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Author Topic: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather  (Read 3007 times)

denmarc

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Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« on: September 12, 2011, 09:31:44 AM »
Would anyone be familiar with an automatic LP regulator for vertical tanks that works well in cold Michigan weather? 
Being a permanent boondocker, and the TT is in use into the month of December, nighttime temps can get well below freezing up here.  I think my current regulator is starting to act up by not switching over to the full tank all the time.  And I have noticed some signs of freezing when the furnace is blasting away during those cold nights in the past.   Might be time to replace.
In doing a little research into a cold weather regulator, I have found none that really fits the bill.  Is there such a monster?

Or...

Maybe some ideas that would prohibit freeze-ups of the regulator, or to help keep it from freezing?
Mark

1994 Jayco Eagle 370FB on 24 acres of paid off paradise in Michigan.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

Dr. Seuss

John From Detroit

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2011, 11:14:00 AM »
Well.. I would assume anything made by Marshall (Michigan) brass would work in a Michigan Winter..  After all, at one time Marshall was in competition for Lansing as for the Capitol city, Lansing won due to it's more central location LP wise.

Actually.. Any of them will.. the regulators are not much affected by temps.. At least not till around -40.. at about -40 they all quit, and for the same reason, Propane won't vaporize below -40.  Thus there is nothing for them to regulate.  I grew up in a house with LP tanks and regulators.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

denmarc

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2011, 11:42:50 AM »
Thanks John.  Based on your location, you would know.  I have driven the Detroit metro area for many years and know full well you are aware of my concern.

Unless there are some ideas that come across the thread that may help, maybe I will just wrap the new regulator with some foam blanket and hope for the best.
Mark

1994 Jayco Eagle 370FB on 24 acres of paid off paradise in Michigan.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

Dr. Seuss

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2011, 11:47:32 AM »
The propane itself is as likely to cause a freeze up as the external temp - the vaporization really chills things out! And if there is moisture in the LP tank that could compound things. Might be worthwhile to have the tank purged to see if that helps. Usually costs very little.

As John says, regulators are usually rated right down to the -40 that propane can (theoretically) be used. But that is for the regulator part. The mechanics that do the tank switch-over are probably not machined to any great tolerances, nor tested in any unusual temperature. Another auto-change regulator might work better - or worse.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

denmarc

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 11:54:58 AM »
Right on Gary.  As I mentioned, I did notice signs of freezing on the tanks (2-100 lb. verticals) and maybe some condensation in the sight glass of the regulator.  Thought maybe another regulator, other than a Marshall, might be better suited for that environment?  Maybe not?
Mark

1994 Jayco Eagle 370FB on 24 acres of paid off paradise in Michigan.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

Dr. Seuss

Tony_Alberta

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2011, 05:14:53 PM »
Unless there are some ideas that come across the thread that may help, maybe I will just wrap the new regulator with some foam blanket and hope for the best.
I doubt that wrapping some insulation would help simply because you need a heat source of some sort as well to help keep things warm.

My grandfather would put a 100 watt infrared heat bulb underneath his large 1000 gallon propane tanks in cold Manitoba winters which used to routinely get colder than -40.   That would be sufficient to get enough propane vaporizing to heat a large 10,000 chicken barn.

denmarc

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 02:33:22 PM »
Tony_Alberta,
I kind of thought the same thing.  I just thought maybe some protection from the elements might help.

Maybe the fix is just as simple as a new regulator due to the fact of the age of the original regulator.

Fingers crossed!  Hunting season coming up!
Mark

1994 Jayco Eagle 370FB on 24 acres of paid off paradise in Michigan.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

Dr. Seuss

John From Detroit

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 03:22:00 PM »
I will mention that I have seen two bad regulators in my day.. one was leaking and one would not pass gas.. ON the 2nd one when I removed it oil was present in the line.. I blew it out and ordered a new regulator (This was a Mr. Buddy Heater as I recall) which worked.

They do go bad.. On occasion.

Marshall, MI. (Home of Marshall Brass) has recorded -40 temps on at least one occasion that I know of.. Since I was not all that far away (Same county) when it hit -40.. I"ve seen -40 several times.   
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

denmarc

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2011, 08:03:47 AM »
Thanks John.  I never have had a regulator go bad.  So I wasn't sure what to look for.  I've lived in Kent county all my life and know full well how cold it can get!

Every LP item I think I have ever owned had a Marshall Brass regulator on it.  Except for a turkey fryer bought a few years back.  I think I will just stick to the good ol original equipment.
Mark

1994 Jayco Eagle 370FB on 24 acres of paid off paradise in Michigan.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

Dr. Seuss

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2011, 08:45:59 AM »
Insulation won't help at -40, but propane flow often gets poor anywhere below 0 and insulation will help there.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

anemic

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2011, 09:56:06 AM »
would a tank blanket be a good idea for the LP tank?

I plan to intentionally head out into the winter & venture into the coldest places available.
1996 28' Tiffin Allegro Bay, purchased May 2011

carson

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2011, 10:16:10 AM »
-40.... watch out. Things to consider: Wheel bearing grease becomes virtually solid, front wheels refused to turn. Manual transmission oil got so hard that one could not put it into gear. Rear end differential oil got thick as well and caused noticeable problems. Steering needed muscle power, manual, not power steering. Don't know what that would do.  Battery power is way down especially with thick engine oil.
   Tires were as hard as steel and required quite a while of driving to get the flat spot out of them. (square wheels).

All I can say, -40 is not for human and vehicle consumption.  All this from personal experience.

   What a killjoy I am.... ;D

Carson
Carson, 
 West Central Florida
Ex RV'er. (1995 Winnebago Adventurer)
...Logic works like a charm...

Tony_Alberta

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2011, 02:43:00 PM »
Battery power is way down especially with thick engine oil.
Use 0W30 oil as it will spin much easier.   If your engine manufacturer states you can.   

Use a battery blanket to warm up your battery somewhat.   If you are just driving around town with 5 or 10 minute drives or idling a lot your battery won't get a chance to charge up fully so it's recommended you put in a 1 or 2 amp trickle charger at home.  Get the kind with the ring nuts and the plug so it's easy to attach and you don't have to open the hood to do so.  Note that it's a pain to manipulate the alligator clamps in heavy winter weight mittens.  And you don't want to spend any time outside than you have to.

Plug in your vehicle block heater.   Note that it only needs to be plugged in for a few hours so you can use a timer to reduce power consumption.     You might want to add a transmission heater.

Also be prepared that if you have starting problems so will many other people in your area.   The waits for auto club service will be long, long, long.  Get used to it and keep your systems well maintained.

Side story:  Some friends in the mid 1980s had just come back from a trip to Arizona.  They were amazed at the number of vehicles that ran rough on the road or had trouble idling at stop lights.   In cold weather those vehicles would never have started.

denmarc

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2011, 11:18:29 AM »
Insulation won't help at -40, but propane flow often gets poor anywhere below 0 and insulation will help there.

Great point!  You got me to thinking about the whole external LP plumbing in general.  I forgot about the line from the regulator to inside the TT.  I now have an idea or two.

Thanks Gary.
Mark

1994 Jayco Eagle 370FB on 24 acres of paid off paradise in Michigan.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

Dr. Seuss

arcticfox2005

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2011, 12:12:03 PM »
Quote
Actually.. Any of them will.. the regulators are not much affected by temps.. At least not till around -40.. at about -40 they all quit, and for the same reason, Propane won't vaporize below -40.

A little bit of useless trivia - at -40, a Fahrenheit thermometer and a Celsius thermometer, sitting side by side will register the same temperature. As opposed to, at the freezing point, the" F "thermometer reads 32 and the "C" thermometer reads 0.

Tony_Alberta

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Re: Automatic LP Regulators In Cold Weather
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2011, 12:18:53 PM »
Insulation won't help at -40, but propane flow often gets poor anywhere below 0 and insulation will help there.
Note that putting a heat source under the tank works just fine for vaporizing the liquid.   Grandfather would put one of the 100 watt red heat lamps under those large 1000 gallon tanks for his large chicken barns.    Large being 60' by 300'.