New propane lines in a Boler 13 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-21-2009, 01:24 PM   #1
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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I've got new propane lines on my list, so I thought I'd ask about it. I have to admit that I haven't really tried to plan it out myself yet, so this may be a bit premature, but Lizbeth posted in different thread that she'd replaced (and re-routed, I think) the propane lines in her Boler 13, so it made me want to ask now. Would be nice to hear about "been there done that" things from anyone who has done it.

Now I know that propane is nothing to "mess with." And I'm not posting this to encourage anyone to forgo having the professionals do it. On the other hand, I have done a couple of propane installations on boats, with good results, and I treat it like hitches, tires, boat rigging, or anything else that can have serious consequences if not done right. That is, I research how to do it, and then if I feel comfortable with it, I proceed.

Even if I ultimately decided not to do the actual flare work on my Boler system, I would like to remove the old lines and then probably reinstall the new ones. I know how to test the lines for leaks. I also know that my carefully working on them would most likely result in a system much safer than the existing one that many people are using (i.e. the 35 year old one that lurks beneath the camper).

So... with that said, I welcome input from anyone who has done the propane lines on their Boler 13 (or other eggs).

1) How did you remove the old lines? For example, did you take them apart first, or remove them in a big "tree?"

2) Do you have to flare the new ones after you run the bare lines up through the holes in the floor? Or are they big enough to accommodate a pre-flared system?

3) Any other installation caveats I'm not thinking of?

4) What did you improve from the original installation, if anything? (I know some systems are black pipe. I plan to use suitable flexible copper unless a better idea comes up. I'm also going to install a double regulator when I do this.)

5) I've heard suggestion of using rubber-encased copper tubing that's meant for burying underground. On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea, but... any experience?

Thanks very much for any input

Raya
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:59 PM   #2
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I replaced mine with Flexible Gas Line.

Been a couple of years with no issues or leaks, and very easy to work with, route, and you don't need an expensive flare tool.
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Old 09-21-2009, 08:08 PM   #3
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1) How did you remove the old lines? For example, did you take them apart first, or remove them in a big "tree?"
We removed fittings and then cut it where needed and yanked it out.

2) Do you have to flare the new ones after you run the bare lines up through the holes in the floor? Or are they big enough to accommodate a pre-flared system?
The holes in our trailer were pretty good sized.

3) Any other installation caveats I'm not thinking of?
Now is the chance to reroute. New regulator, regulator location?

4) What did you improve from the original installation, if anything? (I know some systems are black pipe. I plan to use suitable flexible copper unless a better idea comes up. I'm also going to install a double regulator when I do this.)
Our original lines were not a clean installation. Two lines came up through the center of the cabinet space under the sink. (huh?) We went to one line at the side if the cabinet and then teed off of it to run to the heater, stove and fridge.

5) I've heard suggestion of using rubber-encased copper tubing that's meant for burying underground. On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea, but... any experience?
Nope.

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Old 09-21-2009, 08:14 PM   #4
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Hi Raya
The propane lines in our '84 are non-flexable copper. There is one line from the tank to a 't' under the floor. From there two lines run into the trailer. One to the stove and one to the fridge. While I have the fridge out at present [repairs], I noticed that the hole through the floor is only marginally bigger than the pipe and so the ends had to have been flared AFTERWARDS. The copper is stiff enough, and short enough, that there are no fasteners anywhere so that it doesn't flex against anything, Just one hole through the body and two holes through the floor behind the fridge.

For protection from the tank to the 'T', The line runs through a rubber tube. Why could you not run the line through a short length of black Garden Hose as a protector, or a short piece of the foam covering used to prevent condensation from dripping from cold water pipes?
PS
It's raining out or I would gone outside and take a couple of picture.
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:17 PM   #5
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I want to pop in to thank those of you who have responded so far.

Although, that said, I don't want to discourage anyone else from "piping" in.

James, the reason I wasn't thinking of using regular pipe and encasing it in something is that I hate to trap potential corrosives against the tubing (salt, etc.). I wouldn't be against short bits of chafe guard if necessary.

The reason I started out thinking of flexible copper tubing in my mind is because that's what's often recommended in boats (a heavier wall than the garden variety tubing), and boats are what I'm familiar with. (Then there is a bit of flexible hose leading to the stove, because that's gimballed and swings back and forth quite a bit.)

The boating guidelines are probably overly strict for RV's, because propane is heavier than air and sinks. In a camper, this would generally mean that a leak (especially if it were beneath the camper) would sink down and away, but in a boat it collects in the bilge and then just waits to explode. However, I've lived with propane on boats for years, as it makes for a really good stove/oven fuel. You just have to be very careful with installation and use.

However, I'm glad to hear ideas and experiences from those who've got experience re-doing their eggs, before I decide on any one way, because I've never worked on the propane lines in one.

So thanks, and keep them coming

Raya
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:59 AM   #6
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S'me Again

We just had new lines installed, for an oil stove, at a family cottage. The line from the tank to the stove carburator has a plastic coating so it is available out there.

BTW the covering on the pipe on the trailer only extends from the regulator to about 2 inches inside the body shell. That's only about two feet.
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Old 09-23-2009, 07:27 AM   #7
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Two things come to mind.
1) You can not flare hard copper, it has to be soft copper.
2) I would use a propane hose with flare ends on it to go from the tank to the trailer. This is because of flex and corrosion.

Bill K
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Old 09-23-2009, 08:09 AM   #8
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I installed a cataytic heater last winter using soft copper tubing (Lowes). After looking at various routings, I tee'd into the existing propane line outside the trailer wall, right at the bulkhead fitting. Except for inserting a shutoff in the line in front of the trailer wall, I managed to do this in one run of tubing, running across the front of the wall (behind the battery box), down under the curb side of the frame, up into the closet, and finally to a fitting that goes through the closet wall to the heater. I used a flexible spring tubing bender (Lowes) to help form the tubing as I went. I had planned on using a lever-type bender, but that proved too difficult. The spring benders can be moved along the tubing as needed. I left the tubing long on both ends, then cut and flared after all the bending was completed. This allowed me to snake the tubing around to get it up through the floor, across the closet, etc. I installed a shutoff valve in the vicinity of the battery box, leaving this last run of straight tubing from the valve to the original bulkhead fitting until last, so I could fiddle with this length as needed.

For flaring, I used an old fashioned tool that clamps around the tubing, with a conical piece that screws down into the end of the tubing. I guess that's still the common tool for such jobs. Anyway, I suggest practicing on some scrap to learn where to clamp the tubing to get the right amount of flare. And most important......don't forget to slide the nut on the tube BEFORE flaring. I supposed everyone has to do this once, but it just doesn't make one's day to take the flaring tool off the tube and the see the nut laying nearby.

I probably could have saved myself a lot of effort by using a flexible line, but wanted to try the copper, thinking it will look tidier and be closer to Scamp's original tubing installation. Of course, they can install theirs while building the trailer and have already worked out all the lengths and bends. Still, it was a fun project, and a little challenge is good from time to time.

Good luck!

Parker
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:07 AM   #9
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Make sure to use a 'propane nut' or' forged nut', [sold by most rv suppliers in canada, its been 'code' in canada for many yrs, not sure about usa] its a heavier than the standard 3/8 flare nut sold in hardware stores for 3/8 copper tubing. All the older rv's used the standard lite wt flare nut. The standard flare nuts tend to split or crack on the side if overtightened. Install a pressure gauge on the tank, so each time u open the valve, u then shut it off for several seconds to see if the pressure 'holds', very cheap life insurance!!!! salud brent
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:20 AM   #10
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When you buy soft copper tubing , be sure you get the tubing rated for gas, there is a thinner and cheaper tubing available which should not be used.
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:12 AM   #11
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Thanks for the additional input

Raya
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:40 AM   #12
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I'm going to add a strong note of caution here.I grew up in southern Ontario with a Dad who worked for the local gas company.In 1974,while working on a gas installation next to a 3 story warehouse in Collingwood,Ont,my Dad smelled gas.He chased his crew away from the building,but,in the ensuing explosion,he a 2 of his crew were injured,with my Dad losing hearing in one ear for the rest of his days.
Moral of the story:are you DAMN sure that you want to do this gas line work?What would your insurance company think?What would the insurers of the adjacent trailers think?I appreciate cost savings and DIY,I do.I'm reno'ing as well,painting,basic plumbing.But,When it comes to things that can go bang in the night,I'm letting a pro do it.
My 2 cents worth...
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:33 AM   #13
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Rick,

I appreciate your concern, and I share your caution.

That said, I am a very careful, conscientious person. Many of the other systems I work with have the same potential to cause death or injury, so I have to be very careful. I do believe that it is possible to do this sort of work one's self if one is cognizant of the dangers and if one has the right bent.

One plus is that there is no propane in the system while doing the work (this may not be the case on large construction sites?). In other words, someone like me can do all the work, slowly and carefully, and then test the system before using it.

(Note that my original questions were not really about how to do the basic work - i.e. flares and such - but were more about how people routed their lines, and the procedure they used for getting them in place. In other words, the logistics more than the techniques of working with the tools and materials.)

Now I have nothing against professionals doing work on my things, but I have had difficulty finding *true* professionals. As an example, I took my car to a professional shop (new to me but well recommended), and they really messed it up. I ended up having to fix it, and the job was harder than if I had just done it in the first place.

Again, I have no problem with hiring a true professional.

On the other hand, no one cares more about my life than me, and I'm not working to an estimate. So I have all the time I need to do the job carefully and methodically. As a bonus, I might see a better way to route the lines, something else I need to work on, and/or I will get a chance to check over other systems under the trailer.

I think either avenue can be appropriate; it just depends on the comfort level of the person who owns the trailer, how they feel about working with tools and handling the responsibility, and how tidy and careful they are.

Would I want to camp next to someone who had done their own propane repair sloppily? No, of course not. But I don't think that's a good reason for one to not do their own work if they do it properly.

Some professionals do great work; some are sloppy. Some people are good drivers; some aren't. Some wear proper safety equipment when they work; some don't. I wish I didn't have to share the world with the latter, but I also don't feel that they should keep everyone from doing their own work.

I certainly hope insurance companies are looking for the trailer to be safe, not for who has done the work. After all, if the latter were the case, who would be allowed to change their own flat tire and tighten their own lug nuts? (Not to be "smart" but seriously, I do feel that way.) I bet there are plenty of people going around with unsafe towing rigs, that have nothing to do with the fact that they do (or don't do) the work themselves. In fact, I would venture a guess that people who do work on their own rigs, and are aware of their condition, might even have rigs that are more safe, overall, than people who don't.

I'm sorry to ramble on, but I felt that I had addressed this in my original post, and it makes me feel a bit frustrated to hear swearing and "threatening" things about what insurers might think.

Again, please don't take this as encouragement to do your own work on a potentially dangerous system you are not comfortable with. On the other hand, know that there is no "magic" involved, and with knowledge, care, and proper procedure, people can do things.

Raya
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:03 PM   #14
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Sorry.I get carried away when anything about gas is discussed.I have no doubt that many can do it safely and without incident;I'm opting for the pro,one who was recommended by a friend in the boat accessories business.Same with the complete update on the electrical-don't have the skills,but do have an electrician who lives nearby.A short while ago,my DW designed and had built our little slice of life in the woods not too far from Vancouver,BC.Met many good tradespeople(house is still standing,never had to call them back for further work)and will use them as needed.We've been very lucky in that any work we've had done in the last decade or so,on vehicle or houses,no problems at all.
But...
As you say,we do change our own tires,so what do I know..?
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