Problems with Our Propane System - Fiberglass RV
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Old 10-19-2020, 10:14 AM   #1
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Name: Kevin
Trailer: 28' Bigfoot Silver Cloud
Woodstock, IL
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Problems with Our Propane System

Good morning to everyone! I’ve been struggling with our propane system for the past couple weeks, so I thought that I would put it out here for possible new ideas.

We have a 1988 Bigfoot Silver Cloud with two 30# LP tanks. The regulator that came with the trailer when we bought it in 2016 is a Gas-Flo model GR 9959 and I don’t know its age. It had worked fine until these problems started. The hoses are of indeterminate age, too.

Four weeks ago I had the tanks refilled at the local propane dealer where I’ve had it done before. No problems. However, when I reattached the tanks to the existing system, I started to get brief smells of propane near the hitch when the tanks were open (and I thought once or twice with the tanks off). I checked everything for leaks with soapy water but found none. I figured a tank was slightly overfilled and I was smelling the venting. When we were at the Brown County gathering 10 days ago, another camper said he also smelled propane, so I shut the tanks, opening them only to heat water the next day for about 15 minutes. No smells that I could determine with the tank valves closed.

I figured that regulator and/or hoses were probably on their last legs, so I ordered a new Flame King 2-stage regulator with switchover and two new hoses. After hooking it up, I got almost no gas through the system (the range burners barely stayed lit) and the switchover gauge never turned green to show pressure. No leaks, either. I thought I had gotten a bad unit, so I ordered a Gas-Flo 2-stage from eTrailer and two new hoses. Now I had full pressure (could light the burners, the water heater, and the furnace), but a new issue started: a loud hissing noise when the tank valves were open. No leaks were found with the soaping water anywhere down to the copper line going under the front of the trailer. The noise seemed to come from the regulator and I could still smell a bit of propane.

Thinking I may have gotten two bad units in a row, I picked up another 2-stage regulator with tank-full indicator from Camping World. This one is from Enerco - Mr. Heater, model F273836. Same issue... lots of pressure for the trailer appliances but a hissing noise from the regulator. I took a video with the sound, but I haven’t yet been able to upload it.

OK, any suggestions? The tanks were OK before refilling, the regulator is new, the hoses are new, pressure is normal inside, but the noise and smell remains. My next step is to replace the hose that connects that outlet of the regulator to the copper line under the trailer but it doesn’t show any leaks. What do you think?
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Old 10-19-2020, 10:41 AM   #2
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Video of hissing propane. This is the video that Kevin could not upload in the comment above.:


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Old 10-19-2020, 11:10 AM   #3
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Trailer: Black Series HQ19
Smith Valley, Nevada
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Just to make sure: The hand nut POL fitting that attaches the pigtail to the tank, can be temperamental and often needs to be very tight to allow gas to flow properly. If the O ring in the tank valve is cracked, the tanks will leak at that connection. Look into the tank valve opening before screwing on the POL fitting and look at the POL valve end, to make sure the O ring looks fine.

Teflon tape should not be used on the reverse flair fitting where you have the pigtail reverse flair screwed into the 1/8" pipe adapter at the regulator. Teflon is not used for sealing there, and it can get over the end of the fitting and restrict the flow. That reverse flair fitting does not seal at the threads, it seals at the reverse flair on the end of the fitting.
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Old 10-19-2020, 02:24 PM   #4
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Woodstock, IL
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Thanks. Iíll take a look at the O rings and take the teflon tape off the fittings tomorrow when itís not snowing here (yes...snowing!). I also picked up a new gas line hose for the outlet side of the regulator.
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Old 10-19-2020, 03:22 PM   #5
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https://www.amazon.com/Detector-DEEP...%2C174&sr=8-10
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Old 10-19-2020, 03:51 PM   #6
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Thanks! Just ordered one.
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:07 PM   #7
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Thanks, I had a similar situation.
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Old 10-20-2020, 07:49 AM   #8
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Craig, what did your problem turn out to be? What was the fix?
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Old 10-20-2020, 08:37 AM   #9
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the new regulators have safety shutoffs. if the flow of gas is too fast the ball in the check valve moves to cut flow. if your propane system is not holding pressure the flow can be too much. slowly open the valves especially after changing tanks if the flow is blocked or reduced then shut off any open appliance and close the tank valve then slowly reopen it. Flow should be restored. I store my trailer outside and seem to have more propane regulator problems than most people. I have had to replace 3 regulators in 6 years. I swap propane bottles where an when I need to. my trailer has 2 bottles so one gets swapped every year or so. most problems have been with the safety check valves getting white corrosion sticking the safety valves.

smelling a gas leak is bad and a leak down test should be done in addition to the bubble test. Time to seek a pro if you found no bubble leaks and still smell propane.
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:32 AM   #10
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Kevin just found the leak, a break in the 32-year-old copper tubing. He is fixing it now.


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Old 10-20-2020, 09:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CindyL View Post
Kevin just found the leak, a break in the 32-year-old copper tubing. He is fixing it now.


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How is he fixing? If it were me I would purchase direct burry coper tubing (it has a coating on it) and replace the whole thing.
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:36 AM   #12
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Do you have a wired gas detector in the camper?
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Old 10-20-2020, 10:07 AM   #13
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need to use gas rated copper tubing and not just plumbing rated tubing and use flared fittings and not plumbing compression fittings, they are not rated for propane. I would suggest replacing all the copper as it all has seen the same mileage. while in there do it right and get 30 years out of the repair. remember all connections have to have direct access and not hidden or buried behind stuff.

I am not a propane plumbing expert and do not profess to be if you are unsure of what you are doing with propane lines seek help from a professional.
propane leaks are extremely dangerous and all caution is necessary.
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Old 10-20-2020, 10:36 AM   #14
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I had propane training and did service and installation, but it was years ago. I agree with Steve's comments. All connections such as splices or "T" fittings should be outside the trailer. Only fittings inside should be at the appliance. Where I worked we used a special flare nut for propane, which we referred to as a "frost nut"
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Old 10-20-2020, 03:05 PM   #15
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How is he fixing? If it were me I would purchase direct burry coper tubing (it has a coating on it) and replace the whole thing.
The direct bury with the coating is what they ran from my buried propane tank to my house.
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Old 10-20-2020, 04:59 PM   #16
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Thanks again everyone. The tiny break in the copper line was where the line went through the bottom of the front housing and under the trailer. It was supposed to be protected from rubbing and flexing by a plastic hole guard, but my guess is that years of travel movement rubbed a small hole. When I slightly moved the line to check it, it split at that point. I jacked the front of the trailer up, crawled under, and used a copper tube cutter on good tubing just beyond the underneath the front edge of the trailer. Being a Bigfoot, all of this underneath was sprayed in insulation, which I had to carefully remove along the tubing. I also found the copper tube was well protected with a thick plastic tube like a big aquarium air tube. Apparently the problem was that this thick cover didnít extend through the front lower trailer wall (below the floor) into the front housing and thatís where it cracked.

I picked up the necessary brass flare connections and a heavy-duty flexible propane hose. Tomorrow I will flare the newly cut end of the copper line and hook up the hose with a flexible stainless steel cover over it where it goes through the bottom wall edge. The connection will be outside, under the very front of the trailer, and at the propane regulator in the tank housing. The line under the trailer will be resprayed with insulation, leaving the connection open and visible. I will also attach it to the bottom of the floor with a strap to limit movement.

The propane detector needs to be replaced next! Thatís on my list to do.
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:15 PM   #17
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Sounds good!
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:53 PM   #18
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Good Post. Very informative! Thank you.
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Old 10-24-2020, 03:01 PM   #19
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On the U-haul the gas line mounts to fitting that is in the front cross member.
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Old 10-24-2020, 07:22 PM   #20
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Name: Dave
Trailer: in the process of buying a Casita 17 Liberty Delux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin A View Post
Good morning to everyone! I’ve been struggling with our propane system for the past couple weeks, so I thought that I would put it out here for possible new ideas.

We have a 1988 Bigfoot Silver Cloud with two 30# LP tanks. The regulator that came with the trailer when we bought it in 2016 is a Gas-Flo model GR 9959 and I don’t know its age. It had worked fine until these problems started. The hoses are of indeterminate age, too.

Four weeks ago I had the tanks refilled at the local propane dealer where I’ve had it done before. No problems. However, when I reattached the tanks to the existing system, I started to get brief smells of propane near the hitch when the tanks were open (and I thought once or twice with the tanks off). I checked everything for leaks with soapy water but found none. I figured a tank was slightly overfilled and I was smelling the venting. When we were at the Brown County gathering 10 days ago, another camper said he also smelled propane, so I shut the tanks, opening them only to heat water the next day for about 15 minutes. No smells that I could determine with the tank valves closed.

I figured that regulator and/or hoses were probably on their last legs, so I ordered a new Flame King 2-stage regulator with switchover and two new hoses. After hooking it up, I got almost no gas through the system (the range burners barely stayed lit) and the switchover gauge never turned green to show pressure. No leaks, either. I thought I had gotten a bad unit, so I ordered a Gas-Flo 2-stage from eTrailer and two new hoses. Now I had full pressure (could light the burners, the water heater, and the furnace), but a new issue started: a loud hissing noise when the tank valves were open. No leaks were found with the soaping water anywhere down to the copper line going under the front of the trailer. The noise seemed to come from the regulator and I could still smell a bit of propane.

Thinking I may have gotten two bad units in a row, I picked up another 2-stage regulator with tank-full indicator from Camping World. This one is from Enerco - Mr. Heater, model F273836. Same issue... lots of pressure for the trailer appliances but a hissing noise from the regulator. I took a video with the sound, but I haven’t yet been able to upload it.

OK, any suggestions? The tanks were OK before refilling, the regulator is new, the hoses are new, pressure is normal inside, but the noise and smell remains. My next step is to replace the hose that connects that outlet of the regulator to the copper line under the trailer but it doesn’t show any leaks. What do you think?
Hi Kevin. I have virtually the same problem as you and I’m in the process of replacing the regulator and all hoses. I don’t see any leaks from the propane tanks but I’m going to check them more thoroughly before I proceed.

BTW my problem also first showed up at the Brown County rally. Hummm. Coincidence or .....?
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