Propane Tank; Repair/replace


spitsnrovers

New member
Living in Canada, I too know about the 'no need to certify the tank every 10 years" rule. But, as others have stated, it looked like it needed care. The tag had lifted off 2 corners from rust build up under it. However - on inspection, the tag is made of cheaper steel than the tank and it did all the rusting. After sandblasting the tank in my garage, and painting it with Tremclad paint, it looks like new. I carefully masked all valves and fittings.

Superior Propane here (in Calgary) no longer do RV tank work, so I took it to Trailer Town. They quoted just over $200 to remove, sandblast and paint the tank - with Tremclad, and then test it. Now they only have to pressure and leak test it.

Only problem now is replacing the original safety stickers. Manchester declined to supply me with any. Auto Stop is no longer in business. So based on photos of my tattered decals, I've recreated new ones in Corel Draw and will laminate them and re apply with adhesive.

However I'm missing a few words off the Auto Stop decal. Can any one supply the wording, or a photo of one?

I can't see paying anyone $1300 for a tank replacement.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
That's what I ran into -- rust under the original metal tag. Like you, I carefully removed the tag, sandblasted & painted.

I recreated the tag (copy posted on the Tech Drawings link) to laminate & apply, but saved the original for posterity & 'incaseof'. I didn't want to attempt to weld the tag back on or mess with some sort of epoxy. I figure the repro decal will suffice unless some OSHA type demands the original, which I'd probably just stick on with double-sided tape long enough for an inspection. Here in NC, state inspections don't include LP tanks.

GoWesty sells a set of decals but I don't believe it covers all the LP decals, since those varied considerable with tank model & supplier. I've recreated a number of the decals over the years because VW doesn't sell them in the routine route, even with the part numbers. You have to have an exact copy of the words and location and a willing dealer to call the distribution center with a description. The original manufacturer of the tanks and other Westy LP fittings often can come up with at least copies of the decals. I'm hoping they hit the aftermarket antique decal suppliers (like Osborne) soon.
 

powderhippie

New member
I'm replacing my old 3500 BTU heater I took out of a 1970 airstream trailer and installed under my 1987 Westys sink with a brand spanking new Atwood Everest Star II 12,000 BTU forced air unit. I will need to move my entire sink/stove cabinet section 5" to the sliding door (but still allow the bed to fold out) to fit this heater. I will also add another (3rd) battery to help my auxilary (solar powered) electrical system handle the 1.8A load during operation. Anyhow, I'm getting rid of the miniscule 1.8G propane tank and my auxilary propane tank (2 fills per visit with 2 bad located tanks doesn't make a lot of friends)and replacing with one modern safe unit that can hold at least 7 gallons of fuel - I live in my van). I wanted to get the Manchester appropriate model, but it's 10" in diameter. Any suggestions? I've already Googled the hech out of this and am giving up hope!
 

icarus

Moderator
Two thoughts,

You might consider a "extenda-stay" fitting, which allows you to connect a bbq tank into the lines. There are postings in the propane section as to how to do it. (Propane tanks are available in a huge variety of sizes, in addition to the 5 gallon bbq tank). A 8-10 horizontal fork lift type tank might also work for you.

Also, if you haven't purchased you furnace yet, consider the propex. I searched for years to find a furnace that would fit in the westy w/out modifing the cabinets (they are all too deep) The propex, while spendy fits beautifly under the seat with little loss of space and no cabinet mods. It also only draws about 1/2 an amp while running. The propex sold by Van Cafe (nee volkscafe) is available in England with a bigger heat output. The 1600 that I have works great at 10f, keeping the cabin warmed to 65 easily.

You might also look to install a furnace in the closet. I don't know how deep the 12k btu atwood is but memory says it might fit in the closet.

Good luck,

Icarus
 

jerepowers

New member
I just replaced the LP tank on my 1984 Westfalia. The old one leaked at the shut-off valve, had a smell of propane and was so rusty that it looked like it was brought up from an old sunken Galleon. The leaky shut-off valve meant that gas was not necessarily leaking from the system, only that you couldn't stop the gas from entering the regulator and the lines. I tested this by lighting the stove, leaving it on low and then trying to shut the gas off at the tank. The flame never really went out. However, with the smell, I deduced that the regular maybe leaking too. Either way, my life is worth more than a $350 tank and regulator so I replaced it.

I bought the tank from The Bus Depot, one of my two main online suppliers. It was $20 less than the one at GoWesty, or so I thought. When it arrived, I realized the tank from The Bus Depot ($299) doesn't come with the regulator. The one from GoWesty ($320) does. In the end, I paid $20 more, with shipping, to buy it the way I did.

Replacing the tank is straight forward. The difficulty lies in the lines. (See my post in that section.)

However, if you have air conditioning, like I do, the lines get in the way. I had to cut the nylon ties and then push the lines up on top of the tank to get a socket in there.

Also, I wanted to replace the rusty original nuts with stainless steel. However, the wrench size of the nuts used to mount the tank are smaller than normal, I was able to put the stainless steel ones only on the outboard two studs. The nut, in the socket, couldn't get close enough to the frame rail to thread on.
 

jerepowers

New member
There have been some posts about what to do with old propane tanks. They most defintely should not be thrown in the trash. This link is for New Jersey, but they sum up the problems better than most sites I have found. Morris County Muniicipal Utilities Authority In a sense, they are a danger during collection, a danger in the landfill and they take up a lot of space that cannot be compacted. All of the websites that I found dealing with tanks and replacing them says you should bring them to a propane dealer who will empty them the proper way and recycle them.

My dealer in New Brighton, MN, charged me $5 to do that.
 

mr.rocksteady2

New member
Propane Tank Blues

Hi All. '85 Westy. I removed the propane tank, removed the "Auto Stop Fill" and put an LP Valve and Overflow Valve on my tank. Painted it with Rust Bullet. Put it back on. Works...BUT...when the valve is cut off, I smell no gas. There are no leaks. When the gas is on...I smell gas as I am downwind under the van. Any thoughts?
 

mr.rocksteady2

New member
you're right. working on this van is frustrating. has been for 10 years. so, any suggestions about the quickest way to empty 3 gallons of LP? Burning it off could take a couple of days. How about opening the 80% valve?

I do have the battery disconnected.
 

RD Hansen

New member
Follow up on Propane Tank Replacement

I would like to follow up on the posts on propane tank replacements. I recently bought an 81 Westy and need to replace the tank as my local dealer would not fill the current one. Upon ordering the new tank I also ordered the extend - a - stay feature. But in trying to install the new unit, I see no way to install the extend - a - stay feature between the regulator and the valve. There is not enough room to include it and get the regulator to hook up to the old lines. Can this unit be installed anywhere else in the system or was it just a waste of money this time around. I originally thought the ability to install a 1 lb cylinder as a standby would be benefical. Any thoughts would be appreciated.....................Thank you. Ron
 

icarus

Moderator
extend-a-stay

I confess it has been while since I did one, but if memory serves,,,

You have to shorten the feed line from the tank that goes into the car. You have to cut the copper line the right amount, re-flare the end, and then install the extenda-stay between the regulator and the shortened pipe. If memory serves, there is enough room to fit it all in side the guarding. You could place the extenda-stay fitting somewhere else in the the line but that would require more complicated re plumbing, and then the fitting would be in the cabin,,,not something that would be a good idea in my mind.

Good luck,

Icarus
 

RD Hansen

New member
Icarus,
Thanks for getting back to me. From what I can determine, the company must have made a few modifications since you installed yours. On the replacement unit, from the end of the regulator to the frame, there is only about 2 inches. With the inclusion of t fitting for the cut lines, I will still have to bend the fuel lines from vetical and force them up to a horizontal position to get them to align with the new regulator along with cutting them back atleast 2 inches. Once cut there is very little leaway to the bend to get the new flare in the lines. There is not enough room to install the extend -a -stay fitting in this location in my opinion. Therefore, I will install it as is and forget the extend- a-stay fitting. It was worth considering. I'm going to see if the company will take it back.
Thanks again................RD Hansen
 

Mike Robinson

New member
Replacing Propane Tank ....

I thought I would add my experiences to this list. I live on Vancouver Island, BC. Canada. It would not surpise me to find that there are differeing requirements and regulations in other places ....

I have never had a problem getting my '82 tank filled. When I got the vehicle I painted the tank so it looked ok.

I was in the states 2 years ago and had the tank overfilled. For the rest of the trip and at home I could smell propane so I thought that the tank was leaking. Eventually the smell went away as I suspect the propane level reached down to maximum.

By that time I had purchased a tank from Go Westy. Incidently there is an interesting article on why you should concider replacing the tank on thier website. In addition to Go Westy's views on why all the RV shops I talked about were concerned at the age of the propane system on my westy.

No RV shop I talked to wanted to replace the tank. They were all too busy attaching accessories to new RV's and well, nobody likes working on westys. So I waited until they were slow in their shops - February and got it booked in. Interesting enough in BC you need a propane ticket for RV's to work on the westy's system - auto propane or house propane certification is not good enough, so it had to go to an RV dealer.

The new tank has an improved regulator on it which requires shortening the existing lines into the van, apart from that straight forward? not really.

The shop took 2 days to get the tank swapped and all the propane system checked and recertified. The shop explained that they would only work on the system if they checked everything - from a saftey persepective I agreed with them. I now have a certification plate on the outside of the westy that nobody cares about! I have a propane heater in the westy that was pritty much completely rebuilt and the fridge was serviced. Total cost $500 CDN

The next challenge once the shop had finished was I could not put propane into the tank because it need to be purged. Always worth asking the shop who is doing the work if they can do this. Not many places can purge tanks. I eventually found an auto propane shop that charged me $50 for the service.

I got the tank filled and made sure it all worked. The fridge worked first time!!!! when does that ever happen???? and the furnace actually produces hot air!

I am pleased to have replaced the tank and know that the propane system has been checked.

Mike
'82 westy diesel 1.9TD
 

RD Hansen

New member
Mike,
I finally got my propane tank replaced also and it was worth the effort. I feel better about using it and those having to fill it do too. I tried to install the extend a stay feature but could not get it installed between the propane regulator and the new frame. Just left it off. Would like to have had it installed, but just could not work it in. It was recommended not to install it within the cabinet inside the camper behind another regulator. So will utilize it as it is. Good Camping...................RDH
 

tvp

New member
tank replacement

Hi,

I have an '84 Westy and the tank pulled the nightmare stunt--I tried to fill at a gas station and the propane began leaking out the pinhole beneath the fill valve. Three gallons of propane, right next to the Interstate. Fire department arrived, the full-tilt boogie. They finally detached the lines so it would drain more quickly. All said, two embarrassing hours.

The fireman said that the tank was actually doing what it was supposed to, i.e. relieving excess pressure. So I later took it to a propane dealer and they put in just a bit, and the same thing. They took the tank off and let it drain. I went back later to retrieve it.

These episodes obviously sucked. But still not sure of cause, I really don't feel like laying out $400 for a new tank, which overall is in fine shape. From my reckoning and these threads, it's either a stuck component of the fill valve or a bad regulator. I think the valve is the culprit. There are manual valves for sale online. Are these a good idea?

Thanks.

TVP
 

Mike Robinson

New member
Propane replacement

$400 for the tank and probably another $400 for a shop to fit it! - not an inexpensive problem to fix.

The GoWesty! article details discusses the need to replace the whole tank. They were going to just stock valves etc but had difficulty with supply and the new tanks have an auto shut off function. This - depending on interpretation - is now required by law. Basically it means the old way of filling the tank of opening the overflow valve and filling until the propane leaked is no longer needed. You just attach the hose and fill - it will auto shut off. Way safer.

Leaky propane system is scary. It could lead to a messy problem.

Good luck, my advice, new tank.

M
 

tvp

New member
Replace tank--or blue ice?

Thanks, Mike.

I did see that article on GoWesty site. But according to their ad, it appears that the new tank doesn't need to be refitted. Just the inflow lines. I would hope that it would be far cheaper than 400-large to install.

If not, the old Coleman stove will be dusted off--and blue ice for the fridge. Recession solution.

TVP
 

tvp

New member
tank alternatives

A question: I'm a self-employed guy, and the current economy obviously sucks. While I'm mostly a purist about keeping my '84 Westy as original as possible, I simply can't afford upwards of a grand for a new propane tank and install. Was wondering if it would be possible to retrofit inside the cabin for canisters.

It can't be impossible to do. I have a great mom-and-pop local fellow (Tucson) who does small RVs but I'd would like to know before I talk to him. In the meantime, I'm stuck without stove or fridge. And folks, that just ain't a Westy.
Thanks for any ideas.
 

tvp

New member
Propane switch

I'm surprised there is no response a couple of weeks later to this post. Somebody out there must have tried an alternative approach. Then again...maybe not.
Thanks.

tvp
 

tvp

New member
Propane Valve

I'm pleased to say that I have found a semi-low-cost solution to the propane tank problem for an 84 Westy. There is an original valve, before Westies went to auto-stop, that is a simple manual affair, with a bleeder valve on tank. Legal and safe. Total cost, installed: $125. Used original tank and had everything pressure-checked. Requires added diligence to ensure tank is not overfilled. The trick is that you install the filler valve yourself, because RV shops don't want the liability of retrofitting. Once it's in, have everything pressure tested, and you're good to go.

tvp
 

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