Propane Tank; Repair/replace


Stretch

New member
My 1983 Westie has the original propane tank
which is very badly rusted. Has anyone replaced one? How big a job is it. The bolts are so badly corroded that it looks like they will have to be cut off with a torch or grinder. Also it appears that the refrig. and
adjacent cabinet must be removed for access to the 4 bolts holding the tank. Any insights are appreciated.
Stretch
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The bolts that the LP tank is mounted to are welded in studs in the floor pan. I can emphasize with the rusted state, and suggest you spend a lot of time with PB Blaster and other de-rusting type chemicals first. In fact, I'd split the nut with a nut splitter and remove it rather than try to 'unscrew' it and risk turning off the stud.

You can replce the studs two ways. The first is a through bolt that involves getting to the inner floor. It would also run the risk of leakage through the floor, though not a high risk with today's sealants.

The other is to spot weld new studs into place. Most any good body shop can handle that -- they have special welding accessories for that sort of thing now.

Is your tank rusted, or just the guard? And if rusted, is it just surface rust or do you have sufficient pitting that you suspect the tank integrity? Manchester did a crummy job at painting -- no primer -- so perhaps you just need to do a real good sandblasting and repaint with proper methods.
 

Loree

New member
Hi I just took in my 12 year old camper VW to get the fridge fixed and the tank they told me was too rusted and it needs replacing. How long should these tanks last? Are they quite thick and is this repair shop just making me spend $1000 including replacing the regulator.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Actual tank replacements are rare. If a tank has rusted out, it's usually a case of damage or long-term neglect. Manchester did a lousy job of painting tanks so many needed repaint early, but only if left unprotected or in a strong salt environment for a long period should one need replacing. Even surface rust & pitting is probably acceptible if caught and properly repainted.

Take your tank to an LP dealer, not auto shop. They will have considerable more experience in tank thickness and quality. They should also have some knowledge of Manchester tanks since they are a generic industry standard, not something special--built for the Westy.

Regulators are a replaceable part and site sponsor Go Westy is one source since the originals from VW have become scarce. However, they too are generic and I've obtained them at routine LP dealerhips. Your request for prices & dealers of tanks is beyond scope of tech boards.
 
G

Guest

Guest
My Propane tank was rejected on an inspection five years ago because of rust and the data plate welds had let go on one side.After checking ont he price of a new tank I removed the tank and took it to a machine shop and they welded the data plate back on and sandblasted the tank and repainted.The propane dealer then pressure tested the tank and installed a new fill valve and regulator while the tank was out.Everything has been working fine since and it was a lot cheaper than replacing the tank by a long shot Ken
 

Loree

New member
Thanks for all your tips, another I also recieved from another source was "the propane tanks should last forever if they do not get rusty. Unfortunately, depending on where your camper has lived, the tanks do get rusty especially behind the data tag which is welded on at the four corners.
New tanks are available in North America have the data tag welded on solidly all around, so no chance of rusting under the tag this time around. Takes about
two hours to remove the old tank and install the new one. Not very
compilcated". and then with some more research I found one for $219.00 US. So I am going to use this to help me make some decisions regarding this issue and major expense. Hope this helps anyone else out there Not just me! Thanks for all your help!
Loree /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Not the tank per se but a similar condition. My tank guard was poorly finished from the factory -- little or no primer -- and began to rust almost right away. I did a minor touch-up repaint several years ago, masking over the original decals. The rust returned and finally began to work up under the original decals.

I obtained a new set from GoWesty and removed the guard for a thorough bead-blasting. I then primed like they should have done the first time, and hit it with a coat of Krylon, which has an off-white called 'Ivory' that was a great match for the original. When I installed the new decals, I immediately applied a 2nd clear laminate over them for extra protection.

I assume the same procedure could be used for the tank -- mine has escaped the ravages so far. I'm sure not going to remove it until I have to.
 

dapichette

New member
I've got an 89 Westy. I had an accient and got hit in the left side just above the propane connections. The repair shop fixed the body work under insurance and I asked them to check the propane, water, electric connections. They said everything was OK, but now I have a propane leak that I'm sure is behind that new panel. And now I can't find anyone--VW dealer, RV dealer, Propane Dealer--who will look at it let alone repair or replace it. I live in the Washington DC area, but travel the entire southern East Coast. Can anybody suggest someone to look at it or have any idea how to deal with this? Has anyone had this problem before.
Dave
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Call your insurance company and tell them it's THEIR responsibility to get it fixed to pre-accident condition (no leaks) and the problem you're having with the repair shops. If they approved the shop, their obligation takes over.

However, there is NO place in the new panel that the propane runs. The propane goes up through the floor and the panel has openings on the inside behind the cabinet for any running of lines & wires. There should be no connection fittings in that panel; most run in the space behind the cabinet.
 

dapichette

New member
Problem remains. I can't find a shop in my area that will even look at this. nobody seems to want to touch a possible propane leak, even places like Camping World. Any suggestions?

Dave
 

A. Cooper

New member
Make sure the shops you're talking to understand the leak is in the LINE, not the tank itself (it is, isn't it?). Any reputable shop should be able to turn the valve off at the regulator and fix the line without danger. But if they think your TANK is leaking, with no way to shut it off, they may be justifiably fearful of working on it.

Some shops simply don't like the Westy: too low to fill or work on easily, too unusual to be easily understood, too small to be profitable. The guy at one RV shop grunted and groaned and made a big fuss about filling my tank. "Five gallons," he said when he was done, and I paid it. But something in his eye didn't look right, so when I got home I checked my Owner's Manual to learn that the tank's total capacity is only THREE gallons. The jerk must have added on a 'hassle surcharge'. Some shops have outright refused to fill it.

Get it to a decent RV-repair shop, and precisely explain the problem. You cannot be the first guy to have a leaky LP line ... Last resort: read the posts here regarding how to drain the tank, THEN take it to the shop for service, empty.

Good luck!
 

Mike Robinson

New member
My funniest story about filling my tank - sorry this has little relavance to this thread - but somewhat to A Cooper's story.

Anyhoo, I had been using the propane and had no idea how much I had used, so I went to get it topped up - $1.35 Canadian!!!! I think that was about 3 litres!!

No complaints from the guy filling it!

Mike
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Replace original tank with GoWesty Manchester tank.
Eartheyes Member posted May 18, 2003 09:06 PM

I just received a new updated Manchester propane tank from GoWesty. When installing I noticed that the regulator is much longer, forcing to bend the hoses to fit...a bit of a hassle, but doable. But the major problem I noticed that could be a HUGE problem when filling is that the purge valve is MUCH higher than my original. The people who barely are willing to fill our Westfalia tanks are truly going to gripe, maybe even refuse to fill these tanks when they have to reach up, beyond sight, to feel for the purge valve. Also, the emiting gas will spurt into the under side of the chassis. Didn't Manchester take into account the location of these tanks? I think a email to Manchester is in order, as well to GoWesty.

Addition to my updated tank gripe....

Sorry, forgot to mention that my new updated Manchester tank from GoWesty was for my 82 Westfalia. Yes, it was the correct tank ordered, should be the same tank for all Vanagon models.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Following are replys to a mispost that were worth savings.

Mike Robinson Member posted July 06, 2003 10:36 AM

I would check and see if it really needs replacing. Take it to a place that checks and recertifies this tank - like Superior Propane. I am sure they will replace the main value and send you on your way.

I have an '82 with a tank that was very rusty. I painted it with POR-15 (don't belive the rust stopping properties) and I have never been questioned when filling it. I do intend to get it checked at the end of the year.

To replace the tank - should you have too, can be a bit of a challange. I was looking at buying an '84 that along with other stuff wrong with it had a 'decertifed tank' What I suspect this means is when you go to get a fill they connect the propane and check for leaks before opening the small overflow value (I think) I looked into getting another tank $1000 CDN from a VW (for just the tank) Then I talked to a pile of propane fitters who said they could not fit a tank underneith because of clearance etc - but could put one inside. The bill would be over $1000.

The real solution would be to buy a tank from www.busdepot.com 80-91 Westy, Original Equipment Tank With Internal Fill Valve $219.95 US P/N 253070601D. I have not looked at the installation but I understand it to be attached to the westy by 4 bolts under the carpet, then get an RV shop to do the propane connections.

Hope this helps

Mike

simscaw15 Junior Member posted July 06, 2003 12:46 PM

I live in Vancouver and just recently had the propane tank replaced on my '82. I called a number of places and the only luck I had was at M-R-O RV Services in Burnaby. (604) 431-7446. Damn expensive, $1350.00 Cdn but there didn't seem to be any other option. Another place I had reccomended to me was Delta Propane and Auto Repairs in Surrey 591-3804. He quoted me a lower price but after four months I gave up on him as he said he had tanks on back order but they hadn't arrived. When I was in Jasper last summer the propane place I stopped at wouln't fill my tank as the 80% valve was leaking and when I took it into M-R-O they checked it out and said the whole tank was gone. (the label was rusted off which was an indicator for them (?) They stuck exactly to their estimate and I feel totally secure in it's safety. The tank cost $685.00, $42.50 for the LPG regulator, $5.99 for a cover, $8.50 for shop supplies and the rest was labour. Good Luck on your search. Let me know if you find anything cheaper. Hopefully I won't need to know for another 10 years!

Cheers Peterpcawsey@shaw.ca

icarus Member posted July 07, 2003 01:46 PM

A simple solution, instead of replacing the existing tank is to install a extend-a-stay fitting before the regulator. (I have posted info on other l/p threads) This fitting allows you to use a portable tank, as small as 3 gallons, as big as 5 gallons. When you stop, just plug in the portable tank and light appliances. You never have to fill the existing tank if you don't want to. You can also use the fitting to transfer l/p from the portable to the on board, without having to use the dealer for filling. It won't fill the onboard full, but it will fill with gravity. I use a ex-tenda-stay with my on board to make it last longer. On the other hand changing out the onboard tank is not very hard to do. The regualtor screw in with reverse threads, and gas lines are simple copper flair fittings.

Icarus
 

niti

New member
For dapichette's problem, I recommend a little shop in southern NJ, south of Philly and a few miles east of I95, just a few hours' drive north from DC-- they replaced my regulator/lines for $24, parts included (standard RV tank regulator, a little longer than the original, but they didn't complain a bit), and didn't waste any of the propane in the process. If you want the name/address, I'll dig it up. Since then I've also decided to get a new Manchester tank, and had my local propane gas supplier install it for $20, plus a promise to refill it there every time I left for a new adventure. I had used up all the propane from my old rusty tank before the procedure, to make it all a little easier. In fact, I made dinner in the van for 4 nights in a row, instead of using my own kitchen!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I get -- and they're usually cut under our "no parts/shops wanted ads" policy -- so many posts of members complaining they are being overcharged for either tanks or services and wanting them cheaper. Judging from the attitude of some of those posts, I have to wonder how many go into the shop or dealer with that same chip on their shoulder and then are surpised when nobody wants to go out of their way to help them.

I, too, have had only favorable services from LP dealers including some 'no charge' adjustments or tips. I've never had a problem getting a tank filled anywhere in the country or Canada. I know that reasonable priced proper replacement tanks are available. Often it's appearance, approach and expectations.

[Reasonable isn't always in the eye of the buyer but whether the price if fair and competetive -- yea, I'd like one for $50, too, but it ain't gonna happen!]

I'll pass on a parable. Recently, a friend of mine and I went to buy a 20' container for club storage. We chatted with the general manager about common interests and acquintances, antique cars, ships and the used container market, which we had the good sense to research a bit before coming in. We got a refurbished and freshly painted unit for $500 plus $95 exact spot delivery (they weigh 2½ tons!). While we were writing the check, a loud-mouth, know it all came in, talking down to them. Without blinking, they quoted him $2000 for what would be a worse unit than ours (we'd already looked over all the stock).

:rolleyes: Hello, mouth. Meet foot. See guideline #8. It applies to outside vendors, too.
 
Last edited:

Mike Robinson

New member
CANADA ONLY

I talked to 'Superior Propane' about getting my tank recertified today. There is no recertification for permanently mounted tanks on vehicles. The westy tank is NOT the same as your BBQ tank. They said you should get it pressure tested every year but this is up to you. The other advice was to keep the rust off it and the paint on it.

Hope this helps the Canadians out there.

Mike
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
:p I don't know if I had just gotten lax on my inspections or a recent trip into winter salt reactivated things, but I got a nasty shock during my recent major 150K service. I found my LP tank's manufacturer's plate lifting off and obvious rust underneath. Since I still had some LP in the tank, I wasn't really wanting to remove the tank. The rest of the tank looked excellent and I found the manufacturer's plate was just tack-welded at the corners. 2 where free and the other 2 marginal, so I pulled the plate with just a few taps.

The back of the plate was badly pitted with black, active rust underneath several layers of scale. Even my cabinet blaster with the harshest abrasive had a hard go of it. The back is now rough and irregular.

That degree of pitting got me worried about the tank. I had hoped the rust was all from the plate since the tank looked so good elsewhere. I took Volksrat outside and sandblasted the little square where the tag had been attached. Although it looked bad with several layers of scale, most was from the plate. The tank itself is pitted but cleaned up nicely. I used a premium etching primer and then a good epoxy enamel color coat.

I got lucky. Another season and I'm sure the tank pitting could have risked tank integrity. I'm not sure how or if I'll ever attempt to reattach. Maybe a nice thick layer of JB Weld? Right now, I recreated the tag as a label and laminated it on at a point less likely to be damaged to see if that works, and saved the original data plate. If you download the tank label, PLEASE use the blank -- do not jeopradize yourself by using my finished one and thus falsifying your tank data.

:cool: But all you Westy owners, go inspect your tanks, especially around that builder's plate, where fittings like the mounting ears are welded on, and around the valve necks. I keep flashing back to the picture of the burned out RV on the AK H'way (posted in tech drawings), and am thankful I at least spend some time under my vehicle doing some thorough inspections and caught mine in time.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Dan 202 Junior Member posted September 06, 2004 11:21 AM

I recently purchased an 84 Westfalia Vanagon. 70K orig miles, used mostly in the southwest US, no damage, no rust. Having never owned a Westy before, I am trying to absorb as much information about it as I can. I found one disturbing article on the www.gowesty.com web site regarding the LP tank and why it should be replaced; age, legislation passed in 1/03 about an autostop port, etc. But this is the only reference to such problems I can find. Are these valid concerns?? Or perhaps someone is trying to market a $300 LP assembly upgrade??

Regards,
-Dan
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Not downplaying the seriousness or consequences of a bad or leaking tank, articles about 'terminal life span' of LP tanks is more a myth than reality.

The reality of when to replace an LP tank is based on condition, fittings, damage and corrossion. If your tank looks near-new, has no corrossion, all the fittings are in good condition and properly working, and no leaks, a new tank is probably a waste of money. Most LP tanks from the Type II's (another 10 years older than yours), and even earlier on the many van conversions before VW went LP, are still going strong.

If still unsure, you can remove an LP tank, remove fittings and inspect inside, but that's extreme unless you have other symptoms. Tanks can be cleaned if just contaminated. They can actually be presssure tested but stick to an LP pro for these tasks.

Most tanks due for replacement have been abused, allowed to rust, or damaged from accident. Even bad fittings is usually repairable on a sound tank. Retrofitting tanks has its own topic.
 

Top