Can't see the flame. Lighting my refrigerator - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-15-2010, 11:10 AM   #1
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Can't see the flame. Lighting my refrigerator

I installed my 3 way yesterday. All day job, but it is working well. My one issue is that I can't see to tell if it is lit when running off propane. It has a little sight hole but I can see absolutely nothing. The only way I can tell if it is lit is to feel heat coming out of the chimney. Anybody have any tips for lighting?

Also, is it safe to run it on propane when traveling? Or should I stick to 12 v when on the road?
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Old 08-15-2010, 11:56 AM   #2
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I installed my 3 way yesterday. All day job, but it is working well. My one issue is that I can't see to tell if it is lit when running off propane. It has a little sight hole but I can see absolutely nothing. The only way I can tell if it is lit is to feel heat coming out of the chimney. Anybody have any tips for lighting?

Also, is it safe to run it on propane when traveling? Or should I stick to 12 v when on the road?
I can't see mine either. I guess you can only see it at night! However, as you noted, you can still feel heat at the exhaust. Also, if you stick your finger into the sight hole when lit you will soon FEEL that it is lit!
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Old 08-15-2010, 12:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelh View Post
I installed my 3 way yesterday. All day job, but it is working well. My one issue is that I can't see to tell if it is lit when running off propane. It has a little sight hole but I can see absolutely nothing. The only way I can tell if it is lit is to feel heat coming out of the chimney. Anybody have any tips for lighting?

Also, is it safe to run it on propane when traveling? Or should I stick to 12 v when on the road?
I always Light mine with a butane firestick through the view port at the bottom. My piezoelectric button works, but as you say it is not clear.
The heat is more evident earlier if you touch around the back of the tube.

As for using propane on the road.... It is not considered "safe practice"
to do so, especially when refueling the tow vehicle.
That being said...survey after survey says that nearly 75% of RV trailer owners do run the fridge on propane while towing.
I have seen a few burnt trailers, the total losses would be hard to call without close inspection, but twice I have seen localized fire damage and both times it was the fridge. A third time I saw a trailer just pulling over with flames coming from the fridge area.

This small bit of empirical evidence degrades to anecdotal upon reading this....,there are of course hundreds of thousands [maybe millions] of trailers who do this without incident for years.

The problem sometimes occurs when an impact on a live gas line or a bump or vibration causes a disconnect at a fitting, releases propane which then finds an ignition source. This is a very rare occurence with dire consequences.
Another possible source is if gasoline fumes find an ignition source in your fridge while refueling. most states prohibit refueling with an ignition source nearby. They require shutting off ingition on vehicles at the pump before refueling and extinguishing smokes as well.

Just how great is the risk? People play the lotto against impossible odds, thinking they might "win". Is one in a thousand safe enough... One in a million?
You are right to ask the questions in order to make informed decisions.

I make it a general practice to tow with my propane tank turned off .
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Old 08-15-2010, 12:50 PM   #4
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I have had more luck feeling hot, moist air coming up through the short chimney vent ( I think it's called the burner tube) than looking or feeling through the sight hole.

Reminds me - I'm going to have to pull mine out to clean the jet and construct an airflow baffle!
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Old 08-16-2010, 12:04 AM   #5
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It sometimes helps if you get someone to stand by you as you light it and have them block the sunlight so you can see the flame a bit better.
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Old 08-16-2010, 12:28 AM   #6
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Hi Joel - we are still getting to know all about the "bells & whistles" of our new-to-us Scamp 16, which includes a 3-way fridge. We always traveled with our propane off in our 13, and will continue to do so with this outfit. Two winters ago in Quartzsite, AZ we watched a Rialta burn to the axles in less than 10 minutes cuz the driver forgot his pilot was lit when he pulled in to fill his tank(s) - it was sobering to watch, and a real convincer on the subject.

I am amazed at how long the fridge holds cold between stops, so we don't usually even bother with 12-volt. If we don't open/close the door much, everything is safely cooled when we reach our next FHU campsite. If we are dry-camping, THEN we light the propane ... and yeah, that little porthole doesn't give ya much of a view.

Take care and happy camping - L 'n D
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Old 08-16-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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Leaving the propane on while traveling could turn a minor accident into a major very quickly.

I keep a couple of small freezer packs in the freezer and when traveling I transfer them into the fridge compartment and place them near the dairy products etc. it seems to help keep things cool.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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I drilled a new hole ( and added a cover to the new hole) that was right in line with the line of sight. The original hole was offset by about an inch. Now I get a quick visual when the frig is lit.
There is a clear plastic "fibre optic" kind of thing that allows you to see the blue flame in the lower right corner of the inside of my Dometic...trouble is, by the time you move food out of the way in the frig and hunker down on your belly inside the trailer to see the indicator, you have warmed up the entire frig!

Hints: Pre-chill all food going into the frig; pre-chill on 120 the day before departure; run the burners of the stove for a couple of minutes to purge air from the lines; hold the "start" button in for at least two minutes to let the thermocouple (safety valve) warm up enough to allow electricity to keep the gas valve open; on the road, a baggie of ice from the "McD's" will keep the frig cool on the road.
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:02 PM   #9
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Seeing the flame through my sight hole has always been difficult. I do much better listening to the sound of the early flames when it is first lit. Unless the wind is blowing, I find that a much more reliable indicator than struggling with the sight hole. After it is has been running for a while, I just place my hand against the upper vents and feel the warmth to confirm that all is well.

While many folks do run with their propane lit, I am on the careful side and never do. At least I can zip into a gas station to fill my tow vehicle without worry or without having to stop early, shut down the fridge, and then relight after leaving the station.

John
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