Camping hot water service

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 01:24
ThreadID: 24894 Views:20453 Replies:7 FollowUps:7
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Hi All,
Just a question regarding how to make a camp-hotwater service. When I was in scouts(many moons ago!) we used to have a hot water service that used to sit on the edge of the fire place. Would anybody out there know how to make one of these? As I remember(correct me if I am wrong) it was made with a 20ltr steel drum. Thanks for any help.
Matt Brook

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Reply By: Grungle - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 07:45

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 07:45
Hi Matt,

Just get a coil of copper pipe made with an inlet and outlet that can be chucked in the fire or a shovel of coals thrown on top. Get a cheap camping shower setup to pump water through it and bobs your uncle you have a hot shower. Would have to experiment with how long the coils is to get the heat right. Can regulate by slowing down the water flow to heat up. Alternatively you can cycle the water through a 20l jerry until the water is at the right temp. Then pull the copper pipe heat exchanger off and just pump the warmed water of the jerry through the shower setup.

Also we had a guy in our 4x4 club who made a coil of copper that inserted into his vehicles exhaust which made for a cheap heat exchanger. Again he just pumped water through for hot water.

There is a guy in Caboolture that makes a heat exchanger that attaches to a gas bottle. Consists of a one burner stove, coil of coper and a stainless mixing bowl. The copper coil is wound to match the inside of the mixing bowl with a couple of holes drilled in the mixing bowls walls for inlet and outlet. Mixing bowl is then inverted and teck screwed to the one burner stove. A couple of holes in the base (now top) of the mixing bowl allows heat to excape. Attach to gas bottle and ignight. Then regulate flame for temperature of hot water. Very simple but brilliant idea. Sells for $100.

These would have to be the cheapest, easiest and most compact I have seen. The one with a 20 litre drum is inefficient, bulky, messy and cumbersome in my eyes.

AnswerID: 121247

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:42

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:42
Hi David,

Sorry, just had to ask this, and its getting away from the original question. Why not simple put a 10litre billy of water on the fire (or stove) for 5-10minutes until its warm enough, then drop in a 12volt shower.

I did away with my underbonnet heat exchanger, as I find this system works better and way less hassles.

FollowupID: 376279

Follow Up By: Zapper - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:07

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:07
Hi Grungle

Do you know how to contact the guy in Caboolture you mentioned that makes the heat exchangers?

FollowupID: 376326

Follow Up By: Grungle - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 18:29

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 18:29
Hi Phil,

We have a family of 4 so it is easier to use a heat exchanger because of the lengthy showers we sometimes have. We sometimes go through around 40 litres of water if we are near somehere with a plentiful supply so boiling billies is a lengthy excercise.

We have used the billy method before (pre kids) on the odd occasion but for quick showers a heat exchanger is the way to go.

FollowupID: 376426

Follow Up By: rudu - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 20:52

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 20:52
The most basic hot water service is still the best , a drum with a outlet on the top or out of the top side, an inlet pipe that runs through the top down to the bottom of the drum, when you pour the water in the same amount comes out and you can have it on the fire all day. Just DONT EVER put a tap or seal the inlet or outlet because you will make a bomb.
This is how most hot water heaters in a house work, just remember the water is boiling when it comes out. THE OTHER WAY IS TO GET AN OLD TANK OUT OF A MAINS PREASURE HOT WATER SERVICE AND CONVERT THIS.

FollowupID: 376463

Reply By: Member - John C (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:04

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:04
I think the one you had in scouts was a little cruder than above.

Most probably a 20l drum with an inlet and outlet.
Uually set up with the inlet pipe (funnel on top?) running down inside the drum to the bottom, and an outlet pipe coming off the top.

As you pour one billy of cold water in, a billy of hot water comes out. That the one?

Be an idea to have a vent at the top too, for the steam build up.

There are numerous variations.

Me, I just have 2 to 3 billies always sat around the fire and pick the one I want, use it, an refill it before putting it back on :-)
AnswerID: 121250

Reply By: Time - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:36

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:36
Try here


AnswerID: 121257

Reply By: Wizard1 - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:56

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:56
I agreee with Phil G, unless you have the room a 20 litre drum takes up a lot of room. Admittedly you could probably put other stuff in it, as long as it isn't full of copper pipe.

The other issue is they rely on filing with cold water to get hot water out. Now in my books 20 litres of water is a lot to waste for a shower, unless you intend to pour the left over back into the jerry can when you move.

Phil's idea is much the same as our current practice.

Boil water on fire or gas stove (heat only what you need)
Put in a bucket, if necessary, with some cold water.
Drop $20 Dick Smith hand held 12 volt shower hose in, turn on and tickety boo!!!!

Cost of water, next to nothing
Cost of Hand Held Shower ~ $20
Cost of cheap warm shower, Priceless

Prado TD
Gold Coast
AnswerID: 121266

Follow Up By: Time - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 09:22

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 09:22
....agree when you do not have a supply of water close at hand.

However, when camped close to a water supply it is great to have hotwater on tap. A group of us were camped in the one spot for a week over Xmas, the hotwater was used for washing up and showers for about a dozen people. Was a lot more convenient than having to boil the billy. The advantage of the "Put and Take" as we called it, was exactly that, you had to put in as much water as you wanted to take out, thus the pot was always full.

We have also used when on a weekend trip with a large group. The unit is very simple, an outlet spout fitted just below the rim of the tin, and the inlet tube reaches almost to the bottom of the tin. The theory is cold watergoes in via the funnel at the top down the inlet tube to the bottom of the tin thus displacing the hot water through the spout at the ttop rim of the tin (...clear as mud??), very simple and they work a treat.

My advice would be if you are camping near a water supply with a group of people find somewhere in you kit to take one with you.


FollowupID: 376288

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 10:36

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 10:36
Why does it have to be 20l.

They are not what I would call advanced engineering. Why not make your own in the size you want? Say 5l or 10l or to be really radical why not make both, store one inside the other and enjoy the flexibility.

FollowupID: 376298

Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 09:31

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 09:31
Willow make them, $50.00, Aussie Disposals!
I have one, it's great.
AnswerID: 121270

Reply By: flappa - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 09:48

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 09:48
Commonly called a "donkey" , and available in most good camping shops.

Hillbilly makes one.
AnswerID: 121273

Reply By: Mattbrook - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 13:49

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 13:49
Thanks For your help everyone. Normally I would just use a billy, but lately I have been doing a few group trips where we have a base camp and do tracks from there during the day or night. I agree that it will take up a lot of room but when there is a few fourbies to share the load the comfort is worth it.

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AnswerID: 121300

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 19:50

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 19:50
Matt, if you have plently of room have a look at this donkey....cook your tucker on it as well
FollowupID: 376447

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