Upgrading propane system - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-05-2013, 12:21 AM   #1
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Name: Chuck
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Upgrading propane system

So we went to Costco and bought one of those portable propane fire pits. If you haven't seen them, it's basically a propane fire ring with lava rocks. It comes with a grill for simple BBQing.

What I want to do is change out the hose on the fire pit for a longer one, so that when camping in the Scamp, I could connect it to the Scamp's propane bottle, but still be able to have the fire pit over by the seating area, rather than within 5 feet of the Scamp tongue. That would mean installing a "T" between the Scamp's regulator and the tank, fitting the "T" with a quick-connect fitting for the fire pit, and putting a complementary quick-connect fitting on the longer fire pit hose.

While I'm at it, I'd like to put a good pressure gauge on the Scamp's propane bottle to be able to monitor how full it is. I'll also be modifiying the mounting hardware so as to be able to more easily take the tank off for refilling.

So as you see, I'm about to get myself in all kinds of trouble. But I do know enough to not embark on this journey without some expert advice. Has anybody been down a similar road and have any thoughts to share?

Thanks in advance!

Chuck
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Old 08-05-2013, 12:33 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by beardrum View Post
What I want to do is change out the hose on the fire pit for a longer one, so that when camping in the Scamp, I could connect it to the Scamp's propane bottle, but still be able to have the fire pit over by the seating area, rather than within 5 feet of the Scamp tongue.
That makes sense, but there's no need to mess with the original hose - just get an extension.

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That would mean installing a "T" between the Scamp's regulator and the tank, fitting the "T" with a quick-connect fitting for the fire pit, and putting a complementary quick-connect fitting on the longer fire pit hose.
Tee fitting kits are common (but not cheap); however, they usually have another tank-style outlet, or an appliance fitting (the same as the top of a disposable one-pound cylinder). Quick-connect sounds convenient, but the threaded connections are really quick so most people don't bother with quick-connect except on low-pressure systems (this is high pressure).

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While I'm at it, I'd like to put a good pressure gauge on the Scamp's propane bottle to be able to monitor how full it is.
A pressure gauge - no matter how good - does not tell you how much propane is in the cylinder... only if it is running and about to run out. There have been lots of discussions in this forum of determining propane level; I suggest a Google search in the forum for "propane level".
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:17 AM   #3
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If Chuck installs a T fitting he most likely would want to be able to close off the side to the fire pit so he could use propane in the trailer when the fire pit is not hooked up. I made up a way to do this one time, but had trailer stove on one side of the T and gas grill on the other. I got a gas valve and some fittings from the local fuel supplier that I once worked for, put the valve on one side of the T and a POL fitting on the valve to attach an extension hose to the grill to it. The other side of the T was left connected to the trailer regulator. That trailer has since had the stove and tank removed, and the grill is run off an 11lb tank. We have camped a few times with a vintage Scotty owner who has one of those fire pits, and he loves it, but I didn't notice how he had it hooked up.
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:28 AM   #4
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This was my solution to run my outside stove. The 90 degree elbow was to keep the quick connect within the footprint of the bottle so that I could put the tank cover back on. (I generally run the hose down between the bottles)

The longest hose I could find was 12' which sufficient to get me over to the back window where I mount the stove while camping.

Pipe dope and careful leak checks are in order. Connect the hose before turning on the tank. Makes it easier to insert the quick connect fully. You will have a long hose filled at pressure when you pop the fitting. The hose will flail a bit disconnecting if you haven't run the device(stove/fire pit) to relieve the pressure after shutting off the tank valve.
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Old 08-05-2013, 04:06 PM   #5
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If the tee adds another POL or QCC connection (such as this Propane “Y” Female Adapter), then a shutoff valve would be needed to have just one side connected and in use at a time. That's one reason why the commercially available tee kits (such as this Propane Adapter Tee) usually add an appliance (a.k.a. "needle valve") fitting, which contains its own valve and shuts off automatically when disconnected.

Steve's double setup allows drawing from the desired cylinder without moving anything, which is nice. I run a barbecue from a tee, and only want to draw from the tank which the trailer is using, so the reserve stays full; I must move the tee to the active cylinder to accomplish this.

The assemble-it-yourself approach is likely cheaper than the commercial kits, and offers the advantage of having whatever configuration you desire... plus the disadvantage of taking responsibility for your own gasfitting. I have purchased some minor bits from a local industrial hose supplier who makes custom hose assemblies; they don't charge for the labour to assemble the parts, just for the parts themselves, and that applies to propane hoses as well as their usual hydraulic hoses... I assume that they would assemble propane fittings without charge as well.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:27 PM   #6
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So here's the proof of concept. There's a few things I want to improve on, but it seems to work.



The hose coming in from above is from the tank, the horozontal part of the "T" goes to the fire pit regulator, and the original Scamp regulator is the lower one. The hose from the fire pit regulator is the original, with a 15' extension added on. 15' of 3/8" hose is supposed to be able to provide gas for 28,000 BTU's, which is plenty for the fire pit.



Any comments?
And by the way, many thanks to the folks at Sure Marine here in Seattle.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:54 PM   #7
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So here's the proof of concept...
It looks like you have only a single propane tank... that simplifies life considerably. I assume that the final version will mount the regulator suitably - looking good!
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:11 AM   #8
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Nail on the head, Brian. I think the first refinement is a couple of 90's to get the whole thing laying down parallel to the tongue. (And possibly under a box, which may be a future addition.)

Yes, one tank, which is why I wanted some kind of gauge, but I understand that ain't really possible. Fortunately, I have a smaller tank that I can carry as a backup supply. Which suggestes another mod, making the tank a little more easy to detach, go get topped off, and put back on. I really oughta go with a second tank on the tongue, but I'm a bit of a weight nazi.

Thanks, everybdoy, for the support!

cg
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Old 08-06-2013, 06:49 AM   #9
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Is that yellow or white teflon tape or pipe dope? Yellow teflon is for gas usage although I'm not sure what's different about it. (Wiki says its twice the density.)
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Old 08-06-2013, 10:02 AM   #10
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Yup, yellow tape. It is more chemically resistant than the white stuff. A tip I hadn't heard before was to be sure the tape doesn't extend beyond the last couple threads - so as to absolutely avoid getting a bit of it into any orifice.

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Old 08-06-2013, 03:38 PM   #11
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Yellow teflon is for gas usage although I'm not sure what's different about it. (Wiki says its twice the density.)
Although the Wikipedia Thread seal tape page says "density", I think that's "areal density"... or, in sensible terms, approximately thickness. And, of course, it's not actually Teflon®. The yellow gas tape is definitely thicker than the white plumber's tape.
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:44 PM   #12
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Since this will be mounted, and not just hanging off the tank, you could handle the weight of other fittings for other types of connection, such as a quick-connect and/or a (male) appliance outlet. Anything without its own valve should have a valve, like already done for the QCC.

While you're plumbing a manifold, you might want to add fittings for input from alternate source, such as
  • female appliance/throwaway cylinder fitting (with shutoff valve): screw on a one-pound cylinder here for "emergency" backup supply
  • 1/4" inverted flare (with shutoff valve): takes common "pigtail" hose, allowing a second tank to be used (use any tank even if it doesn't fit your bracket; handy with extension to use a large external tank for long-term stays)

This would be a combination of the common "add-a-tee" adapter, the "extend-a-stay" adapter often used with motorhomes to use an external tank, and ideas from the Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers forum (e.g. the one-pound cylinder backup).

Unused ports should have caps - there's a cap or plug for every type of connection.

Of course, if you get carried away you have a significant mass of brass riding around on the trailer tongue...
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