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Old 01-04-2016, 08:38 PM   #1
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Need help diagnosing low and intermittent LP gas flow.

We spent New Yearís boon docking in Joshua Tree National Park where our 2015 Hurricane came up with a new problem (nothing new, every trip it is something else). The heater would cycle on and the burner would light but only burn for maybe 2 minutes and then shut down. I turned the stove on and you could watch the flame fluctuate from high to low and low to high then eventually go out, almost like it was out of fuel. Gauges were showing just under ĺ full and when I checked it with hot water on the outside of the tank, it also appeared to be between Ĺ and ĺ.
I am thinking it may be temperature related because the night time temps ranged from about 25 to 35 and the inside temps were in the low 40ís because I could only get the furnace to run for about 2 minutes and then shut down about every hour. Does it make sense that it is a faulty pressure regulator or excessive flow device? Iíve had travel trailers for over 25 years and never had a problem with the propane systems. I tested it again when we returned home and it appears to be working when temps are in the 60ís to 70ís so I am expecting the dealer to tell me there is nothing wrong and hand me an invoice for trouble shooting that Thor wonít cover. Probably easier to deal with it myself.
Do any of you have any ideas or advice?
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:38 AM   #2
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Windsport 27K

We went camping over Christmas and had the same issue but to a smaller degree. The furnace was working, then stopped in the night. The rig got cold and we tried to start the furnace again but it would not go on. We could hear it trying to light, the fan would go on but no heat. The stove flickered strong and weak and went out completely when we tried to start the furnace again. This happened for an hour or so until it warmed up a little bit. It was in the low to mid 40's where we were. It only happened the one time out of 7 nights camping so we are hoping it was air or water in the line that took care of itself.
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:29 PM   #3
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Moisture in tank?

On another forum I saw folks having this issue and that it might be water in the propane tank. I think it was on the iRV2 site. Never had this problem, but I hope this helps.
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:51 PM   #4
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There is another individual on this forum that has the same issue and it appears there is moisture in his LP tank that is causing the regulator to freeze. When his furnace goes out he also looses propane to the stove and water heater.

Not sure they will agree but I suggested he contact Thor and see if they would purge his LMP system with nitrogen to remove the moisture under warranty. This may be dicey because there is no way of knowing whether the moisture was present in the tank upon delivery to the dealer (Thor issue) or if the moisture was in a bad batch of LPG (dealer or gas supplier issue).
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Old 01-07-2016, 04:44 PM   #5
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Thank you for the great suggestions. I haven't done anything yet.
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Old 01-07-2016, 05:01 PM   #6
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Here is the link to the thread where another member is experiencing the same type issue.

Notes from the field
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Old 01-07-2016, 05:15 PM   #7
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Bruce, it may be telling that you had the issue at lower ambient temperature but it went back to working correctly at warmer temperature.

When did you fill the tank last? And where? You also mention LP and Propane as the fuel. Do you know which one was used to fill tank?

I have another possible reason depending on your answer.
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Old 01-07-2016, 08:10 PM   #8
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I've never filled it. Still running off what was in the tank when we bought the coach new in August. I always thought propane and LPG were synonymous?

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Old 01-07-2016, 10:40 PM   #9
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Apparently the designation varies by country. In some countries Liquified Petroleum Gas includes only propane, but in others it can also include some Butane. It can be a mix of propane and butane.

I only know enough to know I need to read up on this a lot more regarding how it is distributed and sold. I'm not sure but the difference in properties "may" cause supply issues at lower temperatures.

Pure propane has a much higher vapor pressure and is therefore better suited for cold temperatures. According to Wikipedia (I don't always trust everything written there) it's possible than in summer they mix more butane which lowers pressure, and that in winter less, which increases pressure.

I'm not even certain this can happen, but if LPG contains more butane, as ambient temperature drops, system pressure could plummet. And of course it takes additional temperature difference to boil the liquid into gas, so liquid in tank is even colder than ambient when there is a load on system. That's why we wouldn't want to insulate propane tanks.

If you had water or air in system it may have continued to malfunction when you returned to warmer temperature. But since it worked again I suspect the fuel itself "may" have played a part in problem.

The third paragraph in Wikipedia suggest that in North America we use some butane, and that it is altered by season. I'm going to research this more to see if it is true, and also what percentages they use.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquefied_petroleum_gas


Although unlikely, it's "possible" the system may work better in cold weather after you refill it next time. May be worth trying if not too inconvenient. By the way, a cheap electric heater can make RV a lot easier to sleep in when there is no other heat source. Don't know how you feel about running generator though.
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Old 01-07-2016, 10:52 PM   #10
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The table on page 6 of this guide is interesting because it shows how quickly pressure drops off with temperature, particularly at higher butane percentages. Again, I'm not sure to what degree this applies.

http://www.alabamapropane.com/propan...-pocket-guide/
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Old 01-08-2016, 11:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post

... By the way, a cheap electric heater can make RV a lot easier to sleep in when there is no other heat source. Don't know how you feel about running generator though.
FWIW, although an electric heater, cheap or otherwise, may be good in some situations it is not good for all.

I'm not sure about the Hurricane, Wind Sport and others but in the Challengers we have a "wet bay" in a heated exterior storage compartment. When temps drop below freezing the furnace must run to keep that wet bay warm or we could have a frozen water pump, water filter or any number of frozen lines, valves and connections.

I know the Thor marketing videos for some models state that everything water related is inside the coach in the heated living area but that is not the case for all models.
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Old 01-08-2016, 01:26 PM   #12
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Dave, I was referring to a portable electric heater for emergencies when other sources aren't working (like furnace). In that case pipes are going to get cold anyway, so why have occupants miserable too?

It happened to us years ago in South Dakota when a dead battery wouldn't allow furnace to restart and stay on, so we were very uncomfortable. Since then I pack a 1500 watt electric heater as a backup even if motorhome has a furnace. We mostly stay in campgrounds so we don't have to run the generator. I often run the heater anyway to reduce propane use.
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Old 01-08-2016, 02:43 PM   #13
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Chance my point as "food for thought":

If temps drop below freezing, in my case anyway, and the furnace is out, the occupants be d@#N#D, they can put on another coat or snuggle up to the dog. I am going to be concerned about the cost of damage due to frozen, not cold, plumbing.

I carry an electric heater and I also have the Dimplex electric fireplace which heats the coach in a hurry, but when temps drop below freezing and my furnace is not working I better be looking for an air compressor to blow out the lines or getting my tail end to a warmer location. At those times the electric heater and fireplace are totally useless.

An individual must know their equipment and the environment in which they are camping. In some cases, not all, an electric heater may be nothing more than a false sense of security that can cost you a bundle of money in the long run.

The same holds true when using an electric heater to save propane. If the temps are below freezing (I use the rule of 28 degrees) that electric heater needs to be turned off. The electric heater will keep the furnace from firing and thereby reduce the heating of the wet bay which could result in freezing pipes, pumps or filters. IMO, in this case, there are risks far greater than the costs of a gallon or 2 of propane that need to be considered.

As a note, my prior class C (SunSeeker) had a similar setup to the Challenger with an exterior wet bay in a heated storage compartment. The primary difference was that coach had the Arctic Pak (heat blankets on the tanks) whereas the Challenger does not.

Again, it is all dependent on the coach, the setup and the environment. Not all situations are the same.
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:31 PM   #14
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An electric heater would not work because we were in a National Forest and Geny hours were limited to 7-9, 12-2 and 5-7. I have a catalytic propane heater that was sitting in the garage. With a new MH didn't think it was needed. LOL
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstankov View Post
FWIW, although an electric heater, cheap or otherwise, may be good in some situations it is not good for all.

I'm not sure about the Hurricane, Wind Sport and others but in the Challengers we have a "wet bay" in a heated exterior storage compartment. When temps drop below freezing the furnace must run to keep that wet bay warm or we could have a frozen water pump, water filter or any number of frozen lines, valves and connections.

I know the Thor marketing videos for some models state that everything water related is inside the coach in the heated living area but that is not the case for all models.
The Hurricane and Windsport models typically have their water pump, water filter, and fresh water tank mounted somewhere within the living space of the motorhome, (sometimes under the bed like in my 34e).

They also have heated black tanks.

The water bay is also "heated" by the furnace. The heat is provided by a duct that dangles in the bay, (it's behind the water control panel).

Last summer I installed an Extend-A-Stay adapter to my main LP tank. I used it for the first time a week before Christmas. Coincidentally, when I first attempted to use the portable 20lb LP tank attached to the adapter my furnace and stove acted EXACTLY as described in the original post. However, I was able to track down my LP starvation issue to the safety POL valve in the 20lb tank.


I have a very small catalytic Coleman ProCat heater. However, I now ALWAYS carry it when RVing or car camping in Southern California in the Fall and Winter months. I was caught in the snow at Julian in a PopUp tent camper and woke up literally freezing at 3:00 am..... once.
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:15 PM   #16
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We've experience the exact same symptoms with intermittent propane fuel supply the first winter we owned the coach. Our dealer thought the problem might be a faulty fuel regulator but the problem disappeared completely as soon as the daytime temps rose above freezing. A faulty gas regulator was NOT the problem.

During those periods of interrupted operation (furnace quitting, low flame on gas stove, etc.), I experimented with wrapping the regulator (at the tank) with pipe insulation wrap. Then I gently heated the area with a hair dryer on low setting. This was enough to get the furnace working again and full gas flow to the stove. My conclusion: Moisture in the propane from either the factory or from the dealer. (Note: The dealer stated that they've had NO complaints from any of their other propane customers so the finger points to this happening at the factory).

We've been using the propane now for a year after this incident with no problems. Hopefully, the moisture is depleted....... Joe
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:34 PM   #17
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Joe,

There goes the finger pointing and the "Bart Simpson" line of defense: "I was not there, no one saw me, you can't prove anything". If just once a manufacture, a dealership or even a supplier would just admit it could/might have been their fault.

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Old 03-03-2016, 02:51 PM   #18
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Two December's ago I dug the camper out of storage for a trip to FL. Prior to leaving I took it to get the propane topped off. The guy filling the tank had a heck of a time getting the check valve on the filler line to close: it kept freezing. He ended up wasting about another gallon or so fiddling with it until it finally closed.. (didn't charge me for the wasted amount either..)

We haven't had any propane issues before that nor since that..it was just really cold that day.
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:58 PM   #19
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Thor customer inquiry sent

I just pressed the submit button on this inquiry to Thor Customer Care

How are propane (LPG) tanks prepared prior to shipment from the factory to the dealer?
Folks have been experiencing problems with LPG regulators on Thor motorhomes freezing when temps drop below 32 degrees or if not freezing experiencing low propane flow to stoves and to the point where the LP furnace will not fire. Since these issues do not occur during warmer temps the indication is moisture in the system.
Does Thor employ any methods to ensure moisture is removed from the LPG system (e.g. nitrogen purge) before the coach is delivered to the dealer?

Let's see if I get a response.
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Old 03-03-2016, 03:12 PM   #20
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I ended up taking it to a Propane dealer here in OC. 1st we had to empty the tank and then he filled it to 15 lbs with pure propane gas, then empty and refilled about 5 or 6 times before refilling the tank with fuel. He said that many of the manufacturers are shipping the tanks under pressure and when the dealers fill them they do not evacuate the air containing moisture. When that moisture enters the valve at freezing temps it freezes inside the valve. It doesn't take much because the valves have very small orifices. We take it to the mountains in two weeks and will find out then if it did the trick. I did buy a 9000btu heater buddy just in case! Many thanks to all that replied.
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