Well, I've learned way too much about propane
in the last few weeks.
I was thinking about tapping into the low pressure copper line at the rear curb side of the trailer to run a short hose to my stove which is hung on the back rear side of the trailer under the awning
. I've been carrying an 11 pound tank and I have to chain it to the trailer. The tank is awkward to stow while travelling.
But, the stove (Coleman grill/stove) takes high pressure propane
(from a 1 pound bottle or from an unregulated 11 pound tank) and takes it to a lower pressure through what turns out to be a two part regulation system.
The first part is an arm that attaches to the bottle and then to the stove. I bought another one of the arms (~$15 + S&H) and disabled the regulator. I bought a low pressure regulator with hose (~$25) for the 11 pound tank in order to test if the stove now worked with my modified arm attachment on low pressure before I started slicing and dicing the propane
lines on the trailer.
It turns out that there is a second part of the regulation process in the stove. I partially took apart the stove but couldn't get deep enough into the inner workings to find out if I could defeat that safeguard as well.
There are stoves designed from the start for low pressure propane. They are expensive and, frankly, I like my grill/stove. (It's a grill. No! It's a stove. No! It's two things in one!)
Lessons learned: (part one)
- Low pressure propane wants 3/8" ID fittings/tubes ($ spent on fittings before I scrapped this approach).
- There is low pressure propane (0.6 psi or ~11" H20) seen in travel trailer appliances. There is not-so-low pressure propane (0-30 or 0-60 psi) usually used on those cast iron type cookers. And there is high pressure propane straight from the bulk tank (somewhere around 140 psi).
I decided that I was uninterested in running a high pressure line to the back of the trailer. (I had visions of a stone nicking the line…a spark igniting the propane…Castle Pretentious doing a bottle rocket imitation!)
Then I decided that I'd just buy one of those splitters that attaches to the tank before the regulator. Then, in combination with a 15 foot high pressure hose with a high pressure quick connect I can temporarily run the high pressure gas back to the stove/grill. This isn't a permanent set up; it's part of the arrival/site set up routine.
However, store bought splitters are too long and awkward to have on the tanks and then still be able to fit the cover over the tanks. (Splitter w/quick connect and 15' hose with appropriate fittings ~$75) There are cheaper splitters using the 1"-20 bottle fitting and hoses but I wanted a quick connect. I feel quick connect hoses don't trap propane under pressure inside them when the hose is disconnected.
So, I disassembled the store bought splitter and with a combination of tees, elbows and assorted other parts ($$) plus appropriate use of pipe dope I set up a more compact splitter that sort of turns back on itself so that I can connect the quick connect high pressure hose, run it down between the tanks and back to the stove. With everything installed the cover still fits over the whole thing. Out of sight, out of mind. The 15 foot hose reaches the stove easily on my 16 foot trailer.
After slathering soapy leak detector solution all over every fitting and connection I did some tests and the Coleman runs as designed (or "meets design intent" as we like to say in the auto biz) and it does it with all its safety equipment intact.
Since this fitting is before the auto changeover regulator I've decided to make a second fitting for the other tank so that if the propane runs out in mid meal, all I have to do is move the quick connect. I bought a second splitter but without the hose directly from Sturgis (~$45) for parts and will assemble another one.
Lessons learned: (part two)
- High pressure propane wants 1/4" NPT fittings.
- 1/4" inverted flare fittings are nowhere near the same size fitting as 1/4" NPT ($ for wrong size pigtail fittings).
- The color of the ACME 1-5/16" threaded handle is loosely correlated with the flow capacity it allows ($ for assorted wrong flow specification handles).
- Care should be given that the maximum flow rate handles are at the tanks. Don't choke the flow at the tank and expect to be able to run all the propane appliances at the same time.
- There are high and low pressure quick connects ($). Pay attention.
- There are different types of Teflon tape ($). For critical applications experts recommend the yellow tape if you're going to use tape (it's thicker). In the end I decided to stick with pipe dope.
Bottom line? I have a more compact package for grill/stove propane. Between the low pressure propane false start and assorted incorrectly sized handles, and fittings, etc. I'm probably nearing the same money in this project as I would have had in a new low pressure stove. I'm constitutionally unable to return working parts even if they're the wrong size. I might need them for some other project! My pegboard wall in the basement is starting to look like a Mr. Heater brass fittings display. But, the research, testing, trials, purchases and assembly has kept me out of the pool halls during that grim stretch of late winter and I think I can almost see camping season from here!