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RV nubee

New member
Sep 4, 2006
found this site looking info on RVs. just got my first rv. it a 1971 aristrocraft on a gm 30 van frame. it is old, but was kept in a barn when not on the road. it is in excellent condition.
i am an ase certified automotive a/c mechanic and would be happy to answer any questions about auto based a/c. i cant be much help for the roof mounted units.

i cant seem to get my pilots lit on my heater and fridge. i don't know when the last time they were used. all the electrical  works. the fan comes on with the thermostat. the fridge works with electricity. burners on stove work, but cant get oven to light. i haven't gotten to the hot water heater yet. are the pilots replaceable? or is there a special way to light them. i don't have a manual. i have followed the line looking for cut off valves. i assume valves are open when the lever is in line with gas line? any help will be greatly appreciated.

thanks, mike


Moderator Emeritus
Mar 3, 2005
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer

Welcome to the Forum!

Can you give us model numbers for the fridge, furnaces, and water heater?

The oven will have a standing pilot light that you must light with a match, or better yet one of those long butane grill lighters. As there is only a very small flow of gas, it may take several minutes to clear all the air out of the line. Be patient.

The fridge may have an 'eyebrow' above the door with several lights and switches. It requires 12 volts to operate. Check all your fuses and make sure you have 12 volts present.If you don't see any lights, that could be your problem. The on/off switch must be depressed, and the AES switch must be in the off (not depressed) position for it to work on gas if you're hooked up to shore power. There should be a small 'gas' light that will light up when the switch is in the proper position. It's also possible that, being so old, it will have a standing pilot also, that you must light from the outside access panel. If it has electronic ignition, the electric gas solenoid may be sticking shut. Have someone inside turn the fridge off and on, and you listen for the solenoid to operate and also listen for a spark in the burner tube. Try tapping the solenoid gently with a soft-handled screwdriver. Remove and reseat all connectors to the small electronic control box there too.

Water heater is pretty much the same except it will have an on/off switch usually over the range or maybe in the bathroom, and a 'check' or 'pilot out' light to indicate if ignition was successful. It may also have a standing pilot instead of the electronic ignition.

A common problem with furnaces is the 'sail' switch, which makes contact when there is enough air flow, and lets the gas solenoid open. The switch itself could be bad, or there may be an accumulation of debris which causes a low air flow. Check and remove any junk.

All these appliances, if they have electronic ignition, will have a control board accessible from the outside. They are notorious for going bad. Almost any rv repair facility should be able to check them for you, and it's a simple job to replace them yourself. Most of us use Dinosaur boards as replacements; available at or ordered by the rv repair place.

Clean and remove debris from all air intakes and exhaust vents. All are accessible from the outside access panels with the exception of the fridge which will be vented on the roof.


Moderator Emeritus
Feb 1, 2005
If those appliances are the originals, they're 35 years old and probably won't have DSI.  All will have manual pilot lights but should have placards with the lighting procedure.  Once we have the model numbers, we can give you more specific answers and perhaps even pointers to downloadable manuals.

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Feb 2, 2005
West Palm Beach, FL
AS Ned says, no electronics on those old beasties. Strictly manual lighting.  There will be a flame sensor near the pilot and that has to heat up thoroughly to allow the LPG to flow. It's tough to do with a book match and even with a wooden "kitchen" match - may take several matches and some burned fingers. Use a gas match (lighter) and have a lot of patience.

Make sure the LP valve at the tank is on. Will your stove light?  Get that going first, to get LPG flowing though the pipe, then work on the water heater. Oven is last - can be persnickety even when everything is working fine.
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