Helton hot shower system install 2005 GMC Yukon

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Apr 20, 2012
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Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Hi everyone,

I'm starting this thread hoping to help the adventurers among us enjoy a little bit of luxury when on long camping or work trips where a hotel and a shower aren't always available or convenient.

I did not take pictures during the installation, but hopefully the pictures and links below will help anyone who wishes to take on a similar project.

Background: From 2010 until 2016, I owned a 1989 GMC Jimmy which I had purchased specifically for hunting/camping trips. I took it to the Alpine Loop in Colorado, Big Bend National Park, and multiple hunting trips to various locations within 2-5 hours of the DFW metroplex. It had a winch, a dual battery system, and a hot shower system.

I'd always intended on installing the shower system in the Yukon after I sold the Jimmy, and finally got around to it last week.

The most expensive component to the system is the Helton heat exchanger which I purchased from Cruiser Outfitters for $255. I did not buy the entire shower kit, only the exchanger.

Here are the parts I sourced:

t-fittings $12 each (need two)
12 volt toggle switch $8
constant tension hose clamps $11 for set of four (need 8 total, or two sets)
12 volt water pump $25
3/8 to garden hose barbed adapter $7
Garden hose nozzle with selectable output $10

Auto parts store can cut these by the foot:
5/8" inner diameter heater hose (can get this from local auto parts store by the foot)
3/8 inner diameter fuel hose (can get this from local auto parts store by the foot)

Home Depot carries these items:
3/8 inner diameter clear tubing for the fresh water intake (10 feet recommended)
3/8 inner diameter clear braided vinyl tubing for the fresh water output (minimum 10 feet recommended)

The pictures explain the install, but here are the key points:

1. Use fuel line to connect the fresh water pump output to the cold water inlet on the heat exchanger since this will be exposed to the heat of your engine bay at all times. Use clamps at both of these connections.

2. Use about 12" of fuel line from the hot fresh water output on the heat exchanger to a double mail barbed fitting connecting it to the braided vinyl tubing that goes to your shower head. The heat of the exchanger will soften the vinyl tubing to a point where it will weaken it, and you will risk the line bursting. Use clamps at these connections.

3. The fresh water intake hose doesn't need to be clamped since there is no pressure on this line. However, you may want to figure out a way to weigh down the end of the intake line so when you drop it into your fresh water source/bucket, it goes to the bottom.

4. Make sure you clamp ALL connections other than the fresh water intake. The pump has 80 PSI output pressure, compared to your typical automotive cooling system that operates around 15 PSI. If you don't clamp the fresh water output connections well, you can plan on being sprayed with water.

5. Make sure you try to do your best to water proof the electrical connections around the pump. Water + electricity = bad things over time.

6. I purchased a passenger side battery tray and installed it with the intention of adding a dual battery system to the truck, but decided against it. I have the pump mounted to the battery tray with self tapping metal screws, but you may be able to mount it to the existing bracket in the area without having to purchase the battery tray.

7. I had to remove the fender brace for this project. If you don't like the idea of doing this, you'll just need to figure out a different way to mount your heat exchanger and toggle switch.

Let me know if any of you have questions!

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