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Author Topic: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!  (Read 2078 times)

Camper054

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What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« on: July 24, 2019, 06:05:32 PM »
Hi all,

I am getting ready to pick up a pop up camper from far away this weekend.  I really like the camper and have been working with the owner to ensure everything is checked as I am making the long trip.  I have been talking to him for about a week now and I like him as well I trust him.  I do not know how to explain, but it is something you get a feel for when you talk to someone for a number of days and couple of times a day!

He checked everything for me and let me know all the details that he sees in the camper and what I need to do or not.  Every little or major things he found.  And sent me pictures along the way.

During his last check of the propane system, he found out that the propane is not flowing.  His propane tank was empty and he did not use it for a while.  He talked to an RV mechanic that he knows, who told him that it is the regulator that need to be changed and this happens if propane tank is empty and sits for a long time (like 10-12 months) and the cost of the regulator is not huge (around $50). 

So, I am asking your advice and from experience:

1. Is it easy to replace the regulator?

Most importantly,
2. What is the worst that can happen if changing the regulator doesn't resolve the issue?

Guys/galls, please any thoughts or advice would ease my mind.
Many thanks!
MC

SeilerBird

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2019, 06:23:10 PM »
Just call a mobile mechanic and have him replace it, ain't no big deal.

SpencerPJ

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2019, 06:58:01 PM »
Propane is an easy system in a camper.  Almost certain it is a regulator, and they $20 to 40.  Don't let that worry you at all.  Have you ever used a gas grill?  they thing where you turn on the gas is the regulator.  Your pop-up might have 2 tanks, and a little more complex regulator, but not much. Check over everything else, top to bottom, look for anything that implies it leaks water, that's a problem.

2020 F150 Lariat 502a, Max Tow, 3.5 Eco
2012 Puma 21BH TT
Paul & Julie


"Never argue with stupid people. They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience" - Mark Twain

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2019, 07:08:42 PM »
Yes, easy enough to change with a couple of wrenches. 

I'm assuming the LP tank is a portable (DOT spec) bottle rather than permanently mounted tank on the RV.  One propane bottle or two?  Sorry to ask, but is the bottle reasonably full and the valve open?  Before going too far, close the valve again and open slowly. If two bottles, is there some sort of chaneover valve to select which bottle in delivering the gas?

What's the worst if not the regulator? Replace the LP bottle. It's a standard type, probably a 20 lb same as most BBQ grills, and available in most any hardware or LP gas store. Even Walmart. About $40.   

Why not try a different LP bottle, maybe one you have or borrow for a test.  Simple enough to determine whether you have a problem with bottle vs regulator, or maybe the hose in between.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2019, 08:44:03 PM »
Hi all, thanks so much for the replies - I feel much better.

I do not know about mobile mechanic and if if he seller can get one who can fix it before I pick it up.  The seller depends on an RV mechanic he knows for all his needs and unfortunately, the mechanic has to go out of town for couple of days.  He wants to wait until the mechanic comes back to fix.  Which means I can't pick up the camper this weekend.  The seller is giving me a 'good amount' to have it fixed by me if I pick up this weekend.  Or, I can pay after hi fixes it, but no discount.  It would be good for me to pick up this weekend as next week school starts and things will get hectic with three boys!  It is a good half day drive for me to get it!

I believe he has just one tank.  I am sure his RV mechanic friend did test some of the things you guys mentioned to test. If not, when I get it, I will go through some of the steps you all mentioned.

Keep your comments coming.  I just want to feel comfortable that it is not going to cost me a hand and a leg if this is not a 'simple' fix later.

Thank you all so very much!
MC

Mark_K5LXP

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2019, 09:52:37 PM »
For some reason the silly things just fail and usually when you're about to do something useful like cook or fire up the furnace.  I keep a spare one for the backyard gas grill, the RV ones are basically the same with different hose/fitting options.  This is probably something you can change out yourself in a few minutes with basic hand tools.  I would in no way take this as an omen or sign of abuse or neglect, it's just one of those things.  Sounds like the seller is acting in good faith.  The corollary to this is, if this is the worst thing that happens to you out of the chute consider yourself lucky.  There's lots more to break, maintain and fix as you go, as you're about to discover.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM

Isaac-1

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2019, 10:17:19 PM »
Cost of a propane regulator depends on if it is a single or dual tank regulator, if dual tank does it have manual or automatic switch over.  A single tank RV propane regulator will cost about $25-30 online and can be swapped out in about 5 minutes with just a couple of wrenches.   Since they do contain a rubber diaphragm which is prone to dry rotting, it is a good idea to replace them every 8-10 years regardless of function.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2019, 10:42:11 PM »
Cost of a propane regulator depends on if it is a single or dual tank regulator, if dual tank does it have manual or automatic switch over.  A single tank RV propane regulator will cost about $25-30 online and can be swapped out in about 5 minutes with just a couple of wrenches.   Since they do contain a rubber diaphragm which is prone to dry rotting, it is a good idea to replace them every 8-10 years regardless of function.

Hi! you give me peace and discomfort at the same time :).  Thanks so much for your advice and yes, this is a 17 year old camper, but the owner maintained it 'extremely' well.  I have been searching for about 3 weeks now and have't seen one as good and neatly kept!  So, yes, I assume there would be more things for me to fix as I take on this adventure of owning and using a pup!

Thank you all SO VERY MUCH!
MC

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2019, 08:42:16 AM »
A new 20# tank is $35 at Lowes and a regulator under $20. For $55 you can be all new and ready to fill the tank & go.  The only risk is that we have no idea how or where in the gas system he determined "gas not flowing". Maybe the tank & regulator are fine and there is a problem somewhere else. Very low risk, but we don't have a clue what was done or how reliable that diagnosis is.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2019, 12:24:15 PM »
Hi Gary,

Yes, that is also my BIGGEST concern.  If the solution is just getting a new tank and regulator, then I am the happiest camper on earth (for the moment!).  But if not, then what am I looking at - cost wise?  This is what I am hoping to find out from experienced folks like you.  Thinking of the worst - if the blockage is somewhere else, what do I need to do?  Propane is pretty important and critical for the camper as without it, we will have to rely on burning wood for any cooking need...

Well, only 'comfort' for me is that the owner had the issue looked at by an RV mechanic, who he trusts.  The mechanic said the regulator is the issue and I believe and trust him.  But as you know, we are all human and we can all make mistakes from time to time - definitely not intentionally.

Do you or anyone have any idea if I have to replace the whole propane system - how much it may cost?

Thanks!
MC

SeilerBird

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2019, 12:38:33 PM »
Settle down. 99% chance it is the regulator.

Lou Schneider

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2019, 04:49:13 PM »
I keep a spare one for the backyard gas grill, the RV ones are basically the same with different hose/fitting options. 

Be careful, many gas grill regulators are single stage.  RVs require two stage regulators to keep the system pressure constant as the demand varies and the tank pressure changes with temperature.

You're going from a tank pressure of 50-100+ PSI down to 0.5 PSI (11 inches water column) in the RV's gas lines.  That's a lot for one stage to handle.

On a gas grill it doesn't matter if the output pressure varies a bit, you can compensate by just turning the  burner knob up or down.  But an RV distribution system needs better pressure control than a single stage regulator can supply.

Here's an example of a two stage propane regulator.  Notice the small primary regulator ahead of the secondary stage.  This is different than the A-B selector switch used for dual tanks.  Single stage regulators just have the one larger diaphragm.

https://www.etrailer.com/Propane/Camco/CAM59323.html

Make sure you mount the regulator so the vent hole faces down.  There are several variations available so you can do this.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2019, 04:56:19 PM by Lou Schneider »

John From Detroit

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2019, 05:10:13 PM »
The subject asks "What is the worst that  can happen"

#1 with a Kaboom is the gas starts flowing again. and you do not notice it, and there is a spark
Question: What happens when you get the ideal mixture of gas and air and there is a spark?
Answer: you land 2 counties over

#2 is food in the fridge spoils during a power fail.

Not that expensive to get it fixed

I've never heard of non-use or regulator leading to a failure though

I have heard of too swift opening of the tank valve causing issues.  Though I've never seen it happen
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2019, 11:52:40 PM »
You are funny :).  Yep, I do not want to be responsible for creating a wild fire.  Not only I lose my camper, but now I am charged with arson!

GOOD NEWS!

The seller called me this evening that he was able to get the issue fixed.  It was his propane tank that was 'faulty'.  He asked his neighbor who is also an avid camper to take a look. The neighbor brought his own propane tank, hooked it up, and voila! The propane is flowing!

So, we are all set now, except my only worry is about coming back 450 miles with tires that have not been replaced in 6 yrs. What are some of the places that will replace your camper tires and possibly repack the wheel bearings?  Like Wall-Mart or Autozone or Tire rack?

I want to get this fixed before I head back.

Thanks again to all
MC

John From Detroit

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2019, 06:26:21 AM »
THat line about landing 2 counties over ... I was doing my internet run in a room where a class of Propane Pump jockeys were reviewing the final exam.
The question was on the exam
Before any of them could answer I gave the answer above..... Had the desired effect.

When the room settled back down the instructor said "Exactly" but yes that was the desired effect. Thanks for the compliment.

We actually had a Rig in the same park where that class was being held where the owner accidently turned on a burner on the stove without lighting it. Well when he smelled the odorant they add he turned all the knobs to the left (off) including the ignightor knob KABOOM.. Not the proper mix however so no real damage.  Just some loss of hair on his legs.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 06:28:02 AM by John From Detroit »
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2019, 08:34:29 AM »
Walmarts will replace tires, assuming they have the right size & type. So will most tire shops, e.g. Discount Tire, Les Schwab or Big O.   Getting bearings repacked requires a service shop, which few Autozone or other car parts places have. Your best bet would be a general trailer sales & service place, which most metro areas have. Or an independent mechanic shop.   Les Schwab tire shops also do light mechanical work, so maybe they would do bearings too.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2019, 08:50:24 AM »
Many many thanks Gary.  This is what I was worried about - that not very many places will service the bearings.  I will be driving about 450ish miles and some it through hills around Chattanooga (I-24 and I-75 towards Atlanta GA).  I have driven through these roads before and there are some 5% to 7% grades up and downhills!

The owner did not change the tires for at least 6 yrs he owned them and remembers that previous owner changed them a year to two back.

So, I am at a dilemma now:

a. Just drive slowly 65-70mph - take frequent stops - monitor the tires and their temperature (ordered an infrared thermometer from Amazon that should be coming today.  I needed one, so just use this excuse to get it :)).

b. Have the tires replaced at the city (by WallMart or wherever I can get them before I head back) and then take the trailer to a mechanic or somewhere near me to service the wheel bearings.

c. Do both (change tire and take care of wheel bearings) at the city I am planning to get the camper.  Trouble is that it is Sunday when I will get the tires - it is not a 'big' city, and probably not many places will be open to service the bearings.  I heard it is probably bit cheaper to do the wheel bearings when the tires are replaced.

I am not sure and I know it is not easy for anyone to suggest unless you see and feel the tires for yourself.  The owner says that the tires are good and I can drive back and then take care of this.

d. I can buy a pair of tires today and keep them with me.  But I don't think I can mount them on the wheels, unless I get mounted ones!

Please advice and thanks SO MUCH!
MC

SpencerPJ

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2019, 10:55:40 AM »
Most Travel Trailers have a spare tire in the unlikely event something happens.  Light, unloaded, personally I think you are over-worrying.   (a. Just drive slowly 65-70mph )  even with new tires and repacked bearings, keep it under 70.  :))  Look them over, look for cracks, look for anything to be concerned about, but I highly doubt you find a problem.  And keep an eye on them every 100 miles or so.
2020 F150 Lariat 502a, Max Tow, 3.5 Eco
2012 Puma 21BH TT
Paul & Julie


"Never argue with stupid people. They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience" - Mark Twain

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2019, 11:59:52 AM »
Yep, I think I am 'over worrying'.  The tires usually have a life-span of 6-8 years depending how much driving they have undertaken.  So, I should be good there.  Additionally, the owner kept the camper always stored in the garage - so, they were not exposed under the sun and heat to over dry them out to have cracks, etc.

So, wish me luck folks, I have already booked a hotel as I am leaving tomorrow morning, staying near the owners place, meet him on Sunday morning, pick up the camper and drive back!!!

Will report when I get back on how things went...keep me in your prayers :).

Cheers all-
MC

Camper054

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2019, 09:13:55 AM »
Update:

Hi all, we made it back safely last night with the camper.  It is a very nice camper, stored inside, and extremely well maintained.  I have searched for about a month and did not see a camper that is about 15-17 years old, but in such a good condition. 

As for the tires, I was worried - I had two new tires (mounted on rims) with me, in case I find it questionable to travel 450 miles.  Upon checking personally, I decided not to change them.  I had a temperature gun with me to measure the tire temp often.  So, I stopped after first 30 minutes, measured the temp and it was around 120 degrees.  Then I stopped after an hour or so, it was around 130 degrees.  I also stopped agin after driving about one and a half hours and it was still around 130 degrees.  It was day time and outside temperature was 90 degrees!  Lastly, I stopped about 2.5 hours after constant driving and it was late evening by that time and the temperature came down to 115 degrees!  So, I stopped worrying and then drove back to home.  I should have taken one last temperature measure after getting back, but I was too tired and forgot about it!

Anyway, of to the next adventure.  The owner showed everything and how things work, but now I guess, it is my time to figure them out and take the camper to next adventure!

Happy camping folks!
MC

SpencerPJ

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Re: What is the worst that can happen? Propane not flowing!
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2019, 12:02:21 PM »
Great News, I was wondering how your adventure was going.   :))
2020 F150 Lariat 502a, Max Tow, 3.5 Eco
2012 Puma 21BH TT
Paul & Julie


"Never argue with stupid people. They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience" - Mark Twain