RD Hansen: Thanks for your info on cutting the copper propane lines. It's the most specific I've seen so far. Two weeks after rehabbing my tank (scraping, painting) my local propane guy said I need to replace my bleeder valve. So I bought one and while I was trying to get the old one off it snapped off leaving the threads behind. Hindsight by a technician since has told me to use an 8 or 12 point socket instead of a crescent or vise grips for more even grip. Yes, I used JB Blaster to free it. It did not help. So now I need a new tank.
Icarus/Capt Mike/Anyone: Do you have any more specific info/input to add to this install? Does anyone have any photos of their install or at least can take pictures of what the copper lines look like now near the connections after installation? I need to know how much to bend them if at all.
Main main concerns are:
a) How in the world do you get a pipe cutter followed by a flaring tool to work on two pipes so close together and with other things close by and in the way. GoWesty says to "flex" them, not bend them. Someone please respond with your personal experience.
b) GoWesty also say cut "roughly" two inches off the copper lines. Is this a 1/8", 1/4" cut or what? And more or less??
Anyone, if you have done this install please chime in and post photos of the work as being done or even as now completed would be of some help. Thanks!
Instead of cutting and flaring the copper lines, it looks like he cut the floor where the lines run into the van and just pushed the lines toward the front of the vehicle (away from the regulator) to fit the new, longer, two-stage regulator.
I'm debating whether I need to buy a new tank from GoWesty or just replace the regulator on the LP tank from my '82 diesel Westy -- I thought the above video was helpful when I came across it, though he doesn't mention anything about replacing the tank.
Howdy! I'm in need of a propane tank for my van, do NOT want to mess around retro-fitting a hazard tank myself... I'm hoping to order one ASAP, and see that GoWesty is currently out of stock. Anybody know of another supplier? I'm in BC, although it seems a Cdn dealer is unlikely. Thanks!
Yes, I figured out a way to use a standard BBQ propane bottle (20 lb.) and plumb it to the existing regulator. Get a high pressure propane hose and fit one end with a POL fitting that connects to the propane bottle. On the other end of the hose put a female POL fitting. Now you have a propane extension hose. I haven't finished the install, but I would place the propane bottle up top on the luggage carrier. Run the hose down the side just behind the door and under the van. The original Westy propane regulator connects to the original tank shutoff valve with a POL fitting just like a standard propane tank. Disconnect that fitting, flex or bend things as needed to back the regulator and original male POL fitting out of the original tank POL valve and then connect the regulator POL to your extension hose.
On my 82 Westy the flared tubes that take the low pressure regulated propane up through the floor are made of aluminum, not copper, and they are harder to bend.
All of this assumes that you leave the old tank in place. But there's no need to carry an empty 35 lb. empty tank around everywhere. You could remove the old tank and use either the original or a brand new propane regulator. They're not expensive at all.
I would not run the rubber high pressure hose inside the vehicle due to the problem of eventual leak as the hose deteriorates over the years.
However you could install a new regulator right at the tank and run a low pressure rubber hose inside the vehicle to the cabinet connections for the stove and fridge. This kind of regulator and hose assembly is widely available for use with BBQs and other outdoor propane gadgets. Or you could use copper flex tubing, which is much more durable and pretty easy to work with. You just need refrigeration-grade copper tube that you can buy in most well-supplied hardware and builder supply stores, plus a tubing cutter and a flare tool, and any flare fittings you might need. You could also use refrigeration grade aluminum tubing instead of copper, and that should be cheaper.
The whole tank, regulator, tubing or hose assembly and fittings and adapters will cost a bunch less than a new tank assembly from GoWesty.com, where they are on sale in July 2014 for $350. (GoWesty says they have a new regulator that doesn't require cutting and re-flaring the original tubes.)
Of course you will need to secure the luggage rack propane tank in place, but you, being a Westy owner, are smart enough to figure that out, right? You can also buy smaller propane bottles, like 10 lb. capacity, although they cost more than the common 20 lb. bottle. In exchange for more money and smaller capacity you get a squatty low profile tank that will not stick up above your roof line, or not by much, and is easier to secure. But you had better secure the tank with metal or heavy nylon straps, because in case of a collision the tank could go flying and become a bomb.
Another possibility is to refill your original tank from a 20 lb. BBQ bottle with a high pressure hose fitted with male POL fittings on both ends. Then you invert and elevate the donor tank and allow time for the transfer. You will need to open the bleeder valve on the Westy tank, and be careful to shut off the fill valve as soon as you get any liquid spray coming out of the bleeder. The bleeder is low on the tank, but it has a tube inside the tank that goes upward and ends at the correct fill level. The bleeder serves a dual purpose: 1) lowers the pressure in the Westy tank so the liquid propane will flow from the source tank to the Westy tank, and 2) indicates when the tank is at the designed fill level, allowing room for the liquid propane to expand when it gets hot out. Liquid propane expands quite a bit as heat increases, which is why the standard fill level is 80% of the water capacity of the tank. That way it has room to expand without blowing out through the pressure relief valve and causing a potential fire hazard. This is why portable propane bottles carry warnings that say not to use or store them indoors or inside a hot car.
The float on the overfill prevention valve on the newer propane bottles won't allow you to fully empty the 20 lb. bottle in the inverted position. But you don't need to empty it because the Westy tanks only hold 3 gallons.
This last part goes beyond the immediate topic but it is propane related. When a neighbor's house burned down last year I heard a series of loud explosions. I assumed they might be propane tanks or bottles rupturing and exploding. It was at night and the fire lit up the sky for a mile around. Next day I visited the property and there was a row of four or five BBQ propane bottles lined up by the driveway, the paint burned off but perfectly intact metal. There was a car in the carport that burned. The explosions were the tires, not the propane bottles. The captive air well water pressure tank also ruptured with a loud bang, leaving a jagged hole torn in the side. Four tires plus a spare plus the water pressure tank accounted for the six booms heard. My friend the fire chief was there the next day, and he explained that propane tanks don't rupture in a fire because they have pressure relief valves. Good thing, that.