New propane line installation question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-07-2013, 03:19 PM   #1
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Name: Fred
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500
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New propane line installation question

Hey Guys,

I'm replacing my propane lines and regulator. I"m looking for all sage advice on this topic.

In particular, I'm leaning toward this layout:

Start from the tank in the hitch area
* tee:
1) gas fired BBQ
2) to the regulator
* rubber gas line from the bottle to the regulator (attached to front wall of trailer)
* copper from the regulator thru the chassis (about 5 ft)
* Tee:
1) stove
2) heater
* copper thru the floor to each appliance.

Anything I'm missing?
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Old 03-07-2013, 03:41 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
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be sure to secure the copper line so that it can't vibrate or rub through. Check all connections with soapy water, look for bubbles that would indicate a leak. Use flare fittings on the copper, don't use the compression type fittings. The early production Uhaul campers used copper line but later switched to iron pipe for their propane lines. When I did heating work years ago we always used the coil or flex type copper for propane installation, but that was in residential use, but it seems to be the normal in campers from the ones I've worked on.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:09 PM   #3
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Name: Francesca Knowles
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I'm pretty sure that flex-type metal lines aren't for use in RV's...usually only black iron or (non-flex) copper, excepting the rubber regulator-to-trailer connection.

Something to remember is that all joints must be accessible for periodic inspection, so don't permanently build over any such places.

Francesca
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:57 PM   #4
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A quick look at Scamps maintenance manual shows that they are using copper line in their propane lines. Is it the best option, maybe not, but I believe it's the most commonly used in propane lines in RVs because it's quicker and easier to install.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:13 PM   #5
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Name: Steve
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All my campers have had the flex copper. Sometimes the copper comes off the black iron pipe.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:24 PM   #6
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I wonder if we're all referring to the same thing...when I say "metal flex" lines I mean those that are corrugated so as to bend easily by hand. They're commonly used to make connections in houses, and usually labeled as not for use in moving applications like trailers etc.

See pic below, which ironically shows such a line installed wrong!

The copper line I'm familiar with in RV's is regular copper tubing- bendable but not "flexible".





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Old 03-07-2013, 05:34 PM   #7
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when buying copper tubing for gas use, be sure and buy the gas rated tubing and not the water rated stuff. Just read the label on the box.
of course it costs a little more!
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:49 PM   #8
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T the last junction of your maine line. Use a Tee with a cap on it. That way if you have to flush the line you can remove the cap and disconnect at the regulator and flush the whole line. You can also disconnect at the appliance and remove the end cap and flush out. Remember you have to have access to all fittings. In my Scamp they used 3/8 copper lines with flair fittings not compression fittings. Tie the lines down to the chassie/floor board you want the whole system to move with the chassie not hanging out and wiggleing down the road. Think it out you want to be able disconnect appliances for service without having to disconnect the whole main line and dropping all the hold down clamps. Especially work around the refrigerator. Most of the other appliances are robust enough they seldom need to be disconnected.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:32 PM   #9
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My 1979 Boler B1700 - which I believe has the factory original propane plumbing - uses iron pipe with threaded fittings under the floor (open to the road), and copper tubing from tees in the pipe at floor level to each appliance. This makes sense to me: the iron pipe is strong so it can be properly supported in a horizontal position, and resistant to damage by road debris; the copper tubing can be bent to reach the appliance without extra fittings, and is protected in the interior.

As Francesca explained, this is smooth plain copper tubing (presumably of appropriate grade as Floyd mentioned, of course) - not the corrugated stainless steel tubing which is used in houses, particularly as the final connection to an appliance.

I believe that flare fittings (the tubing is flared to fit over the tapered end of the fitting, and clamped on to it by a flare nut) are the standard practice for propane connections. Certainly every propane appliance inlet, plus hose fittings intended to be removable, on my three RVs are all flares, not compression fittings.

A nominal tubing, piping, and hose size of 3/8" seems to be normal practice for all parts downstream of the regulator (and 1/4" upstream).

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Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
T the last junction of your maine line. Use a Tee with a cap on it. That way if you have to flush the line you can remove the cap and disconnect at the regulator and flush the whole line. You can also disconnect at the appliance and remove the end cap and flush out.
This makes sense to me. A flare rather than pipe thread fitting for this end-of-line flush port would be ideal (even if it is on threaded iron pipe), because a flare cap can be more easily and reliably removed and replaced without subsequent leakage than a pipe thread cap.

I had a furnace die in a trailer, and the repair tech attributed it to liquid contaminants accumulating in the piping and reaching the furnace. A dead-end vertical section of pipe can be included a low point in the iron piping to act as a liquid trap, but that takes vertical space which we don't really have on most of our eggs (my big trailer has this, but there is room for it).
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:52 PM   #10
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To clarify my statement, I was referring to type L soft copper tubing, not the corrugated stuff. In residential installations, and commercial ones also, it is common practice to install a drip "T" [I think that is what we called it]. It's purpose being to trap any debris in the line before it got into the appliance. The T would have a short pipe nipple below it with a cap, the gas line would feed into the top of the T. Note this is residential and commercial installations, I haven't seen it done on smaller size RVs like we have.What Brian describes as being in his Boler is a good setup. Our Uhaul has all copper, but we have removed the furnace and will probably remove the stove and propane tank soon so no propane worries for us.
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