needed for the Mr. Buddy. The Butane/Propane Mixture works better in the cold than the propane. The are several small micro stoves designed for hikers, mountain climbers etc... than can be used for heating ice fishing shelters/sleds. Earlier this season I read a tip on IceShanty about using inexpensive work bench rubber floor mats in your shelter/sled. Now my feet stay warm thanks to the mats. MICRO STOVES!!!

Offline lil maggot

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #12 on: Mar 04, 2019, 09:26 PM »
I bought a generic little buddy 15+ years ago (dyna-glo) and it's been a good unit.  I've driven miles on the ice and some times the heating pad has been covered with snow and it still lit. Maybe I just got lucky...



I too bought a dyna-glo heater 15+ years ago and I have never had any issue with it.
Heck I have never even cleaned it.
:icefish:  :icefish:   :icefish:  :icefish:   :icefish: :icefish:
 

Ice fishing line of fire ENGAGE!

Offline grouseman

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #13 on: Mar 05, 2019, 08:51 AM »
Thanks folks for some great comments. I'll try to clarify. My Little Buddy sits on top of a 1 lb cylinder of propane. At first I thought the problem was with the reduced propane vapour pressure at temperatures below freezing. The Tech at Mr. Heater said that the unit was designed for a minimum of 10 psig. The vapour pressure of propane at zero deg F is 28 psig so that shouldnít be an issue.

Itís not an issue with the tip over switch which would be simple to bypass. The issue has got to be with the thermocouple. Iíve looked on Amazon and Mr. Heaterís websites but canít find the replacement thermocouple for my Model MH4B Little Buddy heater.

I also bent the thermocouple clamp to push it closer to the pilot flame and still no go.

I have posted this issue on three forums and very few people have anything good to say about the Little Buddyís. The thermocouple is the most common failure. These things can fail brand new out of the box. Itís a basic design/manufacturing flaw.

Sooo!!!  Iím at the point where Iím going to open up the control valve and see if I canít somehow bypass the crappy thermocouple. I know itís a safety feature but the lack of reliability when you are on the ice freezing your buns off and desperately need the heat is driving me to extreme measures.

I also looked at the Dyna-Glo website but their heaters give off way to much heat for my flip shack. The Little Buddy heaters are rated at 3800 btu/hr. The Dyna-Gloís start at 10000 btu/hr.

Take care,   Grousemen

Offline hardwater diehard

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Offline bullpine

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #15 on: Mar 05, 2019, 09:09 AM »
I like mine so far, had it two years now, and I have a Big Buddy that I like as well.  Squeaky wheel gets heard as far as like and don't like.  Hope you fined a good solution.

Offline doctorgee

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #16 on: Mar 05, 2019, 09:36 AM »
These things are garbage but thankfully they are cheap. I usually get 3 or 4 years of HARD use out of them before I need to buy another for $99. When they work they work real good!
Quote- fishslap: I use a variety:  whistlin' bungholes, spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don'ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick, or one single whistlin' kitty chaser

Ice safety link: http://lakeice.squarespace.com/

Offline johnb340

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #17 on: Mar 05, 2019, 09:44 AM »
http://www.mrheater.com/downloads/dl/file/id/33/mr_heater_little_buddy_faq_guide_201305_pdf.pdf

It may or may not be the thermocouple.  I'd check the tipover switch first since it's easy to troubleshoot before buying anything. 

Offline IceFishFreak

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #18 on: Mar 06, 2019, 08:35 AM »
These things are garbage but thankfully they are cheap. I usually get 3 or 4 years of HARD use out of them before I need to buy another for $99. When they work they work real good!

The little buddies are garbage.  I bought one recently and took it back,  it wouldn't light.  I bought a Portable buddy and it seems great,  first time it lights.  I know others that have the square one's (portable buddy) and they beat the crap out of em and still work.  Little buddies I'd steer real clear of from my experience and others.

Offline doctorgee

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #19 on: Mar 06, 2019, 11:56 AM »
I am talking about the portable buddies. I have never had one of the little ones. I always use a bulk tank, and I used a filter. They still fail on me every 3 or 4 years. Don't know what I am doing? I keep it in the Mr. Heater bag whenever it's not being used.
Quote- fishslap: I use a variety:  whistlin' bungholes, spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don'ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick, or one single whistlin' kitty chaser

Ice safety link: http://lakeice.squarespace.com/

Offline ice dawg

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #20 on: Mar 06, 2019, 12:07 PM »
Thanks folks for some great comments. I'll try to clarify. My Little Buddy sits on top of a 1 lb cylinder of propane. At first I thought the problem was with the reduced propane vapour pressure at temperatures below freezing. The Tech at Mr. Heater said that the unit was designed for a minimum of 10 psig. The vapour pressure of propane at zero deg F is 28 psig so that shouldnít be an issue.

Itís not an issue with the tip over switch which would be simple to bypass. The issue has got to be with the thermocouple. Iíve looked on Amazon and Mr. Heaterís websites but canít find the replacement thermocouple for my Model MH4B Little Buddy heater.

I also bent the thermocouple clamp to push it closer to the pilot flame and still no go.

I have posted this issue on three forums and very few people have anything good to say about the Little Buddyís. The thermocouple is the most common failure. These things can fail brand new out of the box. Itís a basic design/manufacturing flaw.

Sooo!!!  Iím at the point where Iím going to open up the control valve and see if I canít somehow bypass the crappy thermocouple. I know itís a safety feature but the lack of reliability when you are on the ice freezing your buns off and desperately need the heat is driving me to extreme measures.

I also looked at the Dyna-Glo website but their heaters give off way to much heat for my flip shack. The Little Buddy heaters are rated at 3800 btu/hr. The Dyna-Gloís start at 10000 btu/hr.

Take care,   Grousemen
Someone said if you store a little buddy on it's side instead of upright the tip over sensor can stick in the wrong position and it won't light the burner. Supposedly the solution is to hold it vertically and give it a pop with your hand to knock the sensor loose. I have never had to do this to mine..
It seems to go from zero to hero all some have to do is lie.

Offline johnb340

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #21 on: Mar 06, 2019, 02:07 PM »
Yes you are correct, never transport them on their sides, store them on their sides, bang them around, or store them in a bad environment or store them without a propane bottle on them.  These units are far from garbage that many think they are and many problems are self induced.

My gf uses one, her son uses one, and I own one even though I prefer a lantern.  I rarely work on these, common sense goes a long way.

Offline grouseman

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #22 on: Mar 07, 2019, 03:13 PM »
OK so hereís the latest report on my Little Buddy Heater (Model MH4B). As already mentioned, I originally bought one unit which crapped out, and was sent a replacement unit by Mr. Heater. So I ended up with two units, the second of which crapped out last week. Well desperate time call for desperate measures and I fully took apart the replacement unit to see how it is supposed to work.

The temperature sensor is in fact a thermocouple (not a capillary tube) which generates a milli-voltage signal that depends on the temperature. The higher the temperature, the greater the milli-volts. This signal is sent to a solenoid valve in the end of the main control valve. When there are enough milli-volts the solenoid valve will stay open allowing propane to flow to the main burner. I tried to get the milli-volt reading on my volt ohm metre but it was too coarse a reading. Iím guessing maybe 15 milli-volts. Personally I donít see how the thermocouple would fail as it is protected by a metal sheath which isolates it from the oxidizing or reducing effects of the pilot flame. I believe the solenoid valves are the culprits. Having said that there is a slight possibility of the ďtip over switchĒ failing open. This is easy enough to check with your volt ohm metre.

So I dissembled (read destroyed) the main control valve on the second unit but at least now I know how it is supposed to work. I swapped the solenoid valve between the replacement unit and the original one. Low and behold now the original one is working even when I leave it out in the cold.

I gutted the main control valve on the remaining unit and it is now operated on full manual control with no safe guards on it. I donít recommend this to anyone, as with out the built in safeguards your safety is at risk.

Soooo!!! Tomorrow I plan to go ice fishing!!!

Take care,  Grouseman

Offline Gunflint

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #23 on: Mar 07, 2019, 03:19 PM »
OK so hereís the latest report on my Little Buddy Heater (Model MH4B). As already mentioned, I originally bought one unit which crapped out, and was sent a replacement unit by Mr. Heater. So I ended up with two units, the second of which crapped out last week. Well desperate time call for desperate measures and I fully took apart the replacement unit to see how it is supposed to work.

The temperature sensor is in fact a thermocouple (not a capillary tube) which generates a milli-voltage signal that depends on the temperature. The higher the temperature, the greater the milli-volts. This signal is sent to a solenoid valve in the end of the main control valve. When there are enough milli-volts the solenoid valve will stay open allowing propane to flow to the main burner. I tried to get the milli-volt reading on my volt ohm metre but it was too coarse a reading. Iím guessing maybe 15 milli-volts. Personally I donít see how the thermocouple would fail as it is protected by a metal sheath which isolates it from the oxidizing or reducing effects of the pilot flame. I believe the solenoid valves are the culprits. Having said that there is a slight possibility of the ďtip over switchĒ failing open. This is easy enough to check with your volt ohm metre.

So I dissembled (read destroyed) the main control valve on the second unit but at least now I know how it is supposed to work. I swapped the solenoid valve between the replacement unit and the original one. Low and behold now the original one is working even when I leave it out in the cold.

I gutted the main control valve on the remaining unit and it is now operated on full manual control with no safe guards on it. I donít recommend this to anyone, as with out the built in safeguards your safety is at risk.

Soooo!!! Tomorrow I plan to go ice fishing!!!

Take care,  Grouseman

GREAT analysis. Love to see the passion.

SMOKIN....

Special thanks to the Grouseman from someone who is unBEARable!

Veritas Odium Parit

Offline doctorgee

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #24 on: Mar 08, 2019, 09:34 AM »
Yes you are correct, never transport them on their sides, store them on their sides, bang them around, or store them in a bad environment or store them without a propane bottle on them.  These units are far from garbage that many think they are and many problems are self induced.

My gf uses one, her son uses one, and I own one even though I prefer a lantern.  I rarely work on these, common sense goes a long way.

I never store or transport it on it's side, but there is nothing I can do about it riding in my flip over and getting banged around on a 5 mile snowmobile ride to fishing spots. It's always in the Mr. Heater bag, standing straight up. I did not know that I shouldn't store without a bottle on it, I never use a 1lb bottle, I only use a bulk tank and the hose comes off when I store it. Maybe I should have an empty 1lb bottle just to attach for transport and storage? You think dirt/dust or grit can get in there? Never thought of that.

Quote- fishslap: I use a variety:  whistlin' bungholes, spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don'ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick, or one single whistlin' kitty chaser

Ice safety link: http://lakeice.squarespace.com/

Offline Royalwapiti

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #25 on: Mar 08, 2019, 07:47 PM »
There's a reason why many retail stores sell these, with the word Reconditioned in the top line.  So many of them get returned, fixed somehow and sent back out.
You can't get the fruit if you don't go out on the limb.

Offline Light liner

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #26 on: Mar 08, 2019, 07:58 PM »
Boy I must be lucky. I have 2.
 buddy and a big buddy. The little one must be atleast 15 years old and the other one probably 10.
Never had any issues. Keep them blown out and clean the nozzle with rubbing alcohol and a cue tip.
I use either refilled one pounders,5 lb tank or a 20. Filters on a remote hoze.
Abuse the hell out of them.
Champlain
Memphremagog

Offline Huntindave

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #27 on: Mar 08, 2019, 08:46 PM »
Boy I must be lucky. I have 2.
 buddy and a big buddy. The little one must be atleast 15 years old and the other one probably 10.
Never had any issues. Keep them blown out and clean the nozzle with rubbing alcohol and a cue tip.
I use either refilled one pounders,5 lb tank or a 20. Filters on a remote hoze.
Abuse the hell out of them.

Yet the thread is about the Little Buddy  Model #: MH4B.  http://www.mrheater.com/little-buddy-heater.html    Do you have any experience with the Little Buddy Heater?  (not the Buddy or the Big Buddy)
take care,
Dave  :>)

Offline Light liner

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #28 on: Mar 08, 2019, 08:50 PM »
Whoops. Nope never used one.
My bad.
Maybe time for one?
Champlain
Memphremagog

Offline 350 Mag

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Re: Little Buddy Heater Craps Out Again Arggggg!
« Reply #29 on: Mar 09, 2019, 06:18 AM »
My brand NEW BIG buddy quit working in its maiden voyage...

Looked like the tanks froze up when half empty?


But it was minus 23 C and minus 35 windchill...


 



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