LP system not used for years


Joe

New member
Hello,

I am looking at an '82 Westfalia for sale. The owner say's he's never used the stove (and fridge). In fact he doesn't know if either stove or fridge has ever been used. Is it possible to still use the appliances or, will they deteriorate to the point of uselessness if not used for years? Also, the flu has not had a cover for a long time, is that a problem or, can it be cleaned out if it has been blocked by something?

Thank you,

Joe

[ 12-30-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
You can have the LP system checked for leaks by any competent LP dealer. Since corrossion requires moisture and the LP side is basically sealed, a system that has never been used has a pretty good chance of being OK, except . . .!

The regulators (2) have rubber diaphrams. They may no longer be good. Again, the LP dealer can check.

The flue is probably the area most susceptible to corrossion. Inspect it carefully and test for leaks. It's a triple wall design, meaning the incoming air supply runs down the channel between the outermost & middle walls. The exhaust exits between the middle & inner walls. Corrossion could have exhaust gas re-entring the vehicle.

The fridge flue cleaning is covered in the FRIDGE forum under "Vanagon LP fridge syndrome" Please see the Message Board Guidelines about mixing forums.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred from another post to consolidate similar topics.

Firing up stove/fridge for the first time . . .

bussed Junior Member # 1287 posted 06-22-2001 04:12 AM

This is my first VW. I bought an '83 Vanagon, Westy. and I'm itching to try the camping goodies. What precautions should I take when lighting pilots, filling propane tank, etc. None of them have been used. Everything is in NEW condition.
Thanks for any info.!
~brett~
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
First, get and read the manual. Then perform a visual inspection of all parts to see if you have any indications of leaks or corrosion. If that still does not give you confidence, have your system inspected by a professional LP service facility -- not the local fill station.

Fill the tank with a nominal amount and check for leaks. Do NOT be surprised if the regulators (there are two -- one at tank and one for stove) have problems. They have rubber diaphragms inside that could have dried and cracked over the years. Be sure you understand the operation of the stove knobs -- they do not turn the same direction as a home stove and they have a simmer setting where you would expect maximum heat.

Fridge questions belong on the Fridge forum; see the Message Board Guidelines.
 

jim conlin

New member
I have just tried to test my propane systems on an 87 van.Trying to fill the tank at the local LP dealer was frustrating as he was unable to get gas to go in. Reading on this , my bible of a website that once full or near full it was tough to or impossible to top her off, I tried opening the valve and lighting the stove.I guess it was full, it lit immediatly.But ,down at the valve there was an obvious leak.Soaping the area showed a pinhole in the cast aluminum regulator behind the black plastic protective housing. Some said put a sheet metal screw in it, some suggested the hole appeared to be a safety release vent while others said a good apoxy could get me through the summer. None of these folks however would be traveling in this potential timebomb.Could it be a poor casting of the metal ? As you look at the regulator it has two stem towers ,the left one with a breather [mesh screen] my pinhole is on the flat surface 1/4 inch forward of the right hand tower an unlikely place for corrosion.It required a mirror to find it. Should this system be totally silent when valve is turned on is my question or is the hissing pinhole supposed to be ? thanks in advance, jim
 

icarus

Moderator
You should never hear hissing from the regulator. In fact the regulator should not vent regularly either. You may hear passing gas (no inference) with both burners lit, but you would have to have realy great ears.

I suggest that you change out the regulator. They are simple to change and inexpensive to buy. They are quite generic so they can be had lots of places. No way would I run with a regulater that has been "repaired"

Good luck

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
It's unlikely a defective casting -- its quite possibly corrosion, from inside or out. Unused, the moisture & condensation in the tank may have eventually reacted with the casting, which is basically pot metal. The tank gets outside air, with its contaminates and moisture, during fills. What's in the hose, what may be in the supply tank, etc.

Road salt or other corrosive element could have worked from the outside. Pot metal is more likely to become the sacrificial anode in any electrolysis action.

icarus is right -- change it out; they are cheap compared to the alternative of a 'repair'. What it should also tell you is to have the rest of the system checked out for other effects of the inactivity. See photo on Tech Diagrams link for motivation. Regulators have their own topic.
 

jim conlin

New member
Thanks gents. Again, your info is most helpful. Capt. , your final thought sent me to go-westy for the complete system of tank regulator etc. It seemed easier than facing another "pro" that would not even bend their knees to look at my propane system .With family on board I will rest easier, if a bit poorer. jim conlin-87 westy
 

icarus

Moderator
If you haven't ordered a new tank yet, consider removing the old one, take it a a good, I stress good, propane guy and have him inspect it. These tanks are very rugged (reading Capt. Mike's post above, infers that they are subject to failure. I think his point was that the regulator is subject to failure way more frequently than the tank.

Once you have the tank off, it is a good idea to clean and paint it, and perhaps replace the fill valve. These tanks can look really bad with road gunk, and surface rust, but they rarely need replacing. (I understand that if you have to go to the trouble of r/r'ing it to inspect, why bother when the cost of a new one is not that unreasonable)

As to other aspects of the system, there are few parts that are subject to failure just from sitting. When you fill the new or revamped tank, do a good soat bubble test, paying attention to the valves on the stove and fridge.

The other thing that you can do is fill the system with air pressure and do a leak down test. When we do gas piping in a building we presurize to 15lbs for 15 minutes. You wouldn't want to put that much air in the lines as the valves are not designed to take that much pressure, but if you pump it up to about 1-2lbs, put a micro gauge on it, let it sit overnight, it shouldn't lose any air.

(If there is any expert out there who feels that this is a bad idea, please post. I know you are not supposed to put excess preasure on the service valves.)

Personaly, I would soap what I could get at, park the car outside with the tank on and check evry few minutes for an hour or so, and if there is no smell of propane I think you are good to go.

Good luck.

Icarus
 

Kali

New member
Our LPG heater doesn't seem to ignite. Our manual is in German which doesn't help. It was fine 3 years ago in Spain but I've forgotten the exact procedure. I thought the steps were:
1 open valves outside
2 remove chimney cover
3 set dial to 25
4 turn switch on right up to start blower
5 turn switch on left up to where large flame is indicated
6 adjust heat.
Are any of those steps faulty?
 

LeliaD

New member
Capt. Mike, I can't find an LP dealer who has anyone qualified to pressure test my propane system and check for leaks. I am borrowing a 1986 Westfalia in which the propane appliances have not been used for 20 years. I've called all LP dealers and RV dealers within 100 miles of my home and they all say they don't know anyone who can safety check my system. Any ideas how to find someone?
 

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